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Quite a few people are looking to go green, and a popular first step for many is to get an electric vehicle. However, even a cursory glance at the current crop of EVs will tell you that a brand new electric car is pretty expensive. Luckily, the second-hand market has a role to play here as well. Unsurprisingly, getting a used EV has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Should you buy one? Here’s a quick look at the pros and cons of buying a used electric vehicle.
Advantages of used electric vehicles
The biggest advantage of buying anything pre-owned is a cheaper price tag, and that’s true with electric cars as well. A used EV brings decent savings when compared to a new release. Prices fluctuate quite a bit depending on the make and model you’re looking for. In general, though, you can expect to pick up a 2 or 3-year old electric vehicle for around 25-30% less than a new one.
Electric vehicles have a big advantage over regular vehicles when it comes to maintenance – they have way less moving parts. Unsurprisingly, the usual stress and maintenance demands of a second-hand car tend to be a lot less with an EV. You certainly won’t have to worry about oil changes or filter replacements!
Shorter commute time
If you’re stuck in traffic and looked on in envy as others have sped past you in the carpool lane, an electric vehicle might help make things better. Certain states and provinces let you drive in the HOV lane even if it’s just you in the car, as long as it is electric. Lane access stickers, or the special green plates like we see here in Ontario, are usually transferrable to the next owner. Of course, make sure that this is an option available in your area first.
Disadvantages of used electric vehicles
There’s a huge advantage with an electric vehicle in terms of general maintenance. However, there’s one major expense that every EV owner will have to contend with at some point. If you pick up the car second-hand, this cost may come up sooner than you think. We are, of course, talking about the thing that keeps everything running – the battery.
If you buy a brand new electric car, you don’t need to worry about replacing a battery for at least 8 or 10 years. With a second-hand option though, that deadline might creep up faster than you think.
This can often be quite an expensive process, and will likely set you back a few thousand dollars. For instance, a 2011-2015 Nissan Leaf battery replacement is around $5,499 with separate installation charges. According to Elon Musk, replacing the battery modules of the Tesla Model 3 will set you back anywhere between $3000 and $7000.
Lack of tax incentives
New electric vehicles often come with excellent federal and state tax incentives. Unfortunately, a used electric vehicle will not be eligible for these benefits. For example, here in Canada, there is a federal incentive of up to $5000, depending on the base price and model of the car. My Tesla Model 3 AWD Dual Motor didn’t qualify for any incentive in Ontario though.
Electric vehicles might look and sound like cars, but these are first and foremost tech products. As is the case with anything tech, from smartphones to EVs, the features and capabilities are continuously evolving. If you buy a used electric car, you’ll have to be okay with the fact that you’re already starting behind the curve, and the car’s technology will quickly become outdated.
It’s not all doom and gloom of course. In the case of an “outdated” EV, the major differences will be in terms of mileage and speed. As long as the used car you go for covers all your needs, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Do make sure that the car is still eligible to receive software updates though, since that’ll make a difference in terms of performance as well.
Should you buy a used electric car?
As with any vehicle purchase, getting a used electric car has its share of both pros and cons. It’s always a good idea to be very thorough with your research. Make sure that you get the car checked by an electric car mechanic and get a few test drives done. As long as there are no obvious red flags, a used electric car is certainly a great way to go and will help you save a decent chunk of money as well.
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