Killer Deals Expected on Used EVs


2011 Nissan LEAF

2011 Nissan LEAF

One of the big takeaway points from the recent USA Today report on the predicted high 5-year depreciation for BEVs is that the used electric vehicle market could hold some killer deals in over the next few years.

LEAF or Focus?

LEAF or Focus?

If what Kelley Blue Book told USA Today turns out to be true, then used BEVs will over raging value for those interested in buying automobiles that aren’t quite new.

If you recall, USA Today reported these specific 5-year depreciation percentages for some of the plug-in vehicles:

  • Chevrolet Spark EV – Expected to be worth 28% of its $28,305 list price in 5 years – ICE version expected retain 40% of its value in 5 years
  • Ford Focus Electric – Expected to be worth 20% of its $35,995 list price in 5 years – ICE Focus Titanium version to retain 36% of its value in 5 years
  • Nissan LEAF – Expected to be worth 15% of its 2013 (no Model Year 2014 LEAF exists in the US yet) Model Year list price in 5 years

The biggest depreciators (predicted to be worth only 15% of their new value in 5 year’s time), according to USA Today, are the Smart Fortwo ED, Fiat 500e and Nissan LEAF.

The only vehicle on either of those lists that you’ll come across in volume in the used market is the Nissan LEAF.

2012 Focus Electric

2012 Focus Electric

If USA Today’s figures hold true, then a 5-year-old LEAF could be purchased for only $3,000 to $4,000, which would make it a raging value.

Of course, we don’t expect these high depreciation figures to hold up, but it seems a given to us that, as with most all new technologies, BEVs will depreciate more rapidly than conventional automobiles.  So, if you can’t quite afford new, then perhaps wait a year or two to get a killer deal on a lightly used EV.

Source: USA Today

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33 Comments on "Killer Deals Expected on Used EVs"

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This came from KBB. Seems ridiculous. Obviously can’t be true. This assumes the battery will die and you can’t get a replacement.


I prefer to imagine that longer range models will be offered at the same price as our 80-mile fleet is being sold for now. Depreciation because of market progress. Batteries are destined to be offered in larger sizes. There are too many multipliers by increasing battery size–increased speed of charging making long trips faster, decreased frequency of charging doing that some more, not to mention the increased power output.

So hard to make sense of this until the $7500 credits are gone. A friend of mine looked to take his low mileage MY2013 Volt in for a trade on a MY2014 (Identical options). The cost was about $9500 differential. Sounds terrible until you take into account that he gets $7500 credit on the MY2014. Then the delta was about $2000. I have always heard that you loose $1000 driving any car off of the lot. I would think $2000 was about equal to any car trade for a one year.

The USA Today numbers do not factor the $7500. If you did, the percentages would be a lot more in line with the ICE numbers. We should report that.


Plus other incentives (eg $2500 California rebate).

Plus both the LEAF and the Volt have seen a recent price cut that won’t be repeated every year.

In the end, what buyers are willing to pay for a second hand vehicle is in large part determined by what that vehicle would cost new, after applying incentives. No one buys a 2nd hand LEAF for $ 22,000 if you can have it new for less than that.

These figures are useless, unless some radical new battery technology emerges that instantly doubles or triples the range of EV’s in 5 years time. But that isn’t likely.

“If USA Today’s figures hold true, then a 5-year-old LEAF could be purchased for only $3,000 to $4,000, which would make it a raging value.”

The market sets the price – not USA Today. If $3k-$4k is a raging value, I bet the price will be higher.

I have seen a in a lot of cases that 10 to 15 year old cars would be sold at that price of $3000 to $5000 and I don’t think logically that a four to five year old car would be solid at price. below $10,000 if one exists that is electric and is around $5000 I would be all over it like a Cookie Monster at a free cookie factory tour with free samples.

Personally I have had cars that I only paid $3000 to $5000 and something like the transmission goes on it and I get it fixed. At least with electric car batteries the prices are going down every year and the range is going to get more better as the batteries get more dense. It would be cool to take a i-Mev with a worn out 62 mile battery and put in a battery that got 200 miles range in five years.

Ridiculous price, if you sell it by parts on eBay you will make more than 3K

As of now on Ebay a used leaf is going for $17,000 under the existing bidding system.

When the $7,500 credits are gone all of these used cars will suddenly rise in value as people who otherwise might have been able to afford a new one will now have to shop for a used car.

But the gov could extend the program.

I guess if I wait 6 years, I should get paid to take someone’s EV off their hands.

Yes because there will be new better batteries

Regardless of the price these used EV’s sell for, they will be scarce simply because they did not make that many.

The low prices of used EVs shows that the line “The incentives only help rich people.” is a lie.

There’s an amazing used Volt for sale near me in Baldwinsville NY. I’m shocked it hasn’t sold yet, given the equipment, low engine mileage, and price.

So, in short, I agree with the gist of this article. 😉

What’s the price and mileage?

$23k I think.

It has 28k miles on it, and 9k engine miles.

I lied… It’s listed at $21,995.

A steal really. It’s clear that central New York is a hot-bed for EV’s. 🙁

Yeah, but isn’t a new one $26,685 after incentives?

So from 27k to 22k after 40k miles. Is that really so shocking, or am I missing something here?

A base one is, but the one for sale includes heated leather seats, Nav, and the 30GB built in hard drive.

Also, anyone that doesn’t have sufficient tax liability would be better off buying the used one, since they wouldn’t get the incentives.

I guess, to me, from an apples to apples standpoint, it really seems like a great deal. Especially factoring in that all used volts will have inch lower ‘engine miles’ than used cars without plug-in hybrids.

As Ocean Railroader pointed out, a review of the current used market shows that used EVs are holding their value very well, and Mark H identifies why: the used prices reflect the 7,500 – 12,500 discount for the clean air rebates/credits.

KBB fails to adequately explain that the manufacturers cost reduction makes the first few year models look like they lost a lot of value when in fact, prices were simply falling further in line with ICE price parity. It’s not going to be straight line depreciation, there’s a shelf and then a baseline. EVs will hold their value at that baseline because there is still a lot of utility in a used EV, perhaps more than a used ICE (lower operating costs).

The only way EVs will see steep continued depreciation is if significantly better batteries are in production for new EVs, but not available as an upgrade for older EVs.

I believe there will be a robust aftermarket for batteries, just as there is for crate engines and transmissions today.

If you go to and put in a 2011 Nissan Leaf with 36K miles, it gives you a value of $15K.

EVs should hold their values quite well. What’s important to remember is that KBB is making their assumption on what’s never been since they have no history with the value of EVs.

Just looking at the resale price of 2010 Leaf and 2012 Focus Electric today, minus just the fed tax credit, their resale value is higher than comparable ICE vehicles. Add in the CA $2,500 incentive and it gets even better.

What KBB does not get is that with a BEV, as the years go on, there is an annual fuel savings of about $2,000, where the vehicle gains more value for the owner. Unlike an ICE vehicle that has the same or higher fuel cost month after month, with only vehicle depreciation as the miles add up.

I’m trying to get an used EV for my dad but the used EV’s prices are ridiculously high. I’ve never seen people wanting so much for a used car, the prices are very close to what you pay for a new car of the same brand and model.

I was hoping the used prices would drop but so far my experience is that they hold their value a lot better than ICE cars. I hope this will change soon so that I can my dad to put down his oil eating monster.

uh . . . they should be at least $7500 less than the new price.

Mikael, check popular on-line auction site(s). I’ve seen lots of good deals on used EV’s, some with VERY low milage. You might need to ship or otherwise go get it.

If we look about 100 years in the past, the first electric cars could be returned to the manufacturer (like Detroit Electric) for a trade in value. The company refurbished them (new batteries, interior, paint…) and sold them as new with full garanty. I expect nothing else here and Elon Musks buy back guaranty for the Model S is a hint, that he has the same thing in mind. Batteries, interior, tires and paint are the few things that ware out on an aluminum car with an engine that has no friction.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

CPO refreshed perhaps, but selling a used car as new is illegal.

Many people on the the various green car Blogs compare the EV’s to computers when discussing advances in technology and cost of new coming down. Wouldn’t the same apply to a used EV?

What would you pay for a 5 year old laptop or desktop computer, compared to the actual price paid when it was new?

it is not a good comparison though. yeah, battery prices may drop a little but not fast and the rest of the car is just a gas car.

Anyone can have my 2013 Leaf in 2 more years. I’ll get another one.

This is for real….I just bought a 2011 Nissan Leaf SL for US $13800…the vehicle has 42000 miles and only one bar of degragation….just today I have seen 2 2012 I-Miev’s for $12995 US…great deals are coming to your local used car dealers. Shop around now cause prices are falling fast.