More electric and plug-in hybrid cars and vans become available on the used-car market each year, as electric vehicles grow in popularity.
Energy Saving Trust estimates that 27,000 electric cars could enter the used car market in 2018, compared to 8,000 in 2016.
New electric cars and vans are often more expensive than petrol or diesel vehicles, but buying a used vehicle helps narrow the price gap and you get all the benefits of cheaper refuelling, lower tax and maintenance costs.
Our Electric vehicle savings calculator estimates how much you could save on fuel costs and tax by buying an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, in comparison to a petrol or diesel car or van, based on your current mileage. It’s a quick and simple way to find and compare vehicles that match your requirements.
Find out more about the different types of electric vehicles.
“Once these cars reach the second-hand market, most of the price premium has disappeared. Ultra low-emission vehicles have been criticised as ‘rich people’s toys’, but two or three years after being sold new, they become a realistic, cost-effective option for many buyers. The benefits of electric cars are considerable, but they’re even more attractive second-hand.”
Ian Featherstone, Fleet Advice Manager, Energy Saving Trust
Many potential electric car owners are worried that as their vehicle gets older, the driving range will reduce due to battery degradation. However, experience has shown that battery degradation over time is minimal. Most manufacturers also offer warranties, some of up to 8 years, which guarantee repair or replacement if the battery storage capacity drops below a certain level.
Currently, V5 logbooks do not include technical details relevant to electric vehicles, so check that the specification of the vehicle you’re buying will work for you. Aspects to consider include the battery size, the maximum charging speed and if the battery is leased.
Battery sizes vary between model, years and specification. For example, the Nissan Leaf has 24kWh and 30kWh variants, with a 40kWh model on sale from February 2018. The Renault Zoe has 21kWh and 40 kWh variants. Vehicles with a larger capacity battery (in KWh) will usually have a longer range, and tend to be more expensive as they’re more sought after.
Some electric cars are capable of charging more quickly than others, depending on the technology in the vehicle. An electric car which is only capable of using a slow chargepoint (up to 3kW AC), will fully recharge in around 10 hours, on average. Cars able to use a fast chargepoint (7 to 22kW), will recharge in 2 to 4 hours, and cars capable of rapid charging (43kW AC or 50kW) using a rapid charger are capable of charging to 80% capacity in around half an hour.
You should also find out if your used electric car has a leased battery as you will need to add this monthly cost into your purchase decision. However, leasing a battery may mean you get full breakdown cover as standard and the vehicle should be cheaper to buy.
Check which charging cables come with your used vehicle. You’re likely to need one cable with a three-pin plug and another cable which is compatible with public charging points, known as Type 2 connector.
Whether you are buying a new or used electric car, there are government grants available to install a chargepoint at your home. It’s also worth finding the right electric tariff and looking at our driving tips to maximise electric vehicle range.
If you are considering new or used electric cars for your business, you might also be interested in our guide to ultra low emission vehicles for Fleet Managers and our guide to charging infrastructure for businesses.
 Based on estimates in a 2015 PwC report on the future of the used-car market.
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