CDL 2024

How did specialist EV dealers survive ‘brutal’ used electric price drops? Estelle Miller explains all

  • Estelle Miller talks all thing EV at Car Dealer Live 2024
  • EV Experts co-founder says last year’s price drops were ‘harder and more brutal’ than anticipated
  • Miller says customers still require ‘hand holding’ when switching to an electric car

Time 9:53 am, March 20, 2024

One of the biggest topics in the automotive headlines last year was the plummeting prices of used EVs.

Throughout 2023 it seemed like the value of second hand electric cars were falling every month, leading to dealers turning their backs.

But what about those retailers who couldn’t just return to purely selling ICE vehicles? How did the price drops effect EV specialists?

The subject was one of several subjects discussed by Estelle Miller, co-founder of EV Experts, on stage at our recent Car Dealer Live conference.

Speaking as part of our independent dealer panel, Miller admitted that the losses had been ‘harder and more brutal’ than anyone predicted.

She also pointed to the impact of Elon Musk slashing £8,000 off the price of brand new Teslas, leading to residual drop offs in the used market.

‘We only sell electric cars so we didn’t have a Q4 depreciation pain – we had an H1 depreciation pain last year!’, the 53-year-old told host James Batchelor.

‘Not only do we not expect it when we first established, even in the early part of last year, I don’t think it was predicted by Cap or anyone.

‘Elon Musk coming in and dropping £8,000 overnight, I know that he’s done that before – so maybe we should have expected it – but I think it was harder and more brutal than than anyone predicted.

‘A lot of our cars are under five years old, because obviously there was a huge number of new models coming to the market from 2020 onwards, so one of the things we really had to focus on during that time was reducing the time between purchase and forecourt advertising.

‘A lot of electric cars are brand new cars, they need to go back to manufacturers for recalls and what have you and we found very long lead times on that.

‘I think people were talking this morning about a shortage of technicians and I think that’s particularly affecting the EV area.

‘We have had to reduce the number of manufacturers products that we that we support and what we have on our forecourt because there are some that haven’t been able to process recalls or repairs in a timeframe that’s going to work for you.

‘When cars are depreciating that fast you’ve got to have a really short period of time between purchase and and on the forecourt.’

Return to pre-Covid levels

Miller, who runs EV Experts with her husband Martin, says that towards the back end of 2023 things began looking up and have been stronger so far this year.

She also explained how the couple, who run sites in Hampshire and Surrey, came to be in the motor trade having previously worked in other sectors.

If you want to learn more about EV Experts, you can read our interview with Martin from April of last year. He also appeared on the Car Dealer Podcast, where he offered up a handy guide on how traditional car dealers can sell EVs.

Speaking at Car Dealer Live, at the British Motor Museum earlier this month, Estelle said: ‘For us, prices started to stabilise in Q4.

‘Then, as we’ve come through, we actually had quite a strong December. December is obviously a quiet month usually but ours was fairly strong.

‘This year has then been back to pre-Covid levels for us so that’s really really positive’.

Read all the headlines from Car Dealer Live 2024

Speaking about how the couple got into selling EVs, she added: ‘My partner and I tried to buy an electric car in 2016. Neither of us are from the motor trade. We were early adopters.

‘We wanted to decouple our reliance on fossil fuels and in fact were making a number of changes in our lives to reduce our plastic use and basically reduce our use on on oil-based things so switching to an electric car seemed the the right thing to do for us at that time.

‘We just had a really awful experience. We tried to buy new, we tried to buy used and it was just extremely disappointing.

‘So we kind of felt we were quite keen on electric cars and have been supportive of them from the start – I hesitate to say that in case people throw things at me – but we thought these things are never going to work and never going to take off unless there’s a really decent used market there for them.

‘So we set something up and we sell cars how we would like to like to have bought them. It’s a consultative sales process.

‘Some of the people we’re selling to we first spoke to six to 12 months ago. They need a lot of support and hand holding through that switch to make sure it’s going to work for them in their lives and we also prep cars to a very high level so our cars are all beautifully prepared and presented.’

Want to watch what went on at Car Dealer Live 2024? Replay tickets are available via the Car Dealer Live website.

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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