It’s a new year and a new quarter. That means it is time for the first used electric car report of 2022.
This report starts by revisiting some key stats with a year-end review on market trends. It also follows up on market impacts of used Chevy Bolt inventory and prices, tracks the busy world of Tesla, and takes a look at how the used EV market is doing compared to overall electric sales.
It’s Still A Seller’s Market for Used EVs
This summer, EV sales made up 20% of passenger vehicle sales and 5% of light duty vehicles - a huge increase from any previous market share. The used EV market share is going strong: of the total EV sales in Q2, 22.5% were used, and as dealers around the country have told us, they would have sold more used EV’s if they had them.
Part of the used EV boom has been the inaccessibility of new cars, but part of it is a growing appetite for affordable electric vehicles and the realization that many can be had for under $20K.
Used EV Prices Continue to Rise
Q3 wrapped up the hottest used car market in recent memory - electric and otherwise. Total used cars prices, based on the consumer price index, shot up almost 30% from April to July, and finally began to level out by August. After two months of decline, the total used car price is starting to rise again with 2.5% increases in both October and November data.
Meanwhile, using the Recurrent price bundle and Marketcheck data, we see that EV prices rose by about 15% and were continuing to increase into September. Used EV pricing increased 4.46% in October, 1.48% in November, and 1.77% in December, meaning that used EV prices have increased every month for the past nine months, even while used ICE prices held steady.
As a late October report from Kelley Blue Book notes, Q3 saw a 60% year-over-year increase in EV sales, while the overall auto market declined 13.4%. This indicates that growing interest in EVs may make their prices more resilient to market swings.
Used EV Prices Still Higher Than Used ICE Prices
Although used EVs are on the rise and attention is turned to them, their average price point is still higher than a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE), which many shoppers cite as a roadblock. While the average used car price is $27K, the average used EV price is $39.6K.
But this comparison can be misleading.
EVs on the road tend to be newer and pioneering models were nearly all best-in-class luxury models. If you take out vehicles over $80K (which certainly are classified as luxury, even if used), and all 2022 model years, the average used EV price drops to $33.7K, which is just $7K more than the average used ICE. Additionally, the average age of a used ICE car is much higher than the average age of a used EV, since the latter have been on the market for less time.
Examining the data, 85% of all EV inventory is from the past 5 years. As 2019 models become more popular, the average used range will rise, as well. This is a point that should not be missed.
Note that the average used range values above are for all-electric vehicles, and only those in our data. Used range is calculated as a percent decrease off EPA range, with the average EPA range for those models with trim-dependent values.
Chevy Bolt Recall Update
Bolt owners have started getting their battery packs replaced, and the Lake Orion GM plant has all of its attention focused on addressing the recall. The replacements are starting on 2019 model year vehicles, which, along with 2017 and 2018 cars, are getting full pack replacements and upgrades to 66kWh packs from the original 60 kWh packs. Later year Bolts may get full pack replacements, or possibly only faulty cell replacements. All Bolt owners will have the clock reset on their 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty.
Since our Q3 report, we have seen an average of 74% decreases in active Bolt inventory for 2017, 2018, and 2019 model years, and a comparatively modest change in later year models. Our suspicion is that Bolts from later years were quicker to be bought back from owners by Chevy, taking them out of dealer listings. 2018 Bolts saw a 25% price increase from September to December - from an average of $21.6K to $27K - but other model years have not seen as drastic a change in price. 2020 and 2021 Bolts have seen prices drop, on average, 12%.
Top Used EV Models
Tesla ended the year as a headline grabber, with some used Model 3’s and Model Y’s going for more than new. It makes sense that they are the top selling used EV brand and the top selling used model. Used Tesla sales are almost double their closest competitor. Of course, Chevy sales have been slowed across the board as the company triages the Bolt recall, but used sales are still very strong. The Chevy Volt is the second best selling model and the third most held in inventory.
In terms of what is in inventory, this is a good guide for both buyers and sellers to understand pricing trends and availability as we move into 2022.
New Tesla Price Hikes in 2021 Cause Used Tesla Prices to Soar
One of the biggest stories about Tesla slipped under the headlines: the brand made frequent and quiet price increases on all of its EVs throughout 2021, with the Model Y seeing the price on its base level vehicle increase over $10,000. The Model 3, old sibling to the Y, saw base prices increase $8,000.
The luxury-priced Model S now starts at $95,000, up from $70,000 in the fall of 2020. Features and range have been added, but the entry price now puts the car in another league. The Model X is now at $104,990, up $5,000.
The price increases are expected to slow as production begins at new plants in Texas and Germany. Standard range models are also switching to LFP (lithium-ion phosphate) batteries, which should help stabilize prices.
Related to the first piece of news, the price of used Teslas is skyrocketing as demand far outpaces supply. The new factories should help with this, but in the meantime, the wait for new models can be more than six months for certain configurations. This means that shoppers looking for new Teslas are turning their attention to what the company has in inventory, driving up the price of used cars as much as $1,000 in a month.
Demand doesn’t stop with consumers. Organizations are placing big orders to electrify their fleets. This will not help supply issues, but it will help bring EVs into the mainstream.
It seems like there is always something new with Tesla - whether a SEC-provoking tweet or a fantastic new release. Starting in November, Recurrent launched a monthly Tesla recap for people who want a more frequent news roundup. It’s free for anyone to subscribe.
Seasonal Range Anxiety
All cars experience reduced efficiency and range in cold weather. For some EV owners, it can be more disruptive. This summary chart, taken from a recent winter range study, compares 13 popular EV models.
It is also important to note that temperature significantly affects internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. When a vehicle’s heater is turned on and cold weather causes friction in the transmission, fuel efficiency can drop by 15-25 percent. EV drivers simply must be more conscious of this as they experience their first winter with an electric car and navigate a growing charging infrastructure.
“It’s not going to make the evening news when a vehicle with a gasoline engine loses efficiency in the winter,” said Recurrent CEO Scott Case in a press release. “But, I would guess that people are equally disappointed to stand outside at a gas pump in frigid temperatures as they would be at a charging station. As people learn more about their EV and the infrastructure legislation takes shape in the US, we'll hope to see a cure for seasonal range anxiety.”
About This Quarterly Report
We partner with Marketcheck, a vehicle inventory data provider, to provide this insight into the pre-owned EV market. Our analysis is updated each month.
The electric vehicle market moves quickly and, lately, news hits every day. Tons of car manufacturers are getting in the EV game and new battery technologies are on the horizon. This means that while you may want to get in on electric, maybe you’re hesitant to lay out cash for a new car right now. On the other hand, the used EV market offers affordability and accessibility, and is a good place to make the switch to electric at a low upfront cost.
What Else Should I Know About Used EVs?
The short answer is lots, especially as electric cars age and we learn about the effects of miles, temperatures and battery cycles on each model. If you’re an EV driver and you’d like to see how your car’s battery compares to others by joining our research fleet, sign up for our EV battery reports here.
If you are shopping for an electric car and want to verify its battery, try our new range report tool that recently became available to the public.
Each month we publish a new report with the latest industry data. Browse this section to review previous reports and their findings. Each image links to the full report!
Q3 2021 Used Electric Car Buying Report
This month we cover several new topics in the booming used EV market. The September 2021 report:
- Compares climbing used EV prices to all used cars
- Revisits the state of the used EV market six months after our first report
- Determines the percent of used EV values below an important $25,000 price point
- Monitors a significant contraction in used EV inventory by state
In July, both Recurrent sales data and national analyses suggested that used car prices were starting to level off. The past two months of price data is further evidence that the market has stabilized. For used EVs, we saw a 2.32% price increase in from July to August, and a 0.39% increase going into September. Meanwhile, the overall used car price index saw a decline of 1.5% from August to September, meaning that used EVs pricing outpaced the used combustion engine market. We will continue to track this trend after this year of anomalous pricing.
Despite the used car market leveling off, the ongoing semiconductor shortage is still affecting US automakers. Last week, GM announced that most US production would pause after Labor Day, and many other auto manufacturers foresee temporary layoffs and production slow downs. This suggests that although used EV prices may have stabilized, they will not go back down to pre-summer levels anytime soon. An EV can require ten times more semiconductors than an ICE car, so expect electric inventory to remain limited as buyers looking for new EVs compete with buyers in the used markets.
Our methodology to calculate the used EV price index is to use a representative sample of popular vehicles and compare national averages for retail prices. The models we included in our bundle are: 2017 BMW i3, Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model S; 2018 BMW 530e, Honda Clarity, 2018 Nissan LEAF; 2019 Audi e-tron, Tesla Model 3, VW e-Golf.
Looking for your first electric car? Check out by our free e-book on EV range.
In March, Recurrent released its first used EV buying guide to highlight the growth of the market and report on trends that were not being covered by other automotive sources. Six months later, we have seen meteoric price increases, drastic inventory contractions, and a shift in what model years are most popular in inventory.
As of September 2021, over 48% of all used EVs in the US are under $25,000 and nearly 30% are under $20,000. The $20-$25K price range is the target for auto manufacturers looking to produce a mass market EV to win over everyday, budget-conscious drivers, as rumors of a Tesla Model 2 or Volkswagen ID.2 suggest. New EVs available for around $25K will inject the used market with a supply of reliable electric cars priced around $10-$15K in a few years, and attract new drivers to the electric market.
As reported in March, there had been an almost 50% increase in used EV inventory since summer 2020. However, since that report, the inventory number has dropped 21% despite a modest increase in the last 2 months. Supply has dropped at least 35% in top EV states since March. Both Oregon and Virginia lost over 63% of their inventory in six months. The only state that remained near constant was Tennessee, losing only a handful of total inventory since March. These numbers are consistent with the overall used car market, which saw unprecedented low inventory this summer.
Refreshing the used EV stock has been incredibly difficult with inventory shortages around the country, and dealerships are struggling to find cars to sell. This inventory shortage has several causes.
In part, it is due to the global semiconductor shortage, which is causing significant production delays in new cars. That has pushed shoppers to consider the used market. Since EVs require ten times the number of semiconductors as ICE cars, this is a strong effect in the used EV market.
Secondly, the market is still reeling from the pandemic: dealerships that initially scaled down their supply or offered deep discounts to move cars off their lots are now scrambling to replenish a fleeting inventory that is not being filled by rental car sellers or fleet vehicle turnover.
We can expect inventory to remain very tight through the end of 2021.
- Who sells the most used Teslas? The answer would depend on which model you’re interested in.
- How have the ongoing Chevy Bolt recalls impacted the market for used Bolts?
- How do lease rates for new EVs impact the availability of used EVs?
- Used electric car retail prices in June continued to climb, but at a slightly slower pace, which could indicate the beginning of a market equilibrium being reached.
- We looked at different brands to determine the most popular EV by state. Overall, Tesla continues to be the most popular used electric car brand, with 26% of the used market nationally.
- The Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 are two of the most popular all-electric vehicles on the road today. We did a Bolt vs Model 3 comparison to learn how their individual battery is aging across makes, models, years and climates.
- Chevy Volt has found its way to the top of the used electric list by selling more than any other EV model. Combined with new Bolt sales in 2021, GM is having a very big year. Although there could be a surge in Model 3 inventory soon.
- Used EV prices are still climbing. We recorded another 9% increase in average prices over the last 30 days.
- Used Teslas sell faster than any other used EV. We reviewed the number of vehicle sales for various brands compared to the number in dealer inventory to arrive at a relative proxy of used car turnover. Tesla is way ahead.
- Used EV prices have been soaring by $1000’s over the last few months -- driven up by high demand and the same chip shortages that are hindering the new vehicle market.
- There’s incredible price volatility from state to state. We’re seeing $3000 - $6000 price differences for the same vehicles across state lines.
- The used Tesla ecosystem is such a big part of the overall used EV market that it makes sense to look at how that’s evolving. Tesla.com itself is a player, but it only represents 7% of the used Tesla inventory, a far cry from its complete control of new Tesla sales.
Like many things, used EV prices vary from state to state. There isn’t a hard and fast rule about where EVs are more expensive, including the biggest EV states like California, but there is a very wide range in the prices for popular models state to state. It’s common to see a $5,000 spread between the least and most expensive states.
Does the direct-to-consumer sales model hold for pre-owned Teslas? We found that only 7% of today’s used Tesla listings are on tesla.com.
- From last month, the overall trend in the used EV market is a decrease in inventory - in particular, GMs, Teslas, and Fiats are being bought up faster than their stock can be replenished. Dealerships across the country are noting inventory shortages on used vehicles in general -- as an indirect result of slower-than-expected new vehicle manufacturing.
- Despite these recent decreases, March inventory is still 37% higher than July 2020 signaling increased interest in used EVs.
- 2018 models have now surpassed 2017 models as the most popular used EVs on the market.
BMW Leads Used EV Market
Last month, we saw Teslas hold their place as the most common used EV on the market. However, the used stock of almost all EVs decreased through March - except for BMW. Perhaps it’s anticipation for the forthcoming i4, or delivery of new i3s, but there has been an increase in the availability of used 530e’s, 330e’s, and the X5 - xDrive40e. If you’ve been keeping your eye on one of these models, it may be a good time to check prices, as the average has dipped slightly in the past month. Used i3’s, on the other hand, continue to retain their value and even showed slight price increases, with 2018s being the best represented year in the market and 2017s at their heels.
Examining Cost per EPA Range Mile
One way to look at used EV prices is by comparing cost per range mile using EPA estimated range. One thing to keep in mind is that EPA range specifies how far your EV will go when the battery is new. EV batteries degrade based on age, how they have been driven, and how they have been stored. To really understand the value of an EV, it is critical to understand the battery in its current state, after several summers in the driveway or several hundred charging cycles.
Seasonality exists in used car sales and due to COVID-related economic changes, but this trend is real. Used car sales follow a predictable time delay, peaking at 3-4 years after being sold new. This pattern exists in electric vehicles as well: Six months ago, the most common model year for sale in used EVs was 2017 by far. Now, there are nearly as many 2018 model year used EVs for sale as 2017’s.
The Most Popular Used Electric Cars in March
- Used Tesla Model S, Model 3 and Model X are a large and growing part of the used electric market.
- BMW EVs are a surprisingly strong part of used EV inventories, but it’s not the i3’s that are growing in supply. Instead, there’s been a surge of the availability of BMW’s plug-in hybrids (5-Series 550e, 3-series 330e and the X5 xDrive40e) in the last 6 months.
- Despite the Nissan Leaf being one of the most recognizable EVs on the road for years, it’s only the 4th most popular used EV for sale today.
How do older EV batteries hold up?
EV owners and shoppers perceive that EV batteries last just seven years (Cox Automotive study), but the reality is generally better. A lot of factors play into the battery life of each EV over its life, including manufacturing variances, pack layouts and cooling systems, calendar age, use, temperature history, charging behavior. In our data analysis of 1000’s of EVs on the road, we’ve found that odometer reading alone isn’t particularly helpful in understanding each vehicle’s battery life.