Used Chevrolet Volts And Nissan LEAFs Lead Industry In Price Drops For January

JAN 24 2014 BY JAY COLE 36

Kicking Tires (via Lists The Top 10 Price Drops On Late-Model Used Cars In January

Kicking Tires (via Lists The Top 10 Price Drops On Late-Model Used Cars In January

While the average late-model used car fell on average in January by 1.3%, down $307 to $23,237 in January, it was worth noting that the two besting selling plug-ins in the United States lead the way.

Likely Not Helping Future Used Car Sales Was GM's Addition Of The Color "Brownstone Metallic" To The Lineup

Likely Not Helping Future Used Car Sales Was GM’s Addition Of The Color “Brownstone Metallic” To The Lineup

According to’s Kicking Tires blog, in “first place” overall for biggest price drop was the Chevrolet Volt – falling an average of $1,308 over December of 2013, or 4.7%.  Coming in “second place” was the Nissan LEAF – falling an average of $743, or 3.6%.

  • Used late-model Chevrolet Volt: $26,614  (-1,308 or -4.7%)
  • Used late-model Nissan LEAF: $20,148 (-743 or  -3.6%)

And while the reality of continually dropping MSRPs on plug-in vehicles is always exerting  more and more pressure on used car prices, January’s precipitous drop has a lot to do with the seasonality of the weather, and the fact that January is a virtual wasteland for plug-in sales after December’s deadline to qualify for the $7,500 federal credit on the current year’s taxes puts a big incentive on buying new electric vehicles at the end of 2013.

Sidenote:  Best performing used car pricing for January 2014?  Land Rover Range Rover +5.6%, followed by the Ford F-350 which was up +.9%.

Kicking Tires

Categories: Chevrolet, Nissan


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36 Comments on "Used Chevrolet Volts And Nissan LEAFs Lead Industry In Price Drops For January"

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I my area, it is cheaper to buy a new 2014 model than a used 2011 when you take into account the price drop, tax credit, and dealer discounts.

Wow. From that point of view, the used prices are holding up pretty well.

I suspect that in the long term, Volts will depreciate very slowly. A 10 year old Volt may only have 30k miles on the engine and will save you $1000/yr in fuel vs a typical used car. That’ll be worth a big premium, IMO.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Unless a newer, cheaper one comes out with a bigger battery and more tech :/

Dr. — When talking about 10 year old used cars, the comparison to new cars simply doesn’t apply. The price gap between 10 year old used and brand new is just too large. It isn’t at all like talking about deciding to buy a brand new car vs. a 3 year old used car.

10 year old used Volts will compete with other 10 year old used cars in the same price category. A 10 year old Volt will still have the same advantages over other 10 year old cars that they have today, regardless of how much better a brand new Volt may be 10 years from now.

“A 10 year old Volt will still have the same advantages over other 10 year old cars that they have today…”

That depends. if the battery is shot, the car will have no advantage over an ICE, since it will essentially be an ICE, except that it will be carrying around a heavy, useless battery.

Even at 40mpg, it is decently comparable to other econ box at that mpg.

10-year old Volt batteries will likely still be good for 20-30 gas free miles. Still more than a brand new Fusion Energi. You can plug in more often and/or use the ICE backup.

If not, you could buy a new battery from GM at $3000 MSRP. It would be an investment in a 10-year old car, but may be worth it.


I remembering talking to a car repair shop that the cost to buy a new battery for the Prius had dropped from $3000 to $700 dollars over the last few years.

In terms of a 10 year old car the biggest killer in terms of cost is when the Transmission goes on them.

Another area of cost-creep is service. In a 911, even if you did them yourself, the 3k mi oil changes would set you back more than replacing a Volt’s battery:

Bam! Try that Telsa? BMW? Friday grins 🙂

Same here in Madison, WI. I keep hoping to find a cheap used Volt, but when brand new Volts can be had for $25,811 after tax credit (this is a listed right on the Ballweg Chevy website), it makes it ridiculous to consider buying a two year old used Volt for $25,000.

Who is buying these used Volts at almost new prices?

Not many! Check out the used Volt ebay listings with prices between $25-29K with no bids at auction ending…

Starting to see postings for sub $20K now…

Check ‘completed listings’, as in the green ones that sold. If you like the weird colors, cloth seats and want to put up with starting your ownership at 76,000 miles, there was one that sold for 16,700. Only one other, at 19,800. The rest >20k. Good luck.

“Who is buying these used Volts at almost new prices?”

Somebody who would not qualify for the $7500 tax credit. Don’t forget, half of Americans do not pay income tax, and therefore would not qualify for the credit. If EVs are going to compete with ICE cars in the mass market, they will have to do so without the subsidies.

To add to what Rick said, people buying used at $25K will also pay a lower DMV registration fee (at least in CA. I don’t know how other states work) than buying new.

Who are these people who have no tax liability and are buying $25k cars? Real question. Even retirees pay taxes. Are there a lot of people on welfare who are buying Chevy Volts, or are they people who are really good at tax avoidance?

There is a popular misunderstanding about “half of Americans do not pay income taxes”. A lot of people do pay taxes on their 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ forms and would be surprised to learn that they are including in that statistic. You see, the 1040-series forms collect three types of taxes – Federal Income, Social Security (FICA), and Medicare. Most low income earners do pay some Social Security and Medicare, but you have to have a higher income before Federal Income taxes come into play. In some situations – say, a single-earner family with a mortgage and multiple kids in college, you can be well over $50k/year in income and still pay no Federal income taxes. But you will be paying quite a bit on your 1040. And, yes, the people who created the study that said “in 2009 47% of household income tax returns had no Federal Income taxes paid” knew this distinction very well, but most of the people who quote it do not. In fact, in 2009, a recession year so the incomes were lower than normal, all but 19% paid some taxes on their 1040s. The 19% included 10% who were retired and receiving Social Security… Read more »

I think that is a part of it. So take almost 5 year period of an ice model and there is not much in the way of improvements, incremental ones at best. But if we see after a few years that the Volt is now going 25% more miles electric, it just makes sense to get the newer model.

Ok IEVs, here is where leasing doesn’t work:

4yr Total Cost of Ownership, 20k per year mileage – Volt

The 2013 leassee-
$320mo, 36 months, standard 12k miles = $11,500
$.25 per mile charge, over 8k, for 4 years = $8,000
1st year of 2017 Volt (w/5k price drop, after the old lease)
$246mo, first 12, of 36 = $3,000
Total Cost = $22,500

The 2013 purchaser (late 2012) $32,500, net of tax-credit
No mileage penalty
late 2016 sale of 80k mi 2013 = $14,000
Total Cost = $18,500

After 5yrs (and two cars) it isn’t even this close. I believe Mint is correct. Saving ~$1k per year on fuel will help support used value. Leasing looks like Koolaide, to me.

Hmm.. In that scenario, the purchaser sells their car in 3 years and does not buy another car. So they just walk that 4th year, while your person that lease drives a new car???

Interesting comparison. Save money by walking a year.

Also, there doesn’t seem to be any interest involved in the purchase. No opportunity cost? Seems like $32,500 could be invested in an appreciating asset.

Also, for states with higher sales tax, there is a difference in tax paid between those transactions.

Next, the person leasing should really compare a 15k lease, which will have a higher payment and a lower residual. Compare the total of payments plus residual vs. where they would be at on a cash purchase vs. where they would be at on the amortization table of a competitive loan. Turning the car in for the mileage penalty is only one of the possible options.

There is no one rule that works for all situations.

Chevy offered 0-1%. No opportunity cost involved, since you can’t technically take a loan from Chevy, and invest it.

Lease tax, built into the payment, is still based on car value. No?

The higher payments on 15k mi per yr, were about $30 per month. So, go .25X5,000 miles per year on top of that.

It’s your last part I was getting at in the post. Even with a $5,000 price drop, that actually does seem to have passed through, a lease can fail to work out as well as a purchase.

There is an opportunity cost with a rate buydown, as the dealer will have less money back if you take that incentive vs. 3rd party financing or paying cash. You are effectively paying your interest up front. If the car is totaled, or you sell/trade it prior to the end of the loan term, you end up worse off because you’ve paid your interest up front. In addition, there is opportunity cost in the difference in payment.

In your comparison, the numbers are oversimplified and you really need to compare how the option of buying the car out for the residual at the end of the lease compares the point in the amortization table the lease ends. So I don’t agree with the way that was compared. However, even if it was right and we use your numbers it looks like you have the person leasing paying more, but the person buying in your comparison has to walk for a year during a point where the person leasing is driving a new car.

I would never say that leasing always works better. I believe you need to compare fairly.

I think your numbers are unnecessarily complicated. At the end of the day, its cash flows. Somebody can put on a wizard’s hat and point to their own tables, “rate buydowns” etc, However, What they owe the other party is an offer of what size dollars, and when they want them.

You can put together a simple profile, if you want. Most don’t buy at the end of a lease. As far as “walk for a year”, the buyer in my case simply kept the car. What cost have I missed, unless I’m wrong about the selling price? If I did a 4yr lease, it would help that arrangement some. But my point, there, is how awful it is to serial lease cars.

>>” the buyer in my case simply kept the car”

I read the line where you subtracted $14,000 for the late 2016 sale, and figured they did exactly that – sold the car. At that point they have no car to drive, so unless they walk they have a new expense. Otherwise you can’t subtract that $14,000.

As far as walking for a year, I think I was just confused by how you probably had the “2013 purchaser” actually purchase in 2012. Still, if you subtract the money for selling the car, at that point they walk. Otherwise if they keep the car, the car will keep depreciating.

>>”What cost have I missed”
I doubt the tires on my Volt will last 80,000 miles:) Luckily maintenance on the Volt should be pretty low overall though.

>>”Somebody can put on a wizard’s hat and point to their own tables, “rate buydowns”

We will have to agree to disagree, before I sign borrow money I like to understand the cost of borrowing.

>>”Most don’t buy at the end of a lease”
Doesn’t matter. It is still an option that can be compared and evaluated prior to deciding how to pay for a vehicle.

>>”But my point, there, is how awful it is to serial lease cars.”

You may be surprised at how many people “buy” (but actually finance) new vehicles thinking they will keep them for much longer than they actually do, and end up needing to change before they originally expected. Also, most people finance for longer terms (60+ months). If they can’t front the cash to account for the difference in what they owe vs. what they can sell it for, they end up trading it in instead of selling it themselves (and getting less than the private party value). The negative equity roles into their next loan, and then they repeat the process repeats in 3-6 years. So, financing doesn’t always pan so well for a lot of people. That doesn’t mean “you should never finance” or “financing = koolaid”.

Leasing is koolaide, regardless of the model. It appeals to those who look at only the monthly payment, but otherwise are not very good at math.

Sometimes incentives favor leasing more the purchase. If you are good at math you can compare your options. Most people don’t even try to understand their options.

I am an engineer and I at least my car and it’s a great deal I don’t have to pay for tires or maintenance. At least car is constantly under warranty where used car you have no warranty at all and that’s worth a lot

It works when the leasing rate is $200/month and State gives you $5K more for the 3 yr lease….

Rick, Nate and Marvel are right – you have to take a more sophisticated look at it or the “simple math” could lead you to an erroneous conclusion.

The federal rebate is rolled into most leases as a cap cost reduction. It’s almost like getting 2x the rebate.

Throw the state rebate on too, as Marvel point out, and you have about the best deal going in the automotive world.

I love leasing – only of it’s $0 down, especially if it’s $0 drive-off – because right off the bat I get almost 4% to 5% off since the residual isn’t taxed unless I buy out the lease, and the sales tax rate here in Los Angeles is 9%. Buy the car and you’re taxed on the whole amount up front… on a $32K Volt that’s almost $3K!

Leasing sucks if you don’t know how to invest the cash you’d be left with from not buying the car outright or not putting a down payment, not to mention savings from the up-front sales tax. It also sucks if you have bad credit. Other than that, if you look at a lease simply as a loan with a balloon payment at the end with deferred sales tax and an easy out at lease termination, it’s quite attractive.

Hi Jay, This is a piece that I published a few weeks ago regarding the MY2011/MY2012 Chevy Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle- Viewing Auto Trader real time sale prices nationwide in both year categories and including the NADA Guide for bank loans Vs best price MY2014 new, these Machines seem to be holding in excess of 92% of new! I have just updated the links and the insane high resale values are still holding! As one of the largest Chevrolet Dealers in Michigan, 9 out of 10 of our internet leads and sales calls are Auto Trader Driven rather then Cars Dot Com. ————————————————————————- Updated- January 24th 2014 MY2011, MY2012 Used Chevy Volts Are Holding High And Disruptive Resale Values! Folks, Used Chevy Volts are causing a more then an interesting effect on traditional resale markets, nationwide. The Resale Values, Sale Prices, on 2 and 3 year old used MY2011/MY2012 Chevy Volts in the wild are holding within 90% of the current “As Low As”, published price at ChevyVolt Dot Com. Could it be with the gasoline prices all over the board that these machines as used are commanding top dollar? Could it be that the average Chevy Volt Owner… Read more »

This is GREAT proof that the tax-credits for EVs do not only help rich people. People of lesser means can now buy used EVs at a great low price on the used market because of the tax-credits.

This is a good thing. But I’m sure a lot of a-holes are spinning this as a bad thing.

I have now published the above comment to to Mr. Hanleys’ article over at the Cars dot Com- Kicking Tires Post-

My comments-

“Mr. Hanley,

The most stunning development of the last 50 years in New Car Market Pricing is the reduction of M.S.R.P. of the primary Plug-In Electric Car Industry movers, the Chevy Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle and the Nissan LEAF BEV.

Chevy Volt EREV- $5,000.00 reduction in M.S.R.P. MY14!

Outgoing GM North American President, Mark Reuss Tweeted, on August 6th, 2013, in a response to Detroit News, Auto Writer, Melissa Burden critical article, “When we cut the cost of our Volt through engineering and development we will pass it on to our customer.”

Mr. Hanley, The MY14 Chevy Volt EREV is now $5,000.00 less to buy then the MY13 Volt EREV!

That the value of “Late Model” Used Chevy Volts has only fallen $1,308.00 after this massive M.S.R.P. adjustment is astonishing!


Thomas J. Thias

The Amazing Chevy Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle- Facts Guy