CARB Research Seminar

This page updated March 6, 2018

The Dynamics of Plug-In Electric Vehicles in The Secondary Market And Their Implications For Vehicle Demand, Durability, And Emissions

Photo of Gil Tal

Gil Tal

Photo of David Rapson

David Rapson

Gil Tal, Ph.D., and David Rapson, Ph.D., University of California, Davis

May 17, 2018
Cal EPA Headquarters, 1001 "I" Street, Sacramento, CA

Research Project


Understanding the development of the used plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market in California and identifying the factors that influence its future growth are key to achieving our State’s equity, greenhouse gas, and air quality goals. Through a survey of used PEV buyers and an analysis of used PEV transaction data, this study examined the status of the budding used PEV market in California between 2011 and 2015, including who purchased these vehicles and why, how used PEVs were utilized, and the role played by PEV purchase incentives.

Results suggest that California PEV buyers have significantly higher incomes than the average household. If California seeks to broaden the used PEV market, lower income buyers must be brought into the market. On this count, the early used PEV market appears to be beneficial, attracting buyers with slightly lower incomes than in the new PEV market. Early used PEV buyers have significant knowledge gaps, which reduce their ability to compare price options. For example, about forty percent are unaware of new PEV purchase incentives. High occupancy vehicle stickers were a powerful motivator for a subset of used PHEV buyers, perhaps due to the lack of new stickers being available at the time of and preceding the survey. Owners of short-range used PHEVs, and specifically those with about ten miles of electric range, are charging their vehicles less than they could be. About a third of these shorter-range used PHEVs are driven as a conventional hybrid. Overall, ninety-five percent of early used PEV buyers were satisfied with the PEV technology and would redo their purchase or buy another PEV. This bodes well for the future of the overall PEV market. PEV sales to minority groups show no clear signs of market access discrimination through prices paid and distance driven to purchase these vehicles in the new or used PEV markets as compared to those of non-Hispanic whites. The presence of new BEV purchase subsidies correlates with a small net outflow of used BEVs in the early secondary market towards states that did not offer new BEV subsidies. If this modest exit of BEVs grows over time, it could make it more difficult to achieve state level environmental goals, such as local pollution abatement or state-level GHG reduction targets.

Speaker Biography

Gil Tal, Ph.D., is the Research Director for the Plug-in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle Research Center at the University of California, Davis (UCD). He is also affiliated with The China Center for Energy and Transportation and the Graduate Groups in Transportation Technology, and Policy at UCD. Dr. Tal is a leading expert on electric vehicle travel behavior, as well as understanding the role that incentives and infrastructure play in the electric vehicle market worldwide. He also researches the electrification of new mobility services and their impact on the electric grid. Dr. Tal holds a Ph.D. in Transportation Technology and Policy from UCD and a M.A. in geography and environmental policy and planning from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

David Rapson, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics, University of California, Davis, where he currently teaches industrial organization and energy economics. He also co-directs the Davis Energy Economics Program. Dr. Rapson specializes in energy and environmental economics. Professor Rapson's research includes evaluation of dynamic electricity pricing tariffs, energy efficiency programs, and determinants of vehicle choice and usage. He holds degrees in economics from Dartmouth College (AB), Queen's University (MA), and Boston University (PhD).

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