What to consider when buying a used electric car

As well as being cheaper to run, most electric cars are exempt from car tax (VED). They’re also better for the environment, producing no CO² emissions. This has led to a rise in sales of alternative fuel vehicles by more than a third over the last year, according to SMMT data.

With more choice on the new and second hand markets than ever, our guide explains what to consider when buying a used electric car.

Purchase price

Electric cars have been around for long enough and the range of models is wide enough that there’s something for every budget. So while a used Tesla Model S might still be out of reach for most of us there’s a range of used electric cars for sale under £7000. When looking at advertised prices it’s important to check that the battery is included in the price. In most cases it will be but for many Renaults and some early Nissan Leaf models the batteries were leased, which means an additional monthly cost you’ll need to budget for.

Battery range

The greater the battery range, the more miles you can cover between charges – meaning you’re less likely to get caught out when out driving. As electric cars have advanced, so have their ranges. Some nearly new models – including the new Chevrolet Bolt, Volkswagen e-Golf, Hyundai Ioniq, Nissan Leaf with a 40kWh battery, and Renault Zoe – are capable of doing up to 200 miles or more on one charge, The Tesla Model S with a 100kWh battery should give you 300 miles.

Generally, the newer the model, the higher the range. 95% of car journeys in the UK are less than 25 miles so range might not be as important as you think.

Battery size

Always check the vehicle specifications and paperwork as many models are the same, except for the battery size. Battery capacity is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh) and the range is directly related to this (the larger the battery size, the greater the range).

Charging points

Along with the battery, check that all the required charging cables are included with the car and in good working order. You’ll also need to consider the logistics and cost of installing a charger at homeIIf you live in a terrace or flat, and don’t have access to off-street parking or charging, then it’s a good idea to check the availability of fast, public charging points in the local area – so you can charge shortly after leaving home, or on your way back. Don’t forget to consider your electricity costs. It’s best to charge at home using off-peak electricity. Compared to petrol or diesel, your fuel costs will be a lot lower (around 2.5p per mile, compared to 16p to 18p with a petrol or diesel engine).

The good news is that there are currently over 16,600 charging points in the UK with more being added each month. Some are free to use, mostly at shopping centres and hotels, while others require a subscription.

Style and accessories

Early electric models may have been quirky but many now share similar contemporary styling to conventional petrol or diesel cars. They’ll generally have all the standard features you take for granted in a conventionally fuelled vehicle like radio, sat-nav, and air-conditioning but electric cars will often have additional features like the ability to pre-set climate control before getting in (which uses mains power to avoid draining your battery) and many models include some semi-autonomous features.

There are many charging points available, advancing technology is improving battery durability and range along with charging times, making now a great time to consider buying a used electric car.

Image courtesy of iStock.

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