The red 2017 Bolt LT I leased for 30 months next to the blue 2020 LT that I turned the red one in early for. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]

Here’s why I’m sticking with a Chevy Bolt even though I’d rather have a Tesla: It costs less

My cajun red 2017 Chevy Bolt LT parked next to the kinetic blue 2020 Bolt LT that I traded it in for at the 30-month mark of my 39-month lease. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
editors-blog-entry3I’ve been driving a leased all-electric 2017 Chevy Bolt LT since September 2017. It’s been a great little car: Zippy, fun, quiet, fuel efficient. It’s got plenty of range (238 miles), including enough range for a 2,400-mile round-trip road trip I did with my teen daughters from Denver to Santa Barbara, Calif. and back in the Summer of 2018.

My 39-month lease of my cajun red Bolt was scheduled to end in December 2020. At that point, I was planning to look at a possible switch to a Tesla Model 3. However, GM is running a great lease deal for current lesses — offering up to $10k in incentives. And, as it turns out, that was too good a deal for me to pass up.

Me in front of my 2017 Chevy Bolt in Green River, Utah during a 2,400-mile round-trip road trip I took with my two daughters from Denver to Santa Barbara and back. [Photo by Alina Demont-Heinrich]
So, I am now in a kinetic blue 2020 Chevy Bolt LT at a monthly rate considerably less than what I was paying for my 2017 Bolt LT after you factor in the $2,500 Colorado State EV tax credit. I’d been paying $338 per month for my 2017 Bolt for 12,000 miles per year and I’d used the $2,500 state EV tax credit to offset the $2,500 I put down to lease the ’17 Bolt.

This time around, for a 39-month lease of a 2020 Bolt LT from Ed Bozarth Park Meadows Chevrolet in Lone Tree, Colo., I did not have to put any money down, and I am paying a monthly rate of $348 per month. Divide $2,500 by 39 months and you get approximately $64. Subtract $64 from $348 and you are left with a monthly average payment of $284. This, for a Bolt that has 21 more miles of range — 259 miles vs. 238 miles — than my 2017 Bolt.

True, I do have to wait until spring of 2021 to get the $2,500 from the State of Colorado. But, overall, this was a deal that I knew I could not pass up.

And it was also clear that Tesla cannot currently come close to $284 per month with zero money down and 12,000 miles on a Model 3 lease.

In fact, let’s do the specific math. Doing this math led me to decide that as much as I would love to be in a Model 3, as much as I would love my money to be going to a 100% electric car company, and as much as I would love being one second quicker from 0 to 60 mph — 5.3 seconds in the Model 3 as opposed to 6.3 seconds in the Bolt — I cannot justify leasing, nor can I really afford as a single income, post-divorce person/household, to lease a Model 3 at this point in my life 🙁

My custom SOLPWRD Colorado plates will soon be moving from a red to a blue Chevy Bolt. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
Currently, Tesla is offering Model 3 leases on a straight black, or white, Tesla Model 3 for ==>
$4,500 down
$399 per month
10,000 miles per year
36-month lease

The numbers on my 2020 Chevy Bolt LT are ==>
$0 down
$348 per month
12,000 miles per year
39-month lease

Now, let’s factor in the State of Colorado EV tax credit, which = $2,500 for a leased EV.

Final Tesla Model 3 standard lease numbers =
$4,500 – $2,500 state tax credit = $2,000 down
$399 per month
10,000 miles per year

Now, I need to divide $2,000 across 36 months, which = $55 per month AND I need to add some extra cost in for 12,000 miles per year. In fact, I could not figure out how to change the number of miles per year offered on the Tesla Model 3 configuration web site from 10,000 to 12,000. So, I will have to make a bit of a guestimate as to how much more per month Tesla charges for 12,000 as opposed to 10,000 miles per year. A generous guess that favors Tesla would be $10 extra per month, but it could be more.

So, doing the final math here, we are left with the following numbers ==>

$399 + $55 ($2,000 down payment/36 months) + $10 (2,000 miles extra per year) = $464 per month to lease a black Model 3 standard here in the state of Colorado.

My reflection in the window of a new 2020 Chevy Bolt LT — with my 2017 Bolt LT visible in the background, through the windows. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]
Overall => $464/month for the Tesla Model 3 – $284/month for the Chevy Bolt LT = $180 more per month to lease the Model 3 over the Bolt LT.

Across 36 months, that amounts to $6,480 more for me to lease a Tesla Model 3 standard than a Chevy Bolt LT. And that doesn’t even count the extra $1,000 it would cost me to select a blue Model 3 — my Bolt LT is blue. Add that cost in, and we reach more than $200+ per month extra, or an extra $7,200 across three years, for me to lease a Model 3 over a Chevy Bolt LT.

I can’t afford to pay that much extra on my journalism professor’s salary and being in a single income household. So, for me, at least, I will be in a Bolt for another three years. Then, maybe I will make the leap to a Tesla — unless GM keeps offering deals like this one, in which case, I may be with them longer than I think 😉

For sure, the numbers will look a bit different in different cases, and in different states — people often get better deals than I got on a Bolt lease in Colorado in states such as California and Massachusetts, for instance. But, on the whole, at least for now, and at least when one runs the hard lease numbers and compares them, a Chevy Bolt is likely still considerably cheaper to lease than a Tesla Model 3 — in Colorado, and in many other places around the United States.

I said goodbye to my red 2017 Chevy Bolt at Ed Bozarth Park Meadows Chevrolet on Fri., Jan. 24, 2020 — and hello to a new, 2020 blue metallic Bolt. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]