Going Electric: The Growing EV Market and CarMax


Consumer behavior toward electric cars is changing. Read on to see how CarMax data matches up to EV trends.

CarMax Data Highlights:

  • Based on data from January 2021 – March 2022, search volume and test drives for electric vehicles at CarMax saw its largest increase in March 2022, around the same time gas prices in the U.S. spiked.

  • SUVs are the most common vehicle type traded-in for EVs, while Toyota is the most traded-in brand for EVs.

  • The top five states for EV sales at CarMax were Washington, California, Utah, Arizona, and Oregon. Coastal states also had higher EV sales compared to the central U.S.

The automotive industry is ever changing. The new frontier that has everyone talking? Going electric.

According to data from the Pew Research Center in April 2021, 40% of non-EV (electric vehicle) owners are very or somewhat likely to purchase an EV as their next vehicle. The growing consumer interest in EVs may be influenced by a variety of factors, but one that hits close to home for most Americans is skyrocketing fuel prices. Between pandemic restrictions lifting, increase in travel, and the recent war in Ukraine affecting oil sanctions, that hefty number at the gas pump has many gas-car drivers wondering if there’s a better option for their everyday ride. Plus, with analysts from EV Adoption predicting that by 2030, about 30% of new car sales will be EVs, the hype surrounding electric vehicles may not be just hype.

To see just how consumer behavior has changed recently, we did some digging into our own data at CarMax to give you the scoop. Read on to learn more – we’ll cover everything from used EV consumer interest, popular used EVs & average prices at CarMax, common trade-ins for EVs, and EV nationwide popularity.   

Consumer Interest in Used EVs

To understand car buyers’ interest in used EVs, we looked at recent search volume on and pulled our test drive data to see if more customers have been taking EVs for a spin since January 2021.

From February 2022 to March 2022, received 1.5 times the search volume for the term “electric,” the largest increase since January 2021. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, this was around the same time average gas prices increased in the U.S., from an average of $3.54 per gallon on February 7, to $4.20 per gallon on March 7—with the war in Ukraine affecting this price spike.

Not only was there an increase in search volume for used EVs on, but the number of customers test driving used electric cars also saw a jump. From February 2022 to March 2022, CarMax saw a little over 1.5 times the number of electric vehicle test drives, about the same increase as search volume.

Used EVs at CarMax

The average CarMax used vehicle price is $29,000 (based on our December 2021 – February 2022 Q4 earnings report). So how do the EV options at CarMax compare? Based on our sales data over the last six months, there are a variety of EVs that fall above or below this number, providing a range of options for shoppers at different price points. The Tesla Model 3, a popular pick, ranks above the average CarMax used vehicle price, with an average price around $49,500, while the Nissan Leaf, a budget-friendly option, has an average price around $21,500.

As for popularity, the top five electric vehicles at CarMax (based on sales from October 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022) are the Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Chevrolet Bolt EV, and the Tesla Model X. However, for shoppers looking for other vehicles at or below $29,000, the Ford Focus Electric and Chevrolet Spark EV are other options to explore.

Trade-Ins and EVs at CarMax

Switching from a gas-powered car to an all-electric vehicle is a big lifestyle change. When thinking about consumer behavior toward electric cars, it’s interesting to note what types of cars people are trading in when they decide to make the transition to electric. To find out, we examined our trade in data to see the most common types of vehicles CarMax customers are trading in when purchasing an EV from CarMax.

According to the data, SUVs tend to be the most traded-in vehicle for electric cars. Other categories like sedans/coupes and luxury vehicles closely follow behind as the most frequently traded-in for electric vehicles. It’s also relevant to note that the luxury vehicles category includes both sedans and SUVs.

As for the car brands customers are trading in, Toyota rises above the other manufacturers as the most traded-in brand for EVs, surpassing Ford, Honda, and even BMW. Plus, there are some repeating trends when it comes to the makes and models customers trade in for a certain EV. When looking at CarMax sales data from October 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022, customers who made the switch to an EV and purchased a Nissan Leaf most commonly traded in their Toyota Prius. Meanwhile, customers who purchased the Tesla Model 3 most commonly traded in their Honda Accord. It’s also worth noting Toyota and Honda are also popular brands purchased at CarMax.

Used EV Nationwide Popularity

Finally, we were curious about the top states for EV purchases at our 230+ stores across the U.S. While they are ahead of the curve—according to The New York Times, California’s recent proposal to ban the sale of new gas-powered cars after 2035 will likely lead 15 other states (including New York, Massachusetts, and North Carolina) into the same rule, having previously followed California’s stance on tailpipe emissions. While California is the largest auto market in the U.S., surprisingly enough, they’re not the only state leading the way when it comes to electric vehicle drivers.

Based on CarMax sales data from October 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022, the top five states for electric vehicle sales were Washington, California, Utah, Arizona, and Oregon. It’s also important to note that most of these states offer tax credits or incentives for purchasing an EV or installing a home charging station.

While Washington surpassed California for the most EVs sold at CarMax, California has the most EV charging stations in the country. Coastal states also tend to have more EV sales than states in the central U.S., according to CarMax data. Some east coast states with top EV sales include Rhode Island, Maine, and New York.

Shopping for Used EVs at CarMax

In a recent survey conducted by CarMax, almost two-thirds (65%) of respondents said they would be more likely to consider purchasing an EV if they knew they could return it within 30 days if they didn’t like it. CarMax’s 30-day money back guarantee (up to 1,500 miles) gives car shoppers added flexibility, especially when they’re buying an EV for the first time. You can learn more at

With the growing popularity of electric vehicles, CarMax has EV options for a variety of budgets and lifestyles. For more on electric vehicles, visit our electric vehicles research page to search by make or model, find FAQs, read feature articles, and more. 

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