Publication Detail

Where are Used Electric Vehicles and Who are the Buyers?


Research Report

National Center for Sustainable Transportation

Suggested Citation:
Tal, Gil, Jae Hyun Lee, Debapriya Chakraborty, Adam Davis (2021) Where are Used Electric Vehicles and Who are the Buyers?. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-20-66

Very little research has been conducted on the second (and third, and thereafter) owners of new technologies. For light duty vehicles, the research has been focused on the first owners. In the case of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), understanding the secondary market is especially important for many reasons, including the vehicle market development and on-road usage. The second owner is also an adopter of new technology, many times taking greater risk than the original owner by purchasing a vehicle close to, or after, the end of the warranty. Data on vehicle ownership at the zip code level was used to explore the total number of vehicles, the number of electric vehicles (EVs) owned by the original owner, and the number of EVs owned by a second or third owner. Results suggest that in areas with few EVs overall, used PEVs make up a higher share of all PEVs, but a lower share of all vehicles. Used PEVs are slightly less spatially concentrated than new ones, possibly because of a weaker neighborhood effect and possibly because their lower cost makes them accessible to slightly more people. The study finds that at least in this phase of the market development, used PEVs are not trickling down at a high rate, but more research is needed to evaluate the reasons for this phenomenon. Policies that focus on the progression of used PEVs to secondary owners by improving the information provided to used car buyers, reducing the risk of purchasing a new technology, improving the availability of charging, and addressing other barriers, can help communities with low rates of PEV adoption and improve the market growth in the future.

Key wordsPlug-in electric vehicles, travel behavior, consumers, markets, infrastructure, used electric vehicles, previously-owned vehicles