by David M. Kuchta

Buying a used car be a challenging experience, and buying a used electric vehicle is no exception. Since EVs are relatively new entrants into the vehicle market, most EV sales are of new vehicles—unlike gasoline cars, where 70% of U.S. car sales are of used vehicles.

As the EV market grows, so too will the percentage of used vehicles for sale. Knowing what to look for, and what to avoid, will help you navigate this growing market.

Why Buy a Used EV?

Similar to buying a gas-powered vehicle, buying a used EV comes with potential uncertainties about the prior use and condition of the vehicle, as well as a wide variety of places to make the purchase. But don’t let that deter you—there are many good reasons to purchase a used EV.

Sufficient Range

While older electric vehicles have less range than newer models, advances in vehicle range have leveled off in recent years; manufacturers realize that few people need vehicles with ranges over 200 or more miles. Also, as public EV charging stations become more abundant, “range anxiety” is less of a concern for EV buyers.

The average U.S. driver drives only 29 miles a day, so an older EV with less than 100 miles of range may be all you need to meet your daily or even weekly needs. And if you have easily accessible EV charging, you may be able to charge your vehicle overnight and have it meet your commute needs in the morning.
If you rarely make long-distance trips in a vehicle, you may find it cheaper to rent a gasoline car (or an EV with better range) than to spend more on a vehicle whose greater range you rarely use.

Hidden Bargains

Given the quick pace of advances in battery technology, EVs depreciate faster than gasoline cars, so you are more likely to find a bargain. For example, a 2015 Nissan Leaf with 84 miles of range had lost more than 70% of its original purchase price by 2021, in large part because newer models had over 200 miles of range. (That’s not the case with newer EVs, however, given the high demand for them. A late-model used Tesla Model 3 can even cost more than a brand new one.)

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