What is a used Nissan LEAF worth?

by Ernie Hernandez on December 11, 2011

Red San Diego LEAFOne year after launch, is LEAF holding its value?

One huge question mark one year ago was the future value of a Nissan LEAF. One year after its launch, we can take a look.

First, it should be noted that this is not a scientific study. We are looking at various online sources to determine asking prices, not necessarily selling prices, of used 2011 Nissan LEAFs. We restricted our search to 2011 LEAFs. For our study we chose three online sources: AutoTrader.com, Cars.com, and eBay.com. We limited our search to used vehicles on each site, and selected “any distance” from our zip code on all three sites to provide the broadest possible geographical area. This is a search that anyone looking for any used car might use on any of these sites. First the results from AutoTrader.com.

AutoTrader.com returned 19 used Nissan LEAFs any distance from San Diego. 18 vehicles listed asking prices and the price was unlisted on one. The highest asking price was $44,995 (clearly the dealer is ingesting questionable substances), the lowest asking price was $27,999, with the average being $32,928. Of the 19 listed vehicles, five are offered by private sellers and 14 are offered by dealers. The five private sellers asking prices range from $29,900 to $33,000. All of the private sellers are selling SL models. One of the private sellers is a company in Michigan which likely acquired the LEAF for analysis by a Detroit manufacturer. LEAF is not yet offered in Michigan by Nissan. The private seller cars varied in mileage from 98 to 3,338. One interesting feature of Auto Trader is that one can see the number of views of any particular ad. The five private party LEAFs had been viewed a low of 27 times for a new listing to a high of 882 times. Clearly, there is interest in at least looking at these cars online.

Cars.com returned 8 vehicles, all offered by dealers. All of these cars except one were represented on AutoTrader.com. Clearly, for those looking for a used car, AutoTrader seems to be the better source.

Finally, we get to eBay.com. There was only one 2011 LEAF SL being auctioned. As we write this, the current bid was $20,100 which did not meet the unknown reserve price, set by the seller (a dealer). As it happens, this vehicle is also offered on AutoTrader.com. One feature that we like on eBay is the ability to check completed listings, so we did. We found only one completed listing for an SL LEAF. The highest bid received was $26,100 which did not meet the reserve. A quick cross check showed that this was one of the private seller vehicles also being offered on AutoTrader.com for $29,995.

So there you have it – with roughly 20,000 10,000 LEAFs sold in the US over the past year, looking at three of the most used web sites to sell a car it seems that there are only about 20 2011 LEAFs for sale. If local classified ads were included, the number would likely go up, but likely not by a large margin. Most LEAF owners offering their car for sale are likely savvy enough to want to use the internet to reach a broad market. It also seems as if AutoTrader.com is the place to go when shopping for a used car (or trying to sell one).

We’re not going to get into the ramifications to the original owner of selling their car and how that may affect their claim for a tax credit against their federal income tax. What we will mention is that the buyer of a used LEAF receives no such incentive, nor any from the state (if any). Based on this basic search, it would seem that the current value of a used 2011 LEAF SL would be roughly in the mid- to high-$20,000 range. Add the $7,500 federal income tax incentive back in and that puts right around MSRP. We would say that the LEAF is holding its value pretty well so far.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert January 15, 2012 at 1:36 pm

As Leaf driver I can see why. The Leaf is our third car but everyone in the family fights for it even in second month of ownership. The car drives like a charm and once you get used to a 100 Mile per day range. This just means you get in the habit of charging it every night. All is fine. I was looking for Used 2011 to replace our second more gas guzzling car too and I see that just no one wants to sell his Leaf:) I guess thats a good thing and Nissan produced a wonderful product that exceeds expectations.

In a way the Leaf is to cars what the iPhone was to cell phones!

Robert

Reply

Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) January 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Robert – welcome to Living LEAF. I know what you mean about everyone wanting to drive the car. It is an enjoyable driving experience for a number of reasons. We expect to not see huge numbers of used LEAFs available anytime soon.

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Joseph March 25, 2012 at 11:39 am

Robert!
I could not agree with you more! I love mine!

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) March 25, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Joseph – Welcome to Living LEAF. Today is exactly one year for us, and we understand why so few used LEAFs are available. We’ve said all along that if you offer the right situation for this car, you will be pleased with your decision. Every day of our experience has confirmed that.

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Mary Idlewine January 13, 2013 at 8:50 am

I love my Nissan Leaf. 16 monthes old. My driving miles per month has gone for 100 to 1,000 people like using me like a free cab cause I charge for free at work and my apt has electric included. 16,500 miles….I love driving my sweet leaf. I will not be finished with my lease till 2015 and if I don’t buy it I will be trading it in for a 2015 Nissan Leaf….I don’t want to ever run a car on gas again…oh the guys at the Midway dealership where I got my car call me the Leaf Lady…

Reply

Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) January 13, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Mary – Welcome to Living LEAF. Your experience mirrors that of a multitude of satisfied LEAF owners. One benefit of becoming a cab for your friends – they get a firsthand experience of the LEAF in action. Thanks for your comments!

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Ray M February 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm

18 months owning a Leaf and so far its been economical and trouble free for 19k miles. Something very concerning though is the depreciation. Trade in value is less than 20k and used they are going for 20k more or less depending on where you look. I often see auctions for it going less than 20k on eBay and on CarMax the 2011s are listed from low to mid 20,000. They don’t seem to be holding value that well compared to a normal car… what gives? The money saved just goes towards the depreciation nothing more… and you can get a lease now for $99/month for 2 years and $149/month for 3 years with little down? This makes me upset having financed one early on.

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Ernie Hernandez (LEAFguy) February 5, 2013 at 8:50 pm

Ray M – Welcome to Living LEAF. First, let me say that I’m pleased to hear that your first 18 months have been good to you. Based on high mileage experiences of others, we expect that you will continue to enjoy a positive experience.

Regarding your question about used car values, you need to keep a couple of things in mind. Every LEAF sold to date has been eligible to receive a $7,500 Federal tax credit. With the 2012 SV priced at $35,200 this credit brings the actual price paid down to $27,700. California’s additional $2,500 rebate brings the initial cost down to $25,200. Resale prices in the low $20,000 range is exactly what I would expect to see. Now that the 2013 LEAF has been announced starting at $28,800, expect to see prices in the used market get softer still.

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