Ask Nathan: Sporty Nissan (Renault) EV, 80’s F-150 and Leasing During the Chip Shortage?

The "Renault 5 EV" could be the base for a sportier Nissan-branded model

In this week’s Ask Nathan:

  • Bring the Renault 5 EV here and create a sporty Nissan EV!
  • Is a 1980s F-150 a good idea?
  • Should I lease during the chip shortage?

The first question comes from a Nissan fan who wants to see the Renault 5 EV (a “sporty Nissan EV” candidate) make its way here.

Q: I declare, the best idea for a sporty Nissan EV is to bring the retro and awesome Renault 5 EV here!

If you look at the amazing design of this EV. I bet you would get a ton of interest not only from the old school guys who love the styling but from the Play Station kids who like it as well. You know what would make this car even better would be to make it a lot more affordable than everyone else. I mean this COULD be the new Nissan Leaf! I know right!?

— Kodiaq Cody

A: I will admit, that Renault 5 EV would make for a fantastic sporty Nissan EV.

Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.

The CMF-BEV platform (on which the Renault 5 EV its based on) is a smaller version of the CMF-B platform. As such, the cost for Federalizing this vehicle may be pricey. This is one of several vehicles that are part of Renault’s “Renaulution” plan. The automaker is going through a complete revitalization, that includes an image alteration.

Just an FYI to folks who are unaware, the Renault 5 EV is a sporty, rally-inspired EV that has retro 1980s looks. I think it looks like a million bucks. Still, I sincerely doubt it will replace anything here, much less the Nissan Leaf. Sure, Renault and Nissan are related, but that doesn’t mean that everything is shared. This car is a “super-mini,” something that may not appeal to Americans who seem to prefer larger vehicles.

Borrowing components from the Renault ZOE, including the 50 kWh battery; Renault states that this vehicle should be capable of a range of up to 248 miles (European cycle – I believe). That could mean it will come with an R135 electric motor, which currently put out 135 horsepower and about 181 lb-ft of torque. Keep in mind: that’s in the ZOE – so the power could be anything.

“The design of the Renault 5 Prototype is based on the R5, a cult model of our heritage. This prototype simply embodies modernity, a vehicle relevant to its time: urban, electric, attractive.”

Renault design chief Gilles Vidal

A 50kWh battery pack? That kind of small for the U.S. – or, am I wrong?

The potential to build the Renault 5 EV for the European audience seems pretty serious. It may not look exactly the same as the concept (it should…hopefully), but the idea behind it seems solid. Renault/Nissan seems to be serious.

Will something like this come to the United States, rebranded as a Nissan? As awesome as it is would be, I sincerely doubt it.

— N

The next question comes from a fan who is thinking about buying a 80’s or 90’s pickup for about $5,000. He’s especially curious about the 80’s F-150 4×4.

Image: Ford

Q: (Via Twitter @NathanAdlen) I work at home so barely drive. Considering a 80s or 90s truck for 5K or less since new ones are crazy expensive.

How bad of an idea is a mid 80’s F-150 4WD? money pit or soon to be classic?

— Jason

Image: Ford

A: Great question Jason!

We love late 80 – mid 90s F-150s.

Some of our viewers swear by the 302 and the I6. Others swear at the 302 and I6. We’ve had good luck thus far, and we have owned several F-150 and F-250s.

Ford truck fans might agree with me: keep it as simple as possible. Yes, the late 80s F-150s had fuel injection, and the accounts of reliability are mixed. On the other hand, folks who bought the pre-fuel injected (good ol’ carburetors) straight six (I6) have often reported excellent reliability. We’ve seen it too – at the cost of horsepower.

There is no easy answer (mechanically) for trucks of this vintage, and predicting collectibility is difficult as well.

One thing I want to mention: the Twin-Traction Beam (TTB) suspension is a “no-go” for some, and a “must have” for others. Some say its supper rugged, others have stated that the TTB setup causes premature tire wear and messes with steering. I think it comes with a Dana 35 or Dana 44 axle, a Dana 50 was offered on the F-250.

My friend, who’s a Ford freak, has a 1989 F-150 4×4 with the fuel-injected 302 and (I believe) a five-speed manual transmission. He’s owned it since 2000, and is the second owner. It has about 300,000 miles on the clock – and it still drives quite well. It’s his camping/hauling second vehicle, and he adores it. “It’s as reliable as water is wet” he says.

The bottom line is: there is a ton of potential, but you have to do your due diligence and make sure it’s screwed together properly.

Good luck!

— N

The last question comes from a viewer who is thinking about leasing a Camry for two years during the chip shortage. He hopes to wait until some new hybrids/EVs come out in 2023.

Image: Toyota

Q:Have vehicle coming off lease in September (and with) cars grossly over priced and chip shortage running into 2022 thus keeping inventories low and prices high.

Would it make sense to lease something short-term like a Camry ($300/mo for 2 years, 12,000/yr) and wait for new EV and hybrid models that are coming in 2023 time frames? 

Thank you,

— Joe M 

A: Interesting idea, but an idea that you need to be cautious about.

I am not a fan of leasing anything – ever. Still, sometimes life events force us to make changes.

I do not know what your financial situation is; so the idea of leasing makes this a recondite subject. Normally, I would urge a reader to get a cheap runabout and save a ton on leasing and insurance. On the other hand, some people don’t mind the expenditure that leasing demands. I know some folks who are happy as a clam leasing something they are fine with borrowing.

Here are some pros and cons:

  • Two years of lease payments (minus other fees) will = $7,200
  • Average insurance pricing will run between $2,000 and $3,000 for a car that has to be fully insured, so that can come out to $4,000 – $6,000 for two years.
  • Fortunately, new Toyotas come with ToyotaCare – which will cover normal factory scheduled service for 2 years or 25,000 miles. There still can be charges on non-warrantied components and higher mile service – in case you extend your lease.
  • From Toyota re: going over mileage: “Your mileage allowance and applicable penalty were predetermined at the inception of your lease. Toyota typically charges between $0.15 to $0.25 per mile over your allowance, although this amount varies.”

After two years – you will have very little to show for your $9,000 – $11,000 expenditure.

On the other hand, a simple runabout will most likely save you some real dough, especially if its paid for and you don’t need full coverage. Plus, when it’s time to move on to a new EV or PHEV, you may have some useable equity in that car.

Just something to consider.

As for waiting for the next batch of EVs and PHEVs?

I totally get your point about the ridiculousness of current car prices, and wanting to wait. We will see dozens of new examples hit the showrooms over the next few years. Seriously, there are some amazing vehicles coming out soon; many are worth the wait.

If I were waiting for something specific, sure – I would get something as a temporary transport.

— N