You might think the fastest-selling used cars would be same as the most popular new cars, such as the Honda Civic or Toyota Camry. Instead, six out of 10 of the fastest-selling used cars are electrics or gas-electric hybrids, according to a new study by iSeeCars.com. The quickest-to-sell of these alternative vehicles moves in about two-thirds the time of an average used car.
The automotive research site reviewed the sale of 2.1 million one- to three-year-old used cars from January through August of this year. Of the 10 fastest-moving cars, three were pure electrics, three were plug-in hybrids and four had traditional gasoline engines. Of those four, two were sports cars and two were luxury sedans.
Electrics selling faster as used cars than as new cars appears to stem from a combination of limited supply and low prices. The all-electric Fiat 500e sold the fastest -- in an average of 22.2 days on the market. That compares with 33.4 days for all used cars.
The average price of a one- to three-year-old 500e was $9,055 -- a drop of 40 percent from a year earlier. "The average cost of one- to three-year-old cars is almost $21,000, so it seems that consumers are willing to take a chance on a car at a price point that's less than half the average," said Phong Ly, CEO of iSeeCars.com.
Popular vehicles that hold their value well like the Honda CR-V compact SUV sold faster than the average used car but not as quickly as the top 10 models.
So if you're interested in an electric or hybrid car out of environmental convictions -- or because you want to use the high-occupancy lanes in California for commuting by yourself -- buying used rather than new would seem to make sense. Plug-in hybrids like that from Toyota qualify for the HOV lane privilege, but ordinary hybrids like the Toyota Prius no longer do.
For those interested in a luxury car, the plug-in hybrid BMW i3 is selling in an average of 23.2 days -- second fastest. The average used price is $23,603, but that's down sharply from $38,825 last year.
The Tesla Model S sold 10th fastest at 26.1 days, but it bucked the overall trend of falling prices among electric used cars. The average one- to three-year-old Model S sold at $70,372 -- a 3.5 percent increase from last year. "Tesla's popularity, along with the scarcity of the Model S on the used-car market is probably driving prices up even as these cars continue to sell quickly," Ly suggested.
Some of the most popular but expensive categories like pickups and large SUVs are taking longer to sell than the average used car. For instance, the Ford F-150 -- the best-selling new vehicle in the U.S. -- takes 35.5 days to sell as a used car. "This again illustrates the effect of price in moving cars off dealers' lots," noted Ly.
Here are the electrics and plug-in hybrids that are selling faster than the average used car:
- Fiat 500e -- electric
- BMW i3 -- plug-in hybrid
- Toyota Plug-in Hybrid
- Nissan Leaf -- electric
- Ford Fusion Energi -- plug-in hybrid
- Tesla Model S -- electric