Plug-In Hybrids, EVs Not Holding Resale Value Compared To Conventional Cars


Anyone who has ever bought a new car knows that the second you drive it off of the lot, it has lost thousands of dollars in value. That is why automakers often tout the high resale value of their cars, hoping to convince some buyers that they’ll see a decent return on their investment down the road. But a new study shows that buyers of EVs and plug-in hybrids may have to settle for a little less than they hoped for.

Two price-tracking sites, Kelley Blue Book and ALG, peg the resale value of the 2012 Nissan Leaf at about 20% of its MSRP after five years. This means that the $36,000 EV will be worth approximately $7,200 after five years on the road. For some reason, the Nissan Sentra was used as a benchmark, even though the Leaf is actually based on the smaller (and cheaper!) Nissan Versa. KBB and ALG peg the resale value of a Sentra at about 30% of its MSRP after 5 years.

Then there is the Chevy Volt, which costs a bit more ($39,995) but also has a much better resale value. KBB and ALG state that after 5 years, the Chevy Volt will be worth about 30% of its original MSRP, compared to the Chevy Cruze compact (which the Volt IS based off of) which will be worth around 38% of its value after five years.

Of course it isn’t all bad news. If you take into account the $7,500 federal tax rebate available to both the Leaf and the Volt, all of the sudden things like pretty peachy for early adopters and used car fans alike. If those resale values hold true, it means you could buy a Nissan Leaf for under $8,000, and a Chevy Volt for around $13,000 in just a few years time. Not too shabby!

Source: Detroit Free Press

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • mark W

    I for one am looking forward to the day when an electric car, used or not, can be had for under 10k, But I seriously doubt that is going to happen any time soon.

    KBB used its traditional ICE formula on the prius when it first can out as well. Until it sunk it that the prius, like the leaf and volt, just isnt a normal car. Go to auto trader today and do a search of a 5 year old prius. Come on dare you….

    OK, Now you have a list of 2008 prius’s (5 years old) with average miles on it… see what you get? 14 to 18k based on milage… or about double what KBB promised. The market has spoken.

    I rest my case.

    • EXACTLY. Hybrids are becoming more ho-hum. Plugins offer the electrical equivalent of $1-$2/gallon gas prices for all local (EV-range) trips. When that sinks into the market, the market will show it.

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  • Lee

    I am not trying to defend their resale value but, it sort of seems like they need to take into account the federal rebate. Customers effectively aren’t paying the MSRP but, a number much lower. I feel like they need to strip away such rebates when calculating that resale percentage if they want a more meaningful number.

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