Consider Used Options!
By David Roberts
Plug-in electric cars are often praised for their low cost of ownership. Electricity costs less than gasoline to run on, vehicle reliability is good, and competitive prices offer smart consumers a compelling value. An added bonus is these cars have a much smaller environmental footprint over their lives compared to gasoline-powered options. As electric car adoption continues to grow, we are seeing more used cars enter the market. These are often available at a fraction of the cost of a new purchase and can further reduce household transportation costs.
The increased supply of used electric cars is driven by early adopters who leased electric cars to take advantage of tax credits, reduced the risk of depreciation, and allowed them to keep pace with new and updated models. This trend is expected to accelerate over the next few years, so several used electric cars are likely already nearby if you are in the market.
The table below summarizes used electric car pricing and availability based on a search of Cars.com and Tesla.com in late January 2017. There were over 430 used plug-in vehicles advertised within 250 miles of White River Junction, Vermont. The table excludes a few low- availability models, such as the Ford Focus Electric and VW eGolf. Some buyers have looked further afield and had cars shipped from larger markets in the south and west, so broadening your search area could be worthwhile.
Used Electric Car Pricing and Availability
Cars.com and Tesla.com within 250 miles of White River Junction, VT
For those new to electric car technology, there are two basic types: Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are powered by either battery or gasoline and, generally, travel 10 to 50 miles on the battery before seamlessly switching to running on gasoline for extended range.
All-electric Vehicles (AEVs) are powered solely by a battery. Claimed range varies by model from 80 to 300 plus miles before recharging is needed. Range is reduced by cold temperatures, but vehicles can handle travel needs for most drivers.
Both varieties of vehicles can be charged by plugging into a standard 120V home outlet overnight at about five miles of range per hour of charging. Access to 240V power can speed things up considerably to 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging depending on the vehicle and supply current. Some AEVs also include DC fast-charging capability which provides an 80% charge in 30 minutes. Fast charging is usually optional, so if this is important to you, make sure the vehicle you are looking at includes it.
Monetary incentives for new electric car purchases generally do not apply to used vehicles. There may be exceptions to this, so check online for information on incentives available in your area. Non-monetary incentives, such as access to carpool lanes, should be available regardless of whether you purchase a new or used electric car.
Electric cars have proven to be extremely reliable but getting a car checked out by a qualified mechanic before buying can help avoid any costly surprises. Electric car batteries are one of the most expensive components to replace. Fortunately, the batteries are engineered for eight- to ten-plus-year lifespans and the vast majority continues to work well. Smartphone apps are available for a few models that can connect with the on-board diagnostic systems to provide a detailed report of battery health.
Want more information? There are many excellent online resources and forums with information on electric cars and used vehicle pricing. Visit www.DriveElectricVT.com or just search for used electric cars in your area to get started.
David Roberts is the Drive Electric Vermont coordinator. He has driven an all-electric Nissan LEAF for the past five years and says, “If you have to drive, drive electric.”