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Can You Buy a Second Hand EV?

The breadth of available EVs on the market continues to grow at a rapid pace, be it plug-in hybrid or fully electric. With some models having been around for a few years now, we have started to see a rise in the number of second hand EVs available. Electric cars have a reputation for being expensive, an aspirational item if you like. However, second-hand alternatives are now available for as little as £5,000.

Are second hand EVs affordable?

There is a concerted push to produce more affordable electric cars, with companies like Tesla and Nissan striving to produce vehicles at an accessible price point. That said, the cheapest new electric car still costs around £17,000. If you are interested in switching to electric but your budget won’t stretch that far, a second-hand electric car offers a viable alternative. For example, we were able to find several second hand EVs in good condition for around £8,000 on AutoTrader.

There’s also no shortage of used electric cars to choose from, with thousands now available on the usual second-hand car sites. The choice available depends on the age of car you’re looking for. Around five years ago, there were only 15 mainstream EV models as we know them today but there are many more available that are nearly new.

How much do used electric cars cost?

  • £5,000-£10,000 this price bracet includes the earlier version of more outlandish models. Examples would be the Peuget IOn or Renault Twizy. You may also find some used Nissan Leafs for sale, but these will be first generation, may be lower spec and we imagine will have a high mileage
  • £10,000 – £20,000 – This price bracket is where you will find most Nissan Leafs, some less than four years old. You should be able to find a larger battery model (30kWh) which will offer 100-mile range.
  • £20,000+ At this price you can find plenty of second-generation Nissan Leafs or other newer models such as the Hyundai Ioniq. Premium models may also be available such as a three to four-year-old BMW i3 or Mercedes B250e. There may be nearly new bargains on smaller EVs such as the SEAT Mii too.

Even at a higher price point on premium EVs, you can still save significant amounts of money just as you would on a traditionally fuelled vehicle. Saving of between £5,000 and £15,000 can be made on Jaguar I-Pace or Tesla models.

What checks to perform

Many features you might have checked on a second-hand petrol car are not necessary on an EV. The engine has fewer parts such as gears and exhaust and is less inclined to break down. That said, it is important to give the car the usual once over, mainly for peace of mind.

It is just as important to take the car for a test drive. Listen for unusual noises, bumps, or vibrations as you go. Try test-driving a new version of the car and compare the experience. It is also important to get a feel for driving an EV in general. This may be a new experience and it can be a bit strange at first.

Here are some tips for your purchase:

  1. Use a credit card where possible for extra protection.
  2. Be wary of private sellers and meet at their home is possible
  3. Read forums and online guidance to find out model-specific bugs to look out for
  4. Take along a friend of family member
  5. Review the paperwork thoroughly
  6. Insist on an HPI check for outstanding credit (or you can easily do one yourself here)
  7. If the seller is overly insistent, dismisses a request or seems shifty, walk away!

Given the lower numbers of available second-hand EVs, you may expect to travel further to pick them up. To avoid finding out the car isn’t in good condition after you travel, you can arrange a remove inspection beforehand, see here.

Battery health in second hand EVs

The most important element of an EV is the battery, so it is very important to ensure that this is in good working order.  Ask to see the car when it’s fully charged and check what the information screen says about battery health. Count how many of the bars are full and check this against the warranty conditions. Also check the maximum range on the display as this will give a rough idea of the level of battery degradation. If unsure, your dealer should be able to help you.

Most batteries have guarantees of around 70% of their original capacity after seven years and this guarantee is usually transferable to any new owner. When buying, make sure you are completely certain about whether the battery is covered by any warranty. Ask to have the details in writing and scrutinise them closely. If you’re buying privately, check the car’s ownership history carefully or call the manufacturer for advice.

In the event that the battery does need replaced, it might not cost as much as you fear. A replacement new battery costs around £4,000 and varies depending on size. You can also buy re-fabricated batteries for around half that price. The cost of replacing batteries will come down over time as technology improves and the number of EVs on the market increases.  

Are second hand EVs still eligible for grants?

There are multiple grants and benefits for owners of used EVs:

  • OLEV (Office of Low Emission Vehicles) home-charge scheme applies to all electric cars, with up to 75% off the cost of installing a smart charging point at home.
  • Congestion Charge exemption applies to all electric cars and it means to charge to drive in central London. 
  • 0% benefit in kind taxation on zero-emission company cars applies to all EVs, new or old.
  • OLEV plug-in grant against the cost of the vehicle only applies to new vehicles. 

Remember there are also many financing options available on new of second-hand electric vehicles. As with any finance deal, check the terms carefully and be sure you understand the total amount you’ll need to repay before you own the vehicle outright.

We hope you can see that there are EVs available to suit any budget. If you are interested in discussing the other costs involved when switching to an electric vehicle, please get in touch. A member of our technical team would be happy to answer any questions that you have.

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