Used Hybrids Increasing in Popularity

By Brendan Moore


Ford Escape Hybrid

People are moving towards more fuel-efficient vehicles in the new car market, and therefore it probably won’t surprise you to find out that used-car buyers have the same concerns as new car buyers. The nice plus for dealers and private sellers that sell used cars is that the used hybrids have very good residual values because of the increased demand and (so far) limited market inventory.

Just how much has interest/demand increased?

Well, here is part of a press release from CarMax, the huge used car dealership chain:

RICHMOND, Va. (Dec. 20, 2007) –At a time of uncertain gas prices, CarMax, Inc. (NYSE: KMX) the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, says online searches for hybrid cars are on the rise. Examples of the most searched hybrid cars include the Ford Escape Hybrid, Toyota Prius and Toyota Camry Hybrid. These hybrids are climbing in popularity based on recent month-to-month trends of searches for hybrid cars on the website. November 2007 data indicated that searches for hybrid cars have increased 10% over last year and 43% from October to November. “One of the ways we know that people are looking more for hybrid vehicles is by monitoring the search activity on our website,” said Tom Folliard, president and chief executive officer of CarMax. “Hybrid cars are increasingly making an impression on car shoppers and searches on are reflecting that.” The following hybrid cars experienced the largest increases in search activity:

Make/Model: October to November 2007 Increase
Ford Escape Hybrid: 108%
Toyota Prius: 56%
Toyota Camry Hybrid: 48%

CarMax’s press release does not mention if they’re holding big margins (how odd, right?) when they sell their used hybrid vehicles, but it’s a pretty safe bet that they are benefiting from the same market forces at work in the used hybrid market. Frankly, there just aren’t a lot of used hybrids to be had out in the market, so it’s pretty much a seller’s market. On either coast of the United States, that situation is even more pronounced. In California, a used hybrid is tough to find.

Just as an FYI to prospective hybrid buyers, the Prius is tapped out in terms of getting a tax credit when purchased new, but there are still many hybrid vehicles that qualify for the full tax credit when purchased new. Deducting the tax credit from the purchase price may get you fairly close to what a slightly used one costs, and if the price is close, it may be in your best interests to consider a new version of whatever hybrid you want.

If you want a less-expensive Prius than a new one (and 50% of hybrid owners own a Prius), then it’s down to surfing CarMax, Craigslist or eBay, etc. in order to locate a used one.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at

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1 Comment

  1. It is almost impossible to buy a used Prius here in CA. They are sold to family or friends on the rare occasions they are sold.

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