How can you save money and get the best deal on a car? Buying used is a good start: a used vehicle of any kind saves you a ton of money upfront. If you really want to save money and get the best gas mileage car you can, consider a car that doesn’t need gas (or oil) at all.
Now that mass-market EVs like the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt have been on the market for several years, used EVs are becoming a popular choice for people who want great performance at a great price. EVs deliver incredible savings on refueling and maintenance because electricity is much cheaper than gas and EVs have far fewer maintenance requirements (including no oil changes or smog checks). The popularity of leasing means that lightly used EVs are often on the market: used vehicles made up an impressive 34% of EV sales in 2017 so far. To help you in your search, here are five things to think about when buying used.
34% of EVs sold this year were used.
1. Factor Fuel and Maintenance into Your Budget
Because you won’t be spending much money on fueling and maintaining your EV, you may be able to afford to pay a little more for the vehicle itself. Check out our calculator for an idea of how much you could save by driving electric, and adjust your budget accordingly.
2. Find the EV For You
Used EVs can be cheap – really cheap. Many used EVs are available for $10,000 or less, putting them on price parity with used gas cars. The longer an EV has been in production, the more used vehicles can be found, so early EV models like the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt and BMW i3 are commonly available used. The Tesla certified pre-owned program helps put a Tesla within financial reach, and many other automakers have pre-owned programs as well. Start your search by finding a model that’s right for for you, then look for a used one that fits your needs.
Many used EVs are available for $10,000 or less.
3. Double Check Your Incentives
There are many attractive financial incentives for buying an EV out there, but some of them are available for new vehicles only. Before pulling the trigger and writing a check or taking out a loan, make sure you understand what incentives your used vehicle will qualify for (and how to apply for them). These resources can help you out:
4. Look Around and Act Fast to Get a Deal
Pre-owned EVs are selling quickly: a used Fiat 500e flies off the lot in just two-thirds of the time it takes to sell an average used gas car. That means you might have to search around and act fast to get the car you want. Beyond automakers’ certified pre-owned programs, consider searching CarMax, AutoNation and other used car marketplaces. Finding a car in another state could mean taking an EV road trip or shipping your EV, but you’ll be saving so much it might be worth it.
Used EVs may sell in 2/3 the time of a used gas car.
5. Save Even More with Smart Charging
If you’re looking at a used EV to save money, you should know that there are many other ways to save by driving electric. If you go all-electric, you will never pay for gas again! Looking for free charging spots in the ChargePoint app will help you save on charging. When charging at home, ChargePoint Home will help you find the best time to charge based on your local utility rate plan, letting you refuel your EV at the lowest electricity rate available. Gas can’t do that.
Bonus Tip: Batteries Are Holding Up Nicely
Losing range hasn’t been a serious problem with used EVs, many of which have hit over 100,000 miles and are still going strong. One study found that, “on average, a Tesla Roadster battery pack will have between 80% and 85% of original capacity after 100,000 miles,” and one Tesla Model S experienced just 6% degradation after 200,000 miles. Additionally, an Idaho National Lab study found that even frequent fast charging has a minimal impact on batteries.
Still, keep in mind that driving habits and conditions affect battery life. Driving aggressively or in stressful conditions (such as extreme heat, cold or altitude) will cause the battery to lose capacity faster. Keep your battery in good condition by driving reasonably, charging regularly but not constantly and keeping your car plugged in for battery conditioning during severe weather.
Ready to save even more with your used EV?