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Tesla Model S holds its value better than most cars

The Model S not only depreciates less than other electric cars, but even holds its value better than comparable internal-combustion cars, according to research firm Autolist.

Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters/File
A man looks around Tesla Motors' Model S P85 at its showroom in Beijing.

Modern electric cars have now been on sale long enough that they are starting to appear on used-car lots in significant numbers.

For buyers, this may offer a more affordable option than purchasing a new electric car.

But how well with current owners do financially when they start looking to sell their electric cars?

When it comes to the Tesla Model S, a new survey has some encouraging news.

The Model S not only depreciates less than other electric cars, but even holds its value better than comparable internal-combustion cars, according to research firm Autolist.

That conclusion was based on used-car sales data from January 1, 2012, to August 31, 2016.

Researchers found that, on average, a Model S loses 6 percent of its initial value after 10,000 miles, 28 percent after 50,000 miles, and 48 percent after 100,000 miles.

Those figures put the Tesla ahead of other luxury sedans that sold for similar base prices when new.

Autolist compared Model S depreciation to that of the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Jaguar XJ, Lexus LS 460, Porsche Panamera, and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The Audi, for example, lost 41 percent of its value after 50,000 miles, the BMW 40 percent, and the Mercedes 38 percent.

The Model S bucks the trend of used electric-car depreciation.

Prices of used electric cars have fallen significantly over the past year, as low gas prices and consumer infatuation with SUVs have slowed sales of plug-in models new and used.

Autolist found that the BMW i3, Chevrolet Volt, and Nissan Leaf all depreciate at a much faster rate than cars without plugs.

In this case, the electric cars were compared to the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Volkswagen Golf compacts, as well as to the Toyota Prius hybrid.

In terms of pricing, the Model S also proved the exception to the rule of falling prices for used electric cars.

Buyers of used Model S sedans pay an average of 5 percent more than the price that would be expected based on the cars' depreciation, according to Autolist.

In contrast, i3, Volt, and Leaf all tend to sell for less than their depreciation-based values.

On average, i3 buyers pay 0.9 percent below value, Volt buyers pay 5.2 percent, and Leaf buyers pay 3.4 percent.

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