Buying a Used Electric Vehicle Is a Solid Option
If you’re like more than 70% of American drivers, you tend to purchase pre-owned cars rather than new ones. The rules of engagement for buying a used electric vehicle (EV) are much different than what we once learned from our parents. They would advise us to Check the oil color, listen to the transmission, inspect the exhaust and verify the odometer. But today electric vehicles don’t have oil dip sticks, transmissions or exhausts, and the odometer matters much less than the calendar age of the battery.
Since times have changed, we have some updated advice to help you find a used plug-in that’s perfect for you. Let’s start at the beginning.
Establish a Budget
One of the biggest misconceptions about electric vehicles is that they are all priced for the super wealthy. Although their initial purchase price is still higher than comparable internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, electric vehicles are cheaper to own and maintain. There is no more worrying about gas prices and oil changes.
The low cost of ownership is one of the features that EV owners like the most and, unlike with an ICE car, an older EV does not need more maintenance than a new one. Recurrent highlights used EV models for the budget conscious and those looking to spend a bit more.
Understand Your Range Needs
Many car shoppers dismiss electric vehicles, thinking they will be ill-suited to road trips and long weekend drives. However, data suggests that most people only drive between 20 and 30 miles a day — a distance that almost any EV can cover with ease. If this sounds like you, bargain electric vehicles can be found that meet your needs.
People tend to first go electric with a shorter-range commuter vehicle to get to work or school, or run errands around the city. Of course, these drivers tend to stay electric once they experience how fun and easy it is, but it’s a great starting point for new EV owners who are realistic about their needs.
One of the hesitations about used EVs is uncertainty about how long the battery will last, and what the EV’s range will be in a few years. You can run a Recurrent range report on a used EV you’re interested in, or browse through real-world data on what ranges actual used EVs have today. This data is available for 13 popular models, but here are a few examples:
Narrow by Model and Year
Apart from the Tesla models, electric vehicles are leased at a disproportionate rate. Lease terms tend to be 36 months. As of March 2022, there should be an influx of 2019 model years in the used market.
Why is this important?
Average EPA range for 2019 and later EVs jumped to 229 miles and the expected range today is well above 200 miles. For many drivers, the 200-mile range was a turning point in considering an EV. That is enough range to ease day-to-day anxiety, and is more than enough for anyone with access to home or work charging stations.
If you are set on buying a used Tesla, there are plenty on the market. However, due to the waiting period for new ones, expect fierce competition for recent model years and prices almost as high as new models. Great value can be found looking at older Teslas, which still get over-the-air updates with the newest software.
Be an Informed Buyer
It pays dividends to spend time educating yourself about electric vehicles if you have limited experience. AAA Washington has created various helpful resources to shorten your learning curve. Here are some favorites:
Get Charging Right
The biggest predictor of whether a driver will love their electric car is if they have a place to charge. Look at apps like PlugShare to understand your public charging options.
Although it is possible to rely on public charging stations, if you have a driveway or garage, it is relatively easy to charge at home. Most drivers opt for a 220 volt (level 2) charging system, either by having a new one installed or by piggybacking on an existing hookup for a washer/dryer or other household appliance. If you’re looking at a hybrid or don’t drive very far each day, a standard 110 volt plug may also meet your charging needs. Finally, many workplaces offer chargers for use during the workday.
Going through the list above will help you make informed decisions about used EVs and can lead you to a car that will meet your needs, save you money and help the planet.
–Written by Liz Najman
–Top photo by Okeksandr/AdobeStock