Background and Motivation: I have lived in NJ and worked out of the greater NYC area for my entire life. I have purchased and owned my fair share of cars, and also rented a ton of daily rentals from Avis/Budget for both in-state and out-of-state use, but this was my very first lease.
In 2014, I commuted to Atlanta on a weekly basis for three months. Driving around ATL, I noticed the Nissan Leaf was an incredibly prevalent car. It seemed like every fifth car on the road was a Leaf, in a time when Tesla Model S was still new and EVs were not yet proven. I asked my local work contact about the Nissan Leaf, and he explained to me that they were essentially the “state car of Georgia”. Due to incentives and rebates, the cars were borderline free, sometimes they’d even pay you to drive it. As much as I preferred my usual Avis/Budget special, the 2014 Ford Taurus Limited, to a Leaf, I was intrigued. I had heard of a fuel-efficient car, but never before one where they pay you to drive it. Sure enough, a Google search confirmed that this was possible. https://web.archive.org/web/20140226154223/http://slickdeals.net/f/6559500-georgia-residents-make-money-and-lease-a-new-2013-nissan-leaf-s-for-235-mo-with-vpp-or-259-without-vpp
In 2019, a career change called for a driving commute into Manhattan. I became obsessed with finding a car that was on this list, https://www.dot.ny.gov/programs/clean-pass, in order to register for a Green EZ-Pass and take advantage of an unadvertised HOV-lane benefit entering the Lincoln tunnel in Weehawken. I was looking at buying an inexpensive Prius (or Fusion Energi), but didn’t want to subject myself to too much of a penalty box. I also accepted that I wouldn’t be able to afford something that was AWD and on this list, so my EV/PHEV selection would have to be an additional car to insure.
In October 2019, I found my answer and I found you guys. I saw this Slickdeals post https://slickdeals.net/f/13429066-nys-hyundai-ioniq-lease-true-sign-and-drive-99-mo which led me to Leasehackr. Naturally, I was a little late and couldn’t find any base models in stock, but saw a dealer with 3 Limiteds an hour away, so decided to print out the National ad, get in the car and go for it.
First Trip to the Dealer: I drove to Route 46 Hyundai, the “battlefield dressed in balloons” of this story, in the middle of a Friday afternoon. I stopped in to use the bathroom before getting started and was greeted by a salesman heating up an entire styrofoam tray of supermarket chicken nuggets at the microwave next to the Men’s room. I girded my loans, pulled myself together in the restroom, and acknowledged that I had walked into a literal and figurative meat grinder: Leasing this car was not going to be easy or painless. After waiting a bit, I got connected to an eccentric salesman that wasn’t on his lunch break and I said I was interested in this car, from the Ad, Do you have this in stock?
My salesman said they didn’t have any more in stock and the last Limited sold. Turns out 2 of the ones I saw online were 2018s, and not eligible for the leasing. But apparently 3 base models were on their way in from Hyundai, all Black. I could put down a $500 deposit to hold one. They said it’d be $101 a month with $2465 down. This was more than the national ad, but also seemed like a better option than a $6k Prius, and I knew BonusDrive would give me $500 back, so I signed on. I also went out for a test drive in a Hybrid model, which seemed a bit off, but not a red flag. The salesman just didn’t know where he was going. Kept directing me down dead-ends full of new Hyundais and having me make some tight turns to keep digging myself out. I left my deposit, then I turned around and went home. Not 10 minutes after I pulled into my driveway, no less than 90 minutes after leaving the dealership, “the truck just arrived, we have your car! When can you come back?”.
Second Trip to the Dealer: Where it started to get weird is that my salesman said he was going to be in Houston the next week. I said, no problem, I’ll pick up the car when you get back, I have another car to drive. But it turns out he wasn’t coming back. He worked for one of these “Tent Sale” companies. You know the guys that send out 10,000 fliers with a plastic key and say “if your number matches and your key opens the door, you WIN A CAR?” Yeah, one of those guys. Based out of Houston. Which explained why my salesman didn’t know how to get out of the parking lot.
It also meant that I had to essentially start again with a new salesperson, this time one that actually was employed by the dealership. My new salesperson also said they couldn’t confirm the exact price that I’d be paying for the car over the phone. Certainly a red flag, but it’s not like there was inventory of these cars to choose from. I drove after work from midtown Manhattan back to Route 46 Hyundai and arrived at 7:45PM. I left the dealership at 11:45PM, left my gas car left on the lot, and got the new EV home prior to 1am. Why did it take four hours after I had already agreed on the price of the car and paid a deposit? Simple, literally every stereotype you can imagine came to life. From 9-11pm I was essentially just left to rot in an entirely empty dealership, with no other customers, presumably to weaken me before the final battle with the finance manager.
The Finance Manager: I don’t know what it is about greasy-ass long hair and dot-matrix printers but for some reason these finances boxes are like time capsules to 1996. Obviously, there was big time VIN Etching, and the car selling price was not discounted at all from MSRP, but the funny thing about this finance guy was that he actually made a mistake. We got into a pretty heated argument about sales tax in NJ on electric vehicles. As you all likely know at this point, there is no sales tax on EVs in NJ (with no combustion engine whatsoever). This guy insisted that he had to charge it anyway and if he was wrong then the payment would be applied. I finally gave up, post 11pm, and said fine write it with the tax.
A week or two later, I did get a call that Hyundai Finance rejected the contract and it had to be re-signed without the tax. Since I had already taken the car, my payment was going to drop from $101 to $64.46/month, with him keeping the $2465 down. I was ecstatic, but also hypothesized that the finance manager never would have let that payment happen initially. If the payment had dropped below $101, he totally would have just kept adding more crap to the car! (Nitrogen tires? Pinstriping? The possibilities are ENDLESS!) They sent a lot porter to my house to re-sign the contract as I refused to make another trip to the dealer at this time.
The Calculation: After getting home with the car and looking at in the driveway, and looking at the signed lease agreement that you only get 30 seconds to read at the dealership despite spending 4 hours there, I started to analyze what the hell I actually signed. This also included more Leasehackr stalking to figure out how good of a deal I got. Turns out, I did pretty well!
But I learned something else pretty valuable from this site: That you can buy out the lease, and sell it to a third party such as CarVana or Vroom. Now I know some of you guys have been doing this, even with this car, I am not the first. But I was pretty shocked to learn that I could have immediately flipped my EV and made $5k. The only reason why I didn’t was because I actually wanted the electric car. It was saving me 30+ minutes per day, and invaluable peace-of-mind not being late for morning meetings. So I could only sell this car to Carvana if I could replace it. And that’s where this story really begins: My quest to profit off the buyout/sale of this lease, while being able to replicate my original deal and still drive an EV to work. Memories of Atlanta haunted my NJ Lease Contract, and I wanted my $130/month effective lease payment to go lower. How low could I go? Could I get paid to drive an electric car?
Third Trip to the Dealer: My new salesperson was lovely, and updated me on available inventory. I tried to make another trip to the dealer to lease two more of these cars. “Surely my income and credit would support two more $65/month lease payments, people probably lease two cars for their 18-year-old twins all the time!” were things I was telling myself on the drive back to Route 46 Hyundai. They wouldn’t negotiate over the phone, of course, so I drove back only to discover exactly what I had suspected. They were now adding a $2k-3k market adjustment on top of the cars. This would kill any margin in a Carvana/Vroom arbitrage deal. I pushed, but ultimately went home empty-handed. Remaining inventory of 2019 Ioniq EV’s was going to be shot at this point, and I should have leased more of them when I first had the chance.
Dealership Bankruptcy: If car leasing didn’t already feel enough like a game of Monopoly, I received a text from my salesperson 1/2/2020 that they were no longer with Route 46 Hyundai, and “There’s a story to it and you will be fine but the owners are bankrupt.” That salesperson moved on to a Honda dealership within the month. The Hyundai dealership remained operational for a few more weeks so I was skeptical, however it is now confirmed that the dealership has been shut down. My Hyundai Financial online account shows that the Dealer was Terminated on 06/09/2020 (all screenshots are listed in the following post). This is corroborated by Yelp (https://www.yelp.com/biz/route-46-hyundai-hackettstown) and some interesting news articles I found via Google( https://www.njherald.com/news/20190822/route-46-hyundai-pays-55k-to-resolve-consumer-complaints-dealership-is-among-three-auto-businesses-that-were-part-of-fraud-investigation, https://www.nj.com/news/2020/07/dealership-takes-auto-lease-buyout-money-and-vanishes-leaving-driver-in-collections-customer-says.html ).
Enter Global Pandemic: 4-5 months into the lease of my Ioniq, COVID-19 was upon us and I was working from home. The EV ended up providing a different type of practicality at home. It was nice not having to visit gas stations when we did go out. I considered selling the Ioniq to CarVana or Vroom as I would no longer be driving it, but before I could make up my mind, the used car market was deeply impacted, and plummeted. Carvana and Vroom also stopped buying cars for a while. The idea was dead, it looked like I’d be riding out the rest of my lease at $64.46/mo; until of course the used car market bounced right back and surged. My offers started to climb on Carvana through May/June, until they started to plateau and decline. At this point, in late June, I took a bid of $21,248 from Vroom. They actually offered as high as $21,748 a few days before I accepted this offer, but I decided not to risk it and I’d take the $21,248 and see how selling the car would go.
Vroom buyout process: This process was pretty simple. After clicking “Accept Offer” they sent over a form to fill out, which I filled out. A few days later I got a contract via DocuSign and a Texas Title application via FedEx. I filled out everything. One weird bit was that they wanted both keys for the car, in separate places. One key went with the car/driver, and the other was mailed to Texas. The car was transported to North Carolina where it is still sitting. I used the Hyundai BlueLink app to track the location of the car, which still works after hitting “Factory Reset” in-dash. I’ll have to figure out how to remove this car from my account once it is actually sold to its new owner, because I haven’t been able to figure out how to disable the tracker yet. After receiving all my paperwork, Vroom sent an email notifying me that the car would be picked up in 1-2 weeks after they could find a shipping carrier. Not 12 hours later, I got a call from a local carrier saying that they could pick up the car in an hour. I would have appreciated more of a heads up, but was also happy that it worked so quickly. Pickup was straightforward, and the car was listed on Vroom.com for sale. I received FedEx tracking numbers for both my payoff check to HMF, and for my positive equity check.
- The Hyundai dealership experience definitely leaves a lot to be desired; if I do this again, I want the dealership part to be less psychotic.
- I probably ended up at the worst possible Hyundai dealership in the region, because all the good dealerships already sold their inventory before I found out about the deal and made it in.
- I see other Ioniqs popping up on Carvana and Vroom with similar timetables, so it’s clear other Leasehackrs have come out ahead on this particular model
- No buyout fee if you buy out the lease before it matures
- Ioniq is actually a pretty good car, the acceleration curve of EVs is so different from gas cars that it’s addictive to drive
- NJ and Hyundai are likely soon to be the next Atlanta and Nissan, when it comes to EV lease volume.