When I let it be known that I’d taken delivery of a refurbished iPhone, a friend of mine asked, reasonably enough, what shape the battery was in. As it happened, an iOS update provided a tool for finding out exactly that. Under “Battery health,” declared the phone, we find 88 percent of maximum capacity. The automotive equivalent, perhaps, is to be found in the Nissan Leaf with 10, maybe 11, out of 12 available bars.
When people come in to buy a used Leaf, they aren’t asking about the interior, or the electric motor, said Dave Marvin, dealer principal of three Nissan dealerships in Texas and Southern California.
“Their No. 1 concern is the health of the battery,” Marvin said. “Having an affordable, well-thought-out battery replacement program would be a great benefit because it helps address that concern.”
Spending $8,000 on a new battery pack and related components for a first-gen Leaf does not make financial sense, Marvin said.
Among the biggest concerns is resale value. With no refurb solution, owners will essentially be forced to throw a car onto the secondhand market needing thousands in repairs. Sure, they could foot the bill themselves, but why bother replacing the most expensive component in your vehicle just to sell it? Likewise, why would the average used-car buyer choose to spend the cash when they’re already in search of a bargain? Wouldn’t it make more sense to go the internal combustion route or simply splurge on a new EV with superior range?
Yep. You can already see this manifesting on the used market. Almost no one is buying a used electric; as a result, they’ve become dirt cheap — though the tax incentives affixed to new BEVs and lower fuel costs also contribute. The situation is less pronounced with hybrids, but they’re also likely to depreciate a bit faster than their un-electrified counterparts.
“Early adopters,” said the man who spent over $100 on a pocket calculator in the 1970s, “always get screwed.” (I have reference to, um, me.)