EV Resale Values Are a Mystery

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

Have you ever thought about the resale value of electric vehicles? I admit I haven't thought about it as much as I probably should have. Apparently, I am not the only one who is a bit clueless about it -- it's a market mystery.

The reason for this is pretty simple -- there's just not enough data yet. This makes sense -- while the share of the market held by EVs is growing, it's still small. As time goes on, of course, more EVs that were new yesterday will be hitting the used-car market, and that will help us gain some information. Outside factors, such as the state of EV infrastructure, also play a part.

Up until recently, the biggest data point was Tesla, since it only sells EVs. But Tesla's, um, unusual behavior as a car company has made things trickier. Teslas were depreciating at only about 4 percent until the company slashed prices on new cars. Perhaps predictably, the price cuts caused the price of used Teslas to drop.

There are other factors at play. Mileage, for example, matters greatly when it comes to internal-combustion engines. It's not clear yet how it affects batteries and electric motors.

Furthermore, more than three-quarters of EV sales last quarter were for cars that are considered luxury vehicles. But more and more affordable EVs are hitting the market as time marches on.

In addition to that, the data we do have from older EVs may not tell us much, thanks to major improvements in technology.

Finally, there's the effect of tax credits.

Experts suggest that new-car buyers looking at an EV ask about how the car, and its battery, will be used so that they can get an idea of what the resale value will be. For example, was it driven a lot in winter weather? How often was it fast-charged? And more.

Knowing those answers will help them get a sense of what the resale value should be.

[Image: Ford]

Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by  subscribing to our newsletter.

Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

More by Tim Healey

Join the conversation
2 of 47 comments
  • El scotto El scotto on Jan 25, 2023

    Because math is hard for too many people. Obviously the drive batteries will be the most expensive item for an EV. Surely there are reports on drive battery life expectancy/costs. List the other perishable items on your EV. Do life expectancy/costs on each item. Feeling all tingly thinking about entering all those items? Go wild and make a database.

    Drive batteries life expectancy/costs should be predictable. Scheduled maintenance items should be the next predictable life expectancy/cost items. Determine the unpredictable next and expect to pay for them at some time.

    Some will pay for a new clothes dryer. Some will buy a new hearing element for their clothes dryer. It's your money, I don't much care how you spend it. Don't try to berate me on how I spend mine.

  • VoGhost VoGhost on Jan 29, 2023

    I don't understand the author's point. Two of the top five selling vehicles globally are Teslas. We have great data on the Model 3 for the past 5 years. What specifically is mysterious about used car values?

  • Eliyahu CVT needed for MPG. Outback is indeed the legacy of, err, the Legacy.
  • Gayneu I can comment on these. My wife always thought the Minis were "cute" so I bought her a used 2005 (non-S, 5 speed) for one of her "special" birthdays. She loved it and I kinda did too. Somehow a hole developed in the transmission case and the fluid drained out, ruining the car (too expensive to fix). A local mechanic bought it for $800.We then bought a used 2015 S (6 speed) which we still have today (80k miles). Her sister just bought a used S as well (also manual). It has been a dependable car but BMW-priced maintenance and premium gas hurts for sure. I think the earlier generation (like in the article) were better looking with cleaner lines. The 2015 S rides too stiff for me (Chicago roads) but is a hoot on smooth ones. It does seem to shift weird - its hard to describe but it shifts differently from every other manual I have driven. No matter how hard I try, so won't let go of her Mini.
  • Crown Seems like they cut some cylinders too.A three cylinder...where are they planning on selling that??
  • Slavuta "There’s also the problem of climate change, and the more intense weather that comes along with it"How could one even write something like this? We don't have more intense weather. We have better weather. When Earth started, it was a fiery ball. We don't know what weather was in 1700. And even if we know some of it in Europe, we don't know what was happening in Africa, South America, Oceania, etc. We have people living in places where they did not live before. We have news that report weather related events minutes later or during. This did not happen before. There is no evidence that we have an increase in intensity. I looked into historical records in the area where I live - there is not much movement at all between 1970 and now. And remember - none of the previous weather predictions have materialized.
  • VoGhost Very soon, every home will have a 240v outlet in the garage, which can function as your electric charger, just like a modern home has 120v electric outlets and light switches inside the house. This is where the market is going. You all would see that if you didn't have those oil soaked blinders on.