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Considering a plug-in electric car? Experts say leases could offer big savings

Rick Bowmer, File/Associated Press – FILE – In this Aug. 18, 2011 file photo, A Nissan Leaf charges at a electric vehicle charging station in Portland, Ore. Automakers have sweetened deals in recent months for plug-in electric cars in a bid to boost sales and move the vehicles off dealer lots as the end of the year nears. Earlier in 2013, Nissan dropped the price of its electric Leaf, helping boost its sales. It’s now offering a three-year lease at $199 a month.

By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2:53 PM

Automakers have sweetened deals in recent months for plug-in electric cars in a bid to boost sales and move the vehicles off dealer lots as the end of the year nears.

General Motors knocked off $5,000, or 13 percent, off the sticker price of the Chevrolet Volt this summer. Earlier in the year, Nissan dropped the price of its electric Leaf, helping boost its sales. It’s now offering a three-year lease at $199 a month.

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You can drive around in a plug-in hybrid for next to nothing if you were already spending $200 a month on gas, says John O’Dell, a senior editor at auto site Edmunds.com. For drivers enticed by the possibility of dramatically reducing their reliance on gasoline, the discounts on plug-in electric cars — particularly when leasing — are worth considering.

But owning an electric car has limitations that may not make them a wise choice for many drivers, nor ultimately translate into big savings.

Here’s a checklist of factors to consider:

1. DO YOU FIT THE PROFILE?

The most immediate potential cost-savings can stem from avoiding volatile gasoline prices.

But electric cars have limits on how far they can go before they need to be recharged. For the 2013 Leaf, that’s 75 miles. If you need to drive more than that a day, without access to a public charging station, it’s not going to do you much good. (One place to locate battery recharging stations is on Plugshare.com)
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