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Every year, the Washington Auto Show, also known as the nation’s “Public Policy Show,” holds a number of events that focus on the policies and developments influencing the direction of the automotive industry in America. As the health of the environment plays an ever more prominent role in the determining of emissions standards and related government regulations, green vehicles and technologies are becoming increasingly recognized for their positive impact on society. Consequently, the Green Car Journal holds its annual Green Car Awards program at the D.C. Auto Show to celebrate automobiles that best epitomize environmental performance.

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While driving an environmentally-friendly car certainly has its merits, the question remains whether purchasing one makes for a sound financial decision. Knowing that money doesn’t grow on trees, we analyzed the second-hand market performance for the award nominees to help environmentally-conscious buyers identify the winners and losers in green car value retention.

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Analyses of hybrid and electric vehicles by NADA Used Car Guide have exposed the risk of greater depreciation relative to gasoline-powered cars that owners of alternative powertrain vehicles take on when buying such vehicles. However, a disparity in value retention between hybrids and electric vehicles has also been found, with the latter displaying a capacity to plummet in resale value as was detailed in a recent report by The Wall Street Journal. Interestingly, there are cases in which particular models are able to buck the trend – with a few of them among the Green Luxury Car award nominees – but much of this can be attributed to factors associated with rarity and prestige.

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With 79% value retention after one year, the Tesla Model S is an example of an electric vehicle that garners high demand as a result of its brand and prestige. Similar to the Tesla, the Porsche Panamera S e-Hybrid is another expensive luxury electric vehicle that also offers an aura of exclusivity to affluent consumers. The ownership experience that comes with the reputation of prestigious luxury brands is what separates the Porsche and Tesla from mainstream models such as the Nissan Leaf or Chevrolet Volt and helps elevate their used retention rates above those of other EVs. For these reasons, the BMW i8, which took the title of 2015 Luxury Green Car of the Year, can be expected to perform similarly well from a value retention perspective. Having just recently come to market, the i8 is too new to estimate a retention figure; however, with extremely limited production and the status of a luxury supercar, the BMW will presumably retain its value akin to collectible exotic cars and remain highly desirable even as a used model.

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On the utility side, the Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel was quite a sensation as it not only received the Green SUV award, but its 83% value retention is also the highest of all models in our study. Generally, diesel-powered models retain their value better than those with other types of powertrains and the Grand Cherokee is no different as we see its diesel trim depreciates at a slower pace than its gas-powered offerings. As an example, looking back at the March 2014 NADA Used Car Guide Perspective on Light Duty Trucks and SUVs, the Grand Cherokee ranked only sixth in retention among 3-year-old mid-size utilities with the top two spots going to the Toyota 4Runner and Toyota Highlander. However, our December 2014 Perspective on One-Year-old Mainstream Models revealed that the refreshed 4Runner and all-new Highlander have respective retention values of 77.1% and 78.8%, which are both below that of the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel. Thus, in the case of the Jeep, we see how a change from gas to diesel power can significantly boost value retention, which is good news for diesel fans as the 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel engine is priced at a $4,500 premium above the 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine when comparing new 2015MY Limited 4X4 models.

Although the intent of the Green Car Journal awards is to recognize the vehicles believed to provide the best performance while advancing green initiatives, it is worthwhile to study their financial costs for consumers who wish to support this cause. Interestingly, we have reason to believe that the awarded models, the BMW i8 and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, are not only among the best environmentally, but economically as well with regards to value retention. Of course, as was alluded to in this piece, particularly in the case of the i8, a multitude of factors affect a car’s depreciation with environmental impact typically playing a minimal role. Nevertheless, for advocates of clean energy mobility, it is nice to know that some of the finest green vehicles on the market also have some of the highest resale values.