Cars 2013 Nissan LEAF Improves Charging Time

Published on May 27th, 2015 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Why Falling Nissan LEAF Values Aren’t Such A Bad Thing

May 27th, 2015 by  

One of the big unknowns when it comes to buying a first-generation plug-in vehicle is what will happen to resale values a few years later. We’re starting to get an idea, though, as the first wave of Chevy Volts and Nissan LEAFs come off of lease, and it’s not a pretty picture at first glance.

2013 Nissan LEAF Improves Charging Time

Carlypso put together a list of the biggest losers when it comes to resale value, and at the top of the list is the Nissan LEAF, with average sales tumbling below $11,000 for a 2012 model. The Chevy Volt isn’t faring any better.

What’s going on here? Unfortunately, the same issues that have led to about 6,000 2015 Chevy Volts sitting unsold on dealer lots is affecting Nissan LEAF resale values: low gas prices, lots of returning leases, and the impending reveal of a much-improved second generation model. There’s also the issue of the $7,500 tax rebate that effectively lowered the value of every LEAF for first-time buyers (and equally lower what a resale value “should be” since new buyers can get that same credit on a new LEAF, but not a used one).

The average sales price of a 2012 LEAF was over $36,000, while today the same vehicle with an average number of miles will only fetch about $10,900. The Chevy Volt, which sold at an average of $42,000 in 2012, is now selling for just under $13,000 according to the Wall Street Journal, holding its value marginally better than the LEAF at least.

As is generally the case with such things, whether or not lower resale values are a good thing depends on your perspective. If you’re a LEAF owner looking to upgrade or trade in, this is just old-fashioned bad news. It’s also bad from the perspective of how future consumers may view an EV purchase, fair or not. Depreciation is a major factor in any new car purchase, and some people weigh it more heavily than others when it comes to new car shopping. If you’re a LEAF leaseholder, though, Nissan could offer up to $5,000 for you to buy out the lease and keep the electric car for yourself, which is a nice chunk of change for anybody who wants to live gas-free.

For those of us wanting to buy a used electric car, this is pretty great news; you can now buy a LEAF for one-third of its MSRP, and probably even less once the next-gen model is announced. The proliferation of electric cars may have started with young and wealthy early adopters, but as EVs start filtering down into the lower echelons of society, budget-conscious consumers will become more aware of the money-saving abilities of electric vehicles.

Those who were once dismissive of the usefulness of electric cars may become converts once they see how much money they can save, and the call for more affordable EVs will grow ever louder.


Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • Melissa

    I’ve read that businesses are about to pay BBB to get a good rating, unfortunately.

    • Melissa

      *able* – not about

    • Otis11

      That would explain a lot… and make BBB lose all credibility…

  • Greg Counts

    I just hope the Tesla 3 is available by the time my Leaf lease is up. I can make an 85 mile range work but I’d prefer 200.

    • freethinker

      i have a 2015 Nissan Leaf on a 2 yr lease that ends 5/2016. I’ll have a yr gap bw the Tesla and the next gen Leaf coming out. Oh Nooooooo!

      btw, i’ve never needed more than 85 miles range. i bet there is a large chunk of people like me. so i’m sure Nissan will develop multiple ranges for multiple markets.

      I’d rather have an option for a $25K car with 85 mile range and another $30K version with a 150 mile range.

      • Greg Counts

        So it looks like the release date for the Tesla Model 3 will be late 2017. http://bgr.com/2015/05/07/tesla-model-3-release-date-revealed/

        My Leaf will be off lease 6/2017. So if I’m first in line with a deposit I might be able to get the car before 2017 is up. Residual value is set at $12K but I expect that they will make a purchase offer around $6 to $8k. Even still I’m not taking the bait. They’d have to offer something around $1.5K below market value.

        BTW – did you get the FreeToCharge card from eVgo? 2 years free charging?

        • freethinker

          I didn’t get a free charging card. But there are no chargers near my work anyhow.

          I have a buy out price of $14.5K in my contract. Can I negotiate that at the time of return? Would maybe get it to hold me over.

          • Greg Counts

            Yes you can negotiate the buyout price. The residual value is just a projection of what they think market value will be. If gas shot up to $5/gal that $14k would look like a steal. As it stands now Leaf values are falling faster than expected. On my wife’s 2005 Mercedes they offered to take 8k off the buyout price. Nissan will probably do something similar.

          • Michael Torres

            So my residual is $12,310 for my 2015 Leaf. I’m a year into my Leaf. Wondering what options I’ll have and when and what might be a good offer to buy. I’m a 1st time leasee.

  • Duncan Cunningham

    I’ve had my Leaf 2012 (got it used) just a few weeks. I’ve driven 782 miles and according the data collected from the car, I’ve used 156Kw hours. At 9c per KwH I’ve spent $14 for that 782 miles. My wife’s Honda CRV did about 22mpg so to do the same miles, at $3 gallon, we’d have spent over $106. Saving over $90 just in fuel. Lots of other maintenance we’ll not have to do and we plan to keep it until it fails or falls apart. Hoping for battery upgrades to keep is going. At about $5000+, that is what a typical engine costs to repair or replace but just less parts to worry about. That is my thinking, since I’ve done a lot of work over the years to maintain our ICE cars.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I really doubt a new battery will cost $5k a few years from now.

      Or a $5k battery will give you a lot more range.

      Battery prices are falling and battery capacity increases over time. You might get a choice of a 100 mile range for more money.

  • Jason hm

    I think EV’s will become more modular than they are currently because re-powering them with newer better battery packs and motors will make the older EV vehicles more competitive with IC vehicles and newer EV’s. At least for the first few decades advances in electric vehicles will come fast and melting down perfectly good vehicle bodies because the battery, motor or electronics is outdated doesn’t make much sense. The batteries in 20 years will be light years ahead of where we are now but the frame,shocks steering ect. 60-70 some percent of the car by weight will function pretty much the same as it does today modularity in design makes switching components that will evolve rapidly easy.
    Course it is a fundamental change in way the current automotive business currently works and makes it more like the commercial vehicle market where you can pretty easily drop a wide variety different drive trains “engine and transmissions “into a chassis for different truck manufactures. You can drop the latest a brand spanking new engine into a truck that’s 20 or 30 years old if you want.

    • Offgridman

      While I agree that an easy and/or economical change out of motors and batteries in EV’s in the future would be nice, not as sure that it will become a standard practice, or if it will be more like the occasional practice of current ICE cars with motor or transmission replacement.
      While things like frames, shocks or steering may stay fairly standard in the future, there are other items that are still in the process of being upgraded every model year for current cars. A lot of this is safety features such as more and better air bags, more electronic controls with longer life spans, and of course the various sensors and controls that are allowing partially autonomous vehicles. These items are more just standard on the higher priced or luxury models now, but they will continue to get less expensive and more effective so will end up being included in every car no matter what the price range. Much like power windows or door locks only used to be an expensive add on feature for the most expensive cars 30-40 years ago, and now you would be unlikely to find one without them.
      Another factor that is going to keep changing in cars for quite a while is the overall weight reduction while maintaining the same safety factor. This is something that both the government and the automotive industry are really pushing for all types of cars and trucks. For the current necessity of improving the mpg ratings of fuel powered vehicles, but it is also something that is going to help increase the range of EV’s. In ten or twenty years you might be able to put an improved battery pack in an old EV, but you will have to balance that as whether it is worthwhile compared to the newer cars that are much lower in weight and have better safety and control features.
      Kind of the same way now that installing a new motor in an older vehicle is worthwhile because of the improved features and reduced maintenance of a newer used car with a motor that is still good.
      Yes it is done sometimes, especially with older cars that have a higher value because of what they are, but most times a shot engine means they are scrapped
      It would be nice if we could get to standardized models that were designed to have a much longer life to save the waste issue, but there are still a lot of improvements to be implemented in the automotive industry before that becomes standard practice.

  • Dag Johansen

    They are not “such a bad” thing . . . they are a GREAT thing. They provide a great way for people with less money or bad credit to buy into the EV revolution.

    • Benjamin Nead

      Exactly. This is how I’m going to be able to jump in, as it’s the only feasible way someone in my income bracket can do it. I got involved with my local Electric Auto Association (EAA) chapter in early 2012. This was just about the time that less emphasis was being put on a small core of the membership converting their old gas cars to electric power and making way for what was soon to become a majority membership who were buying/leasing new OEM ones.

      Now, some of those leases are up this year and these vehicles are going back to the dealers. One of these is an i-MiEV that’s been leased by a fellow Tucson Electric Vehicle Association member . . . low mileage and well taken care of (the lessee, a retired electric engineer, converted a GEO Metro to lead acid power back in the 90s and treated the lithium cells in his Mitsubishi with similar care and overview. Misubishi also recently paid him to have the car flatbedded to California to do a complete analysis on each individual cell in the pack. It got a perfect score . . . no discernible cell capacity degradation )

      This car had a retail cost of about $30 in 2012. The almost identical 2014 retailed for about $6K cheaper. Nothing set it stone yet but, going by online listings of virtually identical examples that I’ve been monitoring lately, I might be able to buy this one for less than $10K. I’ll be finding out in October. Fingers crossed . . .

      • Calamity_Jean

        Good luck!

    • Chris DeMorro

      Unless you bought a first-gen LEAF, that is.

      • GCO

        I did, and I still think dropping PEV prices is awesome. It puts to rest the objection “EVs are too expensive”, and will progressively allow less well-off people, who really could use gas money on something more productive, to switch too.

        I didn’t buy my car as an investment, I know it’ll be worth about zero by the time I’m done with it anyway. No, the main reason I’m not burning gas anymore is to try and make this world just a tiny bit less messed up.
        The more people do so the better.

        Oh, I also bought solar PV for significantly more than I could get today. And guess what, same thing, I’m thrilled to see PV drop in price so much. Heck, maybe us early(er) adopters even contributed to this; if none bought this stuff years ago, it wouldn’t be so affordable now.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Yes, those who purchased at higher prices helped create the market that brought prices down.

          Thank you.

          • Steve Grinwis

            You’re welcome… 😀

  • Kevin McKinney

    Always buy used anyway, and always drive ’em till they drop, so from my perspective both the LEAF and the Volt just got a lot more attractive.

    • wildisreal

      Bingo. This phenomena is not unique to electric/hybrid vehicles. It is cars period. Purchasing new is pure luxury; counting on retained value is silly.

      • Kyle Field

        Battery upgrades will be key to used EVs – especially the early leafs which had battery overheating issues…and consequently earlier than planned battery capacity losses.

        • Steve Grinwis

          From what I can tell, the battery overheating issues were only really an issue in places like Texas, Arizona, and Florida. A leaf purchased in Michigan, or Canada should be fine.

          Also: Nissan offers a $5500 battery replacement program, that will let you upgrade to the 24 KWh lizard battery.

      • newnodm

        Buying new works fine if you typically keep your car a long time. The downside of buying a newer used car is potentially buying some else’s problem car.
        I don’t normally lease, but I would probably lease for PHEV and BEV.

    • Michael G

      On expensive cars you couldn’t be righter about buying used and driving till there’s nothing left. KBB.com gives $17.4K for a 2012 Volt with 27K miles – roughly the same as a 2012 Prius but you would pay a lot less for gas in the Volt and the batteries cost about the same to replace (I believe).

  • newnodm

    Yup. It is best to lease new and unusual technology, including the Powerwall. Early adopters will often want an upgrade anyways, even if the product ends up being great.

  • Matt Milsap

    I love my Volt. can’t wait for the bank to start squirming when my lease expires =D

  • Marion Meads

    Wondering what’s the average or typical effective range per charge of the lease expired Leaf in various parts of the country.

    • Dag Johansen

      With the newly announced LEAF with a +25% larger battery, these cars could be driven as is for a while and eventually upgraded with a better battery. (Assuming the new battery can be put in the old LEAF.)

      • beernotwar

        If any model will be supported with battery replacement it will be the Leaf due to sheer number of sales. Tesla is also likely to support their customers just because they’re awesome — and each customer has given them an awful lot of money at this point.

        • Steve Grinwis

          We already have a battery replacement program in place for the leaf, that will upgrade anything to the 2015 lizzard battery for $5500 + labor / brackets.

          No word yet on if the 30 kWh battery will fit / be available for earlier models. If it is, I’m snapping up a used 2011 leaf, and paying the $5k to throw the big battery in it…

    • Kyle Field

      Saw a few 2012 volts with 100k miles for $12k. I would assume the extremely low ball prices are for high mileage cars. Conversely, saw a 2012 volt with 40k miles for $17k. Still a great value though with current federal incentives and dealer cash on 2015 volts, it’s a tough sell imho.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Car Max is showing multiple 2012 Leafs with 30k or fewer miles for under $13k. 2011 with less than 50k for $11k. One has only 23k miles.

        (If someone is actually shopping Car Max will give you the transport cost to get the car moved to where you are.)

        • Otis11

          Really, when did that happen? After hundreds (if not thousands?) of comments and writing for this site my comment needs to await moderation before being published?

          • Bob_Wallace

            No idea.

            Perhaps Disqus hiccupped…

        • sjc_1

          Cars dot com has 60 LEAF in the L.A. area under $12k with less than 60k miles.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Interesting. I don’t know much (almost nothing) about on line car sales. CarMax turned up far fewer.

  • Steve Grinwis

    Yup. Just waiting for my lease to be up, then I’ll snap up an 8k used leaf…

    • newnodm

      Well played, in a somewhat devious way. 🙂

      • Steve Grinwis

        The alternative: The value of my car drops so low, that I put the screws to them, and walk away with my already massively price reduced EV for a song. Which looks like it’s going to happen. The list for my car is $30k. I saw a one year old, with 15k kms on it for sale for $15k. And there’s still two more years left before my lease is up. The residual on the lease is $12k. I don’t think there’s any way I’m paying that…

    • Kyle Field

      I think this flood of used leafs…some with inferior batter tech/capacity presents a HUGE market for them or someone else to offer battery upgrades with more capacity / ability to hold a charge. For a 2011/12/13 I still think it’s a bit early but that should be just on the horizon. In tandem, a battery rebuild/recycling solution seems to have TONS of potential given that the base car will have less wear than traditional petrol cars.

      • Otis11

        Exactly this. My biggest concern with buying a used leaf (or rather recommending it to my family since I rarely drive anywhere) would be the range – Texas is very spread out, so an 84 mile range is pushing it… any reduction really cause problems.

        If we could do the Tesla roadster thing though, and double the range with a new pack, 168 miles would be more than sufficient!

        • Omega Centauri

          I really doubt that sort of range improvement is possible. The Leaf battery IIRC is essentially part of the frame. I don’t think you can put a physically larger one in. The cost of a new battery installation is also going to be a significant fraction of the (used) purchase price. I think it makes emminent sense to get one, and just live with whatever limitations the battery size imposes.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I think it’s within the realm of possibility that battery capacity will double over the next decade. At some point we are likely to see “second batteries” come on market that offer significantly more range than the original. In the past capacity has increased 5% to 8% (depending on when one starts measuring). That would result in a doubling in 9 to 15 years.
            I wouldn’t suggest purchasing an EV assuming that will happen, but It’s a possibility and could radically change the value of a used EV.

            We know that the Tesla ModS/X battery can be swapped quickly. I wouldn’t think it would take very many shop hours to swap out a Leaf battery. Nissan has already priced a replacement battery. If someone wants one five years from now I doubt Nissan would be building replacements with 2012 cells rather than 2020 cells.

          • Steve Grinwis

            You don’t need a physically larger battery, just a better chemistry. The new 2016 leaf is rumoured to be a 30 kWh battery in the same package… And the last battery upgrade was offered to previous cars. We might end up with 2011 Leafs running around with 30 kWh batteries.

      • Steve Grinwis

        This is already a thing. Nissan offers a $5500 battery replacement program, in the states at least.

        • Kyle Field

          This will truly get sexy when we have a next gen battery pack with double the range in the same form factor 🙂 We’ll then see just how durable these EVs are when they are 10, 20, 30 years old…just with new batteries. uber sexy imho as that comes with a whole host of benefits.

    • anderlan

      And if they give you a sweet enough deal, that used $8k Leaf will be your one and only old reliable.

    • alvord1430

      I have a lease too. Nissan will probably offer you a $6500 discount on your buyout like they did me. Lease pmts+buyout=$17K without any kind of gov’t incentive. Nissan and dealers don’t want these Leafs back on the used lot. Bet the buyout price gets even lower in the coming months.

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