A 2011 Chevrolet Volt will be worth just over $17,000 after 36 months, the length of a typical lease, says Kelley Blue Book. That would be 42 percent of the car's $41,000 sticker price.
Eric Ibara, director of residual value consulting at Kelley, says the residual value projection seems low. But the first 200,000 Volts sold will qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit, effectively dropping the sticker to $33,500.
Using that number, KBB's projection means the Volt will keep 51 percent of its value, better than some rivals. For example, the 2011 Toyota Prius, the industry's best known hybrid, has a projected residual of 46 percent after 36 months, Kelley says. The 2011 Ford Focus' residual is projected at 37.5 percent.
Residual values of those cars have been hurt by an expected wave of smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles that will be launched this year and next. But the Volt "has new technology that is going to be attractive to people looking for a three-year-old vehicle," Ibara says.
Kelley's projection assumes gasoline will sell for around $4 per gallon three years from now.
The electric Nissan Leaf sedan also qualifies for the $7,500 federal tax credit. Ibara says Kelley expects to set residuals for Leaf later this year.
A spokesman for ALG, the industry leader in establishing residual values for new vehicles, says the company expects to publish residuals for Volt and Leaf later this year.