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Electric vehicles are mostly leased

At the beginning of this year, Bloomberg published this article talking about how the vast majority of electric car drivers lease, rather than own, their cars. The stats are as follows: In the US, about 80% of electric battery vehicles and about 55% of plug-in hybrids are leased, whereas only about 30% of all vehicles in the country are leased. 

It is, however, important to note that the above doesn’t include any data points from Tesla. Since they sell their cars direct to customers, as opposed to through dealers, they have no obligation to publicly release this data. And so apparently they don’t.

Conventional wisdom suggests that if you plan to drive the same car for an extended period of time – the average age of a car on the road in the US is over 11 years – it makes financial sense to buy. But in this case, people seem to be worried about technological obsolescence and the weak resale market for electric vehicles. This may also speak to the type of customers who are currently buying electric vehicles; they are early adopters and don’t want old cars.

I’ve also seen someone argue that because some states require a percentage of car sales to be zero electric vehicles, it can be more cost effective for manufacturers to sell/lease them at a loss than pay the penalties or buy the ZEV credits. And with a lease, they at least get parts back at the end of the term. But I honestly don’t know much of a factor this plays.

I hadn’t thought of this before I stumbled across the Bloomberg article, but it all makes sense to me. I find this reversal in ownership interesting because it tells me that how we consume cars can very easily change, and probably will moving forward.

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