Electric Vehicles Now Dominate Used Auto Market

2016 Nissan Leaf
Used electric vehicles and PHEVs are the hottest ticket on the secondhand market. | Source: Nissan

Despite the encouraging increase in sales in early 2016, electric vehicles remain at less than 1% of the new car market. Between confusion about the technology, limited inventories, and high prices for the plug-ins that are available, going electric has been a tough sell on the mass market. According a new study by iSeeCars, used EVs do not have this problem.

Looking at the secondhand market, iSeeCars.com zeroed in on 2.2 million vehicles from model years 2013 through 2015 that were listed and sold in the first five months of 2016. Compared to the 42.5 average days for a gasoline car on the used market, electric cars took just 29.2 days to sell. Plug-in hybrids (40.7 days) and standard gas-electric hybrids (38.2 days) also beat gasoline cars in the study. Five out of the 10 fastest-selling used models were either a hybrid, PHEV, or EV.

According to iSeeCars.com CEO Phong Ly, there are various factors at work here, including the coveted HOV lane access in California. Faster depreciation for plug-ins also plays a role. However, the limited inventory and high new sticker prices have to be considered as well. Here are the three plug-in electric vehicles that are the hottest sellers — Nos. 1, 2, and 3 — on the American used car market.

3. Tesla Model S

tesla model s
A used Model S lasts an average of 26 days on the market. | Source: Tesla

Prior to the return of the $66,000 edition, the Tesla Model S was a very pricey proposition on the new car market, with options typically taking the total cost over $100,000. Secondhand, consumers who want the premier EV can find nearly half available for less than $60,000. Slap a California HOV lane sticker on it and you have an in-demand used car. (A 17% drop in secondhand pricing between 2015 and 2016 didn’t hurt, either.) According to iSeeCars.com data, Model S only lasts 26.1 days on the used market.

2. Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf
Nissan Leaf is one of the hottest tickets on the used car market. | Source: Nissan

As the best-selling EV in history, one would expect solid inventory on the secondhand market for Nissan Leaf, and we finally saw that in 2016. According to Phong Ly, the car’s prices dropped over $2,000 since 2015, bringing the average cost of a used Leaf to $12,533. That’s a good deal for any used car, let alone one with no gas costs and HOV lane access. Consumers have agreed: Leaf lasts 24.3 days on the secondhand market before a buyer pounces, making it the second hottest-selling used model in America.

1. Toyota Prius Plug-in

Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid car with mod
Prius Plug-in hybrid is the fastest-selling used car in America. | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

Due to limited inventory, Toyota Prius Plug-in has always been a fast seller, but on the used market it is the hottest ticket in the country. According to the iSeeCars.com study, Prius Plug-ins last an average of 19.7 days on the secondhand market — about five days faster than the second-place Leaf and less than half the national average of 42.4 days.

Looking ahead to the next Prius Plug-in, Toyota expects to enjoy much brisker sales when it reaches U.S. dealerships in the coming year. In the meantime, used models with the HOV sticker are selling better than anything else available. If you see one you like, snatch it up before it’s gone.

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