Big story: Tesla’s $25k car is here but not as expected

The predicted arrival of the hyped Model 2 (Tesla’s $25K new EV) is 2025. But based on the 2-year delay of the Cybertruck compared to its original promised delivery date of 2021, you may not want to hold your breath.

But there is now a $25K Tesla available -- the used Model 3. The average listing price of a used Tesla Model 3 fell below $30,000 for 2017 to 2019 model years. This is a big deal for three reasons.

  1. Listing price is different from the purchase price. We should expect for many of these vehicles to sell below their listing price, which is important because of #2…
  2. A purchase price of $25,000 or less typically makes a vehicle eligible for the federal used car rebate of up to $4,000. 
  3. There’s a lot of volume now: Tesla delivered more than 300,000 Model 3 vehicles in the U.S. from 2017 to 2019, according to coverage by InsideEVs and Teslarati from those periods. 
Used Tesla prices from 2022 to 2024

The chart above tracks used car listing prices from thousands of dealerships across the country for two popular Tesla variations: 2020 Tesla Model Y and 2018 Tesla Model 3. 

The trend line for 2018 Tesla Model 3 is particularly interesting because it illustrates that many of those vehicles could qualify for a $4,000 rebate. That’s a paradigm shift for the used car market and federal incentives, which typically applied to lower-range battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. In 2023, for example, these models were likely eligible for tax credits:

  • 2019 VW e-Golf: 150 miles
  • 2018 BMW i3: 114 miles
  • 2018 Tesla Model 3: 220-330 miles

“Shoppers no longer need to choose between range and affordability,” says Scott Case, CEO of Recurrent. “A used EV shopper can drive home in a Tesla for less than $25,000. These cars often have great batteries with a 90+ Range Score.”

In this example from Edmunds.com, a 2018 Tesla Model 3 is shown with a 96 Range Score, which uses data from 18,000 connected vehicles to estimate the range today compared to when new.

Bold prediction: Used EV market gains momentum

New EV sales continued to grow last year, passing million vehicle sales in the U.S. in 2023. As these preowned EVs are traded in, the used EV market will also continue to grow exponentially.

The used car market is notoriously difficult to quantify because it includes sales from dealerships, fleets and private parties. However, a detailed analysis by the Recurrent team estimates that used EV sales volume in 2024 will increase by roughly 100% over 2022 and 40% over 2023. 

Used EV market growth from 2018 to 2024

The data in this chart is calculated by:

  • Starting with the new fully electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sales for each previous year by manufacturer and vehicle model
  • Determining the total electric vehicles still in operation (VIO) by model year. 
  • Discounting the vehicles that leave operation (e.g. an accident) from based on registration data
  • Quantifying the number of sales by model year based on registration data and customer surveys

We collaborated with Experian on our methodology and registration data. New vehicle sales by year is from EIA statistics.

In short, all signs point to 2024 being a big year for the used EV market. 

Thing to watch: Dealerships aren’t ready for used EV rebates 

Starting Jan 1, 2024, the new guidelines for $4000 point-of-sale discounts on used EVs require the vehicle sale to take place at a dealership that has registered with the Department of Treasury. This is an incredible opportunity for car dealerships, since private party sales are not eligible, but most dealerships have not yet taken the steps to be able to offer this rebate.

While over 7,000 dealerships have registered their company with the Department of Treasury, a much smaller number of dealerships are actively providing the point-of-sale used EV rebate, according to a Recurrent survey. Only 7% of the roughly 200 dealerships contacted in December 2023 confirmed that they had taken steps to participate. 

To help shoppers find eligible dealerships, Recurrent has created a list of EV dealerships that say they have started the registration process with the Department of Treasury. Shoppers can use this list of dealerships to start their used EV search. 

About this data

The data in Recurrent’s quarterly reports comes from our partner, Marketcheck. This month, we also feature wholesale pricing from BlackBook. 

What’s new at Recurrent

Recurrent launched a new platform this year to help EV owners command higher trade-in values for cars with good batteries. For World EV Day in September, we thought it would be a good reminder that an electric car's first sale is only the beginning of its life. In fact, new cars are only one third of transactions in the US.

Andy Slye, Kobra Toldya, EddieX and Robert Rosenfeld met in Nashville to record promotional videos with Recurrent. Each one starred in their own version with the others playing a supporting role — for example, in Kobra’s video Andy, Eddie and Robert are visible in the background. You can watch them here!  

Thumbnail of Influencer VIdeos

Previous Reports

Each quarter we publish a new report with the latest industry data. Browse this section to review previous reports and their findings.

Q4 2023 Report

  • Used EV sales, as a segment, now dwarf the sales of every new EV model besides Tesla Model Y and 3.
  • The Recurrent Price Index, which tracks the overall used EV market pricing, has fallen 32% year-over-year to an average of $27,800 -- a level last seen in early 2021. 
  • Nearly 30% of used EVs now qualify for $4000 clean vehicle credit, just ahead of point-of-sale rebate regulations, beginning January 1.

Q3 2023 Report

  • Used EV prices continue to fall, with nearly 40% of inventory is under $30K
  • If you’re looking for a specific make or model of used EV, where you look matters. Here are states that have the most inventory by brand. 
  • Used Teslas hold their value – but not last year’s models. Tesla continues to drive down its own prices in a bid to capture market share, accelerating one-year depreciation. 

Q2 2023

  • After two years of wild ups and downs, used EV prices are settling almost exactly where they were in April 2021. However, an influx of newer model-year vehicles into the second hand market keeps the average price market-wide around $38,000
  • Used Teslas hold value better than most luxury cars despite five rounds - and counting - of price cuts to the full lineup since January.
  • Metro areas with rapidly growing used EV markets share many characteristics: average commutes under 30 minutes, median age under 40 and median income in the mid-to-high $70K
Average Three Year Depreciation

Q1 2023

  • Used EV Market Triples in Size - the number of electric cars in inventory is not just a measure of a growing market. It also can indicate that vehicles are sitting longer on dealer lots, as a result of higher interest rates. 
  • Recurrent Price Index has fallen 17% from its July 2022 peak, driven by falling prices in the used Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3
  • The number of used EVs that are potentially eligible for a tax credit is up 30%
line chart showing the monthly inventory of dealer listings for used EVs

Q4 2022

  • Used EV prices are beginning to decline, albeit, slowly
  • Only 12% of used EVs would qualify for a used car tax credit today
  • Used plug-in hybrids will dominate tax credit eligibility early in the year
  • Market data suggests that 2017 and older model year EVs are most likely to be eligible for used EV tax credits in 2023

Q3 2022 Report

According to our inventory data, derived from over 50,000 car dealers, roughly one third of the estimated 158,689 total EV sales in Q1 2022 were used cars – official Q2 numbers are still pending. In fact, after new Tesla sales, used EVs make up the second largest portion of EV purchases.

Some other quick stats before we dive into the theme of the quarter:

  • The average price of used EVs in July 2022 was $40,714, well above the newly proposed $25,000 used EV tax credit limit.
  • 17.9% of used EV sales in the past 90 days were under $25,000.
  • The average minimum listing price for used EVs that Recurrent tracks (including lots of like-new 2022 "used" cars) is $29,400.

Read more about the Rise of the Used EV.

Q2 2022 Report

  • Higher used EV prices are the new normal
  • The rise of the "new" used car
  • Chevy Bolt battery replacements prove that calendar age matters
  • The Tesla Model 3 takeover is here
Electric vehicles appreciating between 2022 and 2021

Q1 2022 Report

  • It’s still a seller’s market for used EVs
  • Used EV prices are continuing to rise
  • Used EV prices still higher than used ICE prices
  • New Tesla price hikes in 2021 are causing used Tesla prices to soar
  • People are talking a lot about Tesla battery replacements

Q3 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.

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.

August 2021 Report

July 2021 Report

  • 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.

June 2021 Report

  • 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.

May 2021 Report

  • 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.

State by State Pricing Shows Huge Variability for Popular EV Models

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.

Drilling into the Used Tesla Market: Lots of Choices

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.

April 2021 Report

  • 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.

March 2021 Report

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.