5-Year Depreciation Of $27,170 = Used Nissan LEAFS Are A Steal


According to new data, the Nissan LEAF is the biggest 5-year depreciator among cars right now, which means a used one could be a real steal.

Topping this list is the 5-year-old LEAF, which means that if you’re in the market for a used electric car, the LEAF may be the most economical choice.


Few EVs existed five years ago, so it’s not like there’s a lot of competition (that certainly doesn’t make sense) for lowest retained value and, of course, the federal tax credit plays in, but leaving all that aside, a used LEAF is a killer deal, provided its limited range is suitable for your needs.

2018 Nissan LEAF Versus 2014 LEAF

The top 10 5-year depreciation winner (or loser, depending on how you want to look at it) was the LEAF.

Here’s the recap:

1. Nissan LEAF

Base MSRP: $30,875; 5-Year Depreciation: $27,170; Retained Value: 22%. Electric cars in general tend to have weaker than average resale values on account of the one-time federal tax credit that effectively slashes their sticker prices by $7,500 (and even more if state cash incentives apply). The Nissan Leaf has been the top selling EV the last few years, which swells their supply in the resale market (at least among used electric cars), and in turn adversely affects its value.

So then, the math works out to $3,705 for that 5-year-old LEAF. We don’t think you’ll find one easily for that cheap, but you’ll definitely be able to get a deal on an older LEAF just as soon as you start searching for one. We see older LEAFs as cheap as $5,000 listed right now.

Oh, the introduction of the new and much-improved LEAF means that value for the old LEAF will plummet even more, so buy that used LEAF now.

And some additional background on the compilation of data:

Here’s either a short list of new cars to avoid, or the best deals in cheap used cars, depending on your point of view.

In the automotive business, as in life, there are winners and losers. Here we feature 10 models that are the vehicular equivalent of throwing dollar bills into a roaring fire, based on five-year cost of ownership data compiled by Kelley Blue Book.

Though the average new vehicle can be expected to retain 35.1% of its original value after five years, the 10 models having the worst resale values we could find, lose between 73% and 78% of their sticker prices over the same period. The average $30,000 vehicle is worth just $10,500 after five years on the road, while one that’s worth just 22% will bring back only $6,600 at trade in time.

via Motor1

Categories: Deals, Nissan

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85 Comments on "5-Year Depreciation Of $27,170 = Used Nissan LEAFS Are A Steal"

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That is why you only lease them.

Otherwise the car owns you.

When the residuals are adjusted to sync up with the resale, it will increase what you can lease one for.

Hopefully consumers and lenders seeing headlines like this understand part of what makes for a lower resale (if calculated based off msrp) is the tax credit. Still, these kind of headlines do not help perception of EVs in general.

I don’t think the automakers care about that. They’re basically selling these for a subsidized price themselves for the EV credits. I doubt they’re going to do anything to make them less attractive, since they’re mandated to move them in CA and other ZEV states.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

” (if calculated based off msrp) ”

Wait a minute!
You can’t do that because of what many folks say here of “nobody buys at MSRP”.
So any attempt to derive anything using MSRP is FALSE!

“Base MSRP: $30,875; 5-Year Depreciation: $27,170; Retained Value: 22%”

Where can I buy a 2013 leaf for $3,700 ?
Reality check; They are asking that for salvaged Leafs.

$30,900 – $7,500 fed tax credit – $2,500 state incentive – $500 utility incentive yields an effective price of $20,400. 35% of $20,400 is $ 7,140. According to Edmunds that is a steal if you can find one for that. And did anyone pay full price for a leaf?

Do not confuse retail with wholesale.

Auction prices are well tracked folks.

The MSRP is retail so we want to compare retail with retail no? Otherwise your depreciation numbers are wrong.

Read the article.

This has been calculated this way for years.

MSRP is well tracked, as our auction values which drive what dealers will book your car in at. This data is used to determine KBB trade in values.

The typical consumer trades in. When they do they do not get retail. The retail value is not what they can expect to use to base how much value they retain.

I have sold plenty of cars private party. I have never traded one in. I have less overhead. The details of my transactions are less clear to KBB. Registration cost not based off sales price where I am at. They have estimated private party values but the data as clear. Auction data is closely tracked. KBB audits auctions.

While I expect to retain higher than KBB value since I sell on my own, the values are useful for basis of comparison. Like I mentioned in other posts the tax credit is a factor to understand it has an effect, but only to an extent. Other plug ins faired better.

Fair enough. I didn’t read the article only the summary.

That’s not a hard deal to find at all. In California you can easily find Leafs for that amount or not much more–in some cases less. I know, I picked one up for $7500. There was another on the lot for $7000 but it had more miles. Up in LA I saw some that were in the $6000s. There are three basic reasons for the cheapness of these used EVs. Subsidies are the first one. The second is that nearly everyone who “bought” one actually leased so there’s a glut of cars coming off lease. Finally, there have been huge increases in battery capacity in the past few years, so the range on these cars is not remotely comparable to new alternatives. With the Leaf you also have some battery degradation issues. These low range EVs are basically outdated cars which had limited appeal in the first place. They’re a good buy for the price, but honestly I’m not sure I’d be willing to pay much more for a used Leaf myself. I expect that with the 200+ EVs we’ll see much lower depreciation since they are a more practical car. More people will buy them out after the end… Read more »

Those are mostly older Leafs in below average condition and/or above average mileage/wear and tear FSBO. The summary said $3,705 but the article says $6,600 for a Trade in. Actual resale is typically $2,500 higher meaning your typical 2013 base traded in Leaf is going back on the market with a target price of $9,100 meaning it will be listed slightly higher. That is reality. 3,705 is not.

It’s different in different markets. In Norway it has held its value much better because so many people want to get a used EV (usually as their second car) to cut down on big fuel and toll road expenses and gain access to bus lanes – so the supply is insufficient.

One report even claimed the LEAF had actually increased slightly in value over the last year..!

Firms importing used LEAFs from the US are likely making a killing, even though transport is pretty costly

Haha, our 2012 was exported to Norway by some outfit that bought it at auction when we returned the lease in 2014.

It was likely a win-win-win, SL trim with only 8400 miles on it. The only ones who might have lost were the Nissan dealers, why sell it at auction at a time when it was pretty early in the Leaf depreciation game and they could have likely bagged $13-15k for it at the time. I don’t believe it sold for that much at auction.

The dealer does not own it when you turn in your lease. The finance company you leased from does. Nissan USA may have been the finance company, but the Nissan dealership is independently owned. The dealer gets paid to process the lease return. The finance company can sell at auction to dealers locally but if the wholesale value locally is low it makes more sense to export. If the local dealers wanted more used Leafs they would be buying these up and the finance company would not be exporting.

It is like a Cell Phone, the advancements make the last one obsolete in no time.

Agreed, I think obsolescence or more so advancements in battery tech and capability has more to do with this drastic drop than long-term performance or reliability. If the short range serves someone well then they’ll get it for a steal.

My Leaf is soon 6 years now, have lost 15% capacity and is still great in a two car household as ours. It runs about 18k km each year and our other diesel car only 4k km a year.

As another person mentioned above, in Norway the price for older used Leafs like mine have actually increased over the last year. This is because there are too few older BEVs for sale, batteries last well in our colder climate, and the low running costs makes them cheaper to run than a free ICE car.

Cold climate is key. Vast majority of US EV sales happen in warm states like California. Especially southern California.

The ones I’ve seen used lost so many “BARS” and the ranges are down to like 40-60 miles! I picked up a used Focus EV instead. 🙂

I bet you could pick up a 3-4 year old, 45-60k mile used Leaf in the southwest for $3-4k! Those batteries in those Leafs must be toast!

“bet you could pick up a 3-4 year old, 45-60k mile used Leaf in the southwest for $3-4k! Those batteries in those Leafs must be toast!”

Just checked Craig’s list for Phoenix and Austin. $5-7k for older 2011-3012s. $9500 for the 2013 listed.

Negotiate a price on a new battery.

With this knowledge ascertain a bargain price on a used and degraded battery Leaf.


My friend in Seattle picked up a 2014 Leaf with 12 bars w/about 25K miles on it for $8000.

Just wait until you can buy aftermarket batteries that exceed the original specs… Life will be grand !

I’m surprised this hasn’t happened yet, but I am looking forward to it.

I think the battery is the most proprietary part of an electric car! The cooling system, the charging control, all have to probably satisfy the computer! I am afraid you will be waiting A LONG TIME for an aftermarket battery for a Used Nissan Leaf !!!

Well, at least in the case of the Leaf there basically isn’t a cooling system.

The new 40kWh battery in the new Leaf supposedly fits into the old leaf.

Might have that wrong. There was some rumor the 30kWh 2016 battery could replace the older model leaf batteries, but apparently not.

The 30kWh batteries *can* fit in an older Leaf. But the connectors are different. Nissan technically could upgrade the older batteries, they choose not to because they make more money by selling new cars.

In theory, one could upgrade their own batteries, if they found a wrecked Leaf 30kWh, and swapped the connectors out as well. But there’s no guarantee that the old computer would recognize a higher capacity battery.

I’m really hoping this happens, but so far there’s been no sign of it. I frankly don’t understand why Nissan doesn’t offer battery upgrades for the older cars? It would make the car overall more desirable.

For that matter, I understand that VW may take the e-Golfs back after lease and simply replace the battery with a larger one. By doing that they basically sidestep the “antiquated low range EV” problem.

This is most of all a reflection of the actual prices paid by many people, which are far lower than the sticker price. I bought a 2017 SV Leaf last year with a sticker price of $36k + tax, and my total payments add up to $19k. If the residual value after five years is $6.6k, that’s still 35%. Plus, I’m saving $1000/year in gas compared to my old Toyota Corolla!

2017’s were an extreme case, for much of the year they were literally giving them away.

There are people who paid top bucks for the 2011’s and 2012’s. That would be mid-30s to high-30s, minus the Fed (+state?) rebates.

Only in late 2012 and 2013 did Nissan come out with the more attractive lease deals.

Don’t calculate savings via MPGe !! I have a Ford Fusion that gets 97 MPGe and guess what? I save ZERO compared to the 42 MPG that it gets on gasoline! The only time I save $$ is when I charge at work for free!

In most areas, the cost of electricity (19c/kWh where i live) make electric cars NOT BETTER than gasoline, $7.50 to go 100 miles, no matter what! However, electricity does reduce pollution a great deal because the power plants deal with it better …

I can’t speak for you, but my BMW i 3 cost $100 to drive 1700 miles. I spent $7.00 in fuel for the range extender. This month Instarted time of use and only charge after 10pm, My cost should be cut by half. I’m in California and was paying 28 cents a kwh and now it’ll be 11 cents a kwh.

Plus it’s a blast to drive.

11 cents per kWh? Wow, I only pay 3 cents per kWh here in Canada. Time to get a cheapo Leaf!

Sounds like the mileage for gas and the mileage for electric power should be published separate.

Where I live peak pricing is 13.2 cent per kWh but the off-peak rate is 6.5 cent. If a car has enough battery range then charging at night only makes a big difference on the cost of operations.

We drive about 1000 miles a month, and gas around here costs $3.00/gallon. The Carolla got 30 miles/gallon, so cost $100/month in fuel. The Leaf gets ~3.6 miles/kWh (which is on the low side for an electric car), and uses 278 kWh/ month. We pay $0.05/kWh for electricity, so that costs us ~$14/month and saves us just over $1000 in fuel a year. Even if we were paying your rate of $0.19/kWh it would only cost ~$53/month, and we would still be paying only half the cost of gas!

You shouldn’t start calculating at MSRP, but at the price you actually pay, new, after incentives, etc. In fact they depreciate much less.

The Kia Soul EV I bought second hand at 1 year old didn’t depreciate at all after that. I even can sell it for a bit more then I bought it, now, 1,5 years later.


I have leased two Leaf SL Premium’s and I am always am tempted to buy them at the end because it a screaming deal.

So the plan is to lease, get all the incentive and make sure they take the tax credit ok and wait to see you can get it on the cheap

My 12 Leaf:

MSRP = $37250
Federal incentive (taken by Nissan) = $7500
Net price = $29570

After the 3-year lease, it went to auction. I later found the car listed on a used car lot 3 states away, detailed nicely and fitted with new tires:

List price = $9000
Likely sales price = $8000
Likely auction price = $7000

Depreciation = 1 – 7000/29750 = 76%

So even after deducting incentives, my car was a huge loser for depreciation.

I agree with your logic. I bet the auction cost was lower though. Each time it changed hands there were at least 2 or more persons time involved. Transport cost to the other state. Flooring cost. Detail. Inspectiins. Advertising. The overhead adds up.

It has always been based off MSRP. The same thing occurs for vehicles with high profit built in at msrp, that are then discounted 10 grand at model year end. Those vehicles have always been rated low in terms of resale accordingly. This is nothing new.

The article acknowledges the tax credit as a factor. However the Leaf resale value is still low even with this factored in. Edmunds shows 40% average retained value for vehicles after 5 years. Subtract 7500 from 30,800 and take 40 percent of that and your actual retained Leaf value is still much lower than expected.

There are other plug ins eligible for the full 7500 credit. They are NOT on this list. Note the Volt also had similar U.S sales numbers, incentivized lease deals to push volume, and a price somewhere close to the same ballpark as the Leaf. Also, the Model S which not only ‘suffered’ the same tax credit but also had improved models coming out each year. Plus, it is in the luxury price range which typically make resale softer. It is impresive that it is not on this list.

If only it wasn’t so fricking ugly!
There are many reasons why they are cheap, main one being their battery…look at the Fiat 500 for a parallel.

I agree battery and styling are big factors.

Fiat 500e is very different though due to the limited areas they sold them in, and difference in volume. I actually think the Volt is the closest parrallel and expect EV purist to get worked up about that but ih well.

It’s not. Look at pricing, the Volt holds up fairly well. On the other hand, in CA the Fiat 500e is the only one that’s even cheaper than the Leaf. It makes no difference the Fiat is CA only, it would have been as cheap everywhere if available due to its crappy battery just like the early Leaf.

Yep I agree Volt holds its value better .. despite having some similar sales trends 4-6 years back. Both had cheap leases at times. Both had price drops. Similar number sold nationwide. Both had the same tax credit. Those things track closly so I find the comparison more interesting. Sorry that was not clear.

Despite the similarities the Volt is not in this list, but if there were the same concerns about the battery it could be right up toward #1 as well.

I’m not surprised the Fiat 500e holds up even less well. It’s a much less practical car than the Leaf. It has about the interior space of a postage stamp. It’s not even a true four seater. It has four seats, but two of them are basically only for emergencies, unless you’re from a really short family.

Combine all that with huge subsidies, both from the government, and effectively from Fiat-Chrysler, and low range and it’s not a big surprise that they have to be fire-saled at the end.

Depreciating EVs are bad for the market and bad for EV adoption.

The *only* mitigation for this is better battery technology – specifically, reducing degradation.

This depreciation trend will increase pressure to extend subsides, which the market and the government are tiring of. Removal of the subsidies – either by sunset or legislation – will only worsen the situation.

I wouldn’t worry about this too much. The problem is going to take care of itself. The truth is the first gen EVs had very limited appeal. The only people buying these were green conscious. The range is too low.

I own two of these low range cars, and I’ll fully admit that the range is too damn low. The arguments that “people don’t need more than X miles of range” fell on deaf ears with the general public. Also, the argument is not even entirely accurate, IMO.

Now, with 200 mile+ cars you’re not going to see such an issue. 200 miles really is enough for most people. I’d guess that the vast majority never actually go on a road trip and instead just fly.

So when the Honda Clarity Electric gets off on some leases you will be dirt cheap with a dcfc

So when the Honda Clarity Electric gets off on some leases you will be dirt cheap with a dcfc will be my buy

Picked up a 2013 leaf with 45k miles for 9k. Battery Replacement (would have cost 5k) was under warranty. Expect it to run to 150k.

150k? Good luck with that.

My 12 Leaf lost 15% capacity in 26,710 miles. Running another 105k miles, my math tells me you’ll be at 53% capacity.

Moreover, on the coldest winter days I lost up to 50% range because of the resistive heater in the Leaf.

So your car will run, but not very far. If you’re in a winter climate, you might end up with a car that can drive 20 miles with the heater on, maybe 40 miles in the summer.

I wish you well.

Right – except that for the Leaf – climate and time matter a bit more. Also degradation is not linear.

I have a 70+ mile charge in my garage right now. 2013 with 53k miles. At the rate it is degrading now, I suspect I could go 100k on the first battery without an issue. I happen to live near the city center of a medium size city. Most trips are less than 5 miles.

Not everyone lives in areas with a real winter – generally people realize that life is better without one…..

I bought a 2015 Leaf 6-7 months ago with 5,000 miles on it for $12,000. It still works great, and still has 12 bars. I’m hoping to keep it for a few years, then hopefully get a much better EV. I don’t regret the purchase at all. FYI, I’m in South Dakota, so my car would of likely been a couple grand cheaper in Cali, but, supply & demand.

My 15 Leaf has 36K+ miles on it and still has 12 bars. It gets turned in this September. My wife wants me to buy it and I want a Model 3. 80 miles of range and being fuggly is not something I want to own. As a lease it was OK, I don’t have to sell it. I have taken good care of the battery though.

I was in your shoes with a 2013 Leaf coming off lease and had no intentions of buying but dealer gave me $8k off residual and I was still a year off from my Model 3. So we now have 3 EVs. Model S is the third. I’d want to sell the Leaf, but my wife likes it too much.

If you live in Northern California you can go down to the off-lease, used Leaf “graveyard” in Stockton where they sell them at substantially reduced prices. They usually have 20-25 in stock. You can pick up a 2015 S with 10-11 bars and 90 miles of range for $8000-8500 if you know how to bargain. They make great second cars for around town driving. The website is http://www.carportal.com They will even deliver them to your home.

A 2015 shouldn’t have 90 miles of range even with full 12-bars.

I’m at over 70k mikes on my 2014 and 11 bars. Pretty sure I can drive 90 miles (close though) most days in my LA traffic.

The depreciation paper value over 5 years only matters if you sell it and pick in that loss, much like on the stock market! Solution, don’t sell it! The car is perfectly good otherwise as a second vehicle for running around town. Ours will be run as long as it will still move. Has been cheapest car to operate and maintain we’ve ever had.

This is why the new Leaf is DOA. Slightly better chemistry, larger capacity… NO THERMO PROTECTION. Battery longevity is tied to size and thermo management. With the new Leaf, instead of 5 years, you may have 6-7 years till it depreciates to nothing.

Please try to look at a map sometime. It is due to this ‘map’ thing that the Leaf is and shall remain for some time the best selling EV in history. If we presume Tesla can get production up to 500 per week in the next few months, it would still be a couple years before it even came close to matching cumulative sales of the Leaf.

“depreciates to nothing”
You sound like a car is an investment to you. It doesn’t depreciate to nothing! The ice cars do but ev will actually keep making you money the longer you drive them through the gas savings. In CA, a $25-30k ev actually has a shot for recovering all the initial “investment” in 15 years if you drive a good number of miles. If you have pv then the break even is probably around 10 years @14k miles/year.
The new Leaf will be just fine!

I sort of agree with you. The lack of thermal management on the battery is bad. However, I think the bigger issue is that the range is only 150 miles when 200 mile cars are on the horizon. I think the Leaf is a fairly bad buy for that reason. If you can lease it cheaply, then that’s a different story, but then we’re going to see another glut of Leafs coming off lease in three years.

The only EVs/PHEV I’d be willing to consider buying are the Chevy Bolt, Chevy Volt, Prius Prime and Tesla Model 3. For the rest it’s lease only. Actually the Prius Prime I wouldn’t be willing to buy/lease at all, but I expect its resale value will hold up. For the Bolt/Volt I’d still favor leasing but I’d be at least willing to consider buying them since they have competent range where I feel I could realistically use them for a decade.

My buys right now will be chevy bolt, i3 94ah rex, Honda Clarity plug in, leases with be honda clarity plug in, and nissan leafs

As per cars.com, the lowest priced Nissan Leaf is a 2011 model and its priced at $5,400.

So where did the $3,705 come from. edmunds is anti-ev portal and so they will throw out this type of article.

But how will these low priced electric vehicles impact the price of plugins, hybrids and the gasmobiles?.
Won’t their price go down.

You are looking at retail offers. You are confused. That is not how they have ever calculated it, regardless if drivetrain. The other cars on the list are not EVs. No conspiracy theory here. Relax.

“You are looking at retail offers. You are confused. That is not how they have ever calculated it, regardless if drivetrain.”

He is confused because he can do math. $3,705 is also confused. The article actually says $6,600 offered for trade-in on a $30,000 car. Not $3,705.

Let me also point out that the $30,000 price in the article is more like an effective price of $20,000 and the industry average cited as 35%. 35% of 20,000 is $7,000 which is not that far off $6,600. When you factor in the money saved on five years of fuel costvdeltas then the loser is your typical ICE. That is before factoring in money saved on maintenance.

Agree with your numbers.

There will be a floor on values also because the gas and maintenance savings are relatively fixed and they matter more to the used car buyer.

I can’t sell our 5 yo Leaf. Works fine. Costs nearly nothing to run. Even at $10k, it is a bargain.

I bought a used 2013 Leaf in Oct 2016 for $9700 with 16k miles on it. It now has 30k miles on it and we’ve saved $75 a month on the difference in cost of electricity vs gas. Leaf Spy shows battery health at 94% at the 30k mile mark. Great deal for us! And for you, just check out the battery health with Leaf Spy before you buy.

Nissan in California was flushing these used Leafs as they didn’t want a very low cost electric car on their used car lots when they were still trying to sell new Leafs. So lots of these California Leafs got “exported” to nearby states like Oregon.

I thought about buying a used leaf a month ago it was listed for $9,000 but as soon as I heard the battery fully charged get you less than 85 miles I threw that idea out the window.

Need a MY 16 or newer.

Check the crash test ratings and you’ll see why they are so cheap. The older Leafs are death traps.

I checked out the actual crash test results as suggested and they contradict your contention. They came out the same or better as the Bolt on all but the offset frontal. …and that is the older Leaf.

Per AAA I notice the lack of empirical evidence to back your False claim.

I’d rather get a used Prius for $5000 than a used leaf.

2 very different cars.
I ratter have cake than take my cold medicine.

Well, you kinda get what you pay for. To me there is really no value in a used Leaf that’s probably lost a lot of battery capacity and is likely to lose more and thus has absolutely minimal usable range. I’d be better off buying a gently used Prius for $14-15K or even buying my Spark EV at end of lease next year for $10K or so. Both are likely to last me 10 years and be much more useful.

The real deals are gone. Those would be the 2012’s that were still within the 5 year battery warranty – AND had a nearly depleted battery. Nissan would replace it with a new one, no questions asked because they knew the 2011 and 2012 batteries do not last. I recently got a new battery with two months left on the warranty, bought the car two years ago for $7k with 55k.

Where is the list of cars? I’d like to see what other cars are on there.
I’ve been looking for a good deal on a used Leaf in the Bay Area but have yet to find one. I’m staying away from the ones that already have a depleted battery as my commute is ~45 miles one way. I can recharge at work but don’t want anything lower than a stated 70 mile range.

One idea is to go for the depleted battery that is under the threshold when the warranty kicks in this way you get the rock bottom price and a new battery.

The website for the used Leaf listings in Stockton is http://www.carportal.co (not .com) or you can go to cargurus.com and search for used Nissan Leafs within 200 miles of the Bay area. They not only will deliver the car to you for free, but also give you the Leaf Spy numbers on request. They don’t bargain, but they do lower their prices if a particular used Leaf sits there for too long.