Used Electric Car Prices Start To Slowly Rise

Spark EV and Nissan Leaf


Larry Dixon of J.D. Power says price increases “quite extraordinary.”

For years, electric vehicles have had relatively low resale value for a variety of reasons. Used electric vehicles are typically priced with the $7500 federal tax credit baked in. The plug-in market is also rapidly improving. First gen electrics such as the Chevy Spark EV and 2015 Nissan LEAF simply cannot compare to the Chevy Bolt EV and the Gen 2 LEAF. Not to mention the sales success of the year: the Tesla Model 3.

But depreciation on these older models appears to be turning around. According to Black Book’s three-year retention gauge, the value of used EVs this year is about 38%. That is a large improvement from from only 21% one year ago.

J.D. Power and Associates has found that the 2015 Nissan Leaf is now retaining 30% of its original sticker price. That is up 23% from the fourth quarter last year. Wholesale prices of the 2015 LEAF are up about 1 percent from where they were last year.

“Now we have prices up for the first time ever.” Says Larry Dixon, senior director of valuation services at J.D. Power. “So from a consumer standpoint, that means they have an appreciating asset.”

Fiat 500e

Other first gen electric vehicles are seeing similar results. The Fiat 500e is retaining 21%, up from 18% last year. The Chevy Spark EV is retaining 25% this quarter compared to 21% from last year. Spark EV wholesale value is up 10% year over year.

In the case of the Nissan LEAF, Dixon believes prices have reached rock bottom. The value of compact cars are similarly up this year. But he says automakers and some dealers are getting better at understanding the demand for these vehicles.

Due to increased production, it might seem reasonable to assume that used values would continue to drop. However, this is being offset by growing consumer awareness of electric vehicles.

As any EV advocate will tell you: ‘Butts In Seats’ is a key demand generator.

“Based on what we’ve seen this year and starting in the latter half of last year, there’s clearly some consumer demand.”

Source: Automotive News

Categories: Buying Advice, Chevrolet, Fiat, Nissan

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68 Comments on "Used Electric Car Prices Start To Slowly Rise"

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Paid $10k for my 2014 Spark EV from CarMax. Fits easily in garage and charges from 120 volt no problem. Bought from CarMax because these cars were not sold much outside California. Took car into Chevy dealer for some recall issues and asked when do I need to come in for service again – he said not needed. So far I love this as a second vehicle, too bad GM quit making them. I know I could buy a Bolt for $40k but it would still be a 2nd car. I need to tow and drive 300+ miles occasionally, for which I will keep my ICE car.

Looked at the used SparkEV and the 80 mile or so range is a huge buzz kill. I couldn’t make it across town and back. But when they drop to about $4k maybe as a glorified neighborhood vehicle/ golfcart.

Funny – the salesman said about the same thing about the range. But I have found the car most useful.

which town do you live in that is 40 miles wide? L.A.? Maybe you could charge at your destination while you shop?

It doesn’t matter which town, you need to be able to drive across and back to get your favorite ice cream.

It important to remember highway range and city range are two different things. A BEV that can do 80 miles on the highway may well do over 110 miles city driving.

Or 50 miles of range in the winter. Need to be realistic.

What “town” is 40 miles wide?

My 2012 LEAF has a 60 mile range at 80% charge and I can drive pretty much anywhere in Burningham on one charge. I could understand a big city like Atlanta or NY or Chicago that could limit you to one side of town, but still, great commuter cars. The Spark is a very reliable and economical car.

if you can fit in it. I wanted to buy one once. Took it for a drive. It has the worst seating of any car I’ve been in since my friend’s family Isetta 3-wheeler when I was in high school.

Then charge it before heading back. There’s a growing network of chargers that make more and more trips feasible.

Sure. If you want to sit around for 45-120 minutes doing nothing.

Thu most important innovation for making EVs acceptable widely is not, in my view, range limitations, it’s how long it takes to charge the things. Sure there are lots of Charging Stations (at least there are lots in california where I live), but it takes too damm long for most folks’ busy lives. Pull an ICE into a gas station and you’re out in 5 minutes.

Someone drove SparkEV for 650 miles on highway speed in 16 hours using public chargers.

+1 for the trip, but I’m not sure 650 miles in 16 hours helps your case as much as you think….

SparkEV’s very quick DCFC definitely makes possible going across town and back anywhere, no town is 300 miles wide. OTOH, free chargers could be clogging up DCFC… I see your point.

Free chargers are part of it, But more of a problem are the Uber/Lyft drivers in their Bolts. Those guys are sleeping in the DCFC spots while they charge to 100%. I’ve tried talking to them about moving to L2 chargers–which are empy–for the last 20%. It won’t take but trivially longer and would be much cheaper for them. But they are too stupid to get it. What they get is angry.

Oh, great, a whole 40mph from someone really trying to do it as fast as possible.

Makes my point. There has got to be a quicker charging network. Elon understands that and that’s why his car is so popular.

Used ours for a regular 70 mile R/T commute, up a big hill in the wind. Never let us down. Now maybe if your city is 40 miles across you couldn’t make it R/T without charging but we put 45k miles on ours and it was a great little car to drive, anything but a neighborhood car.

If your commute is 40 miles or less the Spark will be the last car you will ever need to own. Great car. You need extra range for the AC and the heat and extra errands. Most people only drive 30 miles a day on average.

“asked when do I need to come in for service again – he said not needed.”

Seriously…isn’t that awesome? They really don’t need much service at all. Having so many fewer moving parts, less heat, and less liquids….they are just far less maintenance.

Leased a Spark, considered buying a used one and they were readily available for well under $8k but in the past year hard to find any for less than $10k. BTW, the Bolt isn’t $40k, I see boatloads selling brand new in California for roughly $30k and with $10k rebate/tax credit that makes them roughly $20k. Huge bargain IMO, I leased one when I turned in my Spark and other than it not being a road trip worthy car (though I have made it to/from Arizona to California twice) it is a fantastic little car. Seriously considering buying one before the tax credit drops.

Carmax and Carvana offer those free shipping deals. We bought a Prius Plug In using Carmax free shipping one time and we met a girl at a NDEW that bought her LEAF using Carvana free Nationwide shipping. She was very happy as were we.

One big reason for EV’s holding their values better now is that new EVs have more realistic pricing for their performance today than they did five years ago.

Five years ago, buying a new EV — even a pretty basic one like Mitsubishi MiEV — meant spending a lot of money for not much car. You were basically paying the early adopter premium. Those high prices for the new vehicle meant that you were virtually guaranteed to suffer massive depreciation because the car simply didn’t justify a price tag three times higher than its ICE peers.

Today, EVs are moving toward the mainstream market; prices are still higher than an equivalent ICE but no longer crazy high. Which translates to a depreciation rate that is lower than it used to be.

The cars also improved. A 3 year old Leaf today is much more useful than a few years ago.

Also, with each new public charging station (especially DCFC) installed, the utility of the short range vehicle increases
The exact same 2015 Leaf is a more useful car than it was a year ago due to the improving charging network, assuming the battery isn’t degrading too fast. I’m trying to talk my sister into replacing their 1998 volvo with a used Leaf (or similar) as their teen driver 2nd car.

Careful with a LEAF. With no battery thermal control their battery degrades 10 times faster than liquid cooled battery cars. If your in the South dont go with a Leaf.

I bet there’s a lot of burned out battery S’s and X’s out there on the buy, trade, sell n’ swap swamp market . I bet there are some people who adopted poor long term battery management practices with daily free supercharging followed by a rapid depletion to 0 SOC follwed by even more free supeechargin’!

Find a few and post links for us.

Finding a Tesla “rapid depletion” link, may be an elusive “S’s and X’s” bridge too far!

This is the study that many people reference to say Tesla batteries last a long time. If you look at the replacement numbers for Tesla batteries you will see that when 15% or more of the car batteries have been replaced it can drastically improve longevity stats. A lot more Tesla batteries and drive trains and chargers are being replaced than the secret society would want you to know.

Tesla has the longest lasting battery even with super charging. Very small loss. I had an S in HOT Phoenix with only 5 miles lost a 2012 in late 2018. Amazing.
Just google Tesla battery degradation and there are thousands of links. People need to know how to better care for their cars.

Ha, the batteries sure are not burning out, as soon as someone wrecks a Tesla in an accident, a flock of buyers want the batteries for their projects because they last so long. There are spreadsheets showing how long the batteries last, bet you can’t find a link for even five burnt out batteries.

There are thousands of links. Just google Tesla battery degradation. The Model 3 is the first model with a battery degradation warranty. I would suspect a lot of S and X owners are trading up for that warranty. You also have to consider that Tesla requires owners to sign a secrecy agreement if they get any warranty service done on the car. › Innovation › Tesla

If you own a Tesla or any EV for that matter, you can minimize your degradation by using the car in the 20-80% range. That is the advice Tesla is giving owners with battery degradation.

Well in a literal sense they actually are burning out and catching on fire. make sure your active cooling system is properly maintained and the fluid levels are checked. Even cars with active cooling systems to prevent fires will last a long long long time if properly maintained.

I bet you have no idea what you are talking about. I had a Spark EV, tiny little battery that charged at 2C and I charged that sucker on DCFC at least 3x a week for 3 years in a hot climate and that car maybe dropped 5 miles of range over 45k miles. Those big Tesla batteries charge at closer to 1C and a lot less frequently

A lot of those cars might only have 50% battery left but still 50% of a 200+ miles range is pretty good and still very useful for many people.

You people are just making up “facts.” What does “a lot of those cars” even mean? Everyone seems to think if DT can make up facts, anyone should be able to.

I will take that bet.

Do you actually know any Tesla drivers? The ones I know are extremely geeky-smart about managing their cars. And I don’t know of one that has had any battery issues.

For one thing, an increase in infrastructure means that many of these cars are actually more useful/practical than they were last year (or 3 years ago).

But I’ve seen this phenomenon with my i3. Bought a CPO 2015 w/ 10k miles over a year ago and can’t find another at that price, now.

These cheap used cars introduce a much wider audience to EVs. Ones that won’t pay $35k for a 80 mile EV, but will pay $5k for a 60 mile used one. They migrate to non EV areas too.

That is the real beauty of the $7500 federal tax credits that some people say only the rich get, they are trickling down used EVs that are really one of the best vehicles a “poor” person could buy. Lowest cost to operate around, instead of buying some worn out old slug ICE that gets 17 mpg and has something breaking every week.

Spot on, 3 laine. My CPO 2016, which i got w/ 8500 miles on it, is worth about $4-5K more than I paid for it. Will that last as the 2017s hit the CPO market? Don’t know. But I suspect not, unless those 2017s are more pricey by a lot. I’d trade for one in a heartbeat if I could get one for a few kilobucks.

My 2011 Leaf has been excellent and is holding up well; still has 80% of battery after 8 years; replaced the 12 volt battery and keep air in the tires, that’s it for maintenance; been offered $7k for it ; but, it serves my needs as a second car…so, I’m keeping it and will replace the battery when needed.

I think that is the main point. People used to be convinced that after 5 years battery replacement would be mandatory, but now are realizing that even 8 year old cars are holding up well and no battery replacement required.

I did notice this earlier in the year, especially when oil/gas prices were marching higher.

Have Volt prices done the same?

They stabilized a lot, the older Volts are worth a lot more than Leaf as range isn’t that different and you have a gas option. I sold my 2012 Volt for over $10k this spring with 50,000 miles and the value has stayed flat over the year, a friend picked up a similar age and mileage Leaf for about $5k.

The Volts are excellent bargains if you can afford one. Great cars fro short commutes.

I paid 15k for a 2015 Premium with 20k miles earlier this year.Full factory bumper to bumper for one year..I’m happy with it.

Excellent enjoy your Volt!

It seems that most (or maybe all) the USA-based websites that track 5-year or 3-year depreciation don’t factor the tax credit into the starting price, which of course is the cause of much of the early depreciation, when the federal tax credit isn’t priced it.

In other words, two weeks after a Nissan Leaf is driven off the lot, the depreciation in the USA is the normal depreciation after two weeks plus $7,500 (that you can get with a new Leaf) in states without EV tax credits.

Exactly, also many were leased inexpensively than sold at auction very cheaply. Also consider discounts from dealer. People are getting Honda Claritys for like $4,000 off MSRP, then add another $10,000 in tax credits and they are paying about $23,000 for a $37,000 car. That is going to make the depreciation look bad even though it is great.

I just checked the KBB private party on my 2018 Clarity PHEV Touring with 29,000 miles and it shows as $27,000. So looking at depreciation would be $10k from MSRP, but only $3,000 from what I paid post tax credit. I didn’t get a discount on mine buying day 1.

Agreed, Bolts sold in CA right now can be driven for two years and probably sold for MORE than you paid (net after tax credits/rebates). Try to find a used Bolt for $20k, but that’s what you can buy one for net of the tax credit/rebate at least for the next 6 months.

Guy I know bought SparkEV for about $20K after dealer incentives and $10K in rebate / tax credit. That was 4 years ago, and the used SparkEV are still going for about $10K. For guys like him, depreciation is practically zero.

But even without dealer specials, SparkEV was $16K post subsidies (in CA where most were sold). If they’re $10K now, that’s retaining 63% value after 3 years.

Same here in Victoria, Canada. Bought my 2013 Leaf with 40,000km on it 2 years ago for $16,000 Canadian.

Right now they are advertising 2013 Leafs with 60,000km for $18,000+

So after 2 years and putting 20,000km on it the car is worth more than when I bought it.

Not that surprising, if an electric vehicle, needs 1/10th of the maintenance, then it gets 1/10th of the wear and tear, of a vehicle, with propulsion based, on explosions, what’s the last thing you want, on a mechanical device, vibration, so thumping it with a hammer, many times a second, may not be the best thing, for reliability. Introducing electric trains, emptied the railway maintenance workshops, in many places.

Prices for Leaf reached rock bottom two years ago just before the new year. I saw 2013 and 2014 SV models with low miles for under $7000. Those same vehicles, two years later, and with more miles, are at least $9000 now. I also saw 2012 SL models for $5000.

In your opinion, is buying a 2016 Leaf SV for $12700 with 42k miles and all 12 bars are prudent deal?

Excellent purchase, just make sure the range suites your needs.

I’d wait and lease rather than buy, but yeah that looks like a good deal considering the 30 kWh battery.

My second Spark EV (2016) got the 7500 tax credit, 2500 from CA, and it seems it could also get 800 from PG&E. I got a great deal on it originally, so my total cost including tax, license, fees etc works out to $9800. I see used 2015s listed for over $10000 locally, I’ve never owned a car that appreciated before. I was so chuffed by this that I bought a Model 3 to replace my gas car.

That is good and bad news. Good news is that my 2012 Nissan LEAF that might last another zillion years is worth twice as much as it was 3 or 4 years ago. That is also the bad news for used EV shoppers. Once EV shoppers learn that they only need a car that goes twice as far as their daily commute then sales of used and new EVs will start picking up again. Since my wife and I show and tell at a lot of EV events my wife thought it would be good to have a more updated LEAF. We could not find a single good price on a new 2018 LEAF in Alabama. We had to settle for a used 2018SL Nissan factory fleet car with 3000 miles and every single bell and whistle for $26 grand. That is only $12 grand less than the retail for that model and features. I was hoping we could get one of those year end save 12 to 15 grand thingys and combine it with the tax credits. Since we retire this year we do not expect to have enough tax liablity for taking advantage of any tax credits in… Read more »

Maybe just too much export demand from countries like Ukraine where EVs are on the rise but most people can only afford second hand cars.?

The reason why I’m not able to buy a used EV yet is the ones that are in my price range only have 30 to 60 miles range on them.

The biggest risk with the low range EV is I could easily change jobs as soon as I buy it and end up with a 30 to 70 mile round trip commute which could in theory make the car worthless.

Just bought a 500E like the one in the picture this weekend for a song. Was tempted to get another LEAF but this thing is just so much fun. I got it for the kids to drive around to work and school, but I’ve been keeping it for myself this week because it’s a hoot.

Lots of good deals out here (west coast) for off-lease compliance cars. Some of them have almost no miles.