Could it be that early adapters of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf will not be taking a hit in their car’s resale value for all their willingness to risk buying new electrified automotive technology?

Contrary to early fears that their resale value might not hold a candle to nearest-comparable gasoline cars, this appears to be the case, according to the June NADA Official Used Car Guide

How good are the resale values? Try 95 percent of the tax-credit-adjusted sticker for the 2011 Leaf, and 90 percent for the 2011 Volt.


NADA pegs the 2011 Leaf’s average trade-in value at $23,975. When factoring in the full federal tax credit of $7,500, the Leaf’s net sticker price was figured to be $25,280.

A nearly as good story holds true for the gas-electric Volt. A 2011 Volt has an average trade-in value of $29,325, and when subtracting the $7,500 federal tax credit, its net sticker would have been $32,780.

If buyers were not able to take advantage of the federal tax credit, then of course the percentage of actual price paid is far worse. On the other hand, if they took advantage of federal plus state subsidies, they are really sitting pretty at this point.

As mentioned in the second paragraph, initial fears were the Volt and Leaf would see much worse resale values. According to a GM-Volt story citing Pike Research last May , lease rates were being used as rough indicators of what these cars may be worth at the end of, say, a three-year term.

At the time, Pike found electric and plug-in hybrid end-of-lease values would for at least the next few years be markedly lower than those of gasoline-powered nearest equivalents as the market decides how to assess these new vehicle types.

As institutional lenders, lease makers are loathe to take much in the way of chances with their money, so they conservatively estimated plug-in EVs and hybrids with abysmal values. In 36 months, and Volt was factored to be worth $17,630; a Leaf, it was figured, would be worth just $13,440.

Time will tell whether these forecasts still come to pass in a couple more years, but now over 12 months into it, the cars are doing better than expected.

A couple of other hybrids that NADA valued – and that have been on the market longer than the Leaf or Volt – are the 2011 Civic Hybrid, which NADA says holds 76 percent of its value, and the 2011 Prius, with 88 percent. These cars of course are not being calculated with $7,500 lopped off the sticker.

If Nissan does come out with a nickel Manganese Cobalt battery and other changes for its Leaf in the next couple years or so as some have rumored, and the Volt also sees an improved generation 1.5 in a similar time frame, who knows if their present rate of decline will continue.

At least for now however, the cars are – with qualifications – bucking a trend that new technology is known to follow, and their first-year resale value is still holding better than some expected.

TreeHugger via AutoGuide