CarMax: High Gas Prices Driving Jump In EV Interest

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CarMax recently released a report on its EV customer interest and sales, and one thing is pretty clear: EV sales are going up, and today’s nasty gas prices are definitely driving it.

Here’s the heavy-hitting part of the report:

“From February 2022 to March 2022, received 1.5 times the search volume for the term “electric,” the largest increase since January 2021. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, this was around the same time average gas prices increased in the U.S., from an average of $3.54 per gallon on February 7, to $4.20 per gallon on March 7 — with the war in Ukraine affecting this price spike.”

EV test drives were also noticeably up in the same time period. March 2022 EV test drives were also about 1.5 times higher compared to the year before. This matches up with the increase in search interest on the website.

So in other words, customers were definitely looking into alternatives when gas prices put a big dent in their budgets.

What EVs Does CarMax sell?

CarMax has been EV friendly for a long time. I have even bought one from them, and a big factor was that they actually had EVs on their lot before anybody else in El Paso had any. In 2015-17, most dealers away from the coasts just didn’t think there’d be any interest in EVs, so they didn’t bother with them.

By getting ahead of the curve and gaining experience early, they’ve got a pretty competitive spread of electric vehicles to cover a variety of customer budgets. While most of the new EV world has moved on from things like the Ford Focus Electric, Spark EV, and BMW i3, these EVs still make compelling low budget options for commuting. But it’s not 2017 anymore, so it’s also no surprise that EVs with better range are also popular.

Unsurprisingly, the Tesla Model 3 leads their sales list. Whatever one’s feelings on Tesla and the man who leads it, the Model 3 is about the most practical EV around in terms of range vs. price and offers much better DC fast charging capability than cheaper options like the Chevrolet Bolt EV or Nissan LEAF. That the Model X made the top five also isn’t surprising, as we love crossovers in the United States, and it checks most crossover boxes.

What People Trade In For An EV

CarMax also released data on what people are trading in for EVs these days. The list doesn’t have anything shocking, but it does raise some questions.

One big non-shocker was that SUVs are most commonly traded in for EVs, comprising 41% of trade-ins. Given that SUVs (including crossovers) tend to get poor gas mileage, it’s not a surprise at all that people are moving from them to an EV of any type. There just comes a point where the budgetary impact of driving a vehicle that gets 15 MPG in the city is just too much to feel like shouldering any longer.

The top brand of vehicle traded in for an EV was a Toyota. Given the brand’s reputation for reliability and their prior focus on offering efficient vehicles, I think that kind of buyer is probably getting pulled toward EVs more. Toyota is only now starting to offer BEVs, so it’s going to be a while before they’re available on the used market in any significant numbers.

There’s a lot more information in the report, so if you’re curious about the used EV market, be sure to check out the original report!

Featured image provided by CarMax.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1983 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba