There may be no better time to buy a used electric vehicle (EV). According to a recent report, used EV inventory has grown threefold over the past three years, increasing from 11,000 vehicles in April 2021 to over 33,000 today. In the first half of 2023, used EV sales even surpassed new EV sales. The average price of a used EV is now $27,800 in the U.S., down 32% from last year. Compare that to the average price of a new EV: $53,470. That said, before you buy a used EV, it’s important to review the following:
Vehicle history report
A vehicle history report is a detailed account of a car’s history. It’s available for any used car, whether electric or gas. All you need is the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), and you can request the vehicle history report from the dealership, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), or sites like Carfax and AutoCheck. With the vehicle history report, you can review the number of previous owners, how well the car was maintained, how many accidents it’s been in and how serious they were, whether the car has a clean title, and more. This will give you a better idea of whether the car is a good deal or not.
EV battery health report
When it comes to EVs specifically, you should also get an EV battery health report from a dealer or manufacturer-certified technician. According to Tiger Okeley at Oak Motors, “The battery is the heart of an EV. To ensure it’s in good condition, you need to get it professionally inspected by a mechanic who specializes in EVs.” The report can give you an estimate of how much longer the battery will last. Keep in mind that EV batteries degrade over time and are designed to last a decade or more. If the battery has little life left, you can use this as a bargaining point. In some cases, the EV battery will have been replaced at some point (the vehicle history report should show this). This means you’re getting a newer battery that will last longer.
EV battery warranty
As with most regular car batteries, EV batteries usually come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Most run for eight years or 100,000 miles after the initial purchase—whichever comes first (though this varies). Contact the EV automaker with the VIN to confirm when the EV battery warranty expires and whether it is transferable to another owner (i.e. you).
EV battery range
Another important consideration is the EV battery range. Research the original range based on the specifications given by the manufacturer. Some EVs can drive up to 400 miles on one charge. But note that the battery range will go down with time. To check an EV’s current range, see what the dashboard indicates on a full charge. Also, consider the availability of charging stations where you live. If you live in a rural area that has few, an EV with a low range may not be a good idea. The same goes for long-distance driving habits. If you’re planning to go on long road trips across the country, make sure the EV battery range can handle it.
EV battery charging speed
EV batteries vary in how fast they can be charged. Some are slow, some are fast. This is another thing to keep in mind if you aren’t the patient type. Charging speed depends on a number of factors: the onboard charger capacity, the size of the battery, the charging cable compatibility, the charging station, and more. Do your research to ensure you get the charging speed you want.
EV charging infrastructure
An EV alone won’t do you much good without the charging infrastructure to support it. On top of a home charging station, you need to have public charging stations available in the areas you plan to drive in. You wouldn’t want to buy an EV only to realize there aren’t any charging stations for miles. This could significantly limit your ability to use your new car! So search for EV charging stations near you on a search engine like Google. It’s a simple precaution that could save you a lot of regret.
Of course, you may want to charge your EV at home with a home charger and charging cable, too. These can be expensive, so check to see that they are included with the used EV. If not, factor this into the deal. Other EV accessories you may want to consider include EV-specific maintenance tools and EV charging apps to track your EV’s battery level on your phone.
Government EV incentives
Though most government EV incentives apply to new cars only, there are some for used EVs. Do your research to see if there are any used EV tax breaks where you live that could help lower the final sale price. You may also qualify for a federal tax credit of 30% of the sale price up to a maximum credit of $4,000. Keep in mind that some restrictions apply, however. For example, the credit is nonrefundable, so you can’t get back more on the credit than you owe in taxes, and you can’t apply any excess credit to future tax years. To see if a used EV vehicle qualifies for the federal tax credit, enter its information on fueleconomy.gov.
Adding it all up
Buying a used EV is a big deal. It’s not something you should take lightly. But if you do your due diligence by considering the vehicle history report, battery health report, battery warranty, battery range, charging speed, infrastructure, included EV accessories, and potential government incentives, it could be a great investment. Start by shopping for used EVs on online classified sites. Then, compare offers. A great deal may be waiting around the corner.