Electric car buyers who buy the very first model years always screw themselves, over and over, as automakers cut prices and make significant upgrades during the same vehicle generation. The latest bad news comes for Cadillac ELR and Chevrolet Spark EV owners.
While these two EVs are at opposite ends of the segment, consider what’s new for 2016 that will make previous owners cry.
The ELR, the only two-door plug-in hybrid on sale, is faster, more powerful, and handles better. Plus it’s $10,000 cheaper, or $65,995. The suspension is heavily revised with stiffer bushings, increased spring rates, tweaks to the active dampers and steering calibrations. The brakes are more effective and optional 20-inch summer tires are available. Horsepower and torque are both up by about 25 percent, to 233 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque combined with the electric motor and 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. Basically, Cadillac spruced up everything they should have done from the start when the ELR came out in 2014.
As for the cheapo Spark EV — which, to be honest, is a seriously good EV having won a Car and Driver comparison test — it gets even cheaper, to $25,995. That’s a $1650 reduction. Lease deals are now only $139 a month with zero down. It’s only sold in California and Oregon. Maryland will get the honor this summer.
All this is to say: Don’t ever buy a brand-new EV. Lease one. While you won’t claim the federal tax credit, it’ll be baked into the monthly payments and you’ll pay much less than if you bought one outright. Plus, when these sort of model upgrades come out, you can swing into the latest model for a modest premium — or sometimes, nothing — instead of watching your car’s residual value take an immediate nosedive when the manufacturers cut the price by thousands. People always ask whether it’s better to lease or buy, and with these high-tech cars where their tech is updated almost as fast as smartphones, the answer is obvious.