Want a cheap, reliable car? Consider a used Nissan Leaf

Incentives for lessees and low wholesale prices sweeten the deal

Published: June 18, 2015 03:30 PM

If you’ve been sitting on the fence thinking about an electric car, or are currently leasing a Nissan Leaf, now is the time to act. Prices are falling like leaves.

Last week, Nissan announced an additional incentive of $5,000 to $7,000 for current lessees to buy their Leafs when their lease matures. That brings the buyout price closer in line with retail values on the market, so current lessees won’t be as tempted to turn in their Leafs and replace them a few months later for half the price—or simply walk away.

The Leafs coming off lease now are mostly 2012 models, which would have had contractual buyout price of just over $21,000. This incentive brings that down to about $14,000.

Even that bargain price is still way above what some Leafs are selling for. We’ve seen plenty of online listings for used Leafs for just over $10,000. We’re talking about late-model cars with between 15,000 and 35,000 miles on them. (2011 models with more miles on them can cost even less.)

At auction, these cars are selling for $8,000 to $9,000. The numbers point to great potential deals, yet most people apparently aren’t negotiating to get the best price. According to data from the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average price buyers paid for a 2012 Leaf at dealers is about $17,000—way above the auction prices plus a traditional profit.

Read our complete Nissan Leaf road test and check our used-car buying guide.


If you’ve been thinking of buying an electric car, but just can’t stomach the high price of entry, consider a used Leaf.  The car scored very well when we tested it with quiet, smooth acceleration, a supple ride, and roomy interior that belie its economy-car exterior. Given the available deals, a low-mileage, $10,000 Leaf may be just the way to see if an electric car could work with your lifestyle.

True, there’s no getting around the Leaf’s range limitations. The car will go 75 to 80 miles on a good day before needing a recharge. And recharging takes about 6 hours, even after you invest in a dedicated 240-volt electric car charger. But it’s hard to beat for cheap transportation. Just be sure to negotiate.

—Eric Evarts

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