After analyzing over 15 million used car sales from January to August of this year, we found some surprises in the luxury car sales numbers presented. When expressed as a percentage of overall used car sales in each state, there are some interesting numbers found in some parts of the country.

 

Top 10 States with the Largest Share of Used Luxury Cars

Rank State % Luxury Median Income Rank
1 New Jersey 25.9% 2
2 California 24.0% 3
3 Connecticut 21.8% 4
4 Florida 20.3% 37
5 Hawaii 19.1% 8
6 Massachusetts 18.9% 5
7 New York 18.7% 16
8 Georgia 18.5% 33
9 Rhode Island 18.4% 17
10 Virginia 18.3% 7
10 Maryland 18.3% 1

 

The number one state for used luxury car sales is New Jersey, where almost 26 percent of used vehicle sales are luxury makes. California is a close second at 24 percent and Connecticut is right behind that at almost 22 percent. Judging by average income, though, these top three states are no surprise as they are in the top five states nationally for median income.

The median income in New Jersey is $69,825, making it the second-highest in the country after Maryland. What makes for a surprise, however, is that Maryland, which ranks as the highest income in the country, is tenth on our list of Top 10 Used Luxury Car Sales States, tying with Virginia. Virginia being that low on the list is also a surprise given that it’s median income ranks it as number seven in the country. Others on the list, such as Hawaii and Massachusetts, are also ranked 8 and 5 (respectively) for median income.

The other surprises come from states whose median income as far lower, but where either perception of status or a wide income divide seem to play a key role in used luxury vehicle sales numbers. Number four on our list of top states for used luxury vehicle sales is Florida, whose median income is only 37th in the nation – far below the national average. Georgia, which is number eight on our list for used luxury sales, is 33rd in the nation for median income. The ranking of these states is a conundrum.

Likewise, other states where incomes are far higher are not on our top ten list. The District of Columbia, for example, ties for the number four spot in median income but doesn’t appear in our Top 10 Used Luxury Car Sales States at all. Neither does Minnesota or Alaska, both within the top ten for median income.

Our suspicion is that cultural ideals make all the difference here. In Alaska, for example, many vehicles are parked for a good portion of the year due to weather constraints and Alaska, while it has a booming tourism industry, does not have the number (per capita) of dual residency homes (those who live there part time) as do many other states. California and Florida, for example, lead the nation in that regard (per the Census data) and both are in our top five states for used luxury vehicle purchases. Maryland, on the other hand, has far fewer (per capita) dual residents and is on the bottom of our used luxury vehicle buyers list.

There is also a difference in population makeup in different portions of the country. In some ethnic cultures, what the U.S. market considers to be luxury vehicles, including makes such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, other global cultures do not consider luxurious. We note that states in our top five for used luxury car purchases are states with a high mix of ethnicity. That very likely plays a role in these sales percentages.

Turning to the new car market, we wrap up by noting that although used luxury car sales are very high, making up a quarter of the market in some states, new luxury vehicles as a whole are seeing a sales downturn nationally. This shows that the used market may be gaining traction as the go-to place to get a luxury vehicle right now.

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