Many car buyers refuse to purchase new cars for one important reason: With a few very rare exceptions, new cars will lose a significant chunk of their initial value the moment you drive them off the lot. The biggest chunk of a cars depreciation typically happens in the first minutes of ownership and companies like Automotive Lease Guide in the United States and Glass' Guide in the UK specialize in estimating how much value will evaporate to estimate lease priceing.
Glass' has taken a look at upcoming electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and come away with some very distressing numbers. Based largely on the expected lifespan of the battery, Glass's expects cars like the Leaf to be worth only 10 percent of its value after five years.
The potential flaw in this analysis is the presumption that the battery will have little or no value after its useful life in the car. Electric vehicle advocates have claimed that even when the batteries no longer have sufficient capacity for use in a car, they could be used by electric utilities as buffers to help balance the grid. While this has yet to be proven, it could potentially tilt the balance back toward EVs. If this idea doesn't come to fruition, the severe depreciation could kill the nascent EV market before it every really gets going.