Another roadblock to convincing Americans to buy an EV: plunging resale values

The slowdown in electric vehicle sales continues to snowball, with plummeting resale values acting as another roadblock.

Over the past year, used EV values have dropped faster than their gas-powered counterparts, car search engine iSeeCars said. The average price for a used electric vehicle fell by up to 32% while the average for a gas model slipped by 3.6%.

Tumbling resale values aggravate buyers’ worries that an EV isn’t worth the price or the potential headaches. They already worry about EVs' high prices, charging, lack of choice, and driving range. Now, they fear when it comes time to sell the vehicle, they’re not going to get much back.

“Consumers didn’t used to be worried about the resale value of an EV, but (Tesla chief executive Elon) Musk cutting prices made people feel like they owe $50,000 on their Tesla and now, it’s only worth $40,000,” said Pat Ryan, chief executive of free car shopping app CoPilot. "When people see the value of an EV drop so dramatically, it creates a new problem."

How did Elon Musk depress EV resale values?

Musk aggressively sliced more than 20% off new Tesla prices to try to maintain market share in an increasingly competitive EV market. Those price declines pressured the entire used EV market, but especially his own cars. Four of the most significant price drops in the overall used market between 2023 and 2024 was a Tesla, iSeeCars said.

“Elon’s desire to maintain new Tesla sales through price cuts had a very destructive impact on the brand’s residual values,” said Karl Brauer, iSeeCars’ executive analyst. “Used Teslas lost more value than any other brand, and with a 28.9% decline they lost more than twice as much value as second-place Alfa Romeo.”

Just gimme what I want: What electric vehicle shoppers want isn't what's for sale, and it's hurting sales: poll.

What will happen next to EVs?

EV prices look like they're stabilizing, experts say. So, if you’re looking to buy one, you may finally be able to get one without spending more than a gas-powered car.

The average transaction price at the end of 2023 for a new EV was $50,798, only $2,040 more than a gas-powered vehicle at $48,759, according to Cox Automotive.

In the used EV market, prices hover just below gas cars and could soften slightly in the coming months. The average price for a used EV stood at $30,904 in February, compared with $31,153 for a used gas car, iSeeCars said.

“Used car shoppers with a $31,000 budget have access to the majority of models today, regardless of drivetrain,” Brauer said. They “can now make that decision based on factors beyond price, such as range and convenience.”

Range and convenience worries continue to discourage many Americans from buying an EV.

“The fear of running out of juice without a charging station in sight remains as much of a concern today as it was five years ago,” a report from Kelley Blue Book said in January.

Medora Lee is a money, markets, and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her at mjlee@usatoday.com and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: EV adoption faces a new hurdle: tumbling resale values