Used Nissan LEAFs Aren’t Retaining Value As Dealers Had Expected

AUG 12 2016 BY MARK KANE 53

2015 Nissan LEAF

Nissan LEAF

The strong depreciation rate on used Nissan LEAFs is a well known situation.  Which is good if you are looking for a used EV deal, but bad if you are Nissan (or its dealers) looking to re-sell them.

The high number of LEAFs now coming off lease, and the prices they are fetching, underlines the fact that the LEAF doesn’t hold its value too well.

There are many factors said to be behind the drop, just as the introduction of “new” and upgraded models, more intense plug-in competition, Nissan’s early brush with battery capacity fade, as well as the impact of the federal credit reducing the starting MSRP.

According to Kelley Blue Book via WardsAuto, there is flood of leased LEAFs coming onto the pre-owned EV market today:

  • 2013 model year – 86% (over 19,400) were leased out of 22,610
  • 2014 model year – 83% (over 25,000) were leased out of 30,200
  • 2015 model year – 64% (over 11,000) were leased out of 17,269

Joe Sage, president of Sage Auto Group, tells WardsAuto said:

“The values on the used-car market now that (Leafs) are coming back with lease returns aren’t super high and I’m not finding a lot of repeat customers,”

“This is like the transition from cassette player to a CD player. The fear for consumers is that they will buy technology that will become obsolete. Cars weren’t like that before.”

Other data shows that only fraction of MSRP is retained over few years (we believe that first 25% or so of the drop is a result of the $7,500 federal tax credit, which also affects the used car market for all plug-in vehicles…so don’t be too shocked):

  • 2013 model year – 23%
  • 2014 model year – 30%
  • 2015 model year – 37%


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53 Comments on "Used Nissan LEAFs Aren’t Retaining Value As Dealers Had Expected"

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And yet this wouldn’t be too difficult to fix. If I could get an upgraded pack of 40-50 kWh for $5000 (plus my old pack), I would get many more years out of the car.

In fact, even just the knowledge that an upgrade like this would become available in the not too distant future (say, 2018) would probably shore up second-hand values quite a bit.

Of course Nissan hasn’t made any noises and nor does there seem to be any major players planning to make third party offers. It would have to be a major player so consumers could be sure of the warrantor.

I guess it’s still simply too expensive to turn it into a business. If such an upgrade pack becomes too expensive volume will quickly fall necessitating an even higher price, so I really think about 5k for a much bigger pack is required for this to become an option…

There is third party German company building a factory that will target upgrading batery packs…

I saw a 6 bar Leaf on Phoenix Craigslist for 4500…
But is it worth it in a hot climante to get Nissans replacemnt pack that will just fail again??

Kreisel Electric is an Austrian company, not German

If you buy that LEAF (likely a 2011 model), you will buy a replacement battery AND the retrofit kit. The replacement battery will be a “lizard” battery that does a LOT better in hot weather.

A 2011 LEAF loses 80% of its value in the first 5 years with only 30,000 miles on the car.

Modern EVs are still too new but don’t discount the aftermarket retailers. The aftermarket guys are already selling replacement batteries for hybrids and it won’t be long before they offer barreries for EVs. As I’ve said many times before, modern EVs are robust and we can expect many battery replacements before the cars are worn out. The exciting thing about EVs is that as time goes on battery technology will get better. So every time we do a battery replacement we might expect a little better range over the last battery pack replacement. I’m hoping to get a 30 kWh battery pack when my 23 kWh 2013 FFE battery pack gives up. All this talk about disposable cars is ridiculous. In my early adult years I was constantly modifying and repairing my old cars. The last couple of decades I’ve been lucky enough to buy new but I wouldn’t be afraid to pull out the old wrenches if I wanted to upgrade my EV. EVs are so new that many people are afraid to work on them, which is really ironic because in a lot of ways they are less complicated than ICEs. It won’t be long and we will… Read more »

I had just those thoughts when I bought my 2011 Leaf. That I would be buying a better and bigger replacement battery about now to 2020. Sadly, my battery failed after two years and Nissan failed to provide support. I sold my ~60 mile Leaf at a significant loss.

I’m sorry you had such a bad expirence with your Leaf but I don’t think you lost money if you got 60k miles out of your Leaf. The average cost of vehicle ownership is over $0.50 per mile, so 60k miles is worth at least $30,000. If you got any kind of resale at all on the Leaf at all you probably at least broke even.

Your logic misses the point that the Nissan LEAF cost of ownership isn’t zero.

LEAF’s need new tires, alignment just like any other car. Charging the battery costs money.

There is a cost per mile you have not subtracted.

Your post appears to have missed logic behind the cost of ownership being more than $0.50 per mile. I don’t propose to teach you how to perform a life cycle cost analysis.


Yes an upgrade path would do wonders for the resale value. Nissan are really being stupid in how they treat the LEAF. Of course people are hesitant to buy a 30 kWh car when they know that it will soon be obsoleted by 60 kWh cars for the same price at which point they won’t even be able to give the car away.

I don’t understand all the comments about battery packs here. The article doesn’t mention anything about battery degradation and nor should it as this is not an issue other than for a small number of 1st generation ‘lizard pack’ equipped LEAFs whose packs were apparently susceptible to very hot environments. Certainly my 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV pack does not appear to have degraded at all in the 23k miles it has done so far – not exactly hammered, I know! The reason their used value is so low is because there is little demand for them (no, really) and the reasons for that are exactly the same reasons that people don’t want to buy *new* EVs ie perceived range anxiety, lack of charging infrastructure and perceived high cost compared to equivalent fossil-fueled vehicles. The fact that all these ‘issues’ are almost complete twaddle doesn’t help – but it does mean that if you want to, you can pick up a very cheap used EV just about anywhere in the West – except Australia, it seems. Hooray! Were I younger and seaking to make my fortune, I’d be buying up these really cheap EVs and renting them out at about half the… Read more »
“Nissan’s early brush with battery capacity fade…” That’s understating the problem rather strongly. It’s quite typical to see online comments from Leaf owners reporting the loss of one or two “bars” of capacity from their pack. The introduction in (as I recall) 2013 of improved battery chemistry did help lessen the amount of excessive fade from people living in areas where it gets and stays hot for much of the year; Phoenix, and certain areas of Southern California and Texas. But the problem of premature battery face has not gone away; it’s merely become somewhat more rare. Nissan should “Take a Leaf”, so to speak, from the GM Volt, and change the operation of their battery packs to hold a significant reserve in the usable capacity, to prevent battery fade from showing up for some years. Yes, that would mean the car wouldn’t have as much range as it potentially could when it was new. But it would also mean that whatever range the car had, the owner could depend on it holding that range for years to come. I think in the long run that would result in happier customers. Having to deal with continual gradual loss of range,… Read more »

I don’t think that is the right answer. After all, Leafs in cooler climates are not really losing capacity prematurely. So the better answer would be to use a liquid cooling system for the batteries like everyone else does so that the batteries don’t get so hot.

I was suggesting Nissan do that in addition to adding a proper thermal management system.

But yes, the TMS would be a more significant improvement for the Leaf.

“I don’t think that is the right answer. After all, Leafs in cooler climates are not really losing capacity prematurely”

Define prematurely.

Is Steve Marsh’s 50% degradation in 150K miles acceptable?

If so, why wouldn’t an used LEAF lose more value since used LEAF are already on the way to match the 35 miles Volt but got no backup.


At 150 k miles and 5 years many cars are considered worthless clunkers, not just this Leaf. Not all, but still.
Volt can fare better because it has backup engine and carries large part of its battery as backup that is never used to preserve capacity, plus battery thermal management system. It costs money and takes limited interior volume.

I agree with David M. Battery TMS has a much bigger role in the longevity when you consider the idea of “air cooling is sufficient” is flawed. The actual cooling is dependent on the car moving when most Leafs sit in the parking lot 80% of the day not getting any cooling at all.

Totally Agree. I was speaking with a Nissan employee about how the battery is air cooled.

He seemed to think it worked well, I quickly pointed out to him that cooling only occurs first thing in the morning for the first 20 miles, after which the cooling stops, then the battery starts heating up again so that by 40 miles it’s now hotter than when you set out. I have LEAF Spy Pro so know the temperature of the battery at each of the four sensors as I drive.

It depends on battery chemistry. Some chemistries may work in higher temperature just fine and all this heating would not make significant difference.

It also didn’t help when Nissan was advising to charge only to 80%.

Why doesn’t that help? Charging to 100% accelerates battery fade.


This talk of depreciation on the Leaf is absurd, at least for more recent years where deals were prevalent. After tax incentives, dealer deduction, and manufacturer incentives, I got my 2015 for $13,500 where MSRP was $31,500. That means I paid 43% of MSRP to begin and now it’s only 37% of MSRP? $2k in depreciation in one year sounds pretty awesome!

I know the older models didn’t have the kinds of deals we’ve seen the last year or two, but to say the current model years don’t hold their value is garbage.

Bang on! What is the depreciation from what people actually paid? I have been enviously reading comments on here for years about the deals people are getting on new ev’s in the USA, reading about how it is almost free to drive an I-Miev in some states. In 2014 Toyota and Nissan dumped thousands of ev’s into the market with some unbelievable deals on the RAV4, pip and leaf. Expect to see a lot of these sorts of articles in the next 2 years as people sell those cars.

The justification for subsidies for rich folk to buy cars has always been that in a few years time it will make those cars cheaper for people on lower incomes. It is now a few years later and the cars are coming onto the market much cheaper. What’s the problem? This is a good thing. We should be using news like this to push for high point of sales taxes on gas guzzlers and greater incentives for ev’s so that lower income households aren’t left with a legacy caused by people buying gas guzzlers now because oil is cheap.

probably one major reason why dealers didn’t want them.

Why would a dealer have a problem with selling a Leaf? The dealer doesn’t lose any money on the resale of the Leaf. The dealer never bought the car in the first place. In fact, nearly every automaker takes out lease insurance that guarantees a certain residual on the lease turn-in.

Thanks for pointing out the obvious. The dealer doesn’t lose anything, in fact a lower price should help sell the vehicle.

It’s the owners (who purchased) that get less than expected.

Cars are like mobile phones and tablets, they are great for 2-3 years, but the technology eclipses the one you have 5 times or more since you got it. I agree that if the car can be upgraded, there might be more value to it.

That’s absurd. Most people can’t or don’t want to buy a new car just to throw it away every two or three years. Most people their cars 7+ years and most of the new cars I bought I kept 10+ years.

Modern EVs are a new phenomenon but that doesn’t mean they are disposable. Lucky there are so few EVs on the road that there is plenty of market for new EVs. But people are going to be enjoying the older EVs for many, many years to come.

Yes, cars are not iphones. I wish people would stop making that comparison.

First, the rate of change with EV’s has been pretty pedestrian compared to say a cell phone.

Second, the LEAF isn’t the worst depreciating of all EV’s and all cars for that matter because its been eclipsed by other technology, its because the battery fades and many buyers know that.

I highly suspect that the major reason the Leaf V2 is held up because like the Leaf V1 it lacked TMS and now is being redesigned for what should have been on all Leafs to begin with.

Meanwhile Nissan’s early lead in BEVs has basically evaporated because of this inexplicably poor engineering decision.

That is just not true Nissan Renault are by far and above the biggest players in the EV space. The new lizard pack seems to be doing just fine. They left the tms out and designed a better battery. That will pay off big time in the long run as every Nissan Bev will be inherently cheaper and safer than competing vehicles that pump water into their battery pack. It wouldn’t surprise me if the leaf 2 has a smaller pack than the bolt and less range but leaf 2 will be designed to sell globally not just in the states where it needs tax rebates, state incentives and zero emission credits to survive. I can see how Nissan makes money on every leaf sold. Nissan have made mistakes and I don’t agree with every part of their strategy but I can see them doing with the leaf what Toyota has done with the Prius. As for the leaf being delayed, I don’t think it has. It is pretty much right on time. The bolt will have 6 months head start in one market before leaf 2 turns up with 3 factories ready and primed to switch to the new… Read more »

Few months ago, I looked into used Leaf pricing as listed in spot check while “researching” what used SparkEV went for. 2015 Leaf with about 10K miles were going for about 25% less after factoring in fed + CA subsidy. 2013 were listed roughly 45% less. Scroll down to “Nissan Leaf depreciation” in following blog post.

Question is, what were the dealers expecting? For 4 year old car (2013 were sold in 2012), 50% less doesn’t seem all that bad to me, especially Leaf that has bad reputation for its battery.

I have a 2015 that is 2 years old this month and 25,000 miles on the odometer. I still have 12 bars and recently had it to the dealer for the condition check, the dealer check says the battery condition is very good. I am in San Antonio TX. It gets pretty hot here and I don,t see any decreased range, even on days with the temps over 100. On a full charge my guess-o-meter still regularly shows 100+ miles range.

I think it would be a boost to used car sales if Nissan would simply offer the 30Kw. battery the already make as an upgrade to older models. Nissan should offer this anyway. I want to know that as my car gets older I can upgrade the battery if I want to. If I can never upgrade the battery, I probably won’t keep my Leaf either.

I’m with you. I’ll be trading in my 2015 because the battery doesn’t offer enough range and I have no path to upgrade.


A bad car with poor battery TMS, poor performance and poor IIHS crash results and “outdated design” are just perfect combination for low resale value.

But if you can live with the range, great buy, especially for your kids so you know they won’t drive too far from home. =)

In Europe resale values are much higher. Because in US you can get 7500 federal tax credit, and adition up to 10.000 (Colorado?) in addition to dealer offers… So you get a new Leaf from 15.000 – 25.000 $.

I also have a 2015 that’ll be 2yrs old in Nov. 23.5K. The dealer battery check is worthless. It only reflects the bar count the car already tells you. My own calcs suggest I’m at 92-93%. Based on reports of most others losing a bar at 40K, meaning 85% capacity, I’m leary of purchasing. Love the car but the battery is easily the only reason I will not purchase. This resale issue is no mystery to me. If it lasted like a Tesla battery does I’d purchase.

2014 LEAF-49772km-full bars.

Leaf MY2012 with 70 000 miles.
Lost my first bar at 65 000.
So I say it ain’t so bad if at all.
This car is underestimated by many purist, but it’s a great car to own and drive.

“…is a will known situation.” WHAT?!!!

You know he meant “well”.

There is a phenomenon with older aircraft, and I’m talking 30+ years here, that value of the aircraft is a function of how many hours are on the engine(s) since the last major overhaul. An aircraft with many hours on the engine(s) might be almost worthless but an aircraft with a recent engine overhaul will probably be worth more than the original purchase price, sometimes by several multiples. I expect the price of older EVs to be related to how many miles are on the latest battery pack replacement but I will not be at all surprised to see EVs eventually selling for more than their original list price, especially if the battery pack is far superior to the original battery pack.

I bought my 2013 Leaf exactly three years ago. I’ve put over 38,000 on it and have seen no degradation. I still have full bars and have seen no difference in its range.

I’m happy enough that I bought rather than leased. shows 2011 LEAF with 30,000 miles for under $7000. IF you could get a cooled LG pack replacement for $8000 if might be worth it…maybe. However, you can get a NEW Ford Focus EV for $20,000 after tax credits.

My local dealer advertisers 2016 Leaf S for $15,000 ($32,000 MSRP)
Another advertisers 2016 Leaf SV for $18k ($35k MSRP) with cashback and “No gas, ever” claim.
It doesn’t make sense to purchase some $8,000 battery replacement like BMW provides for i3 at these prices. It is cheaper to sell old car and get new one with warranty and extra bells & whistles.

I am outlining a scenario, Nissan has no intentions of providing a longer range pack for a 2011 LEAF, they should have cooled them from the start.

I asked Nissan to sell me packs that were replaced to make 16 kWh 48 VDC to 220 AC range extenders, they refused.

Obviously they would rather have hundreds of thousands of LEAF cars ready for the scrap heap than provide solutions to customers for problems Nissan created in the first place.

Something I felt I needed to add, I should have added this days ago. Dorman Products remanufactures EV batteries. Right now they are only advertising hybrid batteries but if you ask them they probably remanufacture your pure EV battery.

With the expertise remanufacturing batteries requires Dorman Products will probably also be able upgrade batteries. Want to move up from a 23-24 kWh to the latest 30kWh battery? If Dorman Products can get their hands on the higher capacity cells they should be able to build you a higher capacity battery pack.

The original LEAF pack was designed to replace weak modules, Nissan could have followed up on that design.

Instead they wanted to lease new packs, then came up with a sale price to replace the old pack with a new pack that would deteriorate just as fast because it was not cooled in the first place.