2015 Nissan Leaf
Yes, really. Used electric cars have appreciated in value, in some cases.
Call it a market adjustment or a momentary blip. You have one more thing to toast this new year: that the value of your electric vehicle probably isn’t plunging as rapidly as it was. It may, actually have gone up in value in recent months.
Actual wholesale-dollar-amount prices for the 2015 Nissan Leaf, according to Automotive News, are up one percent from where they were a year ago. And the Leaf’s three-year retention value is up from 23 percent in December 2017 to 30 percent last month.
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Depreciation rates for the Leaf, up until now, have been abysmal, with some reports putting annual depreciation in the range of 25 to 30 percent.
The trend caught our eye this past week, and it’s especially noteworthy in this time of cheap gas—a factor that usually plays against electric-vehicle values and accelerated the depreciation of small cars and (non-Tesla) electric vehicles.
Black Book notes the Chevrolet Spark EV and Fiat 500e as two other models that have seen their value retention slides become a little less steep in 2018. Across the market, Black Book reported the average retained value of electric vehicles at the end of three years was 38 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018, versus 21 percent a year earlier.
2017 Fiat 500e
The rising prices of all used vehicles may be helping lift EV values, notes Automotive News. And wholesalers have simply become smarter about what to do with the ebb and flow of off-lease Leafs and other electric vehicles.
Another influence on value could be the new kind of electric-vehicle-centric used-car dealerships that have emerged in some major-metro areas to take advantage of this niche economy—including a mix of electric-car evangelists and sheer make-a-buck opportunists.
Whether it’s part of the widespread lift in values that’s swept used compact and subcompact cars upward due to a dearth of supply and economic jitters, or shoppers starting to see electric vehicles in a new light, the value boost could represent a turning point in the market for used electric-cars. At the very least, it could assure us that it’s no longer in free fall.
For a market model still depending on highly subsidized leases, it could be the right kind of market signal to help put more than just compliance electrics in automakers' business plans.