How to Buy a Second-Hand EV
How to Buy a Second-Hand EV
How exactly do you go about buying a second-hand electric vehicle? Is it the same as buying a traditional car? Well, yes and no. What an unhelpful answer, let us explain.
To begin, let’s cover just some of the benefits of going electric. In case you’re still on the fence about the whole thing.
- Cheaper road tax or in some cases, no tax at all. (Learn More)
- Significant savings on fuel.
- Minimal servicing is required (more savings).
- No more wasting time queuing up at the petrol station.
- Smoother drive.
- Oh yes, and you’re helping save the planet!
Hesitation towards buying an EV typically stems from the unknown and not wanting to waste/lose money. Before we kick off this guide, it’s worth noting that as of writing this (early 2020), electric vehicles are in fact appreciating in value. Manufacturers are simply not building enough. In a classic case of supply and demand, EV’s are gaining in value, rather than depreciating. If you are concerned about making a poor financial investment, you can always resell your EV – that’s if you don’t love it – which we think you might.
Alright, so you’ve decided to make the leap from fossil fuels to electric – excellent choice. Luckily for you, there’s plenty of options coming onto the second-hand market. Nevertheless, the task of making any large purchase can feel a little daunting, particularly when coupled with new technology, unfamiliar specs and what appears to be a whole new language. (If you’re struggling to understand all the EV talk, check-out our terminology guide here). We’re here to help.
What’s right for you?
The best place to start is working out what’s right for you; this seems obvious, but unlike a traditional vehicle, you might need to consider more than just the model and price (although these are still valid considerations).
- How many miles do you drive annually? (You will need to know this to gauge range requirements and battery lease options)
- If you use your car for work, how many miles is your daily commute?
- What trips do you take regularly and how many miles are they?
- What is the longest trip you took last year? How often does that occur?
These are just a few questions that might help you understand what battery size and range is appropriate for your needs. For example, you might take a trip from your home in Surrey to Scotland every few months to visit the mother-in-law. While this doesn’t mean an EV wouldn’t be appropriate for your needs, you may want to invest in a model with a more extended range capacity and one that has a rapid charger socket for quick top-ups along the way.
- Do you have off-road parking? (this is one of the requirements to qualify for the OLEV grant. It can also be complicated to install a charge point without private parking).
- Do you have access to a charge point at your place of work? (If not, we’d suggest making the recommendation to your HR department as businesses often need to know there’s demand from staff before investing).
- Are there any public chargers in your area or destinations you regularly visit? (Your local supermarket for example, or the gym).
- Consider frequent longer journeys – are there charging stations along that route?
- If you do not have off-road parking, have your local council installed public charge points on the roadside/are there plans to implement this? (contact your local MP and make a request).
The majority of EV charging takes place at home and overnight. You go to sleep and wake up with a fully charged vehicle ready to go. However, if you’re concerned about charging times and range, it is helpful to know your existing options, and if you don’t have off-road parking, it doesn’t mean you can’t own an EV, you may just need to be more strategic in your charging schedule.
The UK charging network is multiplying. To find out more, take a look at ZapMap (https://www.zap-map.com/), you can search locally and identify charging options for those longer journeys.
The questions above are just a guide, this is a highly individual process. Getting a handle on how far you typically drive and what charging options are available will help you make the right EV choice for you.
Additional considerations may be whether or not this is going be a primary or secondary car? Many households have more than one vehicle. Easing yourself into the electric lifestyle by changing one vehicle in the home to electric can be a great way to start.
Now that you have a better idea about what you’re looking for, we can take a look at the different types of EV.
Battery Electric Vehicle
A BEV, as it is commonly known, is a vehicle that runs entirely on electric, powered by a battery. There is no combustion engine or fuel tank to fall back on. 100% electric, these vehicles will need to be charged using a dedicated charge point using the mains electricity supply.
Considerations for a BEV buyer:
- The older the vehicle, the fewer range capabilities its likely to have, in addition to battery degradation, the earlier models simply didn’t boast the range promoted by newer models.
- These vehicles will need to be charged often, which means having access to a charger at home will make life a lot easier with a BEV.
A BEV is the greenest option; this transport mode is the one that is truly making a difference. If you’re seeking to significantly reduce your carbon footprint, a BEV is your vehicle type. Furthermore, if you’re looking to cut costs, a BEV is a brilliant option with its low running costs, minimal servicing and access to government grants.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle
Often abbreviated to PHEV, this is a vehicle that combines both a traditional combustion engine and a battery. To recharge the battery, you will need to use a dedicated charge point – hence the ‘plug-in’ part of its name. A PHEV can be an environmentally friendly choice, mainly if you drive short distances. On average these vehicles will go about 20-30 miles on the electric battery, after this point the petrol engine will kick in.
Considerations for a PHEV buyer:
- If you make lots of short journeys and have easy access to a charge point, you will be driving green the majority of the time.
- Similar to BEV’s, the older models will have less range.
- Cost savings will be limited by continued reliance on fossil fuels.
- To qualify for OLEV grants, your vehicle must not produce more than 75g per km of CO2 – something to keep in mind when browsing PHEV options.
A PHEV offers an easy intro to electric. If the idea of going fully electric gives you the jitters, having a petrol safety net may be what you’re looking for.
Extended Range Electric Vehicle
Abbreviations include E-REV and Rex. Essentially a PHEV, however, an E-REV features an electric drivetrain with the engine acting as a generator. Petrol never fuels the wheels, instead works a fuel source to charge the battery. The lightweight design often means they go further on electric than a typical PHEV.
The main issue with purchasing an E-REV is limited options. A good example is the BMW i3 Rex, which can reach range levels of over 90 miles.
Hybrid Electric Vehicle
Often referred to as, you guessed it, an HEV. These vehicles are the least eco-friendly option and typically not considered very EV-esque. An HEV runs entirely on fossil fuels, featuring a battery that aids efficiency and range. You may have noticed those adverts promoting ‘self-charging’ EV’s, they are HEV’s.
If you want to make some real savings and make a considerable contribution to fighting climate change, a BEV or PHEV could be a better option.
One of the core barriers to EV adoption, particularly second-hand EV’s, has been battery degradation. We’ve all experienced this. Consider your mobile; when you first purchased it, a single charge probably lasted a day or longer; however, five years down the line and you’d be lucky to get through half a day without needing to charge it up. The same applies to EV batteries.
It’s important to highlight, however, unlike your mobile (which is built to be replaced), EV batteries have been made to last. The initial fears over severe degradation have yet to be realised, with many older models experiencing minimal charge and range impairments.
- Battery performance will differ by make and model.
- Many models allow you to check the health of its battery from the driver’s seat.
- Ask the owner, dealership and/or manufacturer for information on how to check the battery if you’re not sure.
- Visit the manufacturer’s service centre, which should have the appropriate diagnostic tool.
You don’t have to purchase an EV and hope for the best. There are so much information and support online. Diving into enthusiastic and friendly EV communities online is a great place to start, you’ll find a lot of expertise in these forums and can always ask a specific question. Additionally, if you know which model you’d like to purchase, there are several groups dedicated to particular EV’s, which can prove insightful for first-time buyers.
Here’s a couple of options:
- InsideEVs (https://insideevs.com/)
- SpeakEV (https://www.speakev.com/)
- My BMW i3 (https://www.mybmwi3.com/forum/)
- Renault Zoe Owners Club UK (https://www.facebook.com/rzocuk/)
- My Nissan Leaf (https://www.mynissanleaf.com/)
- Tesla Owners Group UK (https://www.facebook.com/groups/teslauk/)
Battery Leasing and Ownership
The second thing to consider with EV batteries is the two options available to you. If you’ve already taken a peep at the second-hand EV market, you may have come across some attractive price points for smaller models such as the Renault Zoe. However, these also come with a battery lease, meaning you purchase the vehicle and rent the battery. If you have concerns over battery performance, this could be a viable option as you will be covered for degradation, issues and replacements.
The second option is to purchase the car and its battery outright, much like you would buy a traditional motor. Neither of these options is better than the other, it’s merely a matter of preference; you can pay a monthly fee and be covered for any future costs or pay a one-time lump sum and deal with any issues when (and if) they arise.
Note: If you opt for the battery lease, be sure to check the mileage you are covered for. Costs range from £49 to £110 per month.
Check the warranty on the EV you are considering purchasing. Although guarantees are not available on all EV’s, manufacturers have acknowledged consumers apprehension regarding battery life and as a result typically offer three types of warranty, covering; the vehicle itself, the motor and powertrain, and the battery.
Charging and Connectors
Whether you opt for a BEV or a PHEV, live in a rural area with off-road parking or in an urban apartment block, there are multiple charging options available to you. For more info, check out our guide, How to Charge an EV.
Considerations for those making an EV purchase:
- Your choice of battery capacity will influence your charging needs. The larger the battery, the longer it will take to charge to full, meaning a faster home charging device may be more appropriate.
- Check your connector options. If you want to take advantage of the rapid charging network that is being implemented across the UK, check to see if the EV has rapid charge capabilities. Rapid charge socket types include; CHAdeMO and CSS, plus Tesla’s own Supercharger connection.
The reality is, EV’s are still relatively new, and the technology is improving with every update; this is excellent news for the industry and those looking to go electric, but it does mean there is a lag in expertise in the second-hand market. For example, information such as socket types may not feature on listings from traditional dealerships. Our EV guides can aid you in figuring out whether a particular model has what you’re looking for.
Additionally, if you’re feeling unsure or confused about what vehicle to purchase it may be worth visiting or getting in touch with a specialised EV dealership who can offer you a great deal of advice and expertise.
We hope you found this guide helpful.
If you have any questions at all or would like to know more about our chargers, please feel free to get in touch with the team here at macXcharging.