2018 Nissan LEAF Is KBB’s 5-Year Cost-To-Own Winner Among EVs


Nissan LEAF

2018 Nissan LEAF

According to Kelley Blue Book’s (KBB) research, the 2018 Nissan LEAF is the most affordable electric car to own over a five-year period.

Every year, KBB gives out awards for “Cost to Own,” as well as Best Brand and Best Luxury Brand (also related to ownership costs). The publication explains:

“When considering the cost of a car, all too often buyers focus on the sticker price and how to negotiate that number to fit their budget …

But the money it takes to own a car goes far beyond a vehicle’s purchase price, and the financial impact – for better or worse – will last years after you’ve driven it off the lot …

When you add up costs such as fuel, financing, insurance and one of the biggest factors of all – depreciation – vehicles with similar sticker prices when new can vary widely in total ownership costs just a few years down the road. It’s the reason why a car with a lower sticker price isn’t always cheaper in the long-run, while a car that initially costs more can actually save you thousands in comparison.”

Nissan LEAF

Inside the 2018 Nissan LEAF

This is all too important, especially when it comes to EVs. People see the higher price associated with electric cars and the fact that even if they qualify for the rebate, it doesn’t come until tax time. Many opt out primarily due to the initial expense.

It’s difficult to get the general population to realize and understand “cost to own.” It’s hard to imagine the savings over the course of a number of years, when considering lower maintenance costs, depreciation, not having to purchase gas, etc.

While it would be even more advantageous to see how a car like the 2018 Nissan LEAF compares to a similar gas car in this study, KBB uses a separate category for electric vehicles. Although the new, second-generation LEAF is not yet available in high volume, it still tops KBB’s list for the model year.

Looking at the publication’s numbers, we can provide our own comparison. The 2018 Nissan LEAF’s five-year cost-to-own (as of December 31, 2017) is $38,258. The ICE 2018 Hyundai Sonata (midsize car) comes in at $36,800, and the gas-powered compact 2018 Toyota Corolla iM has a five-year figure of $30,856.

KBB points out that Tesla has worked to improve the image of electric cars, however, the new Nissan LEAF, along with the Chevrolet Bolt, are really the first vehicles of their kind to push the “acceptance” envelope. These are EVs with mainstream consumers in mind. KBB reports:

“The new Leaf’s 5-year cost to own strengths are many. Leaf pricing now starts under $30,000 (and that’s before you deduct the $7,500 federal EV tax credit) and you get an 8-year/100,000-mile battery warranty. Additional savings also appear in cost advantages shared by all electric cars: much lower maintenance costs and fuel costs that are a fraction of having to pay for gasoline. On the downside of that street, electric cars dramatically lose their resale value over time.”

Additionally, the award summary mentions the new LEAF’s 40-percent improvement in driving range (150 miles) — thanks to its 40 kWh battery pack — instant torque, ePedal (one foot) driving technology, mainstream exterior, and expansive, high-quality interior. KBB concludes:

“By giving the car a more conventional look and boosting range to 150 miles, the Leaf is moving into the realm beyond automotive novelty to a practical, alternative-power vehicle.”

Source: Kelley Blue Book

Categories: Nissan

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38 Comments on "2018 Nissan LEAF Is KBB’s 5-Year Cost-To-Own Winner Among EVs"

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iSeeCars shows 260 new 2018 LEAFs available nationwide. Some appear to be listings only, but several photos of real cars on lots. Nationwide too.

Glad to see this getting off the ground. Looks like a great value on paper relative to other BEV offerings. With the tax credit, the 5-year cost to own looks great.

Test drove one here in cleveland ohio. Great car for sv trim. Didnt lie the price of 37k. Dealer said that they sold 6 so far.

Why not just look at Nissan’s website? It shows over 500 in inventory.

I care only about 10 year costs of ownership and for now I would bet on a BEV with a liquid cooled battery beating the Leaf at least here in hot sunny Austin Texas.

I totally agree. The first generation Leaf had the worst depreciation of any car on the market because the battery wasn’t liquid cooled. In Phoenix, it lost 40% per year. So it went from 100 mile range to 60 miles the next year, to 36 miles at the 2 year mark. People were selling them for just 6 to 8 thousand dollars since they were almost useless at that point.

The Phoenix owners got together and sued Nissan. Nissan gave them a voucher for 1 free battery pack replacement. But they didn’t fix their cooling system.

When this new Leaf came out, everyone was expected it to be liquid cooled.
Nope. So I don’t care at all about the new Leaf. Nissan is incompetent.

The funny thing is Elon Musk predicted all this would happen on a quarterly earnings call more than 7 years ago. Before the Model S and before the Nissan Leaf came out an analyst asked if Tesla would be at a disadvantage since the Leaf would beat the S to market. Go listen to his response. It’s classic Elon.


Exactly why we (in California) bought a Bolt EV last year when we found one at a good price.

We leased a Leaf for more than three years in the past and liked the car but had terrible battery capacity loss. Not making that mistake again.

From article KBB quote: “The new Leaf’s 5-year cost to own strengths are many… On the downside of that street, electric cars dramatically lose their resale value over time.”

Tesla being the exception on high loss of resale value for EVs.

So if comparing Nissan Leaf to Tesla Model 3 one needs to factor into consideration trade-in risidual value and also value placed in having access to a robust convenient & reliable supercharger network (for those occasional long distance trips).

“Tesla Vehicles May Hold Value Resale Better Than Gas Cars”:

High resale value is very common when demand out-strips supply, even for ICE vehicles.

Tesla has certainly been growing production but demand / Teslamania has increased at a speedy pace.

Dramatically higher production (as Tesla plans) and a lot more competition (or vapourware as people here call it), could work against those resale values.

Bottom line, buy a Tesla because you think it’s cool, but don’t bank on high resale 3+ years from now as it might not be there.

With the Model 3 starting to reach customers the Model S used car prices are coming down fast.

You are linking to an EVANNEX article. That is (native) advertising, not a real article. Evannex sells Tesla accessories and thus have a vested interest in pushing people to buy Tesla cars.

When it comes to Tesla’s resale values we can go to Tesla’s own Q4 report where they state they basically made no money from reselling used Tesla’s. As they say: “Gross margin on used cars sales was close to breakeven”.

@Someone out there said: “You are linking to an EVANNEX article. That is (native) advertising, not a real article…”

Seems others are in agreement with EVANNEX:

“EVs Are Cheap to Run but Expensive to Own, Thanks to Abysmal Resale Value… Tesla continues to be the exception…”

source (Car and Driver):

It’s an important point. Tesla is the better value when you consider resale value. Also it just stomps the daylights out of the Leaf.

So did they take the $7500 rebate into account in the cost to own?

I checked KBB, and they don’t seem to include the $7500 federal rebate as part of the cost to own calculations. Also, they use about $27k in depreciation. So they seem to think after 5 years you will only get $3k for a used Leaf. (Based on 10,000milea per year). That seems way too low.

A 5 year old Leaf with 60k miles is approximately $5k or more if you get a certified preowned w/ 3 year warranty at a Stealership.

If you want to get an idea of a vehicle’s resale value, look at the residual value of the leases (and then add a ~10% for retail value).

The manufacturers put a lot of effort trying to maximize lease deals without getting screwed later, so it’s a pretty good estimate of where resales values will be.

As an example: Leaf SV in Ontario (as configured price before taxes/interest/fees/rebates: $39,598, residual on 4 year lease: $10,398)

So the residual is just over 1/4 of the list price and about 1/3 of the list price less Ontario rebate.

So I’d expect a private sale resale value of about $12K

The BMW i3 is a Real Steal in the used car market.
Advanced technology of a 3 year old i3 REX at around $22,000.
The gas saving will literally pay for the car.

These kind of deals won’t last.

Sssssh! Don’t go spreading the word ! 😉

More “research” not based on facts.

— This is a new car, even if it’s based on an older version. Noone’s been driving a production version more than a few months.

— Noone knows what the average maintenance will be over the next 5 years.

— Significantly, the battery cell formulation is different from the previous 1.5 generations of Leaf batteries, so noone knows what the average battery degradation will be given Nissan’s decision to forego the TMS. This matters more than with the previous version, since due ot the higher range a lot more people will be using it for long(ish)-range trips, and doing a lot more DC rapid charging.

— Noone knows what the decreciation will eb like, not just because of the model’s inherent qualities, but since there’ll be a lot of competition, and it’s also unclear what the demand/supply curve will look like for used EVs.

All true.

However, after saying this “electric cars dramatically lose their resale value over time”, which is especially true of Leaf 1.0 and 1.5, I don’t know how they conclude that Leaf 2.0 is still the best deal in Total Cost of Ownership.

Fuel savings are significant.

Not really.

My 12 Leaf saved me $100/month in fuel over the 30 mpg car I had before it, but it depreciated $600/month in 36 months.

Fortunately, I leased and didn’t have to deal with that.

Price after subsidies: $28750
Used car listing: $9000
Likely auction price: $7000
Depreciation: $21750 in 36 months (75%).

Does the $229/month lessee really care how much the car is worth in five years/

The $229 lease doesn’t exist. With options, no $ down, and taxes, the actual cost is around $400 a month.

I’m an owner of a leaf 1.5 (Build in Jan. 2015) and drove 38.000 miles with it right now. The battery is still in best condition (checked with Leaf Spy regulary). When the car was new 89% SOC was avaiably through the BMS. It went up and down between 86 and 90%, actually 89%.The leaf is a perfect car for me – living in Germany so not in death valley 🙂
Would be nice if the Leaf 2.0 with the 64 kWh battery pack will get liquid cooling, then I’ll cancel my Model 3 reservatuon which is actually delayed to “early 2019” (Elons time, so more likely “late 2019”)
Why ? -> a tow bar for the Leaf is avaulable in Europe (bycicle transport), nope for M3…

Elon time????

My July 2015 car with just over 40k miles had a 96% battery health when I last checked a few weeks back.

I have a 2018 model on order. I used a local scrappage deal with my current car which lead to a €24k price for the car with government incentives. After 2.5 years the trade in value is €15k. I figured out it would have cost me over 10k vs. 1.5k for the fuel had I kept my 15 yo gas car instead as it’s expensive to buy fuel here. So in effect I have been driving for free for the past 30 months.

Gotta love a LEAF.

“Free” meaning that I got to drive a brand new car with the same money it would have cost to keep my 15 year old previous car.

I have a 2015 Leaf with close to 90,000Km, the cost of purchase was $28,000 including a $14,000 Ontario and Federal rebate. I estimated the gas savings alone to be roughly around $3,500 to $4,500 per year vs. a similar Gas car at $1.1 per litre (ontario average for the last three years) A similar Gas car would cost roughly $25,000-$28,000 plus gas and maintenance for the three years of operation. The conservative estimated cost of ownership so far would have been $35,000+ vs 30,000. Its possible that the resale value of the gas car would be higher in the US but haven’t seen much of a difference in Ontario. Also, Better air and less noise pollution.

My ’15 Leaf S has 91,000km right now (Ontario). I figure I save about $300 per month in fuel, but the lease costs me $378 per month. Can’t wait to purchase my ’18 SL which my wife will own when my Model 3 shows up 🙂

Glad the Leaf is out and improved but you still couldn’t make me buy one. Will hold on to my Volt until I can do better, and the residual on my 38 month lease is well over half the purchase price so I’m looking much better on value.

Lease residual is meaningless to actual value.

In my experience described above ^^, my Leaf lease residual was $18000, but the car probably was sold at auction for $7000. Nissan offered me a residual of $13000, but I knew better than to pay that.

How interesting. Those #s are all over the place. I’m just looking ahead on mine and haven’t seen anything that wild, but obviously stealers are going to pick our pockets with a smile.

When your range starts out at 80 then ends up at 50, TCO is not the major issue.

When the 2013 Leafs fourth capacity bar drops after a little over 5 years and 60k miles (now out of warranty), the approximate 50 mile range can be a about the only major issue.

So some posters are giving their three year experiences but Edmunds is talking 5.

That is almost apples to oranges.

I have a 5 yo Leaf (3/13 build) so I have done the math.

When a 3 yo Leaf is worth $7000, then years 3-5 are nearly free. What is the floor on pricing? $5000? Every time I drive “Leafy”, I mentally ignore depreciation. And that is why it will be hard to sell.

Also – even if degradation was the same, the car at 5 years would still be quite functional. I really doubt road trips and quick charging are going to be so common that degradation will be potentially worse. It is still hard to rely on quick charging (other than Tesla) so it is not for the faint of heart.

NC. 52k miles. Still can eke out 100 miles on a warm day. But have lost a bar.

Also – the TCO for Europe and Canada is definitely apples to oranges.

Not just for the fuel costs but I suspect resale is hugely better. At some point, they were taking 3 year lease turn ins out of the US. Makes a lot of sense.

I bought a 2015 totally fully loaded BMW i3 REx MSRP 56k with 10500 miles for $23k. I do think the majority of the depreciation is over. Loving all the features of the car, the way it drives, etc. No new car comes close at that price point. Even if it only survives the remainder of its 15 year design life, it’s an awesome deal. I keep all cars I buy, new or used, for 10 or more years so long term value is important to me as it total cost of ownership. The only surprise is you Must get winter tires as without them, it’s worse than any car I’ve ever driven like the 91 and 93 RX7s, various Mustangs, various Corvettes, Duster, E150, 69 Charger, which are just the rear wheel drive cars I can recall (garage has 6 vehicles in it right now, but only one RWD), mostly due to the regeneration which requires a whole new set of “gas” pedal technique and even then, it would be better and safer to just turn regeneration off in snowy/icy conditions. Love the i3. Amazing deal for an almost new car. Love it.