We bought our 2011 SL in March of 2011. In two years we accumulated only 12,000 miles. Being the type of person that usually owns cars for a very long time (often 10 years or more), that was our expectation when we bought the LEAF. With the negative publicity surrounding the battery degradation issue the resale value of the LEAF was dropping more quickly than expected (and faced with the potential of our own future battery degradation given enough time and with the introduction of the 2013 model and its 15 percent better EPA range), we decided to sell the 2011 and lease a 2013. We sold our 2011 SL with quick charge port in March for $18,000, which I feel was reasonable. The guide that I use to determine real-world values is the completed listings page found at the eBay Motors auction site. There you will find many unsold vehicles with their final bids, but as importantly you will find the price of sold vehicles. As of today, one 2011 model sold for $16,997 (SL, QC port, 15,071 miles). Apparently it sold the week prior for $16,945, but that deal fell through. This sale was from a dealer in Tennessee that seems to be specializing in No Reserve auction sales of LEAFs, as well as other vehicles. Most private party sales are for less than those from a dealer.
The reason we chose to lease the 2013 - Nissan is providing a bottom under the value in three years. Also, Nissan is carrying the burden of the battery cost. No matter the capacity in three years, when the car is turned in Nissan is the responsible party for the battery pack, not me. My expectation is that LEAF 2.0 will be out around that time. The 2013 upgrades are minor and expected. The five year point (from initial introduction) is when major improvements can be expected in the car business. So my guess is that the 2016 model year LEAF will be due for the major upgrade. What will those expected upgrades be? Anyone's guess. More efficient battery pack certainly (providing more range). Another motor improvement? More efficient brake regen? (Hopefully better carpet by then.) As the SL with Premium Package already offers a nice selection of luxury features, I expect the majority of improvement to focus on the drivetrain which will apply across the range. With the potential for a body redesign, there does exist the possibility of seeing a change to Nissan's current battery thermal management system as well.
Nissan's aggressive lease offer has made the LEAF more attractive to more buyers as indicated by the explosion in LEAF activity, in certain West Coast markets particularly. Nissan's ongoing installation of DC quick charge stations in certain dealerships is also moving to reduce the range anxiety of buying a purely electric vehicle for many potential customers. Even in those hot climate markets where the early battery degradation took place, Nissan is still leasing LEAFs in greater numbers. Again, the attraction of the lease is not having to be concerned with battery replacement cost or potential degradation. Let Nissan carry those burdens.
Leasing a 2013 LEAF (or any electric vehicle for that matter), makes absolute sense. Even for guys like me that are naturally averse to leasing.