Second hand electric cars can be real bargains
You may be wondering whether second hand electric cars are a viable proposition, or if you are better off buying new.
If you look on Autotrader, you will find various surprisingly cheap second hand electric cars for sale.
As with most used cars, a second hand EV costs considerably less than a brand new EV of the same make and model.
Below are various factors to bear in mind in you buy a used electric car in 2019.
Second Hand Electric Cars – How old is the car?
Electric cars are developing at a very fast rate.
New EVs released in 2018 were a big step up from those that came out in 2016 and even 2017. Tesla is the exception – their cars have been spectacular, but pricey, from the beginning.
The new electric car models coming out in 2019 represent another step change from 2018. The Kia e-Niro, for example, is seen as a ‘game changer’, bringing Tesla-like range at a much more affordable price. The Hyundai Kona Electric, which came out in 2018, is very much in this category as well.
So, if you are considering a used electric car, look first at how old the car is.
Generally, the older the car, the shorter its range in miles on a full charge.
Older second hand electric cars also tend to have fewer features, such as advanced regenerative braking, the ability to charge at a very fast rate, automated driving aids, and so on.
However, if a used electric car from a few years ago has all the features and range you need, you could be onto a winner. The best second hand electric cars for your particular circumstances are not necessarily the most recent models.
Finally – and surprisingly – many second hand EVs are actually going up in value at the moment. They are appreciating rather than depreciating. Why is that happening? Because the supply of new electric cars is fairly limited in 2019. The law of supply and demand means prices are going up for the few electric cars that you can get your hands on.
The battery and electric motor(s)
If you buy a second hand petrol / diesel car, you will want to know if the engine is in good condition.
It’s what makes the car ‘go’ and there is no point in purchasing a second hand car if the engine packs up a few weeks later.
It’s the same with an EV. You need to establish if the battery and electric motor(s) are functioning properly.
Electric cars have up to three warranties:
- Covering the car as a whole
- For the electric motor and powertrain
- Covering the battery
The 2018 Nissan Leaf, for example, has a 3-year car warranty (or 60,000 miles), a 5-year electric motor and powertrain warranty (or 60,000 miles), and an 8-year battery warranty (or 100,000 miles).
The good news is that an electric car is much simpler than a conventional car. An EV has many fewer parts; much less to go wrong. So generally you would expect the car as a whole, including the electric motor(s), to be fairly robust.
Batteries need to be considered separately.
We are all used to our mobile phones and laptops losing their charge more quickly, the older they get. This is known as ‘degradation’. A brand new iPhone might last a whole day on a single charge, but the same phone may only last 6 hours a day after 2 years of use.
Fortunately, the vast majority of electric car batteries were designed to take a real battering and still hold their charge very well over time.
Batteries in the best second hand electric cars generally degrade very slowly in the real world. The EVs built 5 years ago are still running fine and degradation is usually very minor.
However, you should definitely check the state of the battery in any second hand electric car you are looking to buy. You can often interrogate battery statistics from the driver’s seat. If in any doubt how to find the information, ask the owner and/or the manufacturer direct.
Used EVs – Other Factors to Consider
Other than the age of the electric car (which generally governs how advanced the features will be and the range) and the battery, working out which second hand electric car to buy is similar to considering any other used motor vehicle.
- Has the car been involved in an accident (Category D)?
- Does it have a full service history?
- Is the exterior in good condition?
- Is the interior in good condition?
- How much of the manufacturer’s warranty is left?
Number of seats
If you live in a city where parking space is at a premium, you might also go for a very small electric car. There are the cool, tiny 2-seaters from Smart, the EQ fortwo coupe and cabrio, as well as the Renault Twizy, a cute, narrow 2-seater.
There are also compact 4-seaters: for example the BMW i3 second hand is a great option. It’s a beautifully designed, agile car, from a trusted manufacturer. Other 4-seaters include the VW e-up!, the Smart EQ forfour, the Citroen C-zero and the Peugeot iOn.
There are quite a few 5-seater, cheap second hand electric cars for sale in the UK to choose from. The ones that have been on the market for a little while include the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, Kia Soul EV, Hyundai Ioniq Electric and VW e-Golf. There is also the Tesla Model S, of course, at the luxury end.
If you need more than 5 seats, then you are looking at the Tesla Model X. It can be configured as a 5-seater, 6-seater or 7-seater. However, you can’t change the seating configuration on demand – it comes in one of those three versions from the factory.
You might also have heard about so-called “self-charging hybrids” in the press or on television, such as the Toyota Prius. It’s important to know that self-charging hybrids are not very eco friendly when driven at normal speeds, and are not 100% battery electric cars.
Specialist Second Hand Electric Car Dealers
A number of dealers have sprung up focussing either exclusively or mainly on EVs.
Here is a list of dealers specialising in second hand electric cars. Although their head offices are in a particular county, most of them will sell and deliver electric cars nationwide:
11 Lyron, Rendall, Orkney, KW17 2NZ
“Eco Cars is a UK-wide ‘Electric car trade buying service’. Our fee is £300 after all costs including auction fees, delivery, and checks. Working with Kate Fantom, most of our electric cars never arrive on Orkney, and we source as close to our customer’s address as possible.”
Unit 41a Lansdown Industrial Estate, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL51 8PS
“We are the first independent EV specialist workshop in the UK. Run by electric car owners and users, we are passionate about spreading EV adoption and offer educational talks, consultancy, sales, repairs and rental.”
Brook Cottage, Main Road, Easter Compton, Bristol BS35 5RH
“We Are EV only sells 100% electric vehicles, no hybrids. Our company is the only electric vehicle supplier that is owned and operated by a fully qualified electrician. We are trained and qualified to assess your electrical system at home, and recommend the best way to install a chargepoint according to the current electrical regulations. We can also include a chargepoint installation as part of our complete EV package, together with the car and any additional cables needed for public charging. Our staff offers a personal service by appointment only, so our customers can really take their time when viewing/test driving an EV. We can also offer test drives on private land if it’s your first EV and you haven’t driven an EV or an automatic before.”
Bristol Road, Emborough, Somerset BA3 4SL
“Our mission is to encourage the use of Electric Cars and Vehicles (EVs) as part of a combined programme of green technology measures. Green living and green driving go hand in hand as part of a modern sustainable lifestyle. We aim to make choosing and owning an Electric Car or Vehicle an enjoyable experience, through our honest and informative advice, as well as through our wide selection of great value used EVs.”
George Curl Way, Eastleigh, Southampton, Hampshire SO18 2RZ
“JustEVs specialise in Electric Vehicles, nearly new, high specification cars. We pride ourselves on being a small, specialist company, endeavouring to constantly exceed expectations. We own all our stock, so the cars on our website are cars we have carefully chosen, meticulously inspected and bought. JustEVs supplies every car with either a comprehensive warranty from us or is still under manufacturer’s warranty. We inspect every car thoroughly and all are HPi clear. We will always consider part exchange and can give an estimate over the telephone.”
Wigan Road, Leyland, Lancashire PR25 5SB
“If you are looking for great savings on quality used Electric/PHEV and Hybrid vehicles throughout the UK, then you have reached the right place. Electric Cars UK are a specialist used alternative fuel car and van dealer based in Lancashire. We are proud to offer you a first class customer service and very competitive pricing, so please browse our stock list. At Electric Cars UK, we stock a range of used cars and vans to suit all budgets and lifestyles so we are sure to have the right vehicle for you.”
Northarbour Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO6 3TJ
“At Ecarlogical we are passionate about electric and hybrid cars. Our aim is to help and educate as many people about the benefits of switching into one of these amazing low emission vehicles as possible. We are leading the way with the best service and knowledge to help you on your journey to your new car.”
Kingston Bagpuize, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX13 5AY
“Go Green Autos sell only 100% electric, zero emission cars and vans, with nationwide delivery. All vehicles come with the free loan of a portable charger so you charge at home or work on a normal mains socket and can start using your zero emission vehicle straight away.”
North Walsham Road, Beeston, Norwich, Norfolk NR12 7BY
“Completely free to buy, sell and advertise the best eco cars. We offer a range of eco vehicles for sale UK wide. Our vehicles are tax band A-D or CO2 emissions 0-130g/km making them clean, green and environmentally friendly.”
Used Renault Zoe – an example
Let’s look at some real EV examples from Autotrader.
It’s easy to find a used Renault Zoe online. The original model came out in 2012 and there have been various upgrades since then.
Remember with the Zoe there are two main versions:
- Where you own the battery
- Where you lease the battery
If you are at all worried about the longevity of the battery, buying a used Renault Zoe which comes with a leased battery could be ideal.
You pay a monthly fee to lease the battery, but if anything goes wrong with the battery, or if it degrades too quickly, you are completely covered. Any faulty batteries would be replaced free of charge under the lease.
A Renault Zoe second hand could be a relatively cheap route into EV ownership. For example, on Autotrader there are several used Renault Zoes with the following spec:
- 2016 registration
- 20,000 miles
- 24 kWh battery
- Dynamique trim
- 5 seats
- 5 doors
- Automatic (like all EVs)
- Battery lease model
The battery lease costs between £49 and £110 per month, depending on how many miles you cover.
Prices at this level demonstrate that the best second hand electric cars for sale now in the UK need not break the bank.
Nissan Leaf second hand – another example
If you want a bigger car than the Zoe, you could go for the Nissan Leaf second hand.
On Autotrader, this specification is fairly common for example:
- 2016 registration
- 20,000 miles
- 24 kWh battery
- Acenta trim
- 5 seats
- 4 doors
- Automatic (like all EVs)
You may be wondering why the Leaf is that much more than the Zoe for a fairly similar spec. There are two reasons:
- The Leaf is a bigger car.
- The battery is owned outright with the Leaf.
The battery ‘lease v buy outright’ argument can be looked at different ways.
You could argue it’s better to pay less for your 2nd hand EV, i.e. choose a Zoe rather than a Leaf, and not worry about the battery failing as you are covered by a monthly battery lease.
Or, you might prefer to pay more upfront for your EV, let’s say for a Leaf, and then not have monthly payments to make for the battery.
Used Tesla – final example
If you want to go upmarket and pick up a used Tesla, more and more second hand Teslas are becoming available as customers upgrade to newer models such as the Tesla Model 3.
For example, we have found:
- Tesla Model S
- 2014 registration
- 47,000 miles
- 60 kWh battery
- 5 seats
- 4 doors
- Automatic (like all EVs)
The cheapest new Model S starts at about £79,000, so there is a significant saving to be had.
So a Tesla Model S second hand suddenly opens up Tesla-ownership to a much wider audience. An alternative is a brand new Model 3 which is currently available at under £40,000.
If you are tempted by EV ownership, but still have a nagging doubt in the back of your mind, cheap second hand electric cars are the solution. If you get one and don’t like it – a highly unlikely scenario – you can resell it with very minimal losses, if any. Some used EVs are actually appreciating in value.