Used-car broker's data show a growing number of us may be trading SUVs and pickups for EVs

The cost of new and used cars and trucks is rising, and so is the cost of owning and operating a vehicle. And with one purported benefit to electric vehicles being lower running costs, it only makes sense that at least a portion of people shopping for a new-to-them vehicle would be considering something battery powered. This being the case, a study from CarMax offers an interesting look into the habits of used-vehicle shoppers in America.

According to the latest numbers covering the span between September 1, 2022, to February 28, 2023, searches for electric cars tend to spike along with the price of a gallon of gas. No surprise there. CarMax says, "Search volume for terms containing 'electric' on have doubled since this time last year." Note, that this data doesn't represent the number of people looking at used electric cars, rather it's for those who are specifically typing the word "electric" into the search bar at CarMax. So while CarMax's percentage of searches for the word "electric" is currently below 5%, which is obviously a relatively small number overall, it's an indicator that interest in used electric vehicles is increasing.

The individual vehicle models that are most popular at CarMax are also worth a little dissection, though the list doesn't stray terribly far from the most popular new EV list. While new-car buyers favor the Tesla Model Y above all others with nearly 173,000 sold in the U.S. last year, price-sensitive used buyers appear to be more interested in the less expensive Model 3 (Tesla sold 128,600 of them new last year, making it the second-best-selling EV overall). The average cost of a Tesla Model 3 at CarMax stands at $37,000 — that's more than $10,000 cheaper than the price of a Model Y. In third place at CarMax is the Nissan Leaf (less than $24,000 on average), followed by the Ford Mustang Mach-E (around $48,000) and Chevy Bolt (seemingly an attractive deal at around $26,000).

Finally, CarMax has some interesting statistics to share on the types of vehicles being traded in on used electric cars. Around 40% of those traded-in vehicles are SUVs, further reinforcing the idea that buyers are interesting in cutting ownership costs, with Toyota being the brand traded in most often for an EV. The most popular vehicle traded in on the Model 3, CarMax's most popular EV, was the Honda Civic. Number two? The Toyota Tacoma. No, we wouldn't have guessed that, either.

For more insights from CarMax on used EV buying trends, the full study can be found here.