Gil Tal, PhD – Research Director, Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center, University of California, Davis
David Rapson, PhD – Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of California, Davis
Understanding the development of the used plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market in California and identifying the factors that influence its future growth are key to achieving our State’s equity, greenhouse gas, and air quality goals. Through a survey of used PEV buyers and an analysis of used PEV transaction data, this study examined the status of the budding used PEV market in California between 2011 and 2015, including who purchased these vehicles and why, how used PEVs were utilized, and the role played by PEV purchase incentives.
Results suggest that California PEV buyers have significantly higher incomes than the average household. If California seeks to broaden the used PEV market, lower income buyers must be brought into the market. On this count, the early used PEV market appears to be beneficial, attracting buyers with slightly lower incomes than in the new PEV market. Early used PEV buyers have significant knowledge gaps, which reduce their ability to compare price options. For example, about forty percent are unaware of new PEV purchase incentives. High occupancy vehicle stickers were a powerful motivator for a subset of used PHEV buyers, perhaps due to the lack of new stickers being available at the time of and preceding the survey. Owners of short-range used PHEVs, and specifically those with about ten miles of electric range, are charging their vehicles less than they could be. About a third of these shorter-range used PHEVs are driven as a conventional hybrid. Overall, ninety-five percent of early used PEV buyers were satisfied with the PEV technology and would redo their purchase or buy another PEV. This bodes well for the future of the overall PEV market. PEV sales to minority groups show no clear signs of market access discrimination through prices paid and distance driven to purchase these vehicles in the new or used PEV markets as compared to those of non-Hispanic whites. The presence of new BEV purchase subsidies correlates with a small net outflow of used BEVs in the early secondary market towards states that did not offer new BEV subsidies. If this modest exit of BEVs grows over time, it could make it more difficult to achieve state level environmental goals, such as local pollution abatement or state-level GHG reduction targets.
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