Another One Bites The Dust

  • September 5, 2023

A very effective way to get people into EVs – or rather, into deep debt for an EV – is to get rid of affordable alternatives to them. It looks like Nissan is going to help do just that by cancelling its most affordable non-EV, the Versa.

You can still pick one up for $15,980 to start.

That’s about $2,300 in 1972 dollars – which is almost exactly what it would have cost you back in ’72 to buy a brand-new VW Super Beetle with a sunroof – but without AC, which wasn’t available (at least not from the factory). The Versa comes standard with AC. And power locks. And a decent four speaker stereo (vs. the ’72 Beetle’s one speaker radio).

It is a measure of how much more you can get for your money today. Assuming you’re interested in spending less of it. But it is about to be taken away. Not because it doesn’t sell, either. Sales of this economical car increased by 115 percent in the third quarter of this year – probably because in the Biden Thing’s America, where a dozen eggs now cost as much as a ribeye steak used to before the last selection, more people are wanting (are needing) economical cars again.

But economical cars like the Versa constitute a threat to electric cars – like Nissan’s Leaf, which is the least expensive EV the automaker sells, at a net loss.

Its base price is $28,040 – or $12,060 more than the base price of a new Versa.

Do you get more car for that additional $12k?

No. the Versa is actually just a scooch larger overall (177 inches vs. 176.4 for the Leaf) and both cars have about the same interior space. But you do get about half the range for your money, if you buy the Leaf. It comes standard with 149 miles of best-case range, in “city” driving. The Versa comes standard with just shy of 300 miles of range in “city” driving and it can go just shy of 400 on the highway.

You can buy a Leaf with a little more range (215 miles) but it’ll cost you a lot ($8,000) extra. That’s the uptick in MSRP from the 149-mile-range Leaf to the “Plus” version with 215 miles of best-case range that stickers for $36,040. For that you can drive an EV that goes a little farther, maybe, than half as far as the Versa – for more than twice as much as it costs to buy a new Versa.

Put another way, if you’d bought the Versa rather than the Leaf “Plus,” you’d have saved $20,060. Not counting the time saved.

You see the problem.

It’s not merely that the Leaf is impractical for anyone who needs a car that isn’t tethered to a very short leash (bear in mind that the best-case range touted by EVs is exactly that; your actual range will be much less if it’s very cold – or hot – outside, just two of the factors that can and do hugely affect how far an EV can actually be driven in real-world driving) or who doesn’t have the time to wait for it to charge. Or who cannot charge it – at home – because they do not own a home.

It is preposterously expensive on top of all that. The “Plus” version is still an “economy” car in terms of everything else. It isn’t fancy. It is small. It comes with a few basic amenities. Other than it being battery powered, the only thing that differentiates it from the Versa is that it costs more than twice as much – and only goes about half as far. Maybe.

So – naturally – the Versa’s got to go. At least, that seems to be the plan. Reports are that 2025 will be the last call for this economical car. With the plan being to make room for another electric car. “As we accelerate towards realizing Nissan’s Ambition 2030 vision we have many exciting plans in development,” a company tool told Motor1.

Note the “2030” thing, again. That number seems to have a certain significance, like 666. And for similar reasons. The year 2030 is the year by which the Biden Thing and the things who selected it to be resident plan to have there be essentially no new cars available that are not electric cars. These things have not illegalized alternatives to them. Not yet, at any rate. But they have enacted regulations that are, for all practical purposes, impossible for any vehicle to comply with that isn’t at least partially electric; i.e., a hybrid like the the just-redesigned Toyota Prius (my review is here). And even the Prius is going to have a time meeting the latest regs, which require new cars to average 58 miles-per-gallon.

The just-redesigned Prius averages 57.    

It also stickers for $27,450 – which is $11,470 more than the price of a new Versa. The good news is the Prius has more than twice the range of the Versa. The bad news is you’ll be paying for every bit of it.

. . .

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