Used electric cars: should you buy second hand?

In a recent survey for EDF Energy, 24 per cent of people polled said they thought they would switch to an electric car within the next five years.

However, the cost of buying a brand new electric vehicle appears to be stalling many potential purchases for now. If the price of a new EV is putting you off could a second hand electric car be the answer?

If you’re thinking of buying a used electric car there are plenty of second hand electric vehicles around, so what are the factors you need to consider?

Running an electric car is certainly cheaper than paying for petrol or diesel. Alongside cheaper running costs, electric cars have fewer moving parts than their traditional counterparts, which is likely to mean there is less chance of something going wrong. This is another factor in favour if you are considering buying a used EV.

 

Buying a new vs used electric vehicle

A new electric car is going to cost around £30,000. The cleanest new electric vehicles can qualify for a Government plug-in car grant of up to £3,500, but that still leaves a fairly large financial commitment.

Prices of second hand electric cars, like any used car purchase, can vary widely but you can expect prices to come down as more electric vehicles come on the market.

The biggest issue to weigh-up is price versus technology. Electric car technology is accelerating rapidly so you need to ensure you don’t pick up an electric vehicle that is already overly dated. And, sadly, those Government grants aren’t available for used cars.

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Second hand electric cars – what to look out for

Range, or how far you can drive between charges, is improving in electric cars all of the time. If you mainly drive short distances, and have easy access to charge, the range of a used electric car may not be an issue for you. However, some drivers are waiting for the average range to creep up a bit higher before they switch to an EV.

The time it takes to charge an electric car is also a factor. As battery technology advances, and newer models reach the market, charging times will continue to come down. If you’re thinking of buying a used electric car try to ensure the vehicle you buy will stand the test of time.

Most new electric cars have warranties on the battery for about seven or eight years so, if you are buying a second-hand EV, check how much of the warranty is still in place. While all batteries will lose some of their range, per charge, over a period of time this is not likely to have much impact on a two or three-year-old used electric car.

The Renault Zoe avoids battery ageing issues altogether by allowing customers to lease the battery separately from the rest of the vehicle. 

 

How much do used electric cars cost?

As with any type of car, there are huge variances in used electric car prices according to the make, model and age of the vehicle.

If you’re willing to go for an older Nissan Leaf you could pick up a six-year-old used electric car for under £10,000. A 2019 ex-demonstrator electric Golf is likely to be in the mid 20k range. Some newer used Tesla models could cost up to three times that amount.

 

Buying a used car checklist

  • Set your budget and get your finances in order.
  • Think about mileage – does the mileage seem right for the age of the car?
  • Find out as much as you can about the history of the vehicle.
  • Remember to check how much warranty is left on the battery.
  • Keep your eyes open – check the car from every angle for any signs of damage or wear-and-tear.
  • If you’re new to electric cars, try to test drive a couple of brand new models before going to see a second-hand EV, to give you an idea of how an electric vehicle feels and handles.


Our best advice is to weigh up all of your options. If you want to keep up with the latest electric car technology, but can’t afford to buy a brand new EV, you might want to consider leasing an electric vehicle.

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