What to look out for when buying a second-hand electric car

New study reveals 76% of UK drivers would consider buying a used electric car - here's what to look out for...

second hand electric car

October 23, 2018

Drivers in the UK are very open to the idea, and risk, of buying a second-hand electric car – and are more comfortable with it than buying a second-hand laptop or mobile phone.

That’s according to a new survey which found over three-quarters of us would consider a used electric car, compared to just 63% who would buy a refurbished laptop and 45% who would have a second-hand smartphone.

The research was carried out by car retailer Peter Vardy, and is part of a wider study into UK drivers’ perception of owning a second-hand electric car.

Of the 1,000 people surveyed, 76% said they would be comfortable buying a used electric car and would be enticed by both the environmental benefits and the cheaper running costs of zero-emission cars.

The main stumbling blocks for those who said they would not be happy buying a used electric car were concerns about the high price of second-hand electric cars, as well as issues with the battery life after it has been used and charged over a long period of time.

Other reasons were more aesthetic, with some citing concerns about the general look and design of electric cars, while others were worried about the technology being outdated.


With the growing popularity of electric cars leading to a burgeoning second-hand market, vehicle manufacturers are thinking of more ways to make the prospect of buying a used electric car less daunting.

For example, Renault offers its electric cars separately from the battery. A buyer can choose to either buy the vehicle and battery pack together or pay for the vehicle and lease the battery on a monthly basis. If the battery capacity deteriorates over time then it can simply be replaced. For the used electric car market, selling vehicles separately from the battery and allowing buyers to use their own, brand new battery, would alleviate a lot of concerns.

While the battery life is a key factor for consumers, experts estimate that electric car batteries should only need to be replaced between 10 and 20 years, or when the car has driven around 150,000 miles.

Speaking about the results of their survey, Claire Rogan od Peter Vardy said:

“Electric vehicles may once have been thought of as clunky and slow, but there has been a huge amount of advancements in terms of aesthetics and technology to these cars in recent years.

“Today, there are some sought-after models available, like the BMW i8 Coupe and Roadster, Porsche Panamera and Jaguar I-Pace, which have also really altered consumers’ opinions.

“The positive impact these vehicles are set to have on the planet, and the potential improvements that EVs can offer to both the consumer and such a wide variety of industries really is quite monumental.”

What to look for when buying a used electric car

There are a lot less potential hazards when buying a second-hand electric car compared to a petrol or diesel-powered car, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be vigilant to make sure you’re getting value for money.

The biggest area to look closely at when considering a used electric car is the brakes. A lot of electric cars charge the battery under braking by applying resistance, and as a result the rear brakes do not get used as much during normal driving conditions (only really under extreme braking). Subsequently, the under-used rear brakes can seize up on an electric car.

Also, you should certainly check on the condition of the battery. Many electric cars are used for ‘city’ driving, which means the sort of short, stop-start driving conditions that cars are not really designed for. Over time this type of driving can take its toll on the battery, so be sure to check it.

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