As soon as a brand new car leaves the dealer’s lot, the depreciation phenomenon commences. There are plenty of reasons to spring for a new car with an empty odometer, of course. They come with great warranties, include the latest technologies, offer the buyer peace of mind with regard to the vehicle’s history, and, naturally, they come with that wonderful new car smell. However, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes and your new car depreciating as soon as the rubber rolls of the lot.” We took a look at the data and found that although some cars quickly lose value for good reason (looking at you, Mitsubishi Galant), there are others that actually become pretty great deals. If the smell of organic materials off-gassing is of paramount importance, feel free to pay the premium for your brand new car. If you don’t mind waiting a few years, however, we’ve picked 10 vehicles that offer incredible value on the used market.
The first electric cars were invented in the 1880s but only began to quietly infiltrate the car market this decade. It has taken well over 100 years of fossil fuel usage, and one major diesel crisis, but electric cars are finally beginning their reign in the auto market.
Read through the history of electric cars and you’ll read about gas-electric hybrids, a Porsche electric, and the struggle to create better batteries at the turn of the 20th century. Electric technology was clean and the cars were easy to drive, yet electric technology gave way to gasoline and development in the electric field completely stopped for a long time. Today we’re picking up where electrics left off, albeit with a century of improved automotive technology behind us.
This time the world is ready for electrics. At least that’s the hope for a new electric automaker with deep pockets and ambitious dreams. The question is, who is it?
It’s about time that a little shot of arrogance gets injected back into the auto industry.
There’s been a lot of apologizing lately, with the whole Volkswagen fiasco and an unending string of recalls. Where’s the company that comes in and unapologetically announces its wares and walks with an air of confidence while proudly showing the cars it knows you just have to have?
There’s only one currently doing that. Well, okay, maybe two. We could make the argument that Tesla fits into that description, but today our attention turns to another electric automaker. This one had an epic launch failure in recent years, but its new owners have revamped it into something it knows you want. And if you don’t want it?
This company has absolutely zero cares to give.
There are no falcon doors, there is no Ludicrous Mode, and the company isn’t run by a man fashioning himself after Tony Stark. The center console isn’t comprised of a mega-iPad, and there are no rear-facing jump seats in the trunk. The Nissan Leaf is no Tesla Model S—a brilliant car, made by a fascinating company, and the first image to come to mind when one thinks of electric cars. But in the end, the Leaf may be more likely to succeed.
Some people went too far when Tesla released its Autopilot Mode on the Model S.
Owners are taking videos of themselves eating breakfast, shaving, and texting (at the same time) while Autopilot is activated. One reckless soul even hopped into the backseat with the Tesla at full control and relaxed while the car handled the driving.
It’s gotten bad enough that Tesla will take action. Elon Musk said,
There’s been some fairly crazy videos on YouTube… this is not good. And we will be putting some additional constraints on when autopilot can be activated to minimize the possibility of people doing crazy things with it.
Unfortunately, this could be a trend that doesn’t stop with Tesla. Case in point: the Nissan IDS Concept.
If you don’t know anything else about the company, you might think it could be a local utility that provides electricity to Detroit homes. It could also be an electrical repair company that serves residential and commercial needs in the Detroit area…or it could even be a Detroit startup electric automaker.
With a name like that we certainly assume we know at least one thing about the company: That it does its bidding in the great city of Detroit.
Except in this case, it doesn’t. Believe it or not, electric carmaker Detroit Electric doesn’t even do business in the United States of America.
“Why do electric cars have to look like that?” she asked.
My wife referenced a parked BMW i3, a vehicle that certainly qualifies as eye-catching if not attractive.
I answered her question with some pre-programmed babble that included a perceived need by automakers to make their EVs stand out from the crowd, and a desire by EV owners to tell the world what they are driving.
Why DO electric cars look like that? If we want them to be incorporated into the mainstream, they need to look like mainstream cars. Tesla understands that, but will other automakers evolve their EVs to suite the tastes of a mass audience?
Used electric cars continue to drop in value. Willing to cut the fuel hose out of your life? It might prove less expensive to buy a used electric vehicle than its gas-powered counterpart.
The CarGurus CarValues page helped me do some research on the Instant Market Value of used electric vehicles and their gas-powered counterparts. It’s a helpful tool that helps you see the true cost of what used cars are selling for in your area in real time. (Your results may vary from mine based on geography and other fluctuations, because Instant Market Value can change as more cars get listed for sale.)
Let’s look at the Fiat 500e as an example. A 2014 model has an Instant Market Value of $13,445 for a used version with 24,000 miles on it. In this instance, a 2014 Fiat 500 in the Pop trim level will be less expensive at $11,929.
However, as the EPA’s fuel economy site points out, it will cost you $7,000 in average in fuel costs to drive the gas-powered Fiat for 5 years. The 500e has a 5-year energy cost of $2,500. It will take you only about 18 months to make up the difference. That’s probably worth it depending on how long you plan to keep the car.
It won’t be long before the traditional automakers put out an SUV that has gull-wing doors, electric power, and front doors that open as the driver approaches the vehicle.
Just as the Tesla Model S made German automakers step up their premium sedan game and forced them into building electric sedan concepts, the newly unveiled Tesla Model X will do the same for SUVs. Yesterday we compared some currently available models to the X, and it’s pretty clear there just isn’t any competition.
The Model X isn’t a vehicle that’s the result of an evolution of SUVs to this point. This is a vehicle that completely revolutionizes the SUV. As such, it will be only for those who are looking to join that revolution.
Those looking for predictable dependability and practicality need not apply. There’s a Kia Soul for that.
This week, while the world was finally given an in-depth look at the Tesla Model X, I spent time driving the Kia Soul EV. It got me thinking the electric SUV might be the segment that saves the electric vehicle market in the United States.
Why’s that? Because electric SUVs allow Americans to be practical, drive a big vehicle, and feel themselves green enough to deserve praise (at least their own).
Sure, you may have seen the gull-wing doors of the Model X, which Tesla calls “falcon doors,” and thought, “Wow!” But this vehicle is going to be known for so much more than its looks. Consider the fact that it’s going to have enough room in the rear to hold a sheet of plywood. It also has front cargo space where a traditional gas engine would go.