Can I Afford a Used EV?

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If there’s one lesson the auto industry has learned in recent years, it’s that electric vehicles, or EVs, are here to stay. Today, however, many e-vehicles are still out of reach for many drivers since the current high cost of production makes them too expensive for many people to buy off the lot.

But what about used electric cars? Although this market is still growing, there are plenty of opportunities for savvy buyers to become early adopters of the vehicle technology of the future.

Are you ready to get in on the ground floor with an affordable used EV? Let us walk you through what you should know.

What Does the Used Electric Vehicle Landscape Look Like?

Until recently, electric vehicles were out of reach for most drivers. Even today, the average cost of an electric car hovers around $66,000. However, several recent legal and marketplace developments have brought used and new vehicles alike into the price range of the average buyer.

Increasing Supply

First, there’s the fact that modern electric vehicles have been on the market since the late 1990s when Toyota released the first generation of the now-famous Prius. The launch of Tesla Motors in 2006 signaled the start of the age of the fully-electric vehicle, becoming the first company to succeed while offering only EVs.

Mainstream manufacturers such as Ford, Chevrolet, and Volkswagen responded to increasing demand by releasing their own EVs in the late 2010s. As a result, there are more used electric cars as supply increases, and those who prefer to buy new sell off their unwanted vehicles.

Legal and Market Trends

Increasing public awareness of climate change prompted the federal government to drive the cost of electric cars down further in 2010 through a federal tax credit ranging between $2,500 and $7,500, depending on battery capacity. Furthermore, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 introduced the first tax credit for used EVs at up to 30% of the purchase price for qualifying vehicles at a maximum value of $4,000. Since the price cap for eligibility is $25,000, many prices will likely drop to qualify for federal tax credits.

Finally, declining oil production and a growing number of outright bans on gas-powered cars, such as the one established by executive order in California in 2020, are contributing to the rise of the electric car even as gas-powered vehicles become more expensive.

In late 2021, nearly half of all used electric vehicles sold for under $25,000, and almost 30% were listed at under $20,000. This places many used EVs well below the average price of $33,000 for a used gasoline-powered vehicle.

Essential Tips for Buying an Affordable Used EV

So, in today’s EV market, is buying an EV a realistic option for you? The answer, luckily, is yes, but it requires some strategic decision-making and a willingness to shop around to find the best deals.

Buying a used electric vehicle is similar to buying a conventional gas-powered car, but there are several steps unique to the process.

Bargain Over Battery Life

The batteries used to power EVs degrade over time due to temperature changes and regular usage. Consequently, older batteries won’t hold as much of a charge and will have a more limited range.

But even after eight to 12 years of use, a lithium automotive battery can retain up to two-thirds of its original capacity, roughly enough for a two-hour journey assuming an average battery range of about 250 miles. If you’re looking for an EV for shorter journeys, cars with older batteries are still a viable option, and you can use the diminished battery capacity as a bargaining chip.

Ask About the Vehicle’s History

As with any car, it’s wise to ask the seller about an EV’s maintenance and repair history. Besides looking into EV mileage, it’s particularly important to find out whether the vehicle has been in any accidents and whether the battery has ever been replaced.

A new battery can represent significant savings since someone else has already invested the expense and effort of buying and replacing the battery. If a used electric car has been in an accident, it can further drive the price down, but it’s a good idea to have a mechanic inspect it before you agree to the sale.

Check the Battery’s Warranty

EV manufacturers typically offer warranties that cover batteries for up to eight years or 100,000 miles after the initial sale. However, these warranties aren’t always transferable between owners. To find out if the battery is still covered, note the vehicle identification number (VIN) and contact the manufacturer’s customer service department. They should be able to tell you if the warranty is still valid, when it expires, and whether it’s transferrable.

Find Out If You Qualify for Tax Credits and EV Rebates

Although most electric car tax credits apply only to new EVs, an increasing number are available for used vehicles, as well. The Department of Energy offers a free-to-use calculator to help buyers determine if they qualify for any EV incentives, and reputable dealers and tax accountants can provide further advice.

Consider the Cost of EV Chargers and Accessories

Finally, review your budget to determine whether you can afford to buy a used electric vehicle and install the EV charging station necessary to power up the battery. EV chargers come in three grades, with Level 1 EV chargers being the most affordable at around $300-600 plus labor costs of around $1,000 and $1,700.

If the previous owner remembered to uninstall the charging port and include it with their vehicle when they traded it in, you could save a substantial amount on overall EV costs. Otherwise, you’ll have to factor in the cost of the EV charger when deciding whether you can afford a used EV.

Ready to find out more about the changing face of electric vehicles? Sign up to eveelife.com to get the latest news about EV technologies, lifestyles, and trends.

By evee Life Contributor

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