Tesla Model Y parked in country field
Sarah Hunt

Sarah Hunt

Sarah is the Head of Marketing and she's tasked with keeping the fantastic marketing team in line. She's probably the reason you've heard of us, and her wealth of marketing experience means that no challenge is too big.

Read time of 7 minutes.

Do electric cars depreciate?

Cars depreciate. That’s old news.

The moment you drive a new car off the forecourt, it’s losing value. It’s a cliché as old as time. But it’s the unfortunate and unnerving reality that comes with owning a car.

The speed with which electric vehicles have emerged as a dominating presence on our roads has sparked intrigue and debate among industry experts as to how they will depreciate in relation to their combustion engine competitors.

With huge numbers of electric vehicles hitting the market in such quick succession, there isn’t a bank of historic data to benchmark the used EV market.

Depreciation is unavoidable, but it is important to understand why it happens, how quickly it occurs and how leasing an electric car can help you minimise the financial effect on you all together.

Kia EV6 driving

What is electric car depreciation?

Electric car depreciation is the decrease in value of an electric car between the point of purchase and the point of sale.

When compared to combustion engine cars, the two share a lot of the same contributing factors that will determine their future values, including: vehicle condition, mileage, interior or exterior damage and service history among. The typical things you’d want to know about when buying a car.

While not exclusive to new vehicles, depreciation is most prominently discussed when purchasing a new car.

The moment you sign the papers, the car loses value. This is more a reflection of the financial market than the quality of the product. The vehicle is no longer ‘new’ and inherently becomes less valuable, in the same way a piece of jewellery or a household appliance would.

Rear body of the Cupra Born driving out of shot

What contributes towards electric car depreciation?

The depreciation of a vehicle’s values – EV or not – can be contributed to several factors.


A car with higher mileage relative to its age becomes less appealing and with that, less valuable.

Number of owners

Rightly or wrongly, the number of legal owners of a vehicle can affect the perceived value of the car and result in suggestions of unreliability if it is higher than average.

Warranty and service history

Cars that remain inside their warranty are more valuable due to the increased protection it offers. Full records of a car’s service history will increase the car’s value against one without due to the unknown risk of unreliability.

Supply and demand

As with any product-based industry, if the supply of something is limited, those currently on the market become more desirable and valuable. There could be increased demand for models from a popular manufacturer, which ensures values remain higher. If supply outweighs demand, values will decrease.

Interior and exterior condition

Any serious or visible damage to a car will impact its value.

Battery health

EV batteries degrade over time and older vehicles are likely to have lower values.

Mercedes-Benz EQA touchscreen

Do electric cars depreciate faster than combustion engine cars?

Industry averages have shown that electric cars hold their value marginally better than combustion engine cars.

According to the AA, the typical combustion engine car that travels 10,000 miles a year will have lost 60% of its value after three years.

A large share of car deprecation, sometimes up to 40%, can occur during the first year before slowing down each following year.

According to another source: under the same circumstances, electric cars are expected to lose 50% of their value after three years of ownership.

The slower rate of depreciation can be attributed to a few factors, including the buying habits of consumers, who are becoming increasingly eco-conscious in their purchasing decisions. The impending 2035 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars also adds long-term value to EVs.

rear profile of the Tesla Model Y

Do cars ever appreciate in value?

Cars can appreciate and become more valuable than their initial retail price.

While not a common occurrence, depreciation is not always guaranteed. This is usually reserved for classic cars, luxury models or new releases with limited supply.

Appreciation can be unpredictable, sporadic and it can often be the cars you least expect that boom in value.

The automotive industry has been hugely influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in a limited supply of second-hand vehicles and lengthy manufacturer delays on new cars.

According to a report from AutoTrader, as cited on This Is Money, the average cost of a used vehicle has increased by 30% since March 2020.

Reaching highs of nearly £18,000 in March 2022, average costs of second-hand vehicles rose by over £4,000 as demand outweighed supply.

When analysing historic Tesla Model 3 Long Range prices, AutoTrader’s Road to 2030 report highlights how surges in demand can spike used car prices.

In March 2022, the average price of a used Model 3 LR was £47,980 and this continued to rise throughout the remainder of the year, culminating in prices of £50,955 in May 2022.

It took until November 2022, nearly nine months on, for prices to settle and drop back below that previous March average.

Which electric cars depreciate the slowest?

If you’re looking to sell your vehicle, you’re unlikely to have any trouble finding a buyer for the EVs listed above.

Opting for a more premium brand will definitely help slow down depreciation as they tend to hold their value for longer.

But regardless of any protective measures that you take, an electric car will still depreciate.

Mercedes-Benz EQC

How does leasing protect you from depreciation?

When you lease a car, you don’t have the option to own the vehicle at the end of the term.

In short, this means you won’t be responsible for selling the vehicle. The financial risk involved with the vehicle is the responsibility of the lease provider, not you.

The amount you pay each month is determined by the vehicle’s residual value (RV).

A residual value is a pre-agreed figure that a funder, manufacturer or dealer believes the car will be worth at the end of your lease term or finance agreement.

To determine a vehicle’s RV, the funder or lease provider will take into consideration the expected deprecation of the vehicle, historical pricing data and mileage to gauge its future value.

When you lease a car, the RV is agreed before the lease as part of your agreement. This figure determines your monthly payment, as you’re only paying for the depreciation that occurs in between.

A higher RV will result in lower monthly payments and the opposite will mean higher monthly payments.

Lease cars are not exempt from deprecation, but as the customer, you are mitigating the financial impact the vehicle can have on you.

Owning the vehicle puts you at risk of having to sell a deprecating asset that has dropped below its RV.

Depending on your lease terms, the total cost of the deal is typically less than the difference between the current market value and the RV, ensuring you’re not out of pocket.

The role of uncertain electric car residual values

The RV of an electric car has become a huge talking point within the industry due to the uncertainty that surrounds them.

Predicting accurate RVs for electric cars has presented a new challenge to the automotive industry and has resulted in inflated monthly prices.

When you lease a car, the RV is agreed at the offset of your lease term. It is a pre-defined figure that confirms what either the lender or the leasing broker in question believe the car will be worth at the end of your term.

Historically, an RV for a combustion engine vehicle can be calculated using numerous factors including historic pricing data, perceived quality, internal infrastructure and technology among other variables.

However, predicting the future values of such a new entity presents new tests, as Carparison’s Head of Pricing and Procurement, Tom Clarke, explains: “There’s no one-size-fits-all formula that can be transferred from the combustion world when calculating the residual value of an electric car.

“We’re not able to use historic pricing data to gauge future values of electric cars in the same way we can with their petrol or diesel alternatives.

“With the 2035 ban looming, we’re also seeing manufacturers develop their vehicles at an unprecedented rate, with electric technology taking huge leaps forward year on year.

The rapid rate of development in the electric market is putting new models at increased risk of becoming outdated much quicker. Throw in the unpredictability of the market and the associated manufacturing costs, you have to re-think the way we calculate the future values of our vehicles in preparation for an electrified industry.”


What does the future hold for used electric cars?

Used electric cars are poised to become a prominent figure in the market, with tempting discounted prices incentivising drivers to make the switch.

As we move towards 2035, maximising a cost-effective used market will be critical in the UK government's bid for widespread EV adoption.

Outright purchase costs and inflated monthly rentals have become one of the biggest barriers to entry for many personal customers looking to make the switch.

However, the supply of electric vehicles is healthy and tipped to continue in a similar vein as many of the first wave of ‘new’ EVs in the UK that were leased on a three or four-year deal are now returning to the market as used cars.

With manufacturers offering battery warranties as long as eight years as standard, this extended protection is something that could prove the true long-term value of EVs.

If electric cars do continue to depreciate at a slower rate than combustion engine cars, used car leasing could become the gateway for the masses to finally get out of their petrol or diesel vehicles.

There are a lot of unknowns that surround the electric car market, some that may only be solved with time.

Leasing remains one of the most cost-effective methods of driving a new electric car and with the emergence of the used EV market, it’s a trend we may see continue for some time.

A Tesla Model Y lease could be more affordable than you think