Does it make sense to turn in a leased Chevy Bolt early right now?

Me with my leased 2017 Chevy Bolt LT in Utah on a road trip from Denver to Santa Barbara, Calif. that I took with my two teen-aged daughters in the Summer of 2018. [Photo by Alina Demont-Heinrich]
blog logoI recently wrote about how I turned in my 2017 Chevy Bolt LT nine months early on a 39-month lease. In that blog entry, I focused primarily on how much money I would save by doing so over leasing a Tesla Model 3. I posted a link to this SolarChargedDriving.Com entry to a Chevy Bolt Facebook Group and received nearly 150 likes and more than 100 comments. My blog entry sparked a lot of interesting discussion and debate and I thank all those who posted likes and comments and feedback.

Perhaps the most interesting – and thought-provoking – comment came from Salvatore Fontinella. His question went to the issue of me turning in my 2017 Chevy Bolt lease nine months early and why I would make a decision to do that.

Fontinella wrote ==>

Salvatore Fontinella.

“How do you trade a lease car 9 months early? They are going to tack all the outstanding payments into your new purchase. Why not finish the lease and then see what deals are available. This makes no sense. Can’t trade what you don’t own. It’s just an early lease turn in.”

I am not a leasing expert, with the new 2020 Bolt LT lease just my third lease ever, and I have not read widely on the (dis)advantages of turning a lease in early. But I thought his was a good point.

Yes, it is true that Ed Bozarth Park Meadows in Lone Tree, Colo. ended up folding at least some of the outstanding cost on my 39-month 2017 lease into my new monthly payment for the 2020 Bolt LT (some of what I still owed might have been “taken care of” by the GM incentives), and my monthly cost did rise from $338 to $348 per month – until one counts the $2,500 State of Colorado EV credit in, and then my monthly cost actually drops to $284.

Ultimately, I believe that it made sense for me to turn in my 2017 Bolt early. Here’s why – and here’s my response to Fontinella ==>

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]

a) GM is losing the $1,875 fed tax April 1, well before my lease is done in Nov. 2020.

b) The $10k in GM incentives being offered now likely will not be available in Nov. 2020 when my 2017 Bolt lease would be finished; presumably GM’s and/or GM financing’s access to the disappearing $1,875 tax credit is a reason why they are offering $10,000 in Bolt incentives right now.

c) The $2,500 Colorado State EV tax credit effectively reduces my monthly payment from $348 to $284 per month for a brand new 2020 Bolt. That’s $54 less per month than the $338 per month I was paying on my 2017 Bolt.

Enrique Corredera Lopez from the Chevy Bolt Facebook Group also chimed in with some interesting observations on the topic of whether one should, or should not, come in early on a Bolt lease, given the current $10,000 in GM incentives. He wrote ==>

Enrique Corredera Lopez.

Basically, you should think of what’s left in your current lease as money down on the new lease. If the dealer buys out your lease they are going to quote you a higher lease payment on the new car. If you pay it off yourself, it’s as if you were putting that much money down on the new car and the dealership will quote you a lower lease payment. For every $1,000 down you put down your lease payment goes down roughly by $30. So, here’s why it makes sense to get out of my current lease now: I put down $3,500 to get my 2017 Bolt down to $359 per month with 10k miles a year. This week I’m going to “put down” $1,436 (by paying off what’s left on my current lease) to get a fully-loaded 2020 Premier for $297 per month with 12k miles a year. Same deal could be available in June when my lease runs out, but I’m grabbing it now just in case it’s not.

I, personally, had to put down $2,500 on my 2017 Bolt – money that was recouped via the Colorado State EV tax credit. This time around, on my 2020 Bolt LT, I was not required to put any money down, and can therefore count, at least in my head, and, really, in my pocketbook, another, fresh $2,500 from the State of Colorado toward my 2020 Bolt LT lease, which, to note again, brings my effective monthly payment down from $348 to $284 ($2,500/39 months = $64).

The way I see it, paying $54 less per month to lease than I was paying to lease my 2017 Bolt LT “makes sense”. However, I am not claiming my take to be the “be all” “end all” on the topic of turning in a Chevy Bolt early on a lease.

What do others out there think? ==>

  • Should I have come in nine months early on my 2017 Bolt LT lease? Why, or why not?
  • Would you/did you come in early on your own Bolt lease? How do/did state tax credits (or lack thereof) factor into your analysis?
  • And, bigger picture, when — if ever — do you think it makes sense for me, you, or anyone to come in early on an EV lease, and, more broadly, on a lease of an ICE, which is not eligible for any state tax incentives?

Looking forward to hearing others’ thoughts in the comments below and/or on Facebook 🙂

My red 2017 Bolt LT parked in Goleta, Calif. after a 1,200 mile road trip from Denver, Colo. in July 2018. [Photo by Christof Demont-Heinrich]