Only 27.5% of all hybrid and electric vehicle trade-ins recorded by Edmunds.com this year have been applied to the purchase of another hybrid or EV.
In its new analysis, which covers U.S. trade-ins through the end of March, the car shopping company says that rate is a precipitous drop from the 38.5% of hybrid and EV trade-ins in 2015. Edmunds.com adds that the findings reinforce a trend it first identified last year that owners of such vehicles are returning to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles in greater numbers than ever before.
“This trend is not an indictment of the quality of these cars – hybrid and electric vehicles tend to be equipped with some of the most sought-after technology on the market today,” says Edmunds.com Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell. “This is an economics trend, since today’s low cost of gas no longer makes it worth paying the price premium of hybrids and EVs. And there are so many fuel-efficient vehicles on the market today that environmental concerns weigh less than they might have in years past. When you’re buying a vehicle that can get over 30 mpg, you can still say you’re doing your part to help the environment.”
Edmunds.com says detailed analysis of the company’s vehicle trade-in data tells a story of many hybrid and EV owners jumping from one extreme to another. In fact, the company has found that a hybrid or electric trade-in is more likely to go toward the purchase of an SUV (33.8%) than another hybrid or EV. The trend is even more apparent when looking only at EV trade-ins – 25.7% of EV trade-ins went toward the purchase of an SUV, compared to just 4.8% that went toward another EV.
“The overwhelming popularity of SUVs trumps just about any other trend in today’s market,” says Caldwell. “SUV sales are up 22 percent in the last five years, and almost every other segment has suffered as a result. It’s especially true for hybrids and EVs, which generally don’t offer the size that today’s shoppers crave.”
Most of those making the switch from electric vehicles to SUVs are opting for the most fuel-efficient sub-segment of compact crossover SUVs. Edmunds.com found that 16.4% of hybrid and EV trade-ins this year went toward compact crossovers. By comparison, only about 1.4% went toward a gas-guzzling purchase of a large SUV or crossover SUV.