Used Electric Cars For Sale

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Used Electric Cars For Sale

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Used electric cars for sale

Thinking of buying a used car? It might be time to consider an electric car, with an increasing number hitting the used market at some very tempting prices. While new EVs (electric vehicles) can be very expensive, heavy depreciation means that some used models are actually barely less affordable than their counterparts with petrol or diesel engines.

The last decade or so has also seen an influx of new models. The pace of change means that more recent EVs can offer significantly more range and features than ones just a few years older, but that just gives you even more choice - you can opt for a nearly-new electric car knowing you’re still getting a great deal, or save a fortune by buying a few years older, and accept that you’re not driving around in the latest, greatest kit.

What is an electric car?

Electric cars have been around since the beginning of the automobile itself, but serious mainstream electric passenger cars only started appearing in significant numbers at the beginning of the 2010s, with cars like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model S.

Essentially, an electric car trades the engine, gearbox, petrol tank, and other components needed for internal combustion, with a battery pack, charging components, and one or more electric motors, but are otherwise very similar in many respects to the kind of cars we’re more used to.

From an industry perspective the drive towards electric vehicles is being driven by environmental legislation, as overall EVs are considered cleaner and less demanding of natural resources than combustion vehicles, but for consumers an electric car is typically quieter, quicker, easier to drive, and costs less to run than an equivalent petrol or diesel vehicle.

Why buy a used electric car?

You might want to look at an electric car if some of the cost and driving benefits mentioned above sound appealing, with EVs typically costing less to “fill” than a petrol or diesel car (with the caveat that charging at home is much cheaper than charging at a public fast-charging station), generally offering more instantaneous performance, and being a lot quieter and smoother.

But used EVs especially are worth a look, because while the price of brand new electric cars can be many thousands of pounds more than a combustion engine equivalent (the difference between a petrol Peugeot 208 and an e-208 in the same trim is around £10,000), that gap virtually disappears with used EVs. Depreciation on electric cars is currently quite severe, which isn’t great for new car buyers but makes even nearly-new EVs a real bargain and significantly reduces the overall cost of ownership.

How do I choose the ideal used electric car?

Choosing an electric car is much the same as choosing the petrol, diesel, or hybrid you might have bought in the past, but there are a few extra things to consider when you’re shopping. For example, you should still think about what you need from the car in terms of size and performance - you can now find electric models in just about every class, which makes finding a suitable model easier than it used to be - and how much you can afford to pay, just as you would with any other car.

But you also need to consider how you might charge your new EV. This is currently easiest for buyers who have a garage or driveway, with ready access to a source of power. It’s not as simple as just plugging an EV into a three-pin socket though as big batteries ideally need dedicated charging equipment, both for safety and speed - try and recharge a Tesla via a three-pin plug and you could be waiting days. Several companies offer services to set up reliable and safe home charging points.

Battery size itself is another factor. The models currently on the market offer anything between around 100 and 400 miles of range. The former might be plenty for someone who only ever drives short distances, while you may only get the latter from larger, more prestigious and more expensive EVs. You’ll want to find a suitable balance between enough range to cover your needs, while still being affordable to buy - try not to overestimate how much range you need and end up paying over the odds for a huge battery you’ll never fully use.

Where can I find used electric cars for sale?

Electric cars are now popular enough that you can find used examples in all the same places you’ll find petrol, diesel, and hybrid vehicles. There’s now a wide selection available from dealer stock, and older models may be offered for private sale.

Tools like RAC Simple Search can let you narrow down different makes and models, set an area to search within, and set limits on age, mileage, and by colour, just as you can with other cars. If you’re unsure which models are electric to start with, most online car search tools will also let you select by fuel type, and then you can search among all electric models that fit your other criteria.

Basic used electric car checks

Perhaps the most important used electric car check is one that’s tricky to discover on a test drive or via an online classified ad, which is the health of the car’s battery pack. Batteries lose their ability to hold a charge over time, so after tens of thousands of miles, an EV may not go quite as far on a charge as it could when new.

If you’re buying nearly new, this shouldn’t be an issue, particularly if the car is still under warranty - most manufacturers are well on top of this phenomenon so build in ways to mitigate it, such as not allowing the battery pack to fully charge or discharge, or by restricting charging speeds to prevent damage.

It may start to become apparent in older electric cars though, and since these will likely be out of warranty, you need to understand the limitations an older EV might impose. The usable 150 or so miles of range quoted in the brochure starts to look less appealing when the battery has lost 10-15% of its capacity, and the range drops further in cold weather. Try to find a buying guide on the model you’re considering to see whether this may be an issue.

The good news is that with far fewer mechanical moving parts than a combustion vehicle, servicing is much simpler, and the risk of a previous hamfisted owner doing damage to the motor or batteries is much lower than with an engine and gearbox. EVs tend to be easier on brakes too, so braking components may be less worn, but you still need evidence of servicing to ensure the car is in tip-top condition.