Hybrids & Electrics

The Nissan LEAF Is America’s Favorite Used EV

The Nissan LEAF is the brand’s first mass-produced EV, which entered production in 2010. The LEAF is now in its second generation and has to compete with the Tesla Model 3. While a brand-new LEAF may not be a sales success, the second-hand ones are dominating in the U.S. A recent study from iSeeCars found that Americans buy more used Nissan LEAFs than both the Tesla Model S and Model 3.

The used market loves the Nissan LEAF over the Tesla Model S

The Nissan LEAF is the brand's electric hatchback.
Nissan LEAF | Nissan

According to iSeeCars and their test of the 25 states with the most EV sales, the Nissan LEAF is the best selling in 18 of them. The electric Nissan accounts for almost 28 percent of used EV sales. On the other hand, the Tesla Model S manages to hold just under 18 percent of the used market. The smaller Model 3 accounts for almost 6 percent of the used EV market. It is important to note that the more expensive Model S trumps the Model 3 because it’s been on sale for longer. Older used Model S’ have depreciated drastically.

The massive price gap between the Tesla Model S and the LEAF is likely the cause of its popularity. According to iSeeCars, on average, a used Model S sells for $48,996, while a LEAF costs just $13,054. Even the more affordable Model 3 carries an average used price of around $44,000. In terms of affordable EVs, the depreciation beating the LEAF experiences makes it an absolute bargain.

The LEAF takes a significant depreciation hit

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A brand-new Nissan LEAF is one of the most affordable EVs currently on sale, with a starting price of $31,600. Sadly, the electric Nissan takes an absolute beating from depreciation. According to iSeeCars, the LEAF tends to lose about 60 percent of its value in the first three years. Despite offering great value, the LEAF’s depreciation makes it one of the most expensive EVs to own. The aforementioned $13,054 average used price means buyers could have two used examples or one new LEAF.

The depreciation hit hurts even more when we consider how expensive the LEAF can be from new. While the base S trim level costs just over $31,000, the range-topping SL PLUS comes in at $43,900 without options. With all of the options selected, the LEAF tops out at $46,088. To put that into perspective, owning a top-spec LEAF will cost its owner a Toyota Corolla’s worth in depreciation in the first three years.

Is buying a cheap LEAF a good idea?

The Nissan LEAF is the brand's electric hatchback.
Nissan LEAF | Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images

Since buying new is out of the question, buying a used Nissan LEAF is the only good way to own it. Setting the shocking depreciation aside, the LEAF is a neat little hatchback. The LEAF is offered with either a 40 kWh battery or a 62 kWh battery. The larger of the two gives the LEAF up to 226 miles of electric range.

Since buying used gives buyers tons of options to pick from, opt for the highest spec possible. Nissan’s ProPILOT system gives the LEAF the ability to handle stop and go traffic almost independently. Although it is not a fully autonomous system, the electric hatchback can come to a complete stop on its own. On the highway, the system can steer the LEAF and keep it within its lane.

Like most new Nissan’s, the LEAF also benefits from Safety Shield 360, which includes the likes of Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, to name a few. Put all of the LEAF’s strengths together, and you get a fairly compelling little EV, so long as you buy it used.