Published on January 6th, 2016 | by James Ayre


Nissan LEAF Last In Resale Value

January 6th, 2016 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

The 2015 Nissan LEAF has the worst initial resale value of all 2015 model-year vehicles, according to a new study from the car concierge website

The new report found that the 2015 Nissan LEAF depreciates, on average, 48%, by the time of the first resale.

Nissan creates “world’s cleanest car” – a zero emissions


The Nissan LEAF was followed closely on the list by the Dodge Charger (45%), the Mercedes-Benz SL-Class (41%), the Chevrolet Camaro (39%), the Kia Cadenza (38%), the Volkswagen Beetle (37%), the Chevrolet Express (37%), the Mitsubishi Lancer (35%), the Kia Optima (35%), and the Cadillac CTS (34%).

The website provides more (wonder why?):

Carlypso’s study of 300 vehicles and more than 46,000 transactions compared new vehicle prices versus auction sales prices. Its results are thus not reflective of new retail price versus used retail price, but rather new retail price versus used wholesale price. After a car is bought at wholesale, it is further marked up with what the used car market will bear, but bottom line is Nissan’s Leaf was dead last.

In 2015 the Leaf’s MSRP ranged from $29,010 to $35,120, and it’s previously been observed as having one of the highest depreciation rates. Factors impacting the Leaf’s resale value may include federal and state purchase incentives combined with manufacturer-backed incentives. Put plainly, buyers may net what is tantamount to a proportionately substantial $7,500 to over $10,000 incentive break – an effective discount of up to one-third of MSRP – that’s not available to used Leaf buyers.

Also not helping the 2016 Leaf has been anticipation of the revamped 2016 Leaf, which boasts up to a 25% larger EV range. The release of the next-generation Leaf also looms as it is expected to offer 200-miles of range or more.

“Nissan has taken a number of steps to enhance the value of Leaf through the vehicle’s life cycle, including adding the car to our certified pre-owned program and offering replacement battery packs,” stated Nissan electric-vehicles sales director Andrew Speaker. “We are also developing additional strategies to preserve the value of off-lease Leaf vehicles, and we are in the process of communicating those plans to our dealers.”

While the news is perhaps not great for those considering at some point selling their Nissan LEAFs, I suppose that the news isn’t bad for those considering buying a used Nissan LEAF at some point. And it would certainly help to explain the relatively low prices for used LEAFs in recent times.

Of course, part of the Nissan LEAF’s resale value being so low is the fact that the US federal tax credit for EVs cuts $7,500 off a new EV, which basically cuts $7,500 off the value of the car as soon as it rolls off the lot, not to mention normal depreciation. But still… the LEAF is last, worse than any other EV. Don’t go buying one and thinking it’s an investment.

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

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • EV4Life

    Went to trade in our 2014 Leaf (with only 23k miles) which we bought for $32k and the highest quote I got from Nissan dealer was $9k!!! The car was only 1 year old and it dropped from $32k to only $9k!!! That’s the worst depreciation on anything I’ve ever seen, including a motorcycle!! What the hell Nissan?!! It almost make one want to total the car and invoke the gap insurance! Good grief, now we are stuck with the car…never again finance just lease!!

  • neroden

    Buy a used Leaf… if you can find one with enough bars on the battery meter. 🙂

    One of the major problems with the Leaf has been bad battery thermal management, which leads to short battery lives for older model years. That kind of kills resale value.

  • Epicurus

    Not good for those who bought them new, but fantastic bargains for used Leaf buyers.

    At $3 gas, you can make the payment on the fuel and maintenance savings.

  • Frank

    Resale value is one thing, actual value is another. If the people that ultimately run these into the ground are happy with them, word is going to get out. Also, eventually the price of oil will go up, and then these cars will become more attractive. Some of the current producing wells would never have been drilled at todays prices, and if interest rates go up, then even fewer of them.

  • Using the Federal Tax Incentive as the reason the LEAF has the largest depreciation rate is clearly not the primary reason. Other EV’s such as the i-Miev, Volt, i3 all attract the same $7,500 federal tax incentive too. The LEAF is the worst of the bunch for a simple reason.

    Nissan produced a vehicle with a battery that has degraded more than other EV’s. Nissan did help the most severely affected LEAF’s by offering free battery replacements, but the battery capacity warranty expires at 5 years 60,000 miles. Second hand car buyers know they will probably be on the hook to buy a new battery sooner rather than later, so they discount what they are willing to pay by $6,000.

    High depreciation detracts from new car sales, no one wants to buy the fastest depreciating vehicle.

    Nissan could have taken care of the early adopters by offering pro-rated battery warranties for up to 100,000 miles. A sliding scale would have softened the blow for those cars over 60,000 miles. 59,999 miles, free battery replacement. 60,001 miles $6,000 battery replacement.

    If instead they charged a $1,000 for battery replacement fee for each 10,000 mile increment above 60,000 miles the resale values would not have been hit as hard and new car sales would not have wilted.

    • Indeed. The battery issues are very likely why the LEAF is worse than other EVs, but the $7,500 is still huge, and I think a slightly bigger factor.

    • Epicurus

      “Nissan could have taken care of the early adopters by offering pro-rated battery warranties . . . ”

      That would have been the decent thing to do. Does Nissan care about its customers? No. There’s the proof.

      • I tend to agree.

        I see VW are preparing to buy back 110,000 diesels in the US to compensate for reduced resale values that DieselGate created. Nissan only bought back a few LEAF’s when customers complained, no blanket remedy for reduced resale values the batteries have contributed to. The LEAF is even worse than the VW diesels in terms of poor resale value!!

        • Bob_Wallace

          There’s a little issue of scale.

          The Leaf had a few problems which were solved with battery replacements and a few buybacks from a few owners. Apparently Nissan didn’t expect temps as high as were found in a few areas.

          VW’s intentional actions impacted a huge number of the cars they had sold.

          • I would refute the LEAF battery issues are “solved”.

            I have 80,000 miles on my car and it only goes 68% as far as it did when it was new. Free battery replacements don’t apply over 60,000 miles. The secondhand buyer anticipates paying $6,000 for a new battery, so discounts what they are willing to pay. That’s why the LEAF has the worst depreciation. I’m quite a high mileage driver one of the first to experience this post warranty issue. As more and more cars like mine will come to market over the next few years and the LEAF will become widely known as having a weak battery and resale values of LEAF’s will worsen still.

            The battery issues aren’t ‘solved’, the evidence of which is being reflected in the low resale values.

            Despite the issues being at different scale as you point out, the impact on resale values is significant for both the VW diesels and the LEAF.

            VW are preparing to make things right with their owners, which due to scale will cost them a pretty penny. Nissan instead have washed their hands of the issue and are not preparing to make things right with their owners even though the cost to do so is fractional by comparison.

            VW will come through this difficult period and rebuild trust and brand loyalty.

            Nissan will have a tarnished EV brand in the US and will struggle to compete due to the loss of trust and lack of brand loyalty for their EV platform.

            VW have a small presence in the US compared to the other major brands, but are willing to do what it takes to preserve it. Nissan have a much larger and growing market presence in the US and have more to lose. As cars are electrified over the next decade or so, Nissan may find they have shot themselves in the EV foot by cheaping out on the battery remedy. That Molehill will grow into a mountain as EV market share increases.

            In summary

            VW are preparing to do the right thing.
            Nissan half-assed it.

          • Epicurus

            “I have 80,000 miles on my car and it only goes 68% as far as it did when it was new.”

            Ugh. There should be disclosure of this possibility at the very least.

            It seems to be standard industry practice not to disclose known auto defects. Years ago I bought an Olds Aurora, and the transmission went out at 50,000 plus miles, just after the warranty expired. The dealership wanted to charge me $4200 for a new transmission. Fortunately, I took it to an independent transmission shop, and they fixed it for $300 by replacing a solenoid. I was informed this solenoid was a known defect in this model Olds. (Just one of the times I was screwed by GM.)

            It would take a class action lawsuit and years of litigation to get GM, or any American auto maker for that matter, to do what VW says they are going to do. Of course, VW committed a remarkable fraud.

  • Shane 2

    A recent Cleantechnica comparison of the Leaf with the e-Golf seemed to suggest the VW is a better car. I wonder if the depreciation on the e-Golf is much better?

  • lad76

    There goes Nissan! They’ve had five years head start on the other companies to introduce an EV and solve the range limitation problem. They didn’t do it; They choose instead to put the money into PR about how 70-80 mile in an EV was enough…wrong! Nissan, like the rest of the legacy car makers, decided to move very slow in the EV space so they can continue to sell their money maker ICE cars and trucks. At this point only Tesla is all in on EVs…they don’t make ‘ICE cars!

    Nissan’s lack of understanding shows in the poor Leaf resale value caused by their policy of not offering updated batteries for the older models. No one wants to buy a used EV for $10,000 and then pay another $6,000 for a replacement battery that still only goes 80 miles.., a better buy would be a used i3 BMW for more money; but, they have an excellent battery upgrade policy that actually adds value to the used car.

    • BMW has a battery upgrade program? don’t recall seeing that.

      • lad76

        The program is implicit in BMW’s decision and announcement to standardize their traction batteries so that they fit across their entire product line. This gives them the flexibility they need….it also provides the ongoing income source of providing upgrades. It appears Nissan didn’t think this far ahead or rejected the idea…can’t find the announcement link, sorry.

  • Ronald Brakels

    The Nissan Leaf in Australia in 2001 was $51,500 Australian. Current price, maybe $40,000 Australian. That’s a 22% fall in price which would have to be the largest fall in price of any vehicle in Australia. So the Leaf having the lowest resale value of any car as measured as a percentage of the purchase price is not a surprise.

    Note that the Nissan Leaf isn’t really available for purchase in Australia. It is possible for eager first adopters to get one, but in the past only if they were willing to pay a lot more than what they cost in Japan or the US. Now the Australian dollar has fallen, the price seems more in line with what it is in other countries.

    • ah, yes, the price also dropped in the US a lot. i think by $6000, but forget exactly.

  • sjc_1

    L.A. has 2011 LEAF with 30,000 miles for $7500.

  • I wonder how feasible it would be to take the drivetrain and battery from an older or wrecked Leaf to use it for a Mazda Miata EV conversion…

    • Benjamin Nead

      That particular conversion might be tough, since the Miata is front engine / rear drive and the Leaf is front motor / front drive. That said, I think batteries and drive components coming out of body-damage-salvaged OEM EVs will have an interesting impact on the home brew EV conversion hobby.

      • The problem with kits like the one from evwest is that you can get an entire salvaged but still running LEAF for the price of a kit that is less powerful and doesn’t even include batteries. Sure, the conversion will be easier as adapter plates etc have all been figured out for the miata but with additional DIY work it seems adapting the running gear from a high volume EV would result in better performance and lower cost.

    • john reed

      The Miata has been converted to EV by several folks. The Leaf is not the ideal donor unit.

  • Even Proberen

    Second hand Nissan LEAF’s low price is an amazing news for many people who are put off by the high purchase price of a new ones. An 4 year old model 2011 is still an amazing second car that (from what I have seen first hand around me) is good for well over 80% of all the driving needs of an average family. Low resale value is a bad thing for early adopters – but so is the resale value of early flat screens and mobile phones. Electric cars are no different and that is a good news!

    • Benjamin Nead

      Bingo! I’m completely happy with my used 2012 i-MiEV for exactly those
      reasons . . . a $7K purchase with just under 18K miles on the odometer
      in mid November that has given me over 600 trouble free miles since and,
      presumably, for years to come. Beyond the traction battery warranty (8
      years or 100K miles,) There is also tens of thousands of miles left on
      just about all other aspects of the drive train warranties.

      Just the other day I analyzed the status of the traction battery’s individual
      cells via the CanIon app on my Nexus tablet with bluetooth OBD reader . . .

      . . . and was pleased to observe an “as new” pack. 🙂

      Much of the FUD spread around regarding used EVs a few years ago centered around batteries that were all supposedly going to be horribly depleted.This was a huge factor is super low used EV pricing this past year, which is when we saw the first large influx of lease returns of first generation vehicles and the used car lots were swelling with them. This sudden glut also certainly contributed to even lower prices than predicted.

      Prices on used i-MiEVS and Leafs seem to have stabilized and might be actually creeping up again. Get ’em at the bargain prices while you can!

    • Harry Johnson

      It’s easy to envision a typical family of four trading in one of their two gasmobiles for a used Leaf with maybe even a profit. Having a green local car could easily become the new norm for many people who want to clean up their act.

      • Martin

        Well any used EV sold to a new owner is somebody who is not going back to an |ICE one.
        And because of the lower prices a lot more people will be able to buy one. 😉

    • john reed

      the cost of the charging set up at home is never mentioned….

      • Even Proberen

        In my case the cost of charging setup (in Europe) is zero! Standard household plug (230V / 16A) delivers enough juice to charge Nissan LEAF in about 7 hours (from 0-100%). And if you have such a plug in a garage (and most people here do), then you are all set. Note then 2011 Nissan LEAF has a 3,3 kW onboard charger (and standard plug delivers that power), while later models have 6,6 kW charger as an option which might profit from a separate charger. In my case, I personally have decided NOT to install the more powerful charger – simply because difference between 4 hour charging and 7 hour charging for me does not justify the cost. As always somebody else’s situation / needs might be different.

        While we are at the never mentioned costs – the cost of electricity (again in Western Europe) is few times less then the cost of fuel (our gasoline is expensive – but so is our electricity).

      • neroden

        My gold-plated charging setup for my Tesla cost less than $500. Insignificant.

      • Bob_Wallace

        The average cost (electrician, permits, everything) of installing a 240 amp clothes dryer is $250.

        Most drivers don’t need anything more than a 120 vac outlet. Over 50% of US drivers already have a place to plug in where they park.

      • Benjamin Nead

        I live in a rental house. All my charging has been done in the front of the house on a GFI outlet, typically at night. For my purposes, 120V charging isn’t slowing me down one bit. But this outlet is placed in such a way that I have to back my vehicle in between 2 fairly good sized saguaro cacti and remember to keep the porch light on, since it (probably not up to code) is on the same circuit and charging stops as soon as the light is switched off!

        There’s another outlet on the side of the house where I would rather be charging. It’s very close to the breaker box as well. But, whoever wired that one didn’t run a ground wire in the conduit . . . and then hooked it up to a GFI outlet just to make it look good! I’m in the process cleaning all that up . . . new 10 gauge wire (with the ground wire this time) and a slight rerouting of the conduit path to a more convenient location, with new weatherproof box and new GFI outlet . . . about $100 in parts, all told. Although I’m sure I can do the breaker box hookup on my own (there’s a 20A breaker in there already with nothing else on it.) I’ll be calling on an electrician friend to do that part and double check all my work along the whole circuit.

  • markogts

    Just wait for a shia-sunni war and everybody will want a Leaf…

    • Riely Rumfort

      May take a half decade to impact prices but yeah the day will come.

      • crevasse

        Followed shortly thereafter by a republican-democrat war.

        • phineasjw

          Followed by the Clone Wars and the AI Rebellion.

        • Riely Rumfort

          Yep, hollywood is swaying civil war atm cause it sells. Batman vs Superman, Captian America vs Ironman(the movie’s called Civil War)

  • Riely Rumfort

    Where’s the VW Budd-E story, was nearly positive it’d be here(cleantechnica).

    • It’s tough to cover everything from the ground in a timely manner (takes so much more time), but Kyle was there so I’m leaving it to him. Should have it up within ~24 hrs, I think.

  • Omega Centauri

    The ranking and percentage decrease is heavily effected by the tax incentives which are used up by the initial purchase. I bet none of those others on the list get them, and the Leaf would probably drop out of the bottom ten if the computation were done right.
    I’m not faulting the cleantechnica writer, he effectively states that several times.

    I would agree that a new one isn’t a good investment, but off lease ones are.

    • Dragon

      But it is telling that no other EV is on the top ten worst for depreciation list. Of course I think a big reason for that is all other EVs (except maybe BMWs) have a waiting list to get new ones so any used ones that appear sell at a premium.

  • Defendor

    Misleading at best to not factor out the Incentive impact on resale pricing.

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