acensor, a few thoughts:
- Canada has a 2013 model. I believe CHAdeMO has always been standard in Canada, and as noted elsewhere the 2013 includes a higher capacity level 1 EVSE that can charge the i-MiEV in about 12-14 hours instead of the 22 hours the current bundled EVSE takes. Problem is I don't know if/when that will come to the U.S., or if that shorter Level 1 charging time would mean you could skip a Level 2 in your garage. Without a price drop (as opposed to the price hike they saw in Canada), I don't see too many i-MiEVs getting sold in 2013.
- speaking of which, negotiate aggressively on the i-MiEV. Mitsu might not have lowered the list price, but that's just too bad for the dealer stuck with one in inventory. The Leaf S is slightly cheaper than the iES, and that's a strong bit of leverage (especially if the Leaf S is actually on dealer lots, as opposed to a headline-grabber with a phony c'mon price that you can't get - I don't know either way yet).
- to repeat what's been said already, I have an ES, and as with all i-MiEVs, it has remote cabin pre-heating/cooling and a heated driver's seat (I guess winter travel with friends requires that they be EV enthusiasts with warm coats or offer to drive their own cars). The remote (limited-range direct RF, no smartphone app needed or available, standard on all models) also handles timed charging for off-peak rates or less than full charging.
- if you have any interest in Level 3 charging (i.e., CHAdeMO DC Quick-charge, there are a few in the greater Dallas area), I'd point out that CHAdeMO is not offered on the Leaf S - you'd have to upgrade to the SV and then tack on over $1600 more for the LED headlight/CHAdeMO package, or just go full-bore for the SL. On the i-MiEV, this is just a $700 package on the base ES, which also throws in an auxiliary battery heater. Depending on where you live relative to your local Level 3 stations, this may make the difference between taking your EV for some trips or not.
- don't overlook the Leaf's thermal management problems. Dallas gets hot, and the combination of the Leaf's battery chemistry and lack of active cooling has caused significant headaches for owners in the southwest, most famously in Arizona. The i-MiEV battery pack lacks the hefty (and costly) liquid cooling systems of those in the Focus or Volt, but does have a fan bringing in air from the passenger compartment, which seems to have been an effective compromise.
- I agree that leasing is rational given the state of the technology, but I still didn't do it. In my case, I don't really need more than 40 miles range or so, so figured the battery pack should last me a normal vehicle "lifespan", and I'm not convinced that the EV options will be as attractive/affordable at the end of a lease as just buying the i-MiEV outright today. While leasing shields you from the risk of being stuck with a car you don't want, it exposes you to the risk of losing a car you like without a desirable replacement. For me it made sense to buy, but you'll need to weigh the risks for yourself.
2012 Silver ES w/QuickCharge+DRL/foglights, Eaton Level 2 EVSE, since 9/9/2012