USA: Cars in the Green/Hybrid segment are the most transferred

A slightly unusual source of analysis, but according to swapalease.com: Cars in the Green/Hybrid segment are the most transferred. In other words: people who bought hybrids and EVs on lease agreements, are transferring them to new owners, and this is happening more than it did last year for the same segment.

The explanation given by swapalease.com is that car manufacturers have rolled out more car lease options in the Green/Hybrid category over the last few years, which we presume to mean that lots of cars have been purchased and as such; lots are now being transferred, i.e. entering the second hand market. It is also possible that the high purchase costs for EVs and Hybrids compared to their ICE equivalents result in more being purchased by lease.

So really this is just a reflection of the high new sales of EVs and hybrids in the last year in the US, which we have been tracking for a while and it is fairly predictable/obvious that high sales of new cars will translate to high sales of second hand cars, of which this is a measure.

Not really news, but it is interesting, because the wave of low emission vehicles entering the second-hand market will have a longer term impact on uptake of new vehicles, and here are some of the factors that will influence adoption:

1) High cost of entry is a turn-off

Electric vehicles and Hybrids are more expensive than ICE equivalents, and this is a turn off for many people. But as cars filter down to the second hand market they become more affordable to more people – one less barrier for adoption of EVs and one more reason for the investment in infrastructure and a key driver for the home charger market.

2) Residuals

The reason that many people buy second hand is to avoid the initial high depreciation of a new car. For most used cars the biggest cost of ownership is depreciation, and the person who takes the biggest hit is usually the first owner of the vehicle.

Will EVs have higher residuals than ICE equivalents? High residuals is yet another reason to purchase a new EV, because residuals are factored in to the over-all running costs: if residuals are high, then it can help to off-set a higher initial purchase price.

The car manufacturers have an interest in keeping used car prices high too, because they realise that the majority of new-vehicle buyers have an existing vehicle they are replacing: the more the old car is worth, the more they have to spend and the higher the chances they will buy a new vehicle rather than keeping their existing one a while longer. So high residuals is good all-round.

We expect battery leasing options, home-charge installation and long-term support for second hand EVs to be offered by manufacturers as an effort to keep residuals high.

3) Recession

As you will by now have noticed: most of the world is going through a recession. One result of this is a decline in the purchase of new vehicles, which means that there are less second hand vehicles coming on the market since 2008. More people want to buy second hand, but with fewer cars entering the market: higher prices result.

The impact of the recession on vehicle sales is greatest on the private sales sector: the average private buyer stopped buying new in 2008, and now business lease, fleet vehicles, mobility plan vehicles, ex-demos and ex-rentals make up a bigger proportion of the second hand cars on the market.

Encouraging fleet buyers and rental companies to introduce hybrids and EVs should be a key part of any manufacturers plans to push EVs to the mass market. It should also be a focus for policy makers: using subsidies and tax breaks to encourage fleet buyers to buy EVs and Hybrids will have a big impact for a small policy change: not only are they buying the most vehicles per transaction in the first place, they also have a bigger impact further down the chain.

4) Battery life

Time will tell – battery reliability and range over time, and the expense of replacing batteries will soon start to reveal itself. Buying a second hand EV could be a very expensive mistake if the battery pack is at the end of it’s life, and present a new range of issues to consider when making a second hand purchase. In the last 16 years the Prius has shown us that battery life has proved far-better than some predicted. We hope this is true for all EVs and Hybrids

5) Perception

Early adopters tend to be quite principled people, and/or people who buck the trend. As such they are often labelled in negative press, eg: “tree huggers” and worse. Some people choose not to buy EVs to avoid that kind of label – whether we like it or not; a great deal of vehicle purchases are made as much with the heart as the head, and as any manufacturer will tell you: brand means a lot.

As we transition to mass-market, the perception will change – the used-car market is where many late adopters will try EVs for the first time, and as they become mainstream there will be fewer reasons not to buy one. But we also need consumer choice and some EVs that are aimed more at the people who buy with their hearts and not their heads.

Here’s what swapalease.com issued as a press released…

Swapalease.com, the USA’s largest car lease marketplace, offers insight into which car and truck lease segments are in demand based on year-over-year changes in inventory listings. Cars in the Green/Hybrid segment led all categories in September, rising 66.7% from year-ago levels.

Swapalease.com is an online marketplace that allows drivers to list their vehicle leases for the purpose of finding another individual to take over the remaining portion of the contract. The marketplace can identify vehicle leases in demand by measuring the amount of listings and transfer activity compared with previous months and years.

Car manufacturers have rolled out more car lease options in the Green/Hybrid category over the last few years, and consumers have responded with more interest. Manufacturers and dealers have also introduced more attractive lease programs on these vehicles, which helps to explain the rise in transfer activity for these vehicles.

Vans lead all segments on the decline with a -37.5% change from year-ago levels. Convertibles are next showing a -7.1% change in the inventory/transfer levels, although this segment usually sees negative shifts this time of year due to seasonality patterns. Interestingly enough, trucks are third lowest with just a 4.8% change from a year ago, despite higher overall interest in consumer shopping for trucks.

“Since the recession we’ve seen a steady rise in the number of Green/Hybrid vehicles in the Swapalease.com marketplace” said Scot Hall, Executive Vice President of Swapalease.com. “We anticipate this trend to continue in the near term, particularly with the strong emphasis on lease deals for these eco-friendly vehicles.”

Here is the complete picture of all segment changes comparing September 2012 with 2013.

   
Segment 12 M Chg
Green/Hybrid 66.7%
Sport 45.0%
Wagon 39.0%
Coupe 25.4%
Compact 11.7%
Sedan 6.2%
SUV/Crossover 4.8%
Truck 4.8%
Convertible -7.1%
Van -37.5%
   

See the original here: Green/Hybrid Car Leases Show Most Year-Over-Year Increase

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