Leasing, rather than buying a new vehicle outright, has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to help consumers soften the blow of rising interest rates and sky-high transaction prices. It’s especially prevalent in the electric-vehicle market, where reports suggest that close to 80 percent of all new EVs are leased. In addition to helping keep down payments and monthly expenditures low, leasing enables EV enthusiasts to keep up with the latest technology and avoid being stuck with what could be a hard-to-sell outdated ride down the road.
That means there’s a flood of gently driven three-year-old used EVs coming off lease this year, like any of the models from across the country listed for sale here on MYEV.com. But which are the best deals? The key lies in their resale values.
Age, condition and mileage largely determine what a used vehicle is worth. However, all else being equal, some models will command higher or lower prices because of various market forces.
With the exception of Tesla models, used electric cars generally suffer sub-par resale values. They take a bigger hit in depreciation thanks to the one-time federal tax credit granted to new-EV buyers, which essentially cuts their worth by an immediate $7,500. Plus, older EVs are limited in terms of their operating range on a charge, compared to the latest models that run for 200 miles or more at a time.
That translates into bargain prices for most battery-powered vehicles in the used-car market. What’s more, they can be considered solid choices, given that the terms of a lease limit how many miles a vehicle can be driven and mandates they be returned in excellent condition.
The experts at the auto information website iSeeCars.com recently conducted an extensive analysis of used vehicle transactions to determine which models suffer the greatest loss in value after three years, including EVs. These, in turn, would be considered the best deals among off-lease models.
As it stands, electric cars could be the best bargains among recent-vintage used vehicles of any kind, as they drop an average 56.6% of their original worth after 36 months. The Fiat 500e loses a whopping 69.7% of its sticker price after three years. The average among all vehicles is a 38.2% loss. A 2016 Tesla Model S, by the way, depreciates by only 17.1%, according to iSeeCars.com data.
We’re featuring the five best used-EV deals from the 2016 model year in the above slideshow. You can view the full iSeeCars.com report on the best values in off-lease cars in other vehicle categories here.
Average three-year old used price: $15,325. Original value lost: 56.5%. The Kia Soul EV compact wagon is every bit as funky, roomy, and practical as the gas powered versions, and it comes well equipped. The auto information website iSeeCars.com says it’s among the best values in off-lease EVs. The 2016 version gets the electric equivalent of 120/92 miles per gallon (“MPGe”) in city/highway driving, and can muster an average 93 miles on a charge. Sales of the 2016 model were limited to California, Georgia, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii, and Texas.
Average three-year old used price: $13,758. Original value lost: 58.1%. One of the more fun-to-drive electric cars, the compact Volkswagen eGolf hatchback is peppy and takes the corners tenaciously. It’s also a great bargain among three-year-old used EVs. The 2016 model is rated at 126/105 MPGe, and it delivers an 83-mile operating range. Be aware that the base SE model didn’t come standard with DC fast-charge capability; it was optional there and included with the SEL Premium model. For 2016, eGolf sales were limited to 10 Northeast and West Coast states.
Average three-year old used price: $14,070. Original value lost: 59.8%. Over 10,000 Nissan Leafs were sold or leased nationwide during 2016, which makes them relatively plentiful, also affordable, in the resale market. The 2016 Leaf was offered with either a 24-kWh or 30 kWh battery pack, with both getting equivalent energy efficiency at 126/101 MPGe and 124/101 MPGe, respectively. However, while the former is estimated to run for 84 miles on a charge, the latter bumps the Leaf’s range up to 107 miles, which makes it the longest-range EV on our list.
Average three-year old used price: $19,784. Original value lost: 63.3%. With widespread availability, the compact BMW i3 hatchback likewise enjoyed relatively strong sales for 2016. It remains distinctively styled inside and out, with a true “car of the future” look and an overall sporty feel. It’s rated at a frugal 137/111 MPGe, with an average range of 81 miles on a charge. You’ll also find i3’s fitted with a small “REX” gasoline engine that kicks in when the battery becomes depleted to a certain point. That version has a range of 72 miles running on electricity and another 78 miles on gas.
Average three-year old used price: $10,358. Original value lost: 69.7%. The best deal among three-year-old off-lease EVs, according to iSeeCars.com, is probably the most difficult to find. That’s because the subcompact Fiat 500e is only sold in California and Oregon. It’s otherwise attractively styled, with the 2016 edition receiving a minor facelift. It’s also an energetic little car, and is rated at a thrifty 121/103 MPGe. The 500e is estimated to run for an average 83 miles on a charge.
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