Investigating the Used Car Market and Implications for Electric Vehicle Adoption

Research Team: Scott Hardman (lead), Maha Shafeen, and Kelly Hoogland

UC Campus(es): UC Davis

Problem Statement: Expanding the used vehicle market for electric vehicles (EVs) is crucial for meeting state transportation electrification and equity goals, since adoption of these vehicles in low-income communities would reduce emissions in areas with existing poor air quality. To increase EV adoption among these communities, it’s important to understand the processes and practices households use to purchase vehicles and to know how uncertainties about repair costs–particularly concerning batteries–influence EV adoption, and if warranties and certifications mitigate perceived risk.

Project Description: This project seeks to gain insights into vehicle acquisition trends in low-income communities and address uncertainties regarding maintenance costs for used conventional vehicles compared to used EVs. The researchers will also investigate the potential impacts of battery failures and assess the significance of warranties and certifications in the used EV market. To accomplish this, they will analyze data from sources such as the Consumer Expenditure Survey, Consumer Reports, and the UC Davis EV Center to answer the following questions: (i) What are households’ current vehicle purchasing behavior? (ii) What are the main sources and extent of the maintenance and repair cost expenditures of households and what fraction of household income is on maintenance expenditure? (iii) How does the maintenance expenditure of conventional internal combustion engine vehicles compare with the potential costs of battery replacement/repair for used EVs? (iv) What type of powertrain warranties/certification do households prefer? Since households from disadvantaged communities are often underrepresented in large-scale surveys like the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the researchers will use targeted surveys to further address these questions.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $94,280