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Selling Our Nissan Leaf Was, Well, Weird

After 19 months of testing, has sold its 2011 Nissan Leaf electric car. In my original review, I questioned how much a used EV would be worth once the second generation came out. Would it be as undesirable as a previous-generation smartphone?

Well, the Leaf, along with all other EVs, remains in its first generation, and still our long-term test car’s resale proved to be a complex affair.

Sticker-priced at $35,665 as equipped when new, our loaded 2011 Nissan Leaf SL with 11,000 miles sold for $19,000 last week after 48 days of tepid interest. This represents depreciation of 47% … but that doesn’t tell the whole story.

The federal tax credit of up to $7,500 (depending on the buyer’s income, as we’ve reported ) is clearly reflected in resale values. That alone decreased our car’s effective sticker price, when new, to $28,165. Based on this figure, the depreciation would have been a still-disappointing 32%.

Selling our car in Illinois, we got a double-whammy, thanks to a generous $4,000 state tax credit, for which we didn’t qualify when we bought our Leaf (out of state) in 2011. From the perspective of an Illinois buyer, before our car drove off the lot almost two years ago, it was already down to an effective MSRP of $24,165. Base our depreciation on that number, and our car had lost just 21% of its value when we handed it to its new buyer.


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