Buying a used electric car

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Buying A Used Electric Car

Pros and cons of buying a used electric car

Should you consider buying a used electric car? While new electric cars can come with a hefty price tag, many drivers are now looking towards the second-hand market as a more affordable option.

However, there are important factors to consider before making your decision. Our comprehensive guide to buying a used electric car will provide you with the necessary insights to make an informed choice.

Are second-hand electric cars worth buying?

Are second-hand electric cars worth considering? The increasing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK is evident, with a significant rise in the number of registered pure electric cars in recent years.

In 2020 alone, there were 107,000 EVs registered, marking a remarkable 184% increase compared to the previous year. This surge in demand has resulted in a larger availability of used electric cars in the market.

As electric cars gain mainstream acceptance, the benefits of purchasing a second-hand EV become more evident. Lower prices, a wider range of options, and improved performance are some of the advantages to look forward to.

Additionally, electric vehicles offer significant cost savings in terms of running expenses when compared to traditional petrol or diesel cars. Moreover, opting for an electric car contributes to a cleaner and more sustainable environment.

However, it is crucial to approach the purchase of a used electric car with caution and conduct thorough research. Carefully inspect the vehicle, paying close attention to its battery condition and verifying all relevant paperwork.

With proper knowledge and diligence, you can secure a fantastic deal on a second-hand EV that meets your requirements.

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What are the advantages of buying a used EV?

There are numerous advantages to consider when purchasing a second-hand electric car, including:

  • Purchase price: The cost of used EVs is becoming increasingly competitive compared to conventional petrol and diesel cars. You can now find used electric cars for under £5,000, while popular models like the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe are available for under £10,000. In contrast, the same models would cost around £26,000 or more when purchased new.

  • Long warranty: Some new electric cars have battery warranties that last eight years or 100,000 miles. If you’re buying a second-hand EV, there’s a possibility that the original warranty may still be valid, depending on the age of the vehicle.

  • Tax benefits: Owning a new or used pure electric vehicle exempts you from paying road tax. Additionally, if you use your EV for work purposes, you can benefit from tax breaks, further reducing your expenses.

  • Low running costs: Research indicates that the annual running costs of an electric vehicle are, on average, £579 cheaper than those of a petrol car. This is primarily due to lower fuel costs and the absence of road tax charges.

  • Performance: Electric vehicles offer impressive acceleration thanks to their electric motors’ instant power and torque. This makes them ideal for zipping around town and often allows them to outpace many new petrol cars.

  • Smoothness: EVs are known for their smooth and refined driving experience. They are quieter compared to petrol or diesel cars, eliminating the sound and vibration associated with traditional engines. Even older electric models offer a luxurious and serene driving experience.

By considering these advantages, you can make an informed decision when purchasing a used electric vehicle that aligns with your needs and preferences.

What are the disadvantages of buying a used EV?

While there are numerous advantages to buying a used electric car, it’s important to consider the potential downsides as well:

  • Range anxiety: Over time, the battery capacity of EVs can degrade, resulting in a reduced range compared to when the car was new. Older models may have a range of approximately 100 miles or even less, which can be limiting if you frequently need to travel long distances without access to charging stations.

  • Battery lease: Some early EV models, like the Renault Zoe, were sold without a battery included in the purchase price. Instead, the battery had to be leased separately, resulting in an additional monthly cost. It’s crucial to check whether the used EV you’re considering includes the battery pack in the purchase price or if you’ll have to pay a separate battery lease fee.

  • Limited charging infrastructure: Like new EV buyers, owners of used electric cars may face challenges with limited charging points. While the network of public chargers is expanding, it’s essential to ensure that you can easily access charging stations or have the option to install a home charging solution for convenient charging.

  • Lack of driving excitement: Some drivers may find that electric vehicles, especially older and more basic models, lack the same level of driving enjoyment as traditional combustion engine cars. If you have a preference for the sound and experience of traditional engines and the engagement of manual gear shifting, an EV may not provide the same level of driving fun.

By considering these potential disadvantages, you can make an informed decision about whether a used electric vehicle is the right choice for your needs and preferences. It’s important to weigh these factors against the numerous advantages of EV ownership to ensure that it aligns with your expectations and lifestyle.

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Do electric vehicles hold their value?

Electric vehicles (EVs) have seen improvements in their resale value in recent years, although the depreciation factor still applies to all cars. Initially, early EV models experienced significant drops in value when resold due to limited demand and buyer hesitation.

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However, the landscape has changed as more desirable EV makes and models have entered the market, and awareness of the benefits of electric and hybrid cars has grown.

While petrol cars typically retain around 40% to 50% of their new purchase price after three years of use, electric cars are gradually catching up in terms of resale value. However, it’s important to note that value retention can vary among different EV models.

Factors such as brand reputation, battery condition, mileage, and technological advancements play a role in determining the resale value of an electric vehicle.

Resale value can also be influenced by the overall market demand for electric vehicles, as well as government incentives and policy changes that may impact the perceived value of EVs. As the market for electric cars continues to evolve and mature, it is expected that the resale value of EVs will become more stable and competitive with traditional petrol cars.

To maximise the resale value of an electric vehicle, it’s advisable to choose a popular and well-regarded model, properly maintain the vehicle, keep the battery in good condition, and consider factors such as mileage and market trends when deciding on the timing of resale.

By staying informed about the latest developments in the electric vehicle market and understanding the specific factors that influence resale value, you can make a more informed decision when buying and selling an electric vehicle.

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Is car insurance more expensive for electric cars?

Car insurance for electric vehicles (EVs) has seen changes in pricing over time. In the early stages of EV adoption, insurance premiums for electric cars were generally higher compared to equivalent petrol models. This was primarily due to the lack of historical data and limited knowledge surrounding EV repairs and maintenance.

However, as electric cars have become more prevalent and insurers have gained more experience with EV claims and repairs, insurance costs have started to decrease. Recent research indicates that the average cost of car insurance for an EV in 2022 is £690, which is only slightly higher than the average cost for a petrol car (£680).

To secure the best insurance deal for your electric vehicle, it’s crucial to compare car insurance quotes from different insurance providers. By using Comparoo, you can conveniently compare EV insurance quotes from multiple insurers, ensuring you find a policy that suits your needs and budget.

Factors that can influence the cost of insurance for an electric car include the specific make and model of the vehicle, its value, performance capabilities, and the availability and cost of spare parts. Additionally, your personal circumstances, such as your age, driving experience, and location, may also impact insurance premiums.

As the electric vehicle market continues to evolve, insurance providers are likely to gain further insights into EV-related risks, leading to more competitive and tailored insurance offerings for electric car owners.

What else should I look out for when buying a used EV?

When buying a used electric vehicle (EV), there are a few important factors to consider to ensure you make a well-informed decision:

Visual Inspection: Take the time to visually inspect the car and ensure that all lights and electronics are functioning properly. Look for any signs of damage or wear that may indicate previous issues or inadequate maintenance.

Service History: Obtain a full-service history of the vehicle. This will provide valuable insights into how well the car has been maintained and if any major repairs or replacements have been carried out.

Test Drive: If possible, take the EV for a test drive. This will allow you to experience its performance, handling, and comfort first-hand. Pay attention to any unusual noises, vibrations, or performance issues during the test drive.

Charging Compatibility: Consider your charging needs and ensure that the EV is compatible with the charging infrastructure available to you. Check if it supports rapid chargers and confirm the charging time required to reach a desired battery capacity. Factors such as battery size, charger speed, and the car’s capability to accept electricity can affect the charging time.

Battery Health: Although EVs generally have fewer mechanical components than traditional cars, battery health is a critical aspect to evaluate. Ask about the battery’s condition, its capacity, and any warranties or guarantees associated with it. Be aware that older EVs may have reduced range compared to newer models due to battery degradation.

Vehicle History Check: Conduct a comprehensive vehicle history check to ensure there are no outstanding finance agreements, previous accidents, or other issues that could impact the car’s ownership. This will provide peace of mind and help you make an informed decision.

By considering these factors and conducting thorough research, you can make a more informed decision when purchasing a used electric vehicle. Don’t hesitate to seek advice from reputable EV specialists or consult online forums and communities to gather insights and experiences from other EV owners.

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Frequently asked questions

Currently, there is no specific subsidy or grant available for purchasing a used electric car in the UK. The government’s plug-in vehicle grant only applies to new electric vehicles. However, there are other financial incentives that can help with the transition to electric mobility.

One such incentive is the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS), which provides up to £350 off the cost of installing a home charging point. This can make charging your electric car more convenient and affordable.

If purchasing a used electric vehicle outright is not feasible, there are financing options available. Many dealers offer car finance options specifically for used electric cars, allowing you to spread the cost over a fixed period. Additionally, some dealers may offer leasing options for used electric cars, where you pay a monthly fee to use the vehicle for a specified period.

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It is essential to carefully review the terms and conditions of any finance or lease agreement to understand the total cost, monthly payments, and duration of the agreement. This will help you make an informed decision and ensure you are comfortable with the financial commitments involved.

By exploring financing options and taking advantage of incentives such as the EVHS, you can make the transition to a used electric car more affordable and accessible. Be sure to research and compare offers from different dealers to find the best financing solution that suits your budget and requirements.

When buying a used electric car, checking the battery is crucial since it is a significant component and impacts the overall performance and range of the vehicle. Here are some steps you can take to assess the battery’s condition:

  • Battery Status Indicator: Most electric cars have a battery status indicator that provides information about the remaining charge and overall battery health. Pay attention to this display and observe how many bars or percentage of charge is indicated. A lower number of bars or a reduced percentage may indicate reduced battery capacity.

  • Range Estimation: Check the estimated range displayed on the instrument panel or infotainment system. Compare it with the manufacturer’s specifications for the specific model to ensure it aligns with expectations.

  • Diagnostic Check: If possible, request a more detailed diagnostic check of the battery from the seller or dealer. They may have tools or software that can assess the battery’s health, capacity, and any degradation it may have experienced over time.

  • Service History: Review the vehicle’s service history and maintenance records. Look for any battery-related maintenance or replacements that have been performed. A well-maintained battery is likely to have better longevity and performance.

  • Professional Inspection: Consider getting an independent inspection from a qualified technician or an electric vehicle specialist. They can conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the battery’s condition, including voltage checks and analysing battery cells.

  • Warranty Coverage: Check if the battery is still covered under any warranty. Some manufacturers offer extended warranties specifically for electric vehicle batteries. Verify the remaining coverage and any specific conditions associated with the warranty.

It’s important to note that the battery’s condition can impact the overall value and future performance of the electric car. While some battery degradation is expected over time, ensure that the battery’s health aligns with your expectations and intended usage.

Taking these steps will provide you with more confidence and transparency when assessing the battery condition of a used electric car.

Servicing an electric car is similar to servicing a petrol or diesel car, but there are some differences to consider due to the unique characteristics of electric vehicles. Here’s what you need to know about servicing an electric car:

  • Electric Motor: The electric motor is a key component of an electric car. During servicing, the motor’s performance and condition will be checked to ensure it is operating optimally.

  • Battery Pack: The battery pack is another critical element of an electric car. It requires a periodic inspection to ensure it is functioning correctly and retaining its capacity. The service technician will assess the battery’s health, monitor the charging system, and check for any signs of degradation or abnormal behaviour.

  • High-Voltage Electric Cabling: Electric vehicles have high-voltage cables that transmit power from the battery to the motor. These cables will be inspected for any signs of wear, damage, or potential safety issues.

  • Suspension, Brakes, Steering, and Wheels: These components are similar to those in traditional cars and will undergo regular checks and maintenance during servicing to ensure safe and smooth driving.

  • Tyres: Tyre condition and pressure are essential for all vehicles, including electric cars. Proper tyre maintenance helps ensure optimum efficiency and safety.

  • Lights: All lights, including headlights, taillights, indicators, and interior lights, will be inspected to ensure they are functioning correctly.

  • Specialist Skills: While electric cars share many similarities with traditional cars, it’s important to find a service provider or garage that has expertise in electric vehicle maintenance. Look for technicians who have undergone specific training for electric vehicle servicing or those who are certified by the manufacturer.

  • Servicing Costs: It’s worth noting that the cost of servicing an electric car can vary. Some service centres may charge the same as petrol or diesel car servicing, while others might have different pricing structures. It’s advisable to compare prices and check with different service providers to find the best option for your specific electric car model.

As electric vehicle technology becomes more widespread, the availability of qualified mechanics and service centres is increasing. Ensure you choose a reputable and experienced service provider to maintain your electric car’s performance, reliability, and safety.

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