Electric vehicles (EVs) have gained significant popularity in recent years due to their environmental benefits and technological advancements. However, the high cost of new EVs has deterred many potential buyers. The good news is that the prices of used EVs have fallen sharply, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious consumers. In this article, we will explore the advantages of buying a used electric vehicle and provide valuable insights for potential buyers.
1. The Falling Prices of Used Electric Vehicles
One of the primary reasons to consider buying a used electric vehicle is the significant drop in prices. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, used cars as a whole are around 7 percent less expensive than they were a year ago. However, used battery-powered models are 28 percent less expensive than a year ago, making them even more affordable. This decline in prices can be attributed to improvements in the supply of EVs, as well as the easing of auto inflation.
During the pandemic, shortages of new cars led to increased demand for both new and used vehicles, driving up prices. However, with the improvement in supply chains and inventories, new electric vehicles, including popular models like Tesla, have become more readily available. As a result, Tesla has lowered its prices multiple times, which has had a ripple effect on the used car market, pushing down prices further. Analysts predict that used electric car prices may continue to decrease, especially with the presence of higher interest rates and a strong supply of new vehicles.
2. Depreciation and Value Retention of Electric Vehicles
Many potential buyers worry about the depreciation of vehicles over time. However, electric cars and trucks are holding their value better today than they did before the pandemic. For example, a used BMW i3 retained only around 30 percent of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price after three years in 2019. However, the same model now retains more than 50 percent of its value, indicating that buyers have fewer concerns about the health of EV batteries, which are the most expensive component of these vehicles.
Moreover, most used electric cars are still new enough to be covered under warranty, providing buyers with additional peace of mind. The majority of used EVs in the country have at least an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on their batteries. While it is advisable to check the health of a car’s battery before making a purchase, the warranty coverage offers added protection. Tools like Recurrent’s battery health reports and apps like Leaf Spy and MyGreenVolt allow car owners to monitor their batteries and make informed decisions.
3. Tax Credits for Buying Used Electric Vehicles
The Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden’s climate bill, includes a tax credit of up to $4,000 for buying used electric vehicles that cost no more than $25,000. This tax credit provides a significant financial incentive for potential buyers and helps make used EVs even more affordable. Eligibility for the credit is based on income, with individuals earning up to $75,000 a year and couples making $150,000 or less qualifying for the credit.
It is worth noting that around 27 percent of the used electric car inventory is eligible for the tax credit, up from 17 percent last year. To qualify, the used vehicle must be at least two years old. Unlike tax credits for new vehicles, there are no restrictions on the assembly location or battery materials for used electric vehicles. This flexibility allows buyers to choose from a wider range of options and find a used EV that suits their preferences and budget.
4. Increased Availability and Diverse Options
Before the pandemic, the used electric car market was relatively limited, with a focus on luxury models like the Tesla Model S and Model X. However, the market has expanded significantly in recent years, offering a more diverse range of options for buyers. According to Recurrent, the number of used electric cars for sale has tripled over the past year, providing consumers with greater choices.
A quick search through used car listings in various areas reveals a wide range of options, including luxury models like the Porsche Taycan and more affordable models from Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Nissan, priced below $25,000. This increased availability allows buyers to find a used electric vehicle that fits their budget and requirements. However, it is important to consider factors such as driving distances and the availability of charging stations in your area before making a decision.
5. Factors to Consider When Buying a Used Electric Vehicle
While buying a used electric vehicle can be a great option, there are several factors to consider before making a purchase. These include:
a. Battery Health and Warranty
As mentioned earlier, checking the health of a used EV’s battery is crucial. Although most used electric cars come with a warranty, it is essential to verify the battery’s condition as replacing it can be expensive. Tools like battery health reports and monitoring apps can provide valuable insights into the battery’s health and performance.
b. Charging Infrastructure
The availability and accessibility of charging stations in your area are vital considerations when buying an electric vehicle. Ensure that there are enough charging stations nearby or at your workplace to support your daily charging needs. Lack of charging infrastructure can limit the practicality of owning an EV, especially if you frequently drive long distances.
c. Range and Driving Habits
Evaluate your daily driving habits and determine if the range offered by a particular used EV meets your requirements. Consider factors such as your commute distance, frequency of long trips, and access to charging facilities. Understanding your driving patterns will help you choose an electric vehicle with an appropriate range.
d. Maintenance and Service
Research the availability of maintenance and service centers for the specific make and model of the used electric vehicle you are interested in. Ensure that there are authorized service centers nearby to handle routine maintenance, repairs, and any potential warranty claims.
e. Vehicle History and Condition
Obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report to learn about the car’s past ownership, accident history, and maintenance records. Additionally, carefully inspect the vehicle’s physical condition, both externally and internally, before finalizing the purchase. Consider getting a pre-purchase inspection by a qualified mechanic to identify any hidden issues.
Buying a used electric vehicle can be a smart and cost-effective way to join the world of electric mobility. The falling prices of used EVs, coupled with tax credits and improved availability, make them an attractive option for potential buyers. However, it is essential to consider factors such as battery health, charging infrastructure, driving habits, maintenance, and the vehicle’s history before making a purchase. By doing thorough research and evaluating your needs, you can find a used electric vehicle that fits your budget and lifestyle while contributing to a cleaner and greener future.