As electric vehicles rise in demand, consumers want to buy more used models. Nissan Leaf used car sales have gained share over the Chevy Volt, while the used Tesla Model S is selling above its new car MSRP.

Gone are the days when electric cars were positioned as a concept or a “thing of the future.” They are rapidly becoming more common on our roads and shoppers are finding them in high demand. has released a study that demonstrates the growing popularity of used electric cars.

While electric cars are still a just fraction of all vehicles sold in the U.S., the study hones in on the most popular ones, mainly Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and Tesla Model S.  Of the three, the Volt sold the most cars with a share of close to 60% in 2013.  However, Chevy Volt lost share from 2012 by nearly 9% while the Nissan Leaf saw an increase of 7.5% from 2012-2013.

Electric Vehicle Used Car Market Share
EV Models 2012 2013 % Change
Nissan Leaf 32.8% 40.3% +7.5%
Chevrolet Volt 67.2% 58.5% -8.7%
Tesla Model S n/a 1.2% +1.2%
Total 100% 100%

“The Tesla Model S sedan is still just a sliver of the used electric car market since it was only recently launched in 2012, two years after the Leaf or Volt.  However, it seems to be in great demand as used Model S are selling above its new car starting price.  Surprisingly, the average used Tesla Model S is selling for over $99K which is above the average of its new car MSRP (which according to Edmunds ranges from $71,070 to $94,900).  On the other hand, the average used car price for both the Volt and Leaf are below their MSRP,” said Phong Ly, CEO and Co-Founder of

Electric Vehicle Used Car vs New Car Pricing
EV Models Avg Used Car Price Avg New Car MSRP* % Difference
Nissan Leaf $22,828 $29,650 -34,840 Used is $6,822 -$12,012  Below New MSRP
Chevrolet Volt $32,516 $39,145 Used is $6,629 Below New MSRP
Tesla Model S $99,734 $71,070 - $94,900 Used is $4,834 - $28,664 Above New MSRP
* MSRP’s from Edmunds – excluding federal tax credits and state and regional incentives for electric cars

A reason why the used Model S pricing is high is because a majority of the used Model S for sale last year is of the higher end model with the bigger battery pack.  (Consumers can buy the Tesla Model S in either a 60kWh or 85kWh battery pack or 85kWh Performance named P85 – the larger 85kWh battery has greater driving range and more horsepower.) However, even when we compare the used Model S average price of $99,734 to the $94,900 which Edmunds points to as the upper bound of the MSRP, the used Model S base price point is still higher than new.   Further, when we analyze the highest end P85 model, the average used car price was $106,800 with an average mileage of 3,700 miles.   On the other hand, for a new P85, according to Tesla Motors’ website, the price ranges from $93,070 to $119,720 (fully loaded with all the options) or an average of $106,395; the average price however could go even lower with electric vehicle incentives of $7,500 or more depending on the state.  These federal tax credit and state and regional incentives, however, cannot be applied to used cars.

Perhaps, the scarcity of the Tesla Model S in general is driving up the price on the secondary market.  The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, acknowledged the automaker’s production constraints during an earnings call saying “we really are production constrained, not demand constrained.”  “Also, perhaps people are willing to pay a premium for a used Model S because they don’t want to wait a couple months for the delivery of a new one and because they can still take advantage of the latest technology thanks to over-the-air updates,” said Ly.

The average mileage for a used Model S is only 3,725 miles much less than the other electric cars, not surprising since the Model S came on the market in 2012, two years after the Volt and Leaf.  When compared to other EV carmakers, the average mileage of a used Nissan Leaf sold in 2013 was close to 9,000 miles, an increase of over 80% from 2012 while that of the Chevy Volt sold in 2013 was close to 10,000 miles, twice the average mileage from 2012.

Average Used Car Mileage
Models 2012 2013 % Change
Nissan Leaf 4,800 8,740 +82%
Chevrolet Volt 4,766 9,537 +100%
Tesla Model S 3,725 n/a
Price trend-wise, the average price of a used Nissan Leaf declined 19% from 2012 to 2013, while the price of the used Chevy Volt fell just 14%.  
Tesla Vs. EVS: Average Used Car Price
Models 2012 2013 % YoY Change
Nissan Leaf $28,282 $22,828 -19%
Chevrolet Volt $37,737 $32,516 -14%
Tesla Model S $99,734


iSeeCars analyzed 45 million used car listings for sale/sold in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013 and studied the used electric car listings, in particular, to compare various metrics for Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and Tesla Model S.

Note: This article was written before the launch of the Tesla Model X SUV and the Tesla Model 3


iSeeCars is a car search engine that helps consumers find the best deal by providing key insights and analysis about each used car.  The proprietary iSeeCars algorithm ranks cars by calculating an overall score based on analysis of the car’s condition, history, negotiability, price and the seller.  Based in the Boston area, iSeeCars was founded by former TripAdvisor and SAP developers and executives who were frustrated with the used car shopping experience.