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The Pulse on Used Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles at CarMax


PUBLISHED MONDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2022
Woman smiling while charging electric car

Can used plug-in hybrids be an affordable gateway to alternative energy vehicles? Read on to learn about relevant insights from CarMax data.

CarMax Data Highlights:

  • Search volume for the term “plug-in hybrid” on CarMax.com has significantly increased since the start of 2021. The frequency reached its highest peak in June 2022 showing that shoppers searched the term four times more than in January 2021.

Based on CarMax data from the spring and summer of 2022 (March – August):

  • The most popular used plug-in hybrids at CarMax were the Toyota Prius Prime Hybrid and the Chevrolet Volt .

  • The average price of used plug-in hybrids and hybrids is below the average price for used EVs and slightly above the average price of used gas-powered cars at CarMax.

  • On average, the Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-In Hybrid sold in less than a week from when it was listed for sale and was the fastest selling car at CarMax overall.

A variety of factors have impacted the automotive industry in 2022. From soaring gas prices and economic changes, to heightened conversations on environmental sustainability and the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act, consumers have more to consider than ever when thinking about purchasing their next car.

With four different options for vehicles to choose from – traditional gas-powered (also known as, internal combustion engine (ICE), hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles (EV) – we were interested to see just how consumer behavior has changed recently. Earlier this year we discovered search volume for electric vehicles on CarMax.com saw a large increase in March 2022 and wanted to know if we’d find the same increase in consumer interest around plug-in hybrids.

Plug-in hybrids, well-liked for their convenience of having a conventional engine and a supplemental battery, may be a gateway for consumers as they consider purchasing alternative energy vehicles.

To look at how consumer behavior has changed around plug-in hybrids, we dug into CarMax data to uncover everything from popular used plug-in hybrids, average prices, the fastest selling models, and more.

Before we jump in, here are a few definitions for terms we’ll use.

Vehicle Types Defined

Infographic defining Vehicle types including: •	Internal Combustion Engine vehicle, Hybrid electric vehicle, Plug-in hybrid PHEV, Electric vehicle EV

Consumer Interest & Most Popular Used Plug-In Hybrids at CarMax

To understand consumer interest in plug-in hybrids, we started by looking at search volume on CarMax.com and found that search frequency for the term “plug-in hybrid” has significantly increased since the start of 2021. The frequency reached its highest peak in June 2022 showing that shoppers searched the term four times more than in January 2021.

As far as popularity goes, in the spring and summer of 2022 (March – August) a variety of used plug-in hybrid make/models at different price points made CarMax’s top 10 most popular plug-in hybrids list (based on vehicles sold). The front runner was the Toyota Prius Prime Hybrid with an average price at CarMax of $32,575. The second favorite was the Chevrolet Volt coming in at a lower average price point of $22,172. In contrast, the highest price point options on the top 10 list were the Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-In Hybrid at $54,336 and the Jeep Wrangler 4XE Plug-In Hybrid at $58,767.

While the Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-In Hybrid is at the higher end of the average prices, in March – August 2022 it sold faster, on average, than any other car at CarMax – regardless of being almost two times the price of the average used gas-powered car. Given the demand, consumers are clearly recognizing the value of plug-in hybrids as a best of both worlds option.

Infographic displaying most popular Plug-In Hybrids & average prices at CarMax

Compared to CarMax’s average price for an ICE vehicle in March – August 2022 of $28,853, the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid ($19,352), Chevrolet Volt ($22,172), and Ford Fusion Energi ($23,006) all fall below the average ICE price, showing plug-in hybrid options may be within reach for consumers looking for budget-friendly price points.

Similarly, when we broke out the average CarMax prices by vehicle type for March – August 2022, we found the average price of used plug-in hybrids ($29,979) and hybrids ($29,479) is below the average price for used EVs ($44,944) and just slightly above the average price of used ICE vehicles ($28,853).

This is good news for used cars shoppers interested in potentially saving at the gas pump and dipping their toes into alternative energy vehicles like hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

Infographic displaying average CarMax price by vehicle types including: Internal Combustion Engine, Hybrids, PHEV's and Electric cars

Fastest Selling Electric & Plug-In Hybrids at CarMax

Next, we dug into which electric and plug-in hybrids sold the fastest in the spring and summer of 2022 (March – August) and found that on average, the Toyota RAV4 Prime Plug-In Hybrid and the Chevrolet Bolt EV sold in less than a week from when they were listed for sale.

The RAV4 Prime Plug-In Hybrid was the fasting selling car at CarMax overall, on average, from March – August 2022. This leads us to believe used car shoppers have an appetite for plug-in hybrids and EVs and are jumping quickly to purchase certain make/models.

Infographic showing the fastest selling Electric & Plug-In Hybrid vehicles at CarMax including: Toyota RAV4 Prime, Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan LEAF, Audi A3 and BMW X5

Used Plug-In Hybrid Nationwide Popularity

Around the nation at our 230+ stores, in March – August 2022 the top states for used plug-in hybrid sales at CarMax are mostly in the western United States. California, the largest automotive market in the U.S., is in the lead, followed by Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and Nevada. Washington and California were also the top two states for EV sales from October 2021 – March 2022. Many of these states are also offering tax credits and incentives for purchasing alternative energy vehicles and/or installing home charging stations.

On the other end of the scale, the states with the least used plug-in hybrid sales at CarMax from March – August 2022 were Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Connecticut.

Infographic displaying the Top States for Plug-In Hybrid Sales at CarMax: #1 California, #2 Oregon, #3 Washington, #4 New Mexico and #5 Nevada

Shopping for Used Plug-In Hybrids, Hybrids, & EVs at CarMax

As interest in alternative fuel cars grows, CarMax has used plug-in hybrids, hybrids, and EV options for a variety of budgets and lifestyles. Based on our data, with the average price of plug-in hybrids and hybrids getting closer to the average price of gas-powered cars at CarMax, these vehicles could be an affordable choice for consumers and a dip into the alternative energy waters, without having to make a full commitment to an EV.

For more on hybrid and electric vehicles, visit our electric vehicles research page to browse used cars by fuel type, read FAQs, find articles and videos, and more.

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* Price excludes taxes, title, registration, and fees. Applicable transfer fees are due in advance of vehicle delivery and are separate from sales transactions.

Unless otherwise noted, information related to these featured vehicles comes from third-party sources, including manufacturer information. Product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of third-party entities. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by these entities.