Why one Tesla manager thinks used cars are ‘absolutely pivotal’ for EVs

In Europe

Used Tesla cars for sale at Big Motoring World’s showroom in the U.K., in 2023.

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Used electric vehicles are set to play an important part in the shift to more sustainable forms of transportation, according to a manager at Elon Musk’s Tesla.

At the EV Summit 2023 in Oxford earlier this week, Michael Oates — who leads Tesla’s sales and delivery teams in the U.K. market — said the mass adoption of electric cars is coming and noted the big role that used EVs will play in this transition.

“Once the early adopters have adopted, we need to start getting in front of new audiences, those who haven’t necessarily considered an electric car as their next purchase,” he said.

Other demographics to consider include those who are interested in EVs but lack the “financial means” to purchase a new one, he added.  

“That’s why I believe that used cars are absolutely pivotal to ensure that as many people as possible can experience the sheer joy of owning and driving an electric car,” Oates said.

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According to the U.K.-based Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, used battery electric vehicle sales rose by 81.8% to 30,645 in the second quarter, with their market share hitting a record 1.7%.

In April, Cox Automotive said the market for used EVs in the United States was “beginning to accelerate rapidly as more used EVs become available and buyers snap them up.”

“Retail used electric vehicle sales — EVs sold through a licensed dealership — increased significantly in Q1, according to Cox Automotive data, up 32% year over year, to 42,753 units,” it later added, citing estimates.

While the above is no doubt encouraging for advocates of low- and zero-emission mobility, Tesla’s Oates acknowledged that the road ahead is long. The used car industry for EVs is still “in its infancy, certainly compared to the new EV industry,” he said.

And that matters because “all of that really hard work that went into dispelling myths around range, around infrastructure, that led to that new car purchase … has to happen again, and again, and again, to an ever more skeptical audience in the used EV world.”

On top of range and infrastructure, cost needs to be considered.

“With our new cars starting at just under £40,000 (around $48,700), we recognise that not everybody is able to make that switch straightaway,” Oates said.

That means used cars would have “an absolutely crucial part” to play when it comes to “ensuring that as many people as possible can switch from that traditional ICE vehicle into a used EV, from any manufacturer.”

Read More: Why one Tesla manager thinks used cars are ‘absolutely pivotal’ for EVs

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