Assessing the Market for Used Electric Vehicles in California

Research Team: Gil Tal (lead), Ken Kurani, Debapriya Chakraborty, Adam Davis, Scott Hardman, and Tim Lipman

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley, UC Davis

Problem Statement: There is currently little research on the buyers of used electric vehicles (EVs). Understanding the used EV market is necessary to inform policy making that both helps California meet its energy and emissions goals and protects consumers. Knowing who is buying used EVs and how they are using the cars ensures a proper count of the on-road fleet of EVs, including the number of vehicles, vehicle miles traveled, charging demand, and subsequent energy use and emissions. Determining who purchases used EVs also relates to the state’s goal for 100% of new vehicle sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035. Today’s used EV buyers are the first generation of consumers to acquire this new technology without the full support of vehicle manufacturers. Although it is reasonable to expect that manufacturers will continue to provide over-the-air software updates to vehicles’ second (and subsequent) owners, vehicle warranties may be expiring, and an EV buyer in a private-party sale may not have a prior service relationship with an automobile dealership, especially if the buyer is a first-time EV buyer. Ensuring the benefits of vehicle electrification spread to all households–not just those that buy new cars–requires information to support policy making to make EVs available to a broader spectrum of people.

Project Description: This project seeks to understand who is buying used EVs and how those buyers are using their vehicles. The research will produce information to answer this question through a large-sample survey of vehicle-owning households in California. Researchers will collect data on used EV buyers that will be compared to other car-buying groups in future studies on the EV market and usage. The survey will gather information on the socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic distributions of used EV buyers, the effects of incentives on sales of used EVs, the impact of residual EV values on the total EV fleet, the geographic distribution of used EVs within California and possible impacts on charging demand, and how the EVs are being used. This research will inform policy and regulatory questions about the effect of the used EV market on new EV markets and how that relates to meeting California’s goals for EV sales, criteria pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, renewable energy development, and environmental justice.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $165,000