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How to buy a used EV safely in 2021

Are you on the lookout for a new car? And are you thinking about buying a used EV? Then you’re in luck. This guide provides you with expert tips on how to buy the right used EV, how to get started and what you should be on the lookout for. The right research can save you a lot of money and frustrations, says car expert. 

The market for used EVs is growing

The interest for used EVs continues in 2021. Last year, the demand for electric vehicles went through the roof and Bilbasen.dk, which is the equivalent of autotrader in the UK, experienced a 70 % increase in searches related to used EVs compared to 2019. The same trend continues in the new year where every week 150-200 new used EVs are put up on the market, says Jan Lang, Head of Communication in Bilbasen.dk.

“Today, we have around 1.700 used EVs for sale on our platforms and more and more are being put up for sale. We can actually see that people are searching 10-12 times more on electric cars compared to regular petrol og diesel driven cars, says Jan Lang, Head of Communication at Bilbasen. 

One of the reasons why electrical driven cars are becoming popular is that several new types of EVs sees the day. You can choose between a variety of SUVs, middle class cars and luxurious vehicles, which all meet different needs.

That’s why the very first thing you should do before you start to search for used EVs is to uncover your driving needs. It’s a shame to imagine yourself in a car that doesn’t fit your needs or is financially impossible to acquire.

graphic image of 3 electric vehicles in a line

Do this before you start to look for a new used EV

As a soon-to-be EV driver, you should uncover your actual driving needs as the very first thing. That’s what the expert from Bilbasen advise everyone to do if they are considering to buy a used EV. There is a big difference between what the different EVs can and can’t do

“You have to do your homework and be clear as to what you’re expecting to get out of your new used EV. Do you need room for kids and luggage? Do you have a long drive to and from work? If you do your homework and make a check list with criterias you’re saving yourself a lot of time and troubles. It’s horrible to fall in love with an EV that doesn’t meet your needs says Jan Lang.

Once you’ve adjusted your aim towards the used EVs that meet your needs, you should take a closer look at the cars specifications. You can save a lot of money and frustrations if you understand concepts such as known and reel range, battery life and how to charge an EV.

graphic image of man and woman on a couch thinking of EV purchase

Pay attention to range, production year, battery and charging

With a more narrow search field, you can start to look at the different cars’ specifications. Like petrol and diesel cars, there are a few areas where you should pay extra attention

1. Range

One of the greatest barriers for buying an EV is the so called range anxiety and if you don’t know the difference between tested range and real range, you’re heading into trouble. The tested range is the range that the car manufacturer has listed. This number is only tested in a closed environment. The real range, however, is the actual range you can drive when your car is exposed to cold weather, rain snow and what not. The real range will never have the same range as the range listed. 

As a rule of thumb the real range for EVs is at 70-80 % of the tested or listed range. That’s an important calculation to make if you, for example, have many miles to cover to work and don’t want to stop on the way every time”, says Jan Lang.   

In reality, it means that a Hyundai Kona, which has a tested range of around 500 km, only covers 400 km when fully charged. 

Recommended read: find out which EVs have the longest range in our comprehensive list of 20 EVs which can cover the most miles.

Monta Graphic image of red Tesla car specifications

2. Production year

According to Bilbasen, you should look for one of the newer used EVs if your economy can take it. One of the reasons why is that the technology is evolving constantly and, therefore, better in the latest versions. 

When you’re buying an EV, you’re actually buying a piece of software. And there are major differences in tech depending on how old the electric car is. The newer it is, the better the range and charging speed will be,” explains Jan Lang, who also says that you can easily buy one of the first generations EVs. Only, you should be extra careful about the range and charging.

Graphic image of the 3 Generations of EV models

Car images by: Ekafor, EDFenergy, Bell Lexus North Scottsdale

3. Battery

The core in every electric car is obviously the battery. It’s also the most expensive part, which is why it’s rarely a good idea to have it replaced. And it’s not likely it will become a problem if the person, who you are buying the used EV from, has driven it responsibly. Research from Geotab, which had 6.000 EVs under their microscope, says that an EVs battery on average loose 2.6 % of its capacity per year. Under perfect conditions the number shrinks to 1.6 %. In other words, you shouldn’t worry about the battery if the former owner has driven and charged it responsibly. 

Monta battery health monitoring

4. Charging

If you are a first time EV buyer, charging your car might feel like an alien element, at first. You have a lot of options to think about. Usually, you have three options to choose from when deciding on how to charge your used EV:

  • Buy your own charge point and charge at home
  • Rent a charge point and charge at home
  • Charge your EV on the go

If you buy your own charge point and charge at home, it’s straightforward. Just get someone to set up your charging station and then you can use it as you please.

Recommended read: learn more about EV charge points in our detailed article.

If you prefer to rent at charge point, you can get someone to set it up for no costs (usually). Then you pay a monthly fee with power included. 

If you have your own charge point – whether it’s bought or rented – you can use different apps to manage your charge point so you can see statistics, use smart charging features and much more. Read more about the different EV applications on the market here.

If you live in an apartment building where having your own charge point isn’t an option, you can use publicly available charge points. Here, you can often get a subscription with a monthly fee for using the publicly available charging network. 

You can also get an electricty subscription for your car if you have your own charge point. As a rule of thumb that is only a good solution if you drive more than 23.000 km. a year (or 1.300 km a month). And with an avarage dane only driving 16.000 km. a year, in most cases, a subscription model isn’t the right solution.

Graphic image of different EV charging options

Is it worth buying a car abroad?

If you are a future electric car driver and you live in Denmark where taxes a extremely high, you can save a lot of money if you buy a car abroad. But you have to be aware of a number of things, if you decide to import an electric vehicle. Germany is a good example. 

EVs from abroad can save the average Joe a lot of money, but as a buyer you have to pay attention to charging phases and warranty. The charging capacity can be different from country to country and it can have an impact on how fast you can charge your car. You also don’t have the same protection as a consumer as you have in Denmark,” says Jan Lang.

Besides, you can run into trouble if the EV isn’t older than six months after the registration date plus has driven less than 6.000 km. According to the Danish Taxation law paragraph 11 every car is seen as a brand new model if they don’t meet these criterias. If that’s the case you have to pay the cars’ original taxes, which minimizes the your savings significantly.

graphic image car truck importing EVs

7 tips from the expert when buying a used EV:

  • Know what you need in a car before you start to look at different models
  • Pay attention to the car’s tested range and real range
  • Buy a used car that’s as new as possible
  • Don’t worry about the  battery if the previous owner drove in a responsible way
  • Buy your own charge point if possible. Are you driving less than 23.000 km a year, a subscription model isn’t the right solution
  • Tread carefully, if you import an EV from abroad
  • Remember: You can always sell your used EV again
“If you were to buy an EV yourself, which one would it be?”

“If I were going to buy a used electric vehicle, I would set might sight on a Hyundai Kona or Kia e-Niro. They are not the most sexy or fastest electric cars on the market but they are solid and they both come with 5 and 7 years of warranty, respectively. Besides that the feedback from these car owners are omong the most positive on the used EV market”

Profile photo of profile photo of Jan Lang in blue shirt

Jan Lang, Head of Communication, Bilbasen

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