As electric vehicles rise in demand overall, consumers want to buy more used models. Nissan Leaf used car sales have gained share over the Chevy Volt, while the used Tesla Model S is selling above its new car MSRP.

WOBURN, Mass. (February 10, 2014)- Gone are the days when electric cars were positioned as a concept or a “thing of the future.” They are rapidly becoming more common on our roads and shoppers are finding them in high demand. iSeeCars.com has just released a study that demonstrates the gaining popularity of used electric cars.

While electric cars are still a just fraction of all vehicles sold in the U.S., the study hones in on the most popular ones, mainly Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and Tesla Model S.  Of the three, the Volt sold the most cars with a share of close to 60% in 2013.  However, Chevy Volt lost share from 2012 by nearly 9% while the Nissan Leaf saw an increase of 7.5% from 2012-2013.

 

Electric Used Car Market Share
Models

2012

2013

% Change

Nissan Leaf

32.8%

40.3%

+7.5%

Chevrolet Volt

67.2%

58.5%

-8.7%

Tesla Model S

n/a

1.2%

+1.2%

Total

100%

100%

 

“The Tesla Model S is still just a sliver of the used electric car market since it was only recently launched in 2012, two years after the Leaf or Volt.  However, it seems to be in great demand as used Model S are selling above its new car price.  Surprisingly, the average used Tesla Model S is selling for over $99K which is above the average of its new car MSRP (which according to Edmunds ranges from $71,070 to $94,900).  On the other hand, the average used car price for both the Volt and Leaf are below their MSRP,” said Phong Ly, CEO and Co-Founder of iSeeCars.com.

 

Electric Used Car vs New Car Pricing
Models

Avg Used Car Price

Avg New Car MSRP*

% Difference

Nissan Leaf

$22,828

$29,650 -34,840

Used is $6,822 -$12,012  Below New MSRP

Chevrolet Volt

$32,516

$39,145

Used is $6,629 Below New MSRP

Tesla Model S

$99,734

$71,070 – $94,900

Used is $4,834 – $28,664 Above New MSRP

* MSRP’s from Edmunds – excluding federal tax credits and state and regional incentives for electric cars

A reason why the used Model S pricing is high is because a majority of the used Model S for sale last year is of the higher end model with the bigger battery pack.  (Consumers can buy the Tesla Model S in either a 60kWh or 85kWh battery pack or 85kWh Performance named P85 – the larger 85kWh battery has greater range and more horsepower.) However, even when we compare the used Model S average price of $99,734 to the $94,900 which Edmunds points to as the upper bound of the MSRP, used Model S pricing is still higher than new.   Further, when we analyze the highest end P85 model, the average used car price was $106,800 with an average mileage of 3,700 miles.   On the other hand, for a new P85, according to Tesla Motors’ website, the price ranges from $93,070 to $119,720 (fully loaded with all the options) or an average of $106,395; the average price however could go even lower with electric vehicle incentives of $7,500 or more depending on the state.  These federal tax credit and state and regional incentives, however, cannot be applied to used cars.

Perhaps, the scarcity of the Tesla Model S in general is driving up the price on the secondary market.  The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, acknowledged production constraints during the company’s third quarter earnings call last year, saying “we really are production constrained, not demand constrained.”  “Also, perhaps people are willing to pay a premium for a used Model S because they don’t want to wait a couple months for the delivery of a new one,” said Ly.

The average mileage for a used Model S is only 3,725 miles much less than the other electric cars, not surprising since the Model S came on the market in 2012, two years after the Volt and Leaf.  The average mileage of a used Nissan Leaf sold in 2013 was close to 9,000 miles, an increase of over 80% from 2012 while that of the Chevy Volt sold in 2013 was close to 10,000 miles, twice the average mileage from 2012.

 

Average Used Car Mileage
Models

2012

2013

% Change

Nissan Leaf

4,800

8,740

+82%

Chevrolet Volt

4,766

9,537

+100%

Tesla Model S

3,725

n/a

 

Price trend wise, the average price of a used Nissan Leaf declined 19% from 2012 to 2013, while the price of the used Chevy Volt fell just 14%.

 

Average Used Car Price
Models

2012

2013

% YoY Change

Nissan Leaf

$28,282

$22,828

-19%

Chevrolet Volt

$37,737

$32,516

-14%

Tesla Model S

$99,734

 

Methodology:

iSeeCars analyzed 45 million used car listings for sale/sold in the U.S. in 2012 and 2013 and studied the used electric car listings in particular to compare various metrics for Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and Tesla Model S.

About iSeeCars.com:

iSeeCars is a car search engine that helps consumers find the best deal by providing key insights and analysis about each used car.  The proprietary iSeeCars algorithm ranks cars by calculating an overall score based on analysis of the car’s condition, history, negotiability, price and the seller.  Based in the Boston area, iSeeCars was founded by former TripAdvisor and SAP developers and executives who were frustrated with the used car shopping experience.

See what others are saying about this study:

Since we released this study, we’ve seen a great response, including:

The Wall Street Journal: Things Increasing in Value: Tesla Stock and Second-Hand Teslas

Business Insider: Used Tesla Cars Can Cost $30,000 More Than New Ones

Forbes: Tesla Model S Worth More Used Than New

International Business Times: Why a Used Tesla Model S Can Cost More than a New One

CNBC Coverage:

And a Twitter mention by Tesla CEO Elon Musk:

ElonMusk Tweets About iSeeCars Study

 

Search used cars for sale and find the best deals near you at iSeeCars.com.