2015 Nissan LEAF Depreciates More Than Any Other Car

JAN 9 2016 BY MARK KANE 36

2015 Nissan LEAF

2015 Nissan LEAF

USA Today listed the Nissan LEAF on top of  the 2015 models with highest immediate drop-off in resale value.

A ~one year old LEAF is hit by 48% depreciation “comparing their sales-weighted sticker prices as new cars to their wholesale price at auction” according to Carlypso.

“Nissan’s Leaf, priced new from $29,010 to $35,120,  has shown up near the top of worst resale price before — and for good reason. It, like other new electric vehicles, are eligible for up to $7,500 in tax credits, as well as automaker’s discounts. Those discounts and incentives filter down when the car is resold.”

The $7,500 federal tax credit (and some state incentives) are of course key to understanding the depreciation rate of the LEAF and, in general, plug-in electric cars – but it is still not great news to hear you lead the pack of plug-ins either.

We’d like to stress again, if you take $7,500 from the price (MSRP + $850 destination charge) of $29,860 (2016 base 24 kWh version) and $35,050 (2016 base 30 kWh version), you immediately get a 25% and 19.5% lower price…which lowers the effect ‘real world’ depreciation to somewhere between 23% and 27.5%.

The Fact That Today's Nissan LEAF Is Heading Into A Generational Upgrade In About A Year Isn't Doing The Current Car Any Favors

The Fact That Today’s Nissan LEAF Is Heading Into A Generational Upgrade In About A Year Isn’t Doing The Current Car Any Favors

No one with tax credit capability will buy a nearly-new, used LEAF for several thousand lower than new if that same person could buy brand new from a dealer (now also with new 2-year free charging under Nissan No Charge to Charge program).

The same is true with local state incentives – sometimes several thousand dollars on top in addition.

On top of those incentives comes normal value drop of used cars depending on mileage, age and condition, but we believe that most of the early depreciation comes from the incentives themselves.

From the outside it looks like the Nissan LEAF would be a bad car with its high depreciation, but that isn’t true – at least when compared to petrol cars. This is just economy, and proof that incentives for new cars not only help first buyers, but also makes used EVs more affordable for those in the second-hand market.

Depreciation must be counted after incentives, or at least reports should indicate both values to provide truer image.

And here is the key insight – by purchasing an EV you will get full incentives by keeping the car long-term (like 10 years). Because prices of new and used cars are lowered by incentives, those who sell the car will sort of split their tax credit/state incentives with the next buyer.

“Here’s the list of what Carlypso says is the amount of depreciation in 2015 cars, comparing their sales-weighted sticker prices as new cars to their wholesale price at auction.

.1. Nissan Leaf — 48%
2. Dodge Charger –45%
3. Mercedes-Benz SL-Class — 41%
4. Chevrolet Camaro — 39%
5. Kia Cadenza — 38%
6. Volkswagen Beetle  — 37%
7. Chevrolet Express –37%
8. Mitsubishi Lancer — 35%
9. Kia Optima — 35%
10. Cadillac CTS — 34%”

Source: USA Today

Categories: Nissan

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36 Comments on "2015 Nissan LEAF Depreciates More Than Any Other Car"

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The Leaf is a crappy car with a suspect battery pack so it should depreciate faster than average. However, you have to account for the tax credits and rebates. If you buy a car for $20K after rebates and credits and sell it a year later for $15K, you have not lost $20K to depreciation. You’ve lost $5K.

In this regard, a large chunk of Leaf sales occurred in GA where there was a very large state subsidy. You could pick up a Leaf for well under $20K. So not surprising that the resale was low.

The best way to calculate the resale value would be to start with MSRP, subtract credits and rebates, and to then use this rather than MSRP as your denominator.

The big surprise is how few EVs are on the list actually. That definitely surprises me.

All ICE vehicles should depreciate according to how much pollution is released out of tailpipe. If a vehicle is a BEV it should hold a higher resale value.

Okay, so what’s so awful about the Dodge Charger, when it doesn’t have batteries, it doesn’t have government rebates, and it doesn’t have any special new technology that apparently depreciates faster than any other car?

Or maybe someone’s using statistics to fudge the numbers. You know, again. This is specifically pointed out in the insideevs.com article, but absent in the USA Today article. The writers at USA Today are either total fools, or they’re purposefully trying to make the Leaf look bad. I wonder if they even considered the Toyota Mirai, with its whopping $10k rebate.

If you want to judge a lemon by its poor resale value, look at the ICE cars immediately below the Leaf in this list.

Do you have a Leaf? We have one in the family. There is nothing crappy about it all. We’ve had it for a year now and are very satisfied with it.

You work for GM don’t ya? Lets be real here lol

Completely disagree with LEAF being a lousy car. We have 2 and absolutely love them. The battery is not suspect… maybe the 2011-12 bleeding edge models… We bought in 2013 and 15 and the cars have lost little if any capacity 2 years on and 32k miles later. They are very efficient and work reliably everyday with no oil changes and an uncomplicated design that just works.
As to the real subject of this article… it is absolutely true that subsidies and credits must be deducted from any calc of depreciation. In fact for us the subsidies are so good in CA that if we get another new LEAF it will essentially be free. We’ve saved 10k twice… not quite a 33% discount but nearly. When you consider that we also have solar panels that deliver enough to essentially charge the cars and power the home… which also only cost 66% of the original cost because of subsidies… not a bad deal at all.
Also, the lower cost of the used car helps alot with getting these cars marketshare increased in the used car market.

I completely agree with Jeff’s statement. For the battery degradation- that was definitely more a 2011/2012 model year issue. I leased a 2013 Leaf SL and just turned it in about two months ago (a little early) – but I had a great opportunity to do some comparison with another Leaf (2013 also – Brian Kent) – I had 24000 miles on my Leaf and Brian had about 48000 on his – neither of us had lost any capacity bars yet – and we both took a trip up Pikes Peak (8000 feet elevation gain, 30 miles distance to the top) – we compared stats and drove together the whole way. Starting from the bottom we both had 100% charge, got to the top and we were both right around 15% charge remaining – getting back to the bottom (another 35 miles later to where we were stopping) we both ended right around 40% charge remaining. That’s two similar cars (one an S, one an SL) with one having twice the mileage – both tracking almost identical the whole way. When I turned in my leased 2013 SL, I purchased a 2016 SL. I don’t worry to much about the… Read more »

Hi Tim E
What are you doing to maintain your Leaf battery so well with no capacity bars lost? Anything special. I have a new Leaf so the subject greatly interests me.
Is it true its a good idea to keep the state of charge between 20 and 80% when you can? Do you trickle charge? Avoid DC fast charge?

We’ve got a 2012 Leaf and my Leafspy app says our battery capacity is still at 87%. We lost the most capacity last year (10% from January of 2015 to December of 2015), but everyone’s records have shown that’s when you lose the most anyway, and it starts to level off after that.

Here’s what we do to keep our battery so fresh:

– We live north of San Francisco.

That’s it. We don’t baby the battery in any way, shape, or form, and we’ve taken it on a few road trips with plenty of DC charging, nevermind the occasional quick charge in town when we needed it.

Nothing crappy with the Leaf. I absolutely love my ’13 sL. Lots of torque and the remote Climate control makes winter driving a lot more tolerable. I suspect this guy works for GM……….

These vehicles would have maintained more value if Nissan was wise enough to make their latest battery pack– backwards compatible.

Nissan’s choice is a bad precedent for the industry.

Absolutely correct. The best buy on the Planet would be a used Leaf if Nissan offered upgraded battery packs for their first generation Leafs. However, no one wants to pay $10,000 for a used Leaf and then another $6,000 for a obsolete replacement battery that doesn’t improve the number one flaw of the Leaf, poor mileage range.

This is going to be an ongoing problem for all BEVs except Tesla’s, for the near term. This is a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that batter tech is advancing rapidly year-on-year. The bad news is that this means each successive generation of BEVs is going to rapidly become obsolete, at least until the average range is 300+ miles.

And I seriously doubt any BEV maker except Tesla is going to offer upgraded packs for their older BEVs. Nissan et al don’t want to sell you a longer-range battery pack for your car; they want to sell you a new car!

In fact, I question that even Tesla is going to offer replacement battery packs, except in very small numbers. (For example, Tesla is offering a rather pricey upgrade for the Roadster battery pack, but they can be sure not many will buy one.) Every battery pack sold as a replacement means one fewer battery pack available to be put into a new Tesla car.

BMW as also said they are looking at providing more potent battery pack to existing car sold but at a cost.
It’s not sure, but IMO, I think this would be a business opportunity to make paying upgradable pack for all manufacturer and would also get business to their dealership network and keep them happy.

I would like to see an article that compares only plug-ins

Depreciation is worse than 48%. An off-lease LEAF SL goes for less than $8,000 at auction and resells for less than $10,000. These cars cost $35,000 new. Two reasons why the LEAF has a terrible residual: 1) Any car that has $7500 on the hood is not going to resell very well, because the expectation is that the used car should be reduced by that much when it is sold. This applies to all EVs that receive tax credits. 2) If you were buying a 3 year old ICE car with 36,000 miles, and you knew that in another 4 years you would have to replace both the ICE and the transmission (at a cost of $5500) you would expect the price of the car to come down significantly to cover the cots of the inevitable repair. Every LEAF comes with a battery that will degrade to EOL before the rest of the car reaches scrap value. I don’t care if you have a Japanese pack or a Lizard pack. That’s a lot of money to put into a 7 year old car. But if you can score a loaded SL for $10,000, even at $15,500, it’s still not a… Read more »

I think you might have missed the topic at hand here…it refers just to 2015 model year cars ie) ~1 year old cars

What does “EOL” stand for?

EOL = End Of Life

I bought my 2015 LEAF SV with QC/LED package new with 6 years 0% interest financing for $20k OTD (after taxes) back in Dec 2014, so it would certainly not be me looking at depreciation from sticker price.

EV technology is improving very rapidly, much more quickly than any advances in conventional vehicle technology. We can’t expect to enjoy dropping purchase prices and increasing battery capacities without also acknowledging that older cars are going to decrease in value as a result. It definitely makes sense for these comparisons to take into account incentives, but that isn’t going to change the fact that the Leaf’s and many other EV’s MSRP has been cut significantly by the manufacturers over the past few years.


What’s confusing consumers is that they are trying to look at an EV the same as a conventional gasoline car. When an EV is more like an expensive mobile device on wheels.

Which means depreciation will be rapid, as wanted/necessary battery/drivetrain/component technological advancements are made, with the driving force being battery pack range.

KNOWING that range is on a trajectory toward 300 – 500 miles, rapid yearly and bi-yearly depreciation should be expected, as battery pack range is increased across manufacturers for years to come.

Understanding this, leasing is the best option and helps the consumer avoid the huge depreciation hit. While at the same time, BUYING a used EV off lease (or early adopter willing to take the hit) at the dramatically reduced price, with acceptable range, has longer term value benefits for the consumer.

I purchased my Ford Focus electric on October 7th of 2015. Indefinitely depended upon the depreciation of the vehicle in order to afford it. Mine it the top level package with leather interior etc. It retailed just north of 40k and I was a able to get it for 14,900. It was a 2013 model and originally had 6,795 miles on it and since then I have put 3,836 miles on it. I love that these cars are depreciating so badly and that most people don’t realize what a steal they are.

First off $30k is a rather high price for recent Leaf’s as they cost about $15k without the battery OEM and the tax credit pays for a 40kwhr battery now.
But as the tax credit is the cause of much of the depreciation, the Leaf is better than any of the others listed in real $.
The great thing is low cost Leaf’s, Volt’s coming off lease that allow poor people to enjoy the savings of an EV.
So expect a Leaf to drop more as the newest Leafs have to compete with the Bolt, then model 3.
Luckily for Nissan they can drop the price a lot and still make a profit.
There is a large market for $20k 120 mile Leaf’s.
Especially if they go lighter and more aero.

My 2015 Leaf cost me $18K after all of the rebates and tax credits. Right now the dealers are blowing them out at $15K or so after tax credits, so these numbers aren’t really that surprising. If I could buy a 2015 S right now for $15K after credits, it seems like I would be hard pressed to sell a used one for more than $12K. All of this being said, I’m saving $2K/year on gas and maintenance, so if in three years time, I can only get $10K for my car, I’ve paid $2K to drive it. This is a pretty good deal. I also think that the next two years will be an all time low for leaf re-sale prices. Once state tax credits start expiring (In CA this will be in a year or so), the effective price of new cars will be $2500 higher. Also in 2-3 years, the federal $7500 tax credits will start rolling off as well, which will drive the new car price even higher. If Nissan starts selling 30kwh packs to 2011-15 cars for $5-6K, I think you’ll see used prices jump a bit, or at least find a bottom. If all… Read more »

You need to know Nissan policy is to not offer upgraded packs for the 2011-2015 Leafs. That’s the main reason they have a poor resale value…their replacement packs are obsolete. BMW has standard battery packs that will be used across their entire EV line which makes upgrading a possibility.

I see this Nissan policy decision as poor management vision.

That is FUD. There are numerous people on the MyNissanLeaf forum who have gotten their ’11 and ’12 LEAF battery packs replaced with lizard packs.

The latest chemistry is what is going into the 2016 batteries not the outdated 2015 Lizard battery. Those 2016 batteries are NOT compatible with the 2011-2015 cars.

Just wrong. They are being replaced under warranty as none have come out of it yet.
Next once they do, one will have their pack repaired, not replaced as likely just 1-2 cells go bad.
No one buys new Prius packs, they buy used ones or have theirs fixed. Same for EV’s as they come out of warranty.
But other than early Leaf packs, the rest are lasting very well with little decline, much less than thought.

I got all excited from the title that this is wrong, and the body of the article actually point it out. What would be interesting is a list of least depreciating 2015 cars under $50K (or $100K), because 25% actual depreciation seems really low, maybe one of the lowest. Then the title could be amended/appended to “Depreciates less than most cars”

After reading this, I was curious about used SparkEV price. Given that it’s $26K new -$1K chevy rebate – $7.5K fed – $2.5K CA = $15K, one would think used price should be lot lower ($10K?).

Nope, car.com shows $14K to $22K! If anything, EV depreciation is ridiculously small or even appreciate. I hope Bolt will bring used EV prices down to more reasonable levels.

If we remove the pricing distortions like federal & state tax credits the depreciation model for EVs is still not yet understood by the consumer. IMO they are still applying the ICE depreciation process to EVs. To understand this consider that once on the road the only thing needs replacement for an EV to run till 500k miles are batteries and tires. The batteries are already on a price reduction curve and is reasonable to think the next time (2020) replacement will happen at around 3k. Tires are about the same cost for all cars. The problem IMO is that people are pricing in significant maintenance costs of ICE past 100k where the ICE car has already driven most good miles its ever gonna drive BUT an EV is just getting started as its probable lifespan is north of 500k. so 100k is just 20%. Its like assuming a ICE car will be worthless after driving 36k miles. to drive the point home further, at 50mph an ICE engine runs for 3000 hrs to do 150k miles. electric motors run many times that continuously without any issues. and even when they fail re-winding an electric motor is not that big… Read more »

Early Stage EVs like the Leaf will rapidly depreciate, especially as next-gen EV’s such as the Bolt, M-3, and next Leaf come to market. That is the basic nature of any quickly evolving high tech device. Early Adopters pay the price for product evolution.

Commenters are saying that it’s largely about the $7500 tax credit, but that’s only half true.

The plain and simple fact is that EVs are growing by leaps and bounds now. There will continue to be huge depreciation for the next 10-20 years, because each new generation of EVs is going to be a major upgrade over the previous generation. That hasn’t been the case in ICE cars for a long time.

In other words, when you buy an EV, you should buy it with plans to drive it until it falls apart, because you are going to lose your shirt reselling it.

Why no discussion based on average price paid new (data available from state tax records) and the average price paid used (again state sales tax data).?

The use of MSRP for “new price” and Auction price for “used price” implies a deprivation range that no consumer is going to experience.

Using MSRP and auction prices to calculate depreciation is about as useful as calculating filling costs based on crude oil prices being displayed at a gas pump. The values quoted are far removed from typical consumer purchases!

This is great!
When we purchased an electric car we wanted an alternate to gas guzzling ICE cars. We made our purchases with no thought that we would get rich selling it later. Now, the next generations cars are coming out and our first generation cars are going up for sale. I am now looking to get my daughter a used Leaf because of the low cost to purchase, operate, free charging on college campuses and little to no maintenance. We are now opening up EV’s to families who may not have been able to afford a new Leaf three years ago. This is building the base of EV users who will show this “new” technology to their friends and family. This is how EV sales will grow across the world. Slow and steady but like all technology it will grow exponentially with time. It will not be long before people begin to see EVs as a “normal” car and not some experiential high tech oddity.