Electric cars and plug-in hybrids move quickest off dealers’ lots

The top 10 fastest-selling late model used cars are dominated by electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, according to a new study by iSeeCars.com.

Analyzing over 2.1 million 1- to 3-year old used cars sold from January through August 2017, iSeeCars.com found that overall, the average used car takes 33.4 days to sell. However, the top 10 fastest-selling cars take only 70 to 80 percent of that amount of time, ranging from 22.2 to 26.1 days. Six of the top ten are alternative-fuel cars, with three electric cars and three plug-in hybrids. The remaining four gasoline vehicles consist of two sports cars and two luxury vehicles. “Vehicles that move off dealer lots faster must have the right mix of demand and supply that may be driven by factors like price, unique features and performance,” said Phong Ly, iSeeCars.com CEO.

The Top 10 Fastest-Selling Cars

Rank Model Fuel Type Average Days on Market
1 FIAT 500e Electric 22.2
2 BMW i3 Plug-in Hybrid 23.2
3 Lexus IS 200t Gasoline 24.5
4 Toyota Plug-in Hybrid Plug-in Hybrid 24.7
5 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Gasoline 24.9
6 Nissan LEAF Electric 25.0
7 Scion FR-S Gasoline 25.1
8 Mercedes-Benz GLC Gasoline 25.7
9 Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrid 26.1
10 Tesla Model S Electric 26.1
OVERALL AVERAGE 33.4

 

Alternative-Fuel Cars

The fastest-selling car is the FIAT 500e, selling in 22.2 days. Although the compact electric car does not receive great reviews for its performance, its low prices may be just enough to entice buyers curious about making the switch away from gasoline. This year one- to three-year old FIAT 500e’s average $9,055, a drop of 40.4 percent from $15,187 last year. Coincidentally, the car is selling faster than last year by almost two weeks on average, down from 35.9 days. “The average cost of 1- to 3-year-old cars is almost $21,000, so it seems consumers are willing to take a chance on a car at a price point that’s less than half the average,” said Ly.

The BMW i3 ranks second, at 23.2 days. The futuristic-looking hatchback is the lowest-priced luxury car on the list, with an average price of $23,603. “The i3 was introduced as a 2014 model, so now that it’s three years old many leased cars are returning to market, driving down its price and possibly increasing demand for the car,” said Ly. The i3 averaged $38,285 last year, dropping 38.4 percent in price.

Four of the six alternative-fuel vehicles on the top 10 list have double-digit price drops, with the Nissan LEAF’s price dropping 10.3 percent to $11,703 and the Ford Fusion Energi’s price dropping 12.8 percent to $18,699. The other two buck the trend. Last year’s fastest-selling car, the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, ranks fourth at 24.7 days. It dropped a mere 1.1 percent in price to $18,594. “Demand for the Prius Plug-In may have stayed strong due to demand from California — 73 percent of these cars were sold in that state. Plug-in Hybrids meet the requirements for California’s Green Clean Air Vehicle Decals, which allows drivers to use HOV lanes, and the distribution limit of these stickers was removed last year, possibly increasing the Prius Plug-in Hybrid’s popularity there,” said Ly.

The Tesla Model S, ranked tenth at 26.1 days, actually increased in price by 3.5 percent, from $67,992 last year to $70,372. “Tesla’s popularity, along with the scarcity of the Model S on the used car market, is probably driving prices up while cars continue to sell quickly,” Ly said. Interestingly, both the Prius Plug-in Hybrid and the Model S take longer to sell this year compared to last year, up 26.2 percent and 8.2 percent, respectively, suggesting that the lack of a price drop did have a small effect in driving down demand.

Top 20 Most Popular Cars

In contrast to the fastest-selling cars, the nation’s most popular cars all sell about as fast as the overall average, ranging from 26.8 days to 37.0 days. Interestingly, despite their popularity as segments, SUVs and trucks are largely slower to sell than average. “With the exception of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the more expensive SUVs and trucks all take more than 33 days to sell, compared to the cheaper sedans, again illustrating the effect of price on moving cars off of dealers’ lots,” Ly said. None of the most popular cars had a year-over-year drop in price that was more than 9 percent, perhaps dampening demand for these cars compared to some of the fastest-selling models.

The Nation’s Most Popular Cars

Model Average Days on Market
Honda Civic 26.8
Nissan Sentra 29.5
Toyota Corolla 29.7
Honda CR-V 29.8
Honda Accord 30.2
Hyundai Elantra 30.2
Toyota Camry 30.9
Toyota RAV4 30.9
Nissan Altima 31.3
Nissan Rogue 32.1
OVERALL 33.4
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 33.7
Ford Explorer 34.4
Jeep Grand Cherokee 34.5
Chevrolet Equinox 35.1
Ford F-150 35.5
Ford Escape 35.5
GMC Sierra 1500 35.7
Ford Fusion 35.9
Chevrolet Malibu 36.0
Ram Ram Pickup 1500 37.0

 

Consumer’s worries about alternative-fuel vehicles’ range, battery life, safety, and performance seem to be balanced by falling prices, leading to quick sales of these cars. Ly said, “Prices for hybrids, plug-ins and electric vehicles are more affordable than ever, so shoppers who are ready to buy one should act fast because these cars are in great demand now.”

Methodology

iSeeCars.com analyzed over 2.1 million used car sales from January through August 2017. The number of days that each car was listed for sale on iSeeCars.com was aggregated at the model level and used to estimate the average days on market for late model year vehicles (model years 2014 to 2016). Cars with fewer than 350 listings were excluded from the analysis. For comparison, a similar analysis of 1- to 3-year-old vehicles (model years 2013 to 2015) was also run for sales from January through August, 2016. Prices from 2016 were adjusted for inflation by 2 percent, according to information available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

About iSeeCars.com

iSeeCars.com is an automotive data and research company that’s saved car shoppers more than $133 million. It helps consumers find the best deals by providing key insights and guidance, using big data analytics powered by over 25 billion (and growing) data points and proprietary algorithms to objectively analyze, score and rank millions of cars and thousands of dealers. Based in the Boston area, iSeeCars.com was founded by a former TripAdvisor developer and SAP executive determined to improve the car shopping experience.

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