So, the time has come when many of us are weighing up the benefits of buying an EV. While buying a new electric car is on the agenda for some, there is also a fast-growing demand for used EVs, as underlined in recent data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers (SMMT). It reports that sales of used Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) more than doubled from 6,625 to 14,586 from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022, an increase of 120.2%
The EV market is still in its relative infancy, which means there have not been so many used electric cars coming up for sale. That is up until now. The UK is now starting to see an increasing number of EVs come onto the second-hand market, which is good news for consumers. This includes those sought-after three-year-old EVs that come into circulation as company fleet leases expire, or finance deals come to an end.
For anyone who is thinking about purchasing a used EV, there are some important checks and factors to take into consideration, not least because an electric car is ‘mechanically’ very different to a traditional petrol, diesel or even hybrid car with an internal combustion engine (ICE).
GET TO GRIPS WITH EV JARGON
Firstly, understanding the EV jargon is essential. You may have seen all sorts of abbreviations and wondered what on earth they stand for? This is common for anyone starting out on an EV journey. Let’s start with BEV, the Battery Electric Vehicle. This is a fully electric zero-emissions vehicle. Then, there is PHEV, which stands for Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle. A PHEV has both an internal combustion engine and battery powered electric motor, which can be plugged in to be recharged. These are also sometimes known as HEVs – Hybrid Electric Vehicles. There is also a REx electric car, which is a type of hybrid ‘range extender’, where the car runs on battery (EV mode) until such a point that it is nearly empty, prompting a petrol motor to cut in and automatically recharge the battery. Yes, we agree, that is a little more complicated! PHEVs, HEVs and REx are lower-emission cars, as opposed to zero-emission.
Associated with EVs, is the ‘driving range’. This refers to how many miles or kilometres each car can deliver, depending on its battery charge levels (often described as SoC – State of Charge). There is also a term called regenerative braking which recuperates energy from the brakes, sending it back to the battery first, helping to create extra ‘driving range’.
CREATE A SHORTLIST OF YOUR PREFERRED EV MODELS
We all like a wish list but given the nuances involved with buying an EV, especially a used EV, this becomes more important than ever. Take time to research what’s available, and what features you especially like about them. Equally, understand ‘the range’ each car claims to deliver, the battery lifespan, and consider whether this vehicle meets your normal driving needs. Decide on your budget too. A used EV is normally going to cost more than a used petrol or diesel equivalent. EVs cost more than ICE vehicles from new, and this is reflected in their second-hand values, but of course it is worth remembering that they will most likely cost you less to run.
At NOVO insurance, when we first set out in the EV sector, we spent a lot of time talking to the EV community to find out about their experiences, good and bad, associated with owning an EV. It was time very well spent. This knowledge has helped us become the “people to go to for electric car insurance” today.
BE THOROUGH WITH VEHICLE CHECKS
There are some specific checks that should never be ignored when buying a used electric car. Let’s start with the large battery pack that propels the car, the most expensive part of any EV. How old is it? What is its capacity and how much range does it offer, and how much (if any) degradation has it suffered? Will any outstanding battery warranty be transferred from the manufacturer (most enjoy 8 years warranty)? What is the lifespan of the battery? These are all questions that should be asked, then inspected and verified.
Regularly fast charging an EV will inflict more wear and tear on a battery so if the owner of the car had a habit of rapid charging (they could be a business user who needed the convenience of fast charging) then make sure you are confident about the health of the battery. EV batteries are also lower to the ground picking up debris and moisture, so they are definitely worth an inspection, especially as they can cost anything from around £5000 upwards.
There are other inspections too, such as brake discs and pads. These tend to endure less punishment that an ICE car because of the regenerative braking, and also check the dashboard for any visible warning lights. Always look at a car in daylight and good weather to properly assess its condition.
Check out the service history and all associated paperwork. EVs tend to need less maintenance than their ICE counterparts, but that does not mean that they don’t need to be serviced! Run a car check to find out whether the car has been involved in an accident, and investigate the extent of any repair work.
Due diligence is essential, so seek expert advice if you need it, especially if buying from a private vendor, rather than a recognised used-car dealership. If in doubt about the integrity of the vendor, best advice is to walk away … there are plenty of second-hand EVs to choose from!
GET AN EV CHARGER INSTALLED AT HOME
If you have private parking and own your property, then installing your own home charge point should not be a problem. There is now a growing choice of professional EV charge point installers, who can also assess any additional power output requirements your property may need. If you rent a property, then chat to your landlord about the possibility of installing an EV charger, especially as they may be eligible for a grant from the new EV ChargePoint Grant for Landlords.
THE BEST USED EVS (AS OF 2022)
This is where the automotive media can really help you refine your choice of used EV. Car Magazine for example recently published their list of “the best used EVs to buy in 2022” on their website www.carmagazine.co.uk. The BMW i3 (2013-onwards) ranked number one on their list with a used price averaging between £8270 to £32,375; followed by the Nissan Leaf (2010-) and the Volkswagen e-Golf (2017-). Renault Zoe, Tesla Models 3 and S and the model X SUV, as well as the Jaguar iPace all feature on the list. This, and other car magazines and associated websites, are definitely worth perusing.
You will also need electric car insurance. Again, this needs some careful consideration when it comes to the level of policy cover. Insurance and accident management companies, such as NOVO provide specialist EV insurance for private owners and businesses operating EV fleets. Clients insuring their EVs with NOVO have their own dedicated concierge style service, and the reassurance that all personnel have an in-depth knowledge of the EV industry. They are well placed to give best advice and deliver flexible solutions to suit your driving needs. Should your EV be involved in an accident, and as a result is off the road, then NOVO also provides a like-for-like replacement loan EV alongside a comprehensive Incident Management solution.