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Electric car at a charging station

Depreciation of electric cars varies greatly across different models

by Andrew Segal 28th March 2018

Electric car sales have reached an all-time high, but if you’re thinking about owning one yourself it pays to understand that depreciation between different models varies significantly.

In the UK alone in 2017, almost 120,000 alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) were sold, with the vast majority of major car manufacturers all having an electric and/or hybrid model on the road. But research by InsuretheGap.com shows that there are striking differences in the depreciation of ten of the most popular electric cars currently available over a three-year period.

According to an Opinium survey*, UK drivers like to change their vehicle at least every four years, so these numbers make for essential reading to anyone who has an electric/hybrid car on their wish list.

The fastest depreciating car was the Renault Zoe (electric), losing 60% of its value from its purchase price of £15,498 in 2015, to just £6,190 in 2018. The initial purchase price includes a £4,500 government grant, introduced to encourage drivers to go electric.

The Nissan Leaf (electric) came in second, dropping from a cost new of £23,335 in 2015 (including the government grant), to a value now of £10,350, a reduction of 55%.

The electric car that maintained its value the best is the Tesla Model S (electric), depreciating by just under a third (32%), followed closely by both the BMW i3 (electric) and Toyota Prius (Hybrid) which depreciated by 35%. See the table below for the full list.

We found that the range of depreciations for the electric/hybrid cars was greater than that of petrol cars. Taking the 10 most popular petrol cars in the UK, our research revealed a depreciation range of between 31% and 52%, compared to 32% and 60% for electric/hybrids. You can also view this table below.

The UK government’s grant to buyers of Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles, which ranges from £2,500 for hybrids to £4,500 for fully electric cars, provides welcome financial assistance for buyers coming into this market. Without it, for example, the Renault Zoe depreciates by a staggering 69% between 2015 and 2018.

In the autumn 2017 budget, the government announced they would commit £200m in funding for charging infrastructure for electric cars to be matched by industry. A pledge to make 25% of cars in central government department fleets electric by 2022 was also announced.

Ben Wooltorton, COO at InsuretheGap.com says: “With the government’s ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 the future is in alternatively fuelled vehicles, however knowing which one to buy is essential if you want to protect your investment. The running costs of these cars do vary of course, but it also pays to do your homework on depreciation rates if you like to upgrade your car every few years.”

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Table 1 – Electric Car Data: InsuretheGap.com used Glass’s data in February 2018 to compile the survey. All the valuations are based on average mileages.

Car Make/Model 2015 Price (New) Price (new)
after government grant
2018 Valuation Depreciation % with government grant included Order of depreciation with 1 being the fastest – 10 the slowest

1. Renault Zoe (Electric)

5d Hatchback, 1 speed, 88bhp

£19,988 £15,498* £6,190 60 1

2. Nissan Leaf (Electric)

5d Hatchback, 1 speed, 80kw

£27,835 £23,335* £10,350 55 2

3. KIA Soul EV (Electric)

5d Hatchback, 1 speed, 81kw

£29,940 £25,440* £12,400 51 3

4. Smart fortwo (Electric)

2d Coupe, 5 speed

£20,350 £15,850* £7,930 50 4

5. VW Golf E (Electric)

5d Hatchback, 1 speed

£31,250 £26,750* £15,100 44 5

6. Mercedes C350e (Hybrid)

4d Saloon, 7 speed

£40,615 £38,115** £22,500 41 6

7. VW Golf GTE (Hybrid)

5d Hatchback, 6 speed

£33,704 £31,204** £19,700 37 7

8. BMW i3 (Electric)

5d Hatchback, 1 speed, 170bhp

£31,060 £26,560* £17,200 35 8

9. Toyota Prius (Hybrid)

5d Hatchback, 1 speed, 134bhp

£25,460 £22,960** £14,850 35 8

10. Tesla Model S (Electric)

4d Saloon, 1 speed

£60,380 £55,880* £38,000 32 10

Table 2: Electric Car Data: InsuretheGap.com used Glass’s data in January 2018 to compile the survey and all the valuations are based on average mileages. The full details are displayed in the table below.

Car Make/Model In Order of Best-Selling Price bought new in March 2015 Price in 2018 (based on av. mileage) Depreciation % Order of depreciation with 1 being the fastest – 10 the slowest

1. Ford Focus

1.6 5d Hatchback, 5 speed Man, Petrol

£16,610 £7,900 52% 1

2. Vauxhall Astra

1.4 5d Hatchback, 5 speed Man, Petrol

£15,240 £8,100 47% 2

3. Vauxhall Corsa

1.4 3d Hatchback, 5 speed Man, Petrol

£16,810 £ 8,950 47% 2

4. VW Golf

1.4 3d Hatchback, 5 speed Man, Petrol

£18,870 £10,350 45% 4

5. Ford Fiesta

1.6 3d Hatchback, 6 speed Man, Petrol

£17,210 £9,960 42% 5

6. Nissan Qashqai

1.6 5d Hatchback, 5 speed Man, Petrol

£25,516 £15,200 40% 6

7. Mercedes C-class

1.6 4d Saloon, 6 speed Man, Petrol

£31,350 £19,600 37% 7

8. VW Polo

1.4 3d Hatchback, 5 speed Man, Petrol

£17,835 £11,350 36% 8

9. Mercedes A-class

1.6 5d Hatchback, 6 speed Man, Petrol

£25,820 £16,400 36% 8

10. Mini Cooper

1.6 3d Hatchback, 6 speed Man, Petrol

£16,515 £11,450 31% 10

* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Opinium Research. Total sample size was 2001 UK drivers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 9 - 13 February 2017. The survey was carried out online.