Should you buy a used electric vehicle? Top tips to clear doubts4 min read . Updated: 24 May 2021, 12:06 PM IST
Electric vehicles witness faster depreciation compared to their fossil fuel counterparts, which makes them easy to buy as pre-owned models, but tough to get value while selling further.
The pre-owned car business the world over has seen a boom in current times of pandemic with the need for a personal mobility option, as well as the need to keep finances in check, are priorities. Around the same time though, there has been a solid impetus to make electric vehicles (EVs) more popular and several major manufacturers have either rolled out options or are gearing up to do so.
The EV market in India may be at a nascent stage but there still are a few options if one is in the market for a battery-powered car. But one of the key factors that may put people off is the rather high buying price of such a vehicle if bought new. True, pre-owned options on the market may be limited but here are some top tips to consider when out and about for a used pre-owned vehicle.
The cases for buying a used electric vehicle
EVs depreciate faster - If you are looking for a cheap used car, a pre-owned electric vehicle might be the right choice considering your requirement and wallet strength. Experts say that the electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles' depreciation rate is faster than the average conventional fuel-powered vehicles. This means a five-year-old used Tata Nexon EV would be much cheaper than same-age petrol or diesel-powered variants of the Tata Nexon SUV.
Smoother driveability - Electric vehicles tend to offer smoother and quieter driveability as compared to their fossil fuel-powered counterparts. Experts believe that a fossil fuel-powered used vehicle under ₹10 lakh price segment would feel much older and less enjoyable to drive as compared to a same-age electric car. Besides, being quiet and smooth to drive, an electric car feels more planted to the road because of the heavy-weight of the EV battery.
EVs are good for environment - Unlike a fossil-fuel-powered car, an electric vehicle does not emit tailpipe pollutants that contribute to global warming. When you are buying a used electric vehicle, you are helping the environment even more than if you bought a new EV, as electric vehicles come with a slightly greater carbon footprint, when they are built. This is because of their complexity. But, the EVs make up for their higher carbon emission during manufacturing within 6-18 months of driving operations and outperform the regular cars until the end of life.
Lower cost of ownership - Evs come with a much lower cost of ownership as compared to their conventional fuel-powered counterparts. If you own an EV, you don't need to worry about the ever-increasing fuel prices. Also, with fewer moving parts compared to ICE vehicles, the EVs demand lesser regular maintenance. With the used EVs having fewer kilometres on the odometer, their brakes, tyres and suspension will come with less wear and tear.
Government subsidy under FAME-II scheme - Indian government has been promoting electric mobility by providing subsidy to EV buyers. The customers of high-speed electric two-wheelers that are powered by lithium-ion batteries instead of lead-acid batteries can avail the discounts offered under the FAME-II scheme. The electric cars too can avail the same, which reduces the pocket pinch to some extent.
The cases against buying a used electric vehicle
Diminished battery performance - As the internal combustion engine is the heart of conventional vehicles, electric motor and battery as combined are the heart of an electric vehicle. As you reject a regular used vehicle if you find its engine not working properly or not delivering satisfactory mileage, you can do so for used EVs as well, in case its battery performance has diminished. With age, electric vehicles' battery performance and range fade. Driving in high temperatures, draining battery power to a low voltage, charging to maximum capacity - all of these take their toll on the EV's performance.
Charging infrastructure - Charging infrastructure is a great concern for EV owners. Despite India thriving to have zero-emission mobility within one or two decades, the country still lacks a proper public charging network for electric vehicles, which fuels the range anxiety. While electric vehicles are perfect for city commuting, highway driving becomes a concern, as there is a scarcity of charging infrastructure. On the other hand, there are plenty of fuel stations in cities and on highways, which makes it easy to take out a conventional vehicle on roads.
Outdated technology - With time, the technology of electric vehicles are constantly improving. If you are planning to buy a used electric vehicle, you have to admit the fact that it would come with outdated technology. While the technology gets outdated on traditional fossil fuel vehicles too, but the effects are magnified for electric vehicles, because the battery performance and range of EVs are rapidly improving.
Uncertainties around battery life - Electric vehicles haven't been around us long enough to accurately judge the longevity of their battery lives. Hence, if you are buying a pre-owned electric vehicle, you may not know its charging history and the effect that has had on the battery. Also, keep in mind that if you opt to buy a new battery for the used EV, it won't be a cheap affair. A battery is a part that contributes the most to the entire pricing of an electric vehicle.
Diminished resale value - As already mentioned, an electric vehicle's depreciation rate is higher than a fossil fuel vehicle. This means, you will be able to buy the used EV at a cheaper rate, but whenever you are going to sell it, don't expect much value from it, as by then its depreciation will be multiplied.