Buying used electric cars

You are toying with the idea of buying an electric car, but you are not ready to pay its high price? Then you might consider buying a used electric car. Find out here about the conditions at which used cars are offered and what you should look out for when buying a used car.
18. June 2020

Supply and price of a used electric car

As of today, many potential buyers decide against buying an electric car because of its high purchase price. A cheaper alternative is to buy a used electric car. Numerous dealers are already offering used cars on the market at more affordable prices, and a steady increase in supply can be expected. However, the limited lifespan of the electric car battery is a cause for concern in this respect.

Although the supply of used electric cars is much smaller than the supply of used cars with combustion engines, it is steadily increasing. The reasons for this are obvious: The electric car market has evolved in recent years. New and more attractive car models are now available, generating increased sales figures. However, the majority of used car sellers only sell their cars after a few years, which is why it can be assumed that the supply of used electric cars will continue to increase significantly in the coming years., one of the largest used car portals, currently offers over 5,000 used electric cars. Over 90 % of these cars are less than five years old.

The prices of used electric cars vary depending on the manufacturer, mileage, and car performance. Savings of up to 60 % are to be expected.

Weak spot: Electric car battery

One of the most significant weaknesses of a used electric car is the electric car battery. Lithium-ion batteries suffer from constant charging and discharging and with age. Consequently, it can be assumed that the battery capacity and the range of a used electric car have decreased. A lower battery capacity does not mean that the battery is broken but that the electric car needs to be recharged more often. At the age of ten years, the remaining battery capacity is approx. 75 %. The battery capacity can be at least partially restored with conditioning. This involves repairing cell defects for comparatively little money to restore the battery capacity.

Purchasing a used electric car with battery rental (battery leasing) or a battery warranty avoids the risk of repairing or replacing the electric car battery. Battery leasing involves monthly costs for the buyer on top of the purchase price, but it is then the car manufacturer who is responsible for maintaining the electric car battery. A battery warranty also has the advantage that the car manufacturer has to finance the repair or replacement of an electric car battery.

Things to consider when buying a used electric car


It is necessary to pay attention to the condition of the electric car battery. This is why it is advisable to have the used electric car battery tested at a workshop and obtain a quality seal before buying it. Although the cost amounts to just under $100, it protects the prospective buyer in the long term from higher expenses to replace the battery. Although car manufacturers claim that full damage to an electric car battery is unlikely, a prospective buyer should find out about the cost of battery replacement in advance. If the battery replacement is more expensive than the used car itself, the purchase of the used electric car should be strongly reconsidered. Generally speaking, the newer the car model, the better the electric car battery quality, and the longer the battery capacity will last.


Newer electric cars feature a recuperation technology that is used to recover energy while braking. The service brake is used less frequently, which results in less wear and tear but also in faster rusting of the brake and a reduced braking effect. This is why the functionality of the brake should always be checked in advance.

Mileage and appearance of the vehicle

Like the purchase of a used car with an internal combustion engine, the mileage and the electric car’s external appearance are significant factors influencing the purchase price and should therefore be considered. The mileage is also an essential indicator of the battery capacity: A higher mileage results in a lower range.

Functionality of the charging equipment

The charging cable is a significant feature of an electric car. It should be checked for functionality before purchase as a new charging cable can cost several hundred dollars, depending on the car model.

Test drive

It is advisable to take a test drive before buying a used electric car. This will help determine whether the vehicle shows any abnormalities in terms of driving style, steering behavior, or braking performance. The driver should also pay attention to unusual noises, which are easy to hear due to the non-existent engine.

Conclusion: Is it worth buying a used electric car?

The most important question for potential buyers is whether buying a used car is actually worth it. In the best case, the buyer can save a lot of money by purchasing a used car instead of a new electric car. However, the purchase is only worthwhile if the condition of the used electric car (especially the electric car battery) is good and the buyer can drive the electric car for several years without concern. Compared to a car with a combustion engine, a used electric car has the advantage that it has fewer wearing parts, i.e., it has fewer parts that show signs of wear that may need to be repaired after some time. It is crucial to bear in mind that the purchase of a used electric car is not eligible for funding in the same way as purchasing a new car. This is why it is always necessary to evaluate in each individual case whether the purchase of a new car is more worthwhile than the purchase of a used car.


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