We buy cars to match our lives. For some drivers, that is a compact commuter like the Chevy Bolt. For others, it is a long-range road tripper like the Tesla Model S. Our cars often reflect who we are and how we spend our days.
Part of that equation is where we live. It’s the reason that you might pay a premium for all-wheel drive to navigate the winter months or spare the extra battery expense if you live in a more temperate climate.
Recurrent studied used EV sales trends with our partner Marketcheck across +50k US dealerships. It revealed a lot about electric cars and the people who drive them.
Not every state is categorized due to lower volumes of used EV sales. If a state had fewer than 100 used electric cars sold in the last 90 days, we did not highlight it. Here are the 5 things that we learned.
1. Tesla Rules the Road
Tesla continues to be the most popular used electric car brand, with 26% of the used market nationally. But its state-by-state share varies from a high of 44% in Texas to a low of 5% in Connecticut.
2. TX + TSLA
Roughly 45% of Texas sales are Teslas, making Texas disproportionately a used Tesla state. Despite the fact that many Teslas are set to be made in Texas, including the Cybertruck and Model Y, an interesting legal quirk means that brand new, Texas-made Teslas cannot easily be sold to Texans! Texas has a Direct To Consumer (DTC) ban on automotive sales, meaning that Tesla’s usual online sales model is not allowed. Used Teslas do have a proportionally higher share of the market in Texas than in other states -- could this be due to the DTC sales ban? Are eager Texas Tesla drivers opting for used vehicles rather than jumping through the necessary hoops to get their hand on a new car? Georgia is another state with a DTC ban that sees Teslas make up 35% of its used EV sales.
3. Direct To Consumer Bans
Overall, in states with DTC bans, used Tesla are 39% of all used EV sales, compared to 24% in states that allow direct-to-consumer sales. This 15% difference is driven primarily by Texas and Georgia sales -- both states with centrally located major metropolitan areas, meaning it would be difficult to get to a neighboring state to directly buy a new Tesla. Contrast this to Connecticut, for example, which is another DTC ban state, but one small enough that it is easy to get to New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania to buy your new Tesla. The used Tesla numbers in Connecticut are the lowest in the country, presenting a bit of mystery about the true effects of DTC bans.
4. Direct To Consumer Bans
Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa all favor Chevrolet. The Bolt is constructed at GM’s Orion, Michigan plant, and the Volt at factories in and around Detroit. Is this a product of midwestern brand saturation and loyalty?
Another possible explanation is the relative lack of superchargers in these states compared to coastal regions. The Chevy Bolt comes with an optional DC fast charging add-on, but supercharging does not come standard on either the LT or the Premiere trim.
Finally, Chevy prices in these states tend to be higher, with 2018 and 2019 Volts seeing prices 17% and 24% higher, respectively. The price differences in Bolts are relatively mild.
5. A Season for LEAFs
Washington is dominated by Nissan LEAF. This could be explain by the region’s (typically) temperate climate. We know that the LEAF is one of the few EVs that lacks liquid cooled battery management systems, meaning that it can be particularly sensitive to hot climates. This is especially true in pre-2015 LEAF models, before Nissan switched to a more heat-resistant battery system. Recent weather trends notwithstanding, the relatively cool year-round temperatures in Washington generally make the LEAF a better bet than in Arizona or New Mexico.
Hawaii is also won over by Leaf. We hypothesize that short island distances are perfectly suited to the relatively limited range that older Leafs provide. Although Hawaii can get pretty hot, post-2015 Leafs do have more resilient batteries that hold up better in the heat.