The Dynamics of Plug-in Electric Vehicles in the Secondary Market and Their Implications for Vehicle Demand, Durability, and Emissions

California is one of the first markets in the world to have a significant secondary market for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), which includes both battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). This study examines the status of the nascent secondary PEV market in California. The authors examine who purchases these vehicles and how used PEVs are utilized. They examine the role of PEV purchase incentives both via surveys of used PEV buyers and through econometric analysis of detailed micro data. Results suggests 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 used PEV market appears to be beneficial, attracting buyers with slightly lower incomes than in the new PEV market. Results also indicate that used PHEV owners (and, more precisely, short-range used PEV owners) are charging their vehicles less than they could. In addition, results show that early used PEV buyers have significant knowledge gaps, such as being unaware of new PEV purchase incentives, which reduce their ability to compare price options. Overall, the 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 PEV market. High occupancy vehicle stickers were a powerful motivator for a subset of PHEV used buyers, perhaps due to the lack of new stickers being available at the time of and preceding the survey. Our econometric analysis shows that the presence of new BEV purchase subsidies correlates with a small net outflow of used PEVs to states that do not offer new BEV subsidies. If this modest exit of PEVs grows overtime, it could make it more difficult to achieve state level environmental goals, such as local pollution abatement or state-level GHG reduction targets. Our analysis finds that PEV sales to minority groups show no clear signs of market access discrimination in the new or used PEV markets. Finally, our findings show that PHEV and BEV markets and consumers operate differently from each other, suggesting the need to be careful about treating them identically in analysis and policy-formation.