19 Mar 19

Nissan Leaf is best-selling used EV in Europe

Weak residuals: that used to be a major argument against buying an electric vehicle (EV). But there is mounting evidence that demand for used EVs is creeping up. And that consequently, the Residual Values (RVs) of EVs are firming up. Data provided by Autorola allows us to reveal the best-selling EVs in Europe (see below). 

For a very long time, EVs were stuck in a Catch-22: due to range anxiety and concerns over battery life, too few people were prepared to buy a used EV. The resulting low RVs meant that the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of EVs remained uncompetitively high. Result: EV sales – used and new - remained extremely marginal.

Nissan e-NV200
We now seem to have moved beyond that phase. There's plenty of evidence that EVs have rising RVs. Last month, Shoreham Vehicle Auctions (SVA) in the UK reported that the RV of the used Nissan e-NV200s it auctions off had increased by £1000 (€1160) in just a year's time, for instance.

There are several reasons for the rising fortunes (literally and figuratively) of used EVs. 

  • The technology has been around for almost a decade by now and has been steadily improving. As awareness increases (not to mention vehicle range and battery life), so does trust in the technology. Greater acceptance leads to higher demand, and since the supply of used EVs is still relatively small, RVs are ticking up fast. 
  • The introduction by cities of low-emission zones is a major argument pro EVs. SVA attributes at least part of the appreciation of EV RVs to the start this April of an Ultra Low Emission Zone ( ULEZ) in London, the UK's first. 
  • Vehicle resellers are now more aware of the specifics of EV remarketing, and thus more inclined to partake in it. One aspect peculiar to EVs is the fact that batteries may be leased separately – and that these leases can be transferred when reselling the EV.

Federal tax credit
In the US, the used-EV market is hampered by a federal tax credit that can reduce the price of a new EV by as much as $7,500, and by still relatively weak demand. Yet, in an example of their increasingly positive valuation, at least some EV RVs in are rising in the US.

The top EV in the US is the Tesla Model 3, which retains 64.3% of its original value after 36 months. That's way above the market average (51.7%) and almost as good as the overall top EV (Toyota Tacoma at 69.4%).

According to valuation experts Kelley Blue Book (KBB), a crucial factor in maintaining RVs is for the EVs to have ranges of at least 200 miles (app. 325 km). KBB says the Chevrolet Bolt (range: 238 mi; 383 km) has recently joined Tesla Models 3 and X in maintaining a strong three-year RV. 

High-end long-range
And KBB expect the same will be the case for high-end, long-range EVs just now hitting the market, e.g. the Jaguar I-Pace (234 mi; 377 km) and the Audi e-tron (248 mi; 400 km). Other new, long-range EV models likely to have strong RVs include the Hyundai Kona Electric (258 mi; 415 km), the Kia Niro EV (239 mi; 385 km) and the Nissan Leaf Plus (226 mi; 364 km).

The Tesla trio still occupies the top three spots of best-selling EVs, though – both new and used. Best-selling used EV in the US is the Tesla Model X crossover. 

Meanwhile, there are real bargains to be had further down the RV list. Whereas the average lightly-used car costs 23.2% less than a new version of the same model, that differential increases significantly with some used EVs. According to US automotive data analysts iSeeCars, the best buys among used EVs are these three plug-ins: 

  1. Nissan Leaf (at just over $13,500 no less than 40% cheaper than a new model)
  2. Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid (just under $12,000, almost 33% cheaper)
  3. Ford Fusion Energi (just over $11,000, 32.5% cheaper)

Used-EV bestsellers
So, which are the most popular used EVs in Europe? Below is an exclusive peek at the sales figures for used electric cars in February, as collated by Autorola, the online remarketing specialist, across its various European markets. 

  1. Nissan Leaf (pictured): 574 used units sold in February
  2. Lexus IS-Series: 323
  3. Tesla Model S: 268
  4. VW Passat: 228
  5. BMW i8: 172
  6. Hyundai IONIQ: 169
  7. VW Golf: 168
  8. Volvo XC90: 164
  9. Smart Fortwo: 160
  10. BMW X5: 152

Most popular used EVs
The Nissan Leaf is by far the most sold used EV, but that doesn't necessarily mean it is also the most popular. That is a function of supply and demand. A better measure for this is Market Days Supply. 

To calculate MDS, divide the available supply by the average daily retail sales rate over the past 45 days. Even high sales can result in a high MDS figure if the supply is great (as is the case with the Nissan Leaf, with a higher MDS than the Honda Civic, which had lower supplies). The lower the number, the stronger the value.

  1. Honda Civic: 34 MDS (105 units sold in February)
  2. VW Jetta: 43 (50)
  3. Honda CR-Z: 46 (77)
  4. Nissan Leaf: 50 (574)
  5. Volvo XC90: 50 (164)
  6. Opel Ampera: 53 (82)
  7. Mercedes B-Class: 55 (19)
  8. Audi A3: 56 (97)
  9. BMW X5: 56 (152)
  10. VW Passat: 57 (228)
Authored by: Frank Jacobs