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High demand for used electric cars leads to backlogs in Finnish market

Some used electric cars are now being sold at higher prices than new models as backlogs and shortages persist.

sähköauto latauksessa
Demand for used electric cars is rising in Finland. Image: AOP
Yle News

The car market has been shaken up by the recent increase in petrol prices, with dealerships struggling to keep up with increased demand for electric and hybrid cars.

Demand is so high that shortages and backlogs mean many customers have to wait for their new vehicles.

Finland relies on electric car imports from the rest of Europe, primarily Germany and Sweden.

Due to the shortage, Finnish customers will often purchase an electric car without seeing it.

"Up to half of the used electric cars imported from Germany have been sold in advance, even though the car is not even in Finland yet," said Pietro Jääskeläinen, Purchasing Director of Rinta-Joupin Autoliike, a car dealership.

This spring, a backlog of new electric cars has accumulated, which will take some time to hit Finnish roads as registration queues remain clogged.

A prospective electric car owner needs to be prepared to wait at least six months due to slow delivery times and slow registration processes for a brand new car.

Used electric car costs more than new

These delays make second-hand cars look like an attractive option.

In the Finnish market right now, a used electric car that is about six months old and has been driven for up to 10,000 kilometres, will cost more than a new model because it is not held to the same registration requirements and can be almost immediately driven.

"This has happened in isolated cases before, but all low-use electric cars now have good resale prices. In the best case, you can get a used car six months earlier than a new one. And even then it may take much longer than six months to register a new car," said Tero Kallio, managing director of the Association of the Automobile Industry in Finland.

Since the beginning of April, the car tax has been abolished for new electric cars up to six months old, which were put into service after 1 October 2021. The car tax exemption also applies to imported electric cars, making these barely-used electric cars a hot commodity.

Finland's total electric car fleet almost tripled in a year

According to the Automotive Information Centre, 1,560 used all-electric cars and more than 3,000 plug-in hybrids were imported to Finland between January and March this year. Last year 3,400 used electric cars were imported into Finland, and about 10,000 were registered for the first time. In one year, the Finnish fleet of all-electric cars has almost tripled.

Kallio estimated that the shortage of used electric cars will start to ease towards the end of the year. Around that time, leasing cars that have been in use in Sweden and Germany for a year will become available for the pre-owned market and can be brought to Finland without car tax.

"There is a Jahreswagen tradition in Germany, when, for example, employees of car factories get a new leased car every year, and they will be released to the market in the autumn," Kallio explained.

These year-old imports are boosted by the fact that imports of barely used electric cars have become cheaper.

Delivery times for new cars will be shortened next year at the latest as the automotive industry begins to get the components and raw materials it needs and global supply chains return to normal.

"Electrification has started so rapidly around the world that it will take years for electric car production to meet this massive demand," Kallio said.

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