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We look at some of the considerations when buying a used EV writes Geraldine Herbert

The new car market in Ireland represents only a fraction of the cars that change hands so when it comes to buying a car most of us opt for a used one. With sales of new electric cars on the rise buying a used EV is becoming an option for more people as the lower running costs make a lot of financial sense. 

It’s important to remember electric cars are still cars so the same checks apply when buying a used car regardless of what powers it but there are some specific considerations when going electric.

Ensure you have Access to a Charging Point

A home charger is a must if you are going electric. If you live in an apartment, flat or terraced house then charging may be difficult or even impossible. Similarly, if you are in rented accommodation you will need to convince your landlord to allow the installation of a charger. While charging at work may be a solution ideally charging from the comfort of your own home is the most convenient and the cheapest option.

At home, you should install a dedicated home charger or wall box as these are the safest and quickest ways to charge your car. You can use a conventional three-pin plug and socket but it is considerably slower and is not practical as a day-to-day solution. 

If you buy an electric car you are eligible for an SEAI grant of €600 toward the cost of a home charger whether you are buying new or used. Depending on, your driveway, the amount of cabling required, and ease of access, the grant may not cover the entire installation so you may have to spend some money in addition to the grant however it is likely a charging point will add value to your home. 

Charging an electric car

Be Realistic About Range

Most new EVs on the market have a range in excess of 300km and there are many that will travel more than 400km on a single charge. However the range offered on a second-hand EV is not likely to compare to what is available on newer ones simply because such ranges were not available, even a few years ago so you may get only 100km on a full charge in a five-year-old EV.

You need to be realistic about your driving needs so if you do long commutes a used EV may not be for you. The majority of people, however, drive around 318 km per week, so a used EV should cope easily with the average commute. Before you consider an EV be realistic about not only how much you drive but the type of journeys you make, as urban or rural driving, will have a different impact on your range. 

Interior of an electric car

Check the Battery 

Battery life is one of the main concerns for would-be electric car buyers so can you expect the battery in an EV to degrade over time? Yes, like any other rechargeable battery the battery in an Electic car will gradually lose its ability to hold a full charge. Reassuringly it’s only a small fraction of its maximum capacity. The rate of capacity loss is around 2-2.5% per annum. If you are considering a used EV get the battery checked for battery degradation before purchasing at any garage that services EVs. Battery warranties are typically guaranteed for 5-8 years or for a specific distance driven. For example, Opel’s electric cars come with a battery guarantee of 8 years or 160,000 km and this is the case for many car manufacturers. 

Another typical concern from potential buyers is how much will a replacement battery cost? However for example in the Nissan Leaf, the battery is modular in format and consists of 48 modules with 4 cells in each. These modules can be repaired or replaced independently of each other. Replacing the entire battery is very unlikely. 

Finally, before you sign the dotted line check that all of the charging cables are included with the car and that you test them and that the charging socket isn’t damaged. 

electric car driving with battery on dashboard

What About Depreciation?

Generally, electric cars depreciate at more or less the same rate as petrol and diesel and similarly, some models hold their value better than others. However, the future depreciation on petrol and diesel cars will be significantly impacted by Government policy in the coming years as plans to phase out petrol and diesel are set to begin in earnest in 2030.  As a result, both will become more expensive to own and run and are likely to depreciate far more than EVs.

Hyundai Kona Electric Car


About the Author

Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen.ie. Geraldine Herbert is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1.


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