Elon Musk is in a pitch battle against the car dealerships countrywide, and I hope he prevails and I can buy his ‘LEAF Killer’ come 2015. Like many Americans, I hate buying a car, not because I don’t like cars, I do, but because of the buying ‘experience’ we are subjected to. This week reminded me why I hate car dealers as much as I do.
I got a mailer from the dealership I bought my LEAF from explaining how they are simply desperate to get their hands on my LEAF for their second hand lot. They provided an estimate of $17,100 for my old LEAF which is actually very good. There was handwritten note emphasizing the $17,100 bait. They also offer ‘up to’ $10,000 off the price of ‘select vehicles’. The only catch? You have to visit the dealership, they won’t do this deal over the phone or the internet.
I went in. I knew I shouldn’t but I did it anyway, just for the hell of it. And it was hell.
I plugged up my LEAF at their level 2 charger and was greeted by a young and enthusiastic salesperson, who is actually quite a cool dude in my opinion. I showed him my mailer saying that the dealership wanted to buy my old car and sell me a new one. I said I was interested in a 2013 LEAF SL they had on their lot. He got the keys and let me look over the vehicle and drive it. The 2013 LEAF is a great vehicle, with many improvements over their Gen I LEAF. OK I said, let’s see if we can make the numbers work.
As it turns out they could only offer $15,000 for my old LEAF, which is actually a fair price according the Kelly Blue Book. So far so good. So what discount will you offer me off MSRP for the new vehicle I asked. The mailer suggested up to $10,000, how close can you get to that?
The answer was $500.
I really didn’t expect to get $10,000 off a new LEAF. He pointed to the small print on the mailer that indicate the offer was for a 2013 Titan, stock number 9010. Only. Typical trick. I agreed that I wasn’t really expecting $10,000 but $500? Really? Is that the best you can do?
After being at the dealership for one and and a half hours, apparently that was indeed the best they could do. The sales manager came to visit the salespersons office and shared that he and I were on ‘different wavelengths’. I promptly left after retrieving my car keys.
I went home and found a website http://www.truecar.com that promised no haggle pricing at 3 local dealerships. Hey presto, guaranteed $3,500 off MSRP for a new 2013 SL LEAF. Within minutes I had three dealerships calling my cell phone and emailing me saying, sure we will honor the discount of $3,500 off MSRP. Guess what? One of those dealers happy to give me $3,500 off was the dealer I just left.
Why do the dealers play these mind games?
Elon Musk, Hurry up with your ‘LEAF Killer’ and simple no haggle internet ordering.
I’m ready. Really really ready.
I talked with another LEAF owner who recently purchased a 2013 LEAF, he asked if I had checked out the VPP program, it offers between $3,000 and $4,000 off MSRP, no haggle. As it turns out my employer is part of the program. I can get a VPP ‘number’ which I can take to any Nissan dealer and get 3-4K off a new LEAF, no haggle. The dealer I visited never established where I worked, or what incentives that employment might provide. Another lost sale and frustrated customer. Pathetic.
I’m waiting Elon…….