Strong demand boosts EV residuals

Used electric cars are bucking industry trends by appreciating — rather than depreciating — in value, according to research by the automotive shopping site, CarGurus. Every day, CarGurus analyses millions of data points on hundreds of thousands of UK used car listings to calculate each car’s Instant Market Value (IMV) or fair retail price. Using this data, CarGurus examined prices for the four most searched-for EVs on — the BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and Tesla Model S — since the start of 2017. The results showed that prices either rose or remained level for months at a time, and in all cases far outperformed the most searched-for petrol and diesel equivalents listed on over the same period.

The Renault Zoe electric supermini performed particularly well. CarGurus figures show that between January 2017 and November 2019 the average asking price for a used 2015 model year Renault Zoe increased by 18 per cent, from £6,425 to £7,612. By comparison, the average price for the most popular petrol and diesel supermini of the same age on, the Ford Fiesta, decreased by 22 per cent over the same period, from £9,165 to £7,160.

Another strong performer was the BMW i3, with prices of 2014 examples on the used market increasing by 1 per cent since the start of the year. By comparison, values of petrol or diesel-engined MINI hatchbacks, the most searched-for premium small car on CarGurus, fell by 14 per cent over the same period.

The Nissan Leaf is the best-selling pure EV in the UK, yet despite a good supply of used car stock its values remain consistently high. Earlier models perform even better than later versions, with the average price for a 2015 Nissan Leaf in November 2019 just 9 per cent lower than in January 2017, at £10,438. By comparison, the average price for 2015 examples of the most searched for petrol or diesel family car on CarGurus, the Volkswagen Golf, dropped by 17 per cent over the same period.

The fact that values of the cheapest EV models CarGurus studied have either remained stable or risen slightly during 2019 suggests that demand for used electric cars is increasing. This is backed up by a significant increase in demand for new electric cars during 2019, with figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showing that, year to date, sales of new electric cars have increased by 125 per cent compared with 2018.

Snapshot of CarGurus data


Jan 2017


Jan 2019


Nov 2019

Value change since Jan 2017 Value change Jan-Nov 2019
Electric supermini car Renault Zoe (2015 model year) £6,425 £6,683 £,7612 +18% +14%
Petrol/diesel equivalent Ford Fiesta (2015 model year) £9,165 £8,184 £7,160 -22% -13%
Electric premium supermini car BMW i3 (2014 model year) £17,445

(Apr 2017)

£14,800 £15,006 -14% (since Apr 2017) +1%
Petrol/diesel equivalent Mini hatchback (2015 model year) £10,815

(Apr 2017)

£10,253 £8,862 -18% (since Apr 2017) -14%
Electric family car Nissan Leaf (2015 model year) £11,512 £11,498 £10,438 -9% -9%
Petrol/diesel equivalent Volkswagen Golf (2015 model year) £16,130 £13,063 £11,576 -17% -11%
Electric luxury car Tesla Model S (2015 model year) £57,746 (Oct 2017) £48,961 £40,957 -29% (since Oct 2017) -16%
Petrol/diesel equivalent Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2015 model year) £50,783 (Oct 2017) £41,213 £32,166 -37% (since Oct 2017) -22%

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