Edmunds Says Hybrid and EV Owners Switching Over to Gas Engine Cars

The percentage of hybrid and electric vehicle trade-ins applied to the purchase another hybrid or EV took a huge hit in the past year, according to Edmunds.com.

Only 27.5 percent of these trade-ins on used hybrids and EVs went toward the purchase of another hybrid or EV this year. That was down from 38.5 percent of these trade-ins going toward another hybrid or EV in 2015. Some of these car owners went to the other end of the spectrum, trading in their green car for an SUV during a period of low gas prices.

The trade-in trend is likely coming from traditional gasoline-powered vehicles getting much better fuel economy, according to an Edmunds.com analyst. “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,” says Edmunds.com Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell. “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 chart on hybrid and EV tradeins
It’s not necessarily bad news for consumers celebrating Earth Day. Edmunds.com cites data from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, stating that the average fuel economy of cars sold in the U.S. in March was 25.3 mpg, up 25 percent from when the institute started tracking this number in October 2007.

SEE ALSO: Consumer Reports and Edmunds Clock Tesla P85D 0-60 in 3.5, Not 3.1 Seconds

Dealers are getting more SUV customers from previous hybrid and EV owners. The Edmunds study found that a hybrid or electric trade-in is more likely to go toward the purchase of a SUV (33.8 percent) than another hybrid or EV. The trend is even more clear when looking only at EV trade-ins — 25.7 percent of EV trade-ins went toward the purchase of a SUV, compared to just 4.8 percent that went toward another EV, according to the Edmunds study.

These former hybrid and EV owners are tending to switch over to more fuel-efficient SUVs than were typically available through dealers several years ago. Edmunds found that 16.4 percent of hybrid and EV trade-ins this year went toward compact crossovers; and only about 1.4 percent went toward a large SUV or crossover SUV.