Publication Detail

Assessing the Total Cost of Ownership of Electric Vehicles among California Households 


Research Report

Electric Vehicle Research Center, UC ITS Research Reports / Senate Bill 1 (SB1)

Suggested Citation:
Chakraborty, Debapriya, Theodora Konstantinou, Julia Beatriz Gutierrez Lopez, Gil Tal (2024)

Assessing the Total Cost of Ownership of Electric Vehicles among California Households 

. Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California, Davis, Research Report UCD-ITS-RR-24-32

The primary metric for measuring electric vehicle (EV) adoption growth is new car sales. However, to enable mass market penetration, EV adoption in the used car market will play a crucial role. The used vehicle market is relatively understudied or has been studied mostly for specific regions. This project analyzed US national consumer expenditure survey data that tracks households’ expenditure on vehicle acquisition and operation. The study aim is to understand new versus used vehicle choice behavior and the consequent cost of vehicle ownership, with the larger aim of determining how much households who generally buy used vehicles can gain or lose if they transition from a used internal combustion engine vehicle (ICEV) to a used EV. A choice model and cluster analysis showed that ownership of used vehicles is influenced by family size, income, housing tenure, and age. For lower-income renters, current vehicle ownership and purchase costs tend to constitute a high fraction of their household income, raising concerns related to equity and suggesting that these households in particular should be considered in policies to encourage the EV transition. Moreover, while at present the average price paid for a used ICEV is approximately $18,000, the price of a comparable used EV can range between $14,000 (e.g., lower electric range Nissan Leaf) to $50,000 (high-range Tesla), suggesting the need for incentives to encourage the used EV market. 

Key words:

Electric vehicles, used vehicle industry, automobile ownership, households, choice models, operating costs