"Values for used plug-in electric vehicles are expected to decline nearly 30% this year--the highest depreciation out of all vehicle segments."

As a percentage of MSRP, the 2011 Volt retained only 49% by May 2013

As a percentage of MSRP, the 2011 Volt retained only 49% by May 2013

That's according to the NADA Used Car Guide in its latest report, "Plug-in Electric Vehicles: Market Analysis and Used Price Forecast."

We should stop here, because all of NADA's analysis provides a depressing outlook for used plug-ins, but in the interest of fairness, we'll let NADA tell its story.

Jonathan Banks, executive automotive analyst for the NADA Used Car Guide, adds all of this to the depressing conversation:

"The steep rate of depreciation for used plug-in electric vehicles can be attributed to limited range, manufacturer incentives and federal tax credits intended to offset the higher prices of new plug-in electric vehicles."

"Generous tax credits can certainly promote more new sales than would have been achieved otherwise, but they also have a negative impact on future resale values for one basic reason -- few consumers are willing to purchase a credit-ineligible, used plug-in electric vehicle for more than they would pay for a new one, less the federal tax credit.  So at a minimum, late-model used plug-in electric vehicle prices must logically max out below the manufacturer's suggested retail price minus the credit."

And then NADA drops this bomb in:

As a percentage of MSRP, the 2011 LEAF retained 42% of its value by May 2013.

As a percentage of MSRP, the 2011 LEAF retained 42% of its value by May 2013.

"For example, in the May 2012 edition of the NADA Official Used Car Guide, average trade-in values for the 2011 Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf were $31,060 and $24,857, respectively. In May 2013, values for the Volt and Leaf had fallen by a combined average of nearly $10,000, to $21,235 and $14,792, respectively. As a percentage of MSRP, the Volt retained only 49% of its value and the Leaf retained 42%."

How did non plug-ins fair?  NADA says, "By comparison, average trade-in values for a 2011 Toyota Prius hybrid fell by $4,735, to $16,490 over the same period."

The future looks bleak, too.  According to NADA, "the annual rate of depreciation for used plug-in electric vehicles will improve little over the next two years, with annual losses going from 31.5% in 2012 to 29.7% in 2013 and 27.4% in 2014."

And finally, there this last bit of plug-in depreciation info:

"In terms of U.S. dollars, a plug-in electric vehicle worth $20,000 in 2012 is predicted to lose $9,792 of its value by the end of 2014, while similarly priced gasoline and hybrid vehicles over the same period are expected to lose $5,573 and $6,455, respectively."