Remember the June rantings of British motoring journalist Mike Rutherford, who warned in his column for the Telegraph that cars like the 2011 Nissan Leaf would retain just 10% of its original value three years after purchase?

While Rutherford ‘s original article was based on figured provided by Glass’ Guide, the british equivalent to the Kelly Blue Book, it assumed Nissan’s all-electric family hatchback would require a battery replacement a few years into its life. 

But as we predicted at the time, the pessimistic view of the Leaf’s residual values shared by Rutherford and Glass’ Guide would be proven wrong. 

We didn’t have to wait long. 

According to a recent study by CAP, a firm dedicated to predicting used and future residual values of anything from motorbikes to trucks, the 2011 Nissan Leaf may be as much as 46% of its original purchase price after three years of ownership.

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

Priced at $45,885 in the U.K. before government incentives, CAP’s three year valuation at 30,000 miles /3 years of the U.K. specification Leaf is 40% of its original price. 

But in the U.K. a Government scheme is set to knock nearly $8,000  from the price of the Leaf at point of purchase. The scheme is expected to run for at least two years. 

Subtracting the $8,000 subsidy from the price paid by the consumer, CAP’s residual value estimate for the same mileage and age represents nearly 46% of the Leaf’s purchase price. 

We should point out here that there are some significant differences between car ownership in the U.K. and U.S. Aside from the obvious differences in sticker price between the U.S. and U.K. specification 2011 Leaf, customers in Europe are being offered just one trim level for the Leaf as opposed to the two currently on offer in the U.S. 

In addition, the average length of car ownership in the U.K. is significantly lower than that in the U.S. This is driven partly by U.K. law - every new car is exempt from mandatory yearly road worthiness testing known as an MOT for the first three years following registration, and partly by vehicle licensing regulations. 

Licence plates are also generally age-related, making it much easier to see at-a-glance how old a vehicle is and thus drives U.K. consumers to change cars more regularly. 

Why are the CAP residual calculations so different to the figures from Glass’ Guide? 

We think it may be partially down to increased public awareness about electric cars, as well as Nissan’s impressive 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty on the Leaf’s battery pack, charger and drivetrain.

2011 Nissan Leaf

2011 Nissan Leaf

There are practical reasons too. As CAP spokesperson Mark Norman told, the Nissan Leaf has less moving parts than a gasoline car, and thus less components to wear out.

"when mechanical issues and wear and tear begin to affect other cars, the Leaf should still be running well”

What does this mean for U.S. buyers of the Leaf?  

Resale values are likely to remain high for at least the first few years following the launch of the 2011 Nissan Leaf, provided proper maintenance schedules are kept and the vehicle is treated well. 

We’ve already proven the 2011 Nissan Leaf drives like any other car. Now it looks as if it will depreciate in a similar way to a gasoline car as well.

[CAP via]