Tuesday, December 27, 2016

My twisted, crazy, and ridiculous journey to the Bolt

Someone made a request for me to give the details on how I ended up leasing 5 different vehicles since last December without taking a huge bath financially. Well, now is the time to tell that story! 

A year ago, I owned only a 2012 Volt along with a leased 2013 C-Max Energi. I leased the C-Max for 2 years, and it was fine for what it was (mini CUV-ish car that could haul 5), but I found that the electric range was simply lacking. The fact that EV performance did not match its ICE performance was another downside. Plus it wasn’t exactly a looker, though exterior design is not that high on my priority list….just can’t be Prius or Leaf ugly. ;) Too many times I found myself babying the C-Max so that I didn’t burn any gas on my 17 mile commute…especially in the winter. That is simply no fun! I ended up deciding to just turn in the C-Max and walk away.

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My driveway during simpler times.
At that point in time, the Bolt was rumored to be going on sale in late 2016, so I started thinking to myself, “How can I bridge the ~1 year gap to the Bolt for the least amount of money possible?”

Around that time, I had read about a crazy cheap Cruze Limited lease deal that Volt owners could take advantage of due to a Volt owner-specific $2,500 rebate being offered by GM. There were reports of people leasing a 2016 Cruze Limited for $12/month after all incentives! I decided that I could suck up driving a Cruze until the Bolt landed. 

After contacting some local dealers, I found one that was willing to lease a Cruze to me for 24 months for $0 down, $85/month (the higher payment is due to Maryland charging FULL sales tax on a lease, and not just the monthly payment like most other states. Screw you, MD!). I almost ended up walking out on the deal (supposedly they made a "math error"), but eventually signed it. Combined with the $300 in Visa e-gift cards the dealership tossed in PLUS the $700 Costco gift card for using the Costco Auto buying program, my final effective payment for the Cruze was $43/month! Tax alone should have been $54/month, so that tells you how ridiculous a deal it was.

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The '16 Cruze joined the fleet...and was promptly buried by a foot of snow.
So I had my cheap bridge to the Bolt parked in my driveway, so how did I end up leasing ANOTHER 4 cars, you ask?

Soon after I signed the Cruze lease deal, I heard about a fellow Volt owner that also got a dirt cheap Cruze lease that ended up selling the leased Cruze for $3,000 profit! What?! You can sell leased cars….and sell them for a profit?? No way, I thought. I got in touch with that person, and he said he used a new company (name rhymes with Creepy) that offered to buy his Cruze for $3,000 more than he owed on his Cruze (remaining lease payments + lease end buyout price combined). That person stated that if the car did not sell within 30 days of the Cruze being listed on the company's website, they would send a truck, cut him a check, buy his Cruze and haul it away! Which is what ended up happening.

After some careful research, I found the company was actually legit (the company has basically gone bankrupt now though...probably made too many money-loser deals like my Cruze!), so I had my Cruze appraised. They offered $3,700 more than I owed on the Cruze, so I said, “Hell yes, list it!” Obviously, no one bought the Cruze in the 30 days it was listed (the company that rhymes with Creepy offered me waaaaaay too much for my Cruze. You could have bought a new one for less than their asking price). They showed up with a truck, cut me a $3,700 check, and that was the end of my short-lived Cruze lease. I barely put 200 miles on it all said and told.

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Bye-bye Cruze, I barely knew you.
Of course, selling the Cruze would leave me with only 1 car, and I still needed 2, so what did I do? Lease another dirt cheap Cruze, of course! Cruze #2 wasn’t nearly as good a deal as Cruze #1 ($124/month, $0 down), but still dirt cheap for a $21k car. The $2,500 Volt owner incentive had expired, and there was also no $700 Costco card which explains the difference.
Around the time I leased Cruze #2, I found out that GM had slashed the price of a Spark EV lease to its lowest ever price point! Plus they were offering a free $500 Bosch L2 charging unit with a Spark EV purchase/lease. Sensing I could make a deal, I ended up leasing a 2016 Spark EV 2LT with fast charging for just $150 a month for 36 months. I was planning on flipping Cruze #2 for more “rhymes with Creepy” profit in order to get rid of that lease. However, that did not go according to plan.

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Welcome to the family, Green Machine. Though it was more like a short-term guest.
I had “Rhymes with Creepy” list my car, but this time they did not give a 30 day purchase guarantee, and it turned out no one else was willing to pay the price they listed Cruze #2 for. Uhoh, now I was stuck with 3 cars in the driveway when I only needed 2. What’s a guy to do?! I contacted the dealer I leased the Spark EV from, and asked what they could give me for my Cruze. Turns out their offer would put me $1,600 in the hole. Not too good. I then asked about trading in the Cruze and leasing a 2017 Volt LT. It turns out in Maryland I can get a tax credit for a newly leased car equal to 6% of the value of the trade-in price of the Cruze, so after factoring in the sales tax credit, I would only be $800 in the hole. I would also qualify for a $2,300 MD EV tax rebate for leasing a Volt, so I ended up rolling that negative equity into a Volt lease, and even with the negative equity managed to lease the Volt for $261/month, $0 down. So the good news was the Cruze was gone and replaced with a 2017 Volt (yuuuuuge upgrade), and I was getting a $2,300 check in the mail from MD soon. The bad news? I still had 3 cars in the driveway!

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Welcome, Red Volt!
The Spark EV had almost 2,000 miles on it by now, so I hatched this new plan of trying to trade it in for ANOTHER Spark EV, since that was the cheapest car I could lease. I would get ANOTHER $500 Bosch L2 unit in addition to any new deal. So I again asked the same dealer about swapping my Lime Green Spark EV for a Salsa Red one. He must have thought I was crazy, but helped me anyways since I was giving the guy a steady stream of purchases to pad his sales count. After again combining all the crazy incentives ($11,475 in all), I was able to trade in my green Spark EV for a red one for LESS than the original Spark EV’s payment (even with another $800 negative equity rolled in!). Spark EV lease #2 was actually $2/month cheaper than Spark EV #1. I had officially gone mad flipping cars!

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Adios Green Machine, hello Red Bandit!
So armed with a brand new Spark EV with just 17 miles on the clock (and a new $500 Bosch L2 EVSE), I ended up listing that Spark on EBay. I was hoping to break even on the transaction so that I could reduce my driveway to just 2 cars. I posted an EBay auction advertising my red Spark EV and L2 Bosch EVSE for $15,400, and a few hours before the auction expired, a person in Florida bid and won the auction! I ended up having to pay EBay a $125 auction fee. Since the buyout price of the Spark EV was $15,250, I had basically broken even on the sale of the Spark EV. Whew! The buyer arranged his own shipping, and a little while later Spark EV #2 was on its way to its new owner in Florida. I was back down to a 2012 Volt and 2017 Volt in the driveway.

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The Red Bandit heads out the revolving door of cars that is my driveway.
So that brings me to today, where I am on the verge of having my Bolt EV delivered to me. But what about when the Bolt arrives, you ask?? I’ll once again have 3 cars in the driveway! No problem! I am in the process of finding a person in MD to take over my 2017 Volt lease, and it should be out of my hands by late January. Once my ’17 Volt is transferred, that should bring an end to the lease flipping chapter of my life.

So, to recap my leases I’ve signed over the past 12 months:
  • Dec 2015 – leased Cruze #1 for $85/month, $0 down (sold for $4,700 profit 3 months later)
  • March 2016 – leased Cruze #2 for $124/month
  • May 2016 – leased Spark EV #1 for $150/month
  • June 2016 – leased 2017 Volt for $261/month (traded in Cruze #2)
  • July 2016 – leased Spark EV #2 for $148/month (traded in Spark EV #1)
  • September 2016 – sold Spark EV #2 on EBay (broke even)
  • (future) January 2017 – acquire Bolt EV, transfer Volt lease

So that is a recap of my crazy year of lease flipping summed up in a single blog post. :)

Monday, December 26, 2016

So close, yet so far away...

Apologies for this delayed update, but real life matters and some unexpected holiday travel occupied much of my time recently.

Now the news most of you have been waiting for: the Bolt-train has arrived in California! Finally! At 5:34PM EST on Friday, December 23rd, I received the update I had been waiting for all week long: "Rail car has arrived at customer location", with the customer location being Mira Loma, California. This is the unload site for vehicles destined for Southern California dealers being shipped by the auto train. The following is a list of all the places the Bolt-train passed en-route to Mira Loma:

12/3 - Bolt ready for shipment
12/9 - on a truck from Orion to Toledo, Ohio
12/12 - arrived in Toledo
12/16 - arrived in Airline Junction, Ohio
12/18 - arrived in Gibson, Indiana

12/20 - Thorton, IL
12/21, 6:53AM - Rock Creek Junction, MO
12/21, 8:37AM - West Yard, Kansas 
12/21, 11:10AM - Topeka, Kansas 
12/21, 1:44PM - Dwight, Kansas 
12/21, 3:18PM - White City, Kansas 3:18PM
12/21, 4:20PM - Ramona, Kansas 4:20PM 
12/22, 5:10AM - Dalhart TX 
12/22, 6:52AM - Tucumcari, NM 
12/23, 3:07AM - Picacho, AZ 
12/23, 4:33AM - Sentinel AZ 
12/23, 5:35AM - Calford, AZ 
12/23, 7:07AM - Yuma, AZ 
12/23, 7:59AM - Cactus, CA 
12/23, 11:00AM - Garnet, CA 
12/23, 5:34PM - Mira Loma, CA (woohoo!)

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The winding trek the Bolt-train took to its final destination in CA.

Once it left Thorton, IL, it reall hauled the mail--er, Bolts! A few times I called for train location updates, I literally could not make out the city the system was stating due to the robotic voice pronunciation. Otherwise, I would have had a few more locations listed.

According to my dealer, the Bolts could arrive at the dealership as soon as tomorrow, December 27th. Assuming pre-delivery prep goes as planned, it could be ready to be picked up for shipping back to MD as soon as this Wednesday! Then my Bolt begins its final ~2,800 mile leg of its long journey to my driveway in Maryland. Soon I will actually be able to start blogging about my Bolt in my possession...hopefully by the end of the first week in January. Then the fun really begins, where I can do stuff like.....haul baby llamas.

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Photo credit to Kdawg

Thursday, December 22, 2016

So a loaded Bolt is how much?

Latest "Dude, where's my Bolt?" update:

As of early this morning, the Bolt-train was passing through Tucumcari, New Mexico, or around 1,000 miles from its final destination in Mira Loma, CA! That puts it on a schedule to possibly arrive late tomorrow evening at the earliest. As it usually takes a few days for the cars to be unloaded off the train and trucked to local-area dealers, SoCal people that were expecting a Bolt for Christmas will likely be disappointed. However, they should hopefully be getting a nice gift to bring in the New Year! Btw, thanks dude in New Zealand who is still reading! 😉

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About 1,000 miles to go! Or 3,700 if you're me.

Now as promised, here are the details for my Bolt deal. My Bolt was a fully loaded Arctic Blue Metallic (non-premium color) Premier with Drivers Confidence II, Infotainment, and Fast Charging options. Add that all up, and it comes to a total of $43,510. The dealer I am purchasing from, Rydell Chevy, offered a $1k dealer discount off MSRP of a loaded Bolt, which I found more than fair given the demand and supply situation. Other dealers are charging MSRP....and one dealer in the same area as Rydell is even looking to sell over MSRP! Screw those guys.

Anyways, here is the final price worksheet for my deal. As I will be registering the Bolt in MD, the dealer did not charge any CA sales tax, and I will be responsible for paying that tax when the Bolt arrives in Maryland. I put $0 money down, and ended up financing with the dealer at a rate of 2.99% over 72 months (TD Auto Finance btw). If I find a better rate down the road, I can simply refinance as I please, but the 2.99% rate was the best I could find at the moment. Also, I found out that I could NOT use my GM card earnings on the Bolt! Dealer said that is the first time they ever encountered that. I only had a couple hundred bucks of earnings, but still! GM sure is pinching pennies with the Bolt.

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The $653 monthly payment is a pretty hefty amount, but I will be receiving the $7,500 federal tax credit early next year, so that lightens the blow. I would have also been eligible for a $3,000 MD state rebate as well, but funds for that program expired 3 months ago, and a new program won't be in place until at least next July. Owell.

As for shipping? I found a quote of $775 (open transport) via Ship a Car Direct for transport from CA to MD. Supposedly I will also get a $30 gift card in return if I fill out a review for my experience with Ship a Car.....we'll see.

P.S. as I will soon have a shiny new Bolt in my driveway, that means I will have to say goodbye to my 2017 VOLT! If anyone in Maryland is interested in taking over a Siren Red 2017 Volt LT lease, check out my swapalease listing! Thanks. Only MD residents are eligible to take over this lease.

P.P.S. Cleantechnica and Electrek, no soup for you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Bolt before Christmas? Eh, no

As you can tell by the title, it looks like my Bolt will not get to the dealer by Christmas, let alone to my house in Maryland. As a mini "Dude, where's my Bolt?" update, here is the latest tracking information for the train my Bolt (and a lot of other Bolts) is on:
  • 12/9 - on a truck from Orion to Toledo, Ohio
  • 12/12 - arrived in Toledo
  • 12/16 - arrived in Airline Junction, Ohio....3 miles west of Toledo. =/
  • 12/18 - arrived in Gibson, Indiana (city is actually Hammond)
  • 12/20 , 6:23AM: Still in Gibson, Indiana 
  • 12/20, 12:03PM: Departed Thorton, IL!
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Train has been moving slightly faster than a frozen snail.

So my Bolt has traveled a little over 300 miles in.....11 days, or a whopping 29 miles a day. Good lord! Only 2,000 miles to go. Or 4,600 miles if you count the cross-country trip back to MD.

FYI, it is 558 miles from the Orion factory to my doorstep. My Bolt will likely be the most traveled retail Bolt in existence when it finally gets delivered to me despite the fact it will have just a handful of miles on the odometer when it hits my driveway. ☺

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The ridiculous trip my Bolt will take to get to my driveway in MD

So besides the location of my Bolt (might as well be on the moon), what else is there to talk about? How about insurance costs, of course. How expensive will it be to insure a Chevrolet Bolt?!

I called my insurance company last week to find out. I asked the rep to find out how much it would be if they removed my 2017 VOLT from my policy (I have a 2012 and 2017 Volt) and replaced it with my future 2017 BOLT. It took the rep a while to even find the Bolt in her system, but it eventually loaded up after I gave her the VIN. She asked me if the Bolt had Onstar, active emergency braking, and adaptive headlights. I responded yes to the first 2 questions, and after a little discussion, found out the Bolt did not qualify for the adaptive headlight discount. Turns out the Bolt's Intellibeam feature only switches the high beams on and off automatically, and does not adjust the level of the lights that would be required for the adaptive headlight discount.

The final quote for the Bolt was *drumroll*......just $80 more per year than the 2017 Volt! My Volt had a $35k price tag (LT model with just comfort package). The Bolt has a $43,510 MSRP, so the $80 per year difference may be solely due to the MSRP difference. Basically, the Bolt is no more expensive to insure than a Volt! It could be even cheaper if compared against similarly equipped Volt Premier. So my worries about the Bolt being significantly higher to insure have now been put to rest. If you think about it, it makes sense, as the Bolt does not have any of the gas engine components a Volt has.

My next post will be all about pricing for my Bolt, as I should have that locked down in the next few days.

UPDATE: The Bolt train just left Thorton, IL! Based off tracking history from Corvette forums, the train could arrive in CA as soon as this Friday! Woohoo! Then up to a few days to get trucked to the actual dealership. 

p.s. yadda yadda yadda cleantechnica.com and electrek.co don't link my stuff, yadda yadda yadda

Friday, December 16, 2016

Dude, where's my Bolt?

Since my initial blog post chronicling my Bolt adventure went live a few days ago, it’s already been viewed almost 1,400 times…including by one person in New Zealand! You win the “Most Distant Reader” award, whoever you are. 😉 Thanks to everyone that has taken interest. Knowing that my Bolt was built and loaded on a truck, the next question is (and the thing all you guys care about): Where’s my Bolt??

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I’ve gleaned some new information about my Bolt’s whereabouts. After badgering my sales rep to death, I was able to finally convince him to give me the rail car information for the train that my Bolt was loaded on. The info I had previously received stated that my Bolt had left the Orion factory on a truck heading towards Toledo, Ohio. Using that rail car number the dealership gave me, I was able to get an update on the location of the train car my Bolt was loaded on! (a Norfolk Southern rail car, FYI). A big assist goes out to the Corvette owners forum that had all the rail car tracking information stickied!

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Maybe my Bolt was on this hauler? Photo credit to Joe Lopez

That’s the good news. The bad news? My Bolt is still in Toledo, Ohio! As of 8PM yesterday, it has moved a whopping 2.9 miles since it was initially loaded on to the rail car a few days ago. I’m fairly certain the sub-zero winter weather in the Midwest region hasn’t helped anything.

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My Bolt is on a train! And moving excruciatingly slow. 😔

So I am happy that I am now able to track my Bolt on its journey to sunny California, but am hoping that train gets moving a bit quicker than 3 miles per day! It’s looking less likely that I will be able to get my Bolt back to MD before the year is out, but I should at least be able to finish all the paperwork so that I qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit this year.

If anyone has any questions at all, please feel free to ask in the comments section. I’ll try to answer as best as I can.

p.s. again, feel free to share as long as you are not Cleantechnica.com or Electrek.co. 😎

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