The Nissan Leaf Is Like These Luxury Cars in the Worst Way

While you probably buy a fantastic car for all of the features it provides, it’s also nice to feel you’re getting something that has good value and will bring in some money someday when it’s time to sell. Luxury cars have all sorts of features to offer, but they are known for depreciating quickly. These cars have high starting prices but much lower resale prices. It may be surprising that the Nissan Leaf, a mainstream EV car, also depreciates quickly, but it has other money-saving factors that make it worth considering when car shopping.

Like luxury cars, the Nissan Leaf depreciates quickly

A newly manufactured gray Nissan Leaf electric vehicle is driven from the production line to be parked at the Nissan Motor Co. plant
The Nissan Leaf | Ian Forsyth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Nissan Leaf has a five-year average depreciation of 70.1 percent, reports U.S. News in its “10 Cars With the Fastest Depreciation in 2021.” It’s the only electric or hybrid vehicle that appears on this list, but it didn’t have much EV competition five years ago in 2015.

The explosion since then of EV vehicles has also meant that buyers aren’t looking for older models. Newer EVs have “higher range per charge, shorter charge times, longer battery life, and more features,” points out U.S. News & World Report. The 2015 Nissan Leaf had starting prices between $29,010 and $35,120 for the lowest and the highest trims.

Other car models that depreciate quickly

People buying used cars aren’t interested in paying top prices for upgraded features, especially since luxury cars also often come with higher operating costs. Other cars on the list from U.S. News are primarily these luxury cars. They are also mainly sedans, which today don’t sell nearly as well as SUVs. Across all types of vehicles, the average depreciation is 49.1 percent over five years.

Here are several cars that, like the Nissan Leaf, depreciated around 70 percent in five years. The 2015 BMW 7 Series has an average five-year depreciation of 72.6 percent. Until the 2019 arrival of the BMW 8 Series, the 7 Series was BMW’s flagship super luxury car.

While the five-year cost of ownership is high, it isn’t that different from other super luxury cars. The 2015 BMW 7 Series isn’t a higher-priced used vehicle mainly because a new generation of the 7 Series arrived for 2016. Used car buyers are able to buy a newer model of the 7 Series from the current generation for just a bit more money.

The 2015 BMW 5 Series has an average five-year depreciation of 70.1 percent. The sedan offers strong safety and reliability scores along with multiple engine options. However, like many luxury cars, its five-year cost of ownership is pretty high.

The 2015 Audi A6 has an average five-year depreciation of 69.0 percent. The sedan has sporty handling and a luxury interior. It does have a slightly higher cost of ownership than competitors, but it mainly suffers from being a sedan.

The 2015 Maserati Ghibli has an average five-year depreciation of 69.0 percent. This Italian sedan has a luxurious design and powerful engines, but it doesn’t measure up as well as some of its similarly priced competitors.

Other financial perks help redeem the Nissan Leaf

It may sound disheartening that the Nissan Leaf depreciates so quickly, but there’s more to this story. The starting price of the Nissan Leaf is the original price before any government incentives, while resale values are lower to factor in those incentives. This helps increase the depreciation rate, but the original owner hopefully was able to collect some of the government incentives and offset the difference in the two prices.

New Nissan Leaf models continue to be eligible for the federal $7,500 tax credit. It is currently the only EV in the U.S. still eligible for this credit as of 2021. There are additional tax incentives in some states, including California.

The Nissan Leaf, as an EV, also has “one of the lowest average costs of ownership in the compact car class,” according to U.S. News. It has fewer parts, so it needs fewer trips to the mechanic, and it doesn’t need to be filled with gas. Consumer Reports found that the Nissan Leaf costs almost nothing to maintain.

The Nissan Leaf is the one mainstream car listed among luxury models on U.S. News’ “10 Cars With the Fastest Depreciation in 2021,” but it has redeeming factors that help increase its value and offset the depreciation.

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