Used car prices for electric and hybrid cars are falling as supply outweighs demand

Time 1 year ago

Used car buyers are opting for more petrol powered cars since January 2020, forcing down prices for hybrids and pure electric cars.

Data compiled exclusively for Car Dealer by Auto Trader shows that year-on-year prices for petrols and diesels have risen while plug-in hybrids, hybrids and pure electric cars have all fallen.

Auto Trader puts the decline down to too much stock and not enough demand as buyers turn to more traditional cars during the coronavirus pandemic.


Electric car prices were down 1.7 per cent in January but have steadily got worse during the year, finishing at -5.2 per cent in August.

Hybrids have followed a similar path and started the year at -0.7 per cent, but by August prices for hybrids were down 3.5 per cent.

Plug-in hybrids are faring much better with typical used car prices hovering at the plus two per cent mark. However, in January PHEV prices were up 7.3 per cent.

This is in stark contrast to prices for petrol powered cars that started 2020 at 0.3 per cent and finished August at 6.8 per cent up.

Diesels have performed a U-turn with typical prices at -1.8 per cent in January but by August they were at a whopping plus six per cent.

Even one of Britain’s best-selling electric cars in 2020 has seen volatile used car pricing.

The average asking price for a Tesla Model 3 during the week of August 3, 2020 was £50,772 – that’s 15.4 per cent down year-on-year.

By the week of September 14, the average asking price for a Model 3 was £48,999 – nearly five per cent lower than a year ago.

Despite strong new car sales, used Tesla Model 3 prices are fluctuating

The performance of used hybrids, PHEVs and pure electrics is in stark contrast to new car sales.

In August, sales of new diesel cars were down nearly 40 per cent compared to the same month last year, while pure electrics were up 77 per cent, hybrids rose 38 per cent while PHEVs were up a whopping 221 per cent.

Auto Trader says the coronavirus pandemic has reversed the trend for electric cars, with too much supply in the market.

Ian Plummer, Auto Trader’s commercial director, told Car Dealer: ‘Over recent months we have seen a steady reversal in the supply and demand trends for EVs that had begun to emerge.

‘Over the past year, consumer demand has outweighed supply.

‘However, since the emergence of Covid-19, we have seen this trend reverse; consumer demand has eased and supply is outpacing demand, which has been a contributing factor to over six months of consecutive year-on-year price decline for EVs.

We need the government to step up their support and increase the monetary incentives and the positive rhetoric of owning an EV

‘This compares to an accelerated rate of growth for petrol cars, where prices have grown consistently per month since April, topping 6.8 per cent in August.’

Auto Trader’s recent study of in-market car buyers found just four per cent were considering a pure electric vehicle compared to 16 per cent when they were surveyed pre-coronavirus.

‘This is not surprising when you think that used cars are almost double the price of their ICE counterparts and new typically carry a 20 per cent premium.

‘It suggests that at a time of economic uncertainty car buyers are reverting to the type of vehicles they are more familiar with, and what they consider to be the most affordable choice, namely petrol and diesel cars.’

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Plummer says upfront cost is still a barrier with buyers not understanding that cost savings can be made during the total ownership period, but that government incentives are needed.

‘The successful adoption of EVs has been accelerated in countries where governments have offered meaningful incentives to help offset larger retail prices, whereas our government has steadily reduced incentives which has inevitably lead to a decline in interest and therefore sales,’ he said.

‘In order for this trend to reverse and to meet the government’s new 2030 target, we need the government to step up their support and increase the monetary incentives and the positive rhetoric of owning an EV.’

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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