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Green Car: 2011 Nissan Leaf, All-Electric

Green  /   /  By Bradley Berman

The Nissan Leaf is the car that ushered in the new era of affordable electric vehicles in the 21st century. So, it only makes sense that the electric hatch—capable of about 80 miles of driving on single charge—would figure prominently in an emerging market of used EVs. A year-and-half after the first customer was handed keys to his Leaf, eBay Motors now shows three used Leafs for sale.

The Leaf’s design is techno-chic. Its electric motor delivers the equivalent of 107 horsepower—although the silent surges of torque provide a much faster feel from behind the wheel. A full charge takes about eight hours from a 220-volt home charger, or one of the public chargers starting to pop up across America. The Environmental Protection Agency rates the Leaf’s efficiency at the equivalent of 99 miles per gallon. For some, that extraordinary level of efficiency, and never having to go the gas station again, is priceless.

eBay is listing a Leaf SV in West Palm Beach, Fla., with 2,500 miles on it and a price of $26,890. There is Leaf SL (the upscale trim) with 7,865 miles, up for auction in Alvin, Tex.—the current bid is $8,300. And there’s active bidding on another 2011 Nissan Leaf SL, this one with 4,501 miles in Mount Juliet, Tenn. The Leaf in the Volunteer state is interesting for a number of reasons. First, there is no reserve on its auction—which means that if the current bid of $20,100 is still in place in three days, it will be an incredible bargain.

In the June edition of the National Automobile Dealers Association’s Used Car Guide, the organization projected that the average trade-in value for a typically equipped 2011 Leaf SV electric car would be $23,975—or 95 percent of its sticker price of $25,280, after the $7,500 federal tax credit.

It’s important to keep in mind that the $7,500 federal tax credit on new electric vehicles reduces the price of a new Leaf—from its MSRP of $35,200—to $27,700. But the credit is only available to new cars, not EVs sold to second owners.

Another interesting factoid about the used 2011 Nissan Leaf available in Mount Juliet, Tenn. is that it’s being sold only 20 miles from Nissan’s U.S. headquarters in Nashville. The first set of Leafs sold in the United States were manufactured at Nissan’s Oppama, Japan plant. But starting at the end of this year, Nissan will begin making the Leaf, and the batteries that provide its power, in nearby Smyrna, Tenn. The company will have the capacity to make up to 200,000 Leafs every year.

Volume is the key to reducing the price of electric vehicles. If Nissan and other EV-makers (including Ford, BMW, Toyota, Chevrolet, Tesla, Honda and Mitsubishi) can ramp up production, it will mean more attractive prices for pure electric cars—both as new cars, and in used cars markets like eBay.

For more information about the full range of fuel-efficient cars, including EVs, hybrids and clean diesel, visit eBay’s Green Driving Center.

About the Author

Bradley Berman is a leading writer and researcher about electric cars and green transportation. He regularly contributes driving reviews and technology articles to The New York Times, Fortune, MIT Technology Review, Popular Mechanics, and other publications.

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