BERKELEY (KCBS) – More car buyers have been turning to low-mileage used cars rather than investing in brand new hybrid or electric models to try and beat high gas prices.
“We sold a Zen all-electric vehicle last month and that sold really fast too,” said Jerry Griggs, operations manager at Buggy Bank in Berkeley.
KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:
He said the slump in car sales during the recession means that today the supply of late model used cars for sale is low at a time of rising demand.
In April, used car values rose 16 percent compared to last year to reach record highs, according to the RVI Group’s used car price index.
So when something like a trusty Honda Civic, Toyota Prius or the Ford Escape hybrid becomes available, Griggs said it moves off his Shattuck Avenue lot very quickly.
Fuel economy is what’s driving sales, he said, “twenty-five miles to the gallon and up, right now.”
But the boom isn’t just in commuter cars. Contractors are buying work trucks. Customers also come to his vehicle display service in Berkeley looking for something big enough for the whole family that doesn’t cost tons to fill up.
“Some of these SUV Hybrids that are coming out now are really popular because they fill the need for a family vehicle and still good gas mileage,” Griggs said.
Since the financial crisis has passed, he’s also noticed men coming onto the lot looking for a solution to a more personal crisis.
“There are those guys like me in their mid-40s that want to drive a, you know, sports car that has some get up and go,” Griggs said.
Industry analysts said a used compact or mid-sized models can sometimes cost anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 more than they did a year ago.
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