When shopping for an electric vehicle, should you buy used or new?

On April 8, 2017 in Auto

When shopping for an electric vehicle, should you buy used or new?

Deciding on a new or used electric vehicle depends on your priorities.

Deciding on a new or used electric vehicle depends on your priorities.

If you’re in the market for a new car — or even if you’re not — you’ve probably considered the possibility of having an electric car. There are a lot of good reasons to invest in an electric vehicle, including reducing your carbon footprint, not having to fill up at the gas station and the simple fact that they’re cool.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are still pretty new to the auto industry, the first Nissan Leaf having come out in 2010, according to Autotrader. Seven years later, the influx of new models of EVs has created another new market — or, rather, a used market.

As the first electric cars begin to age, more people are interested in buying a used electric vehicle. The price tag is certainly more attractive than that of a brand new model.

However, with such a recent technology and a budding pre-owned market, some consumers have their doubts, giving way to the question: Is it better to buy a new or used electric vehicle?

Why you should buy a new electric car

Latest features
If you’re someone who likes to get your hands on the latest technology right away, you’re probably the right type for a new car. You’ll get the latest features before anyone else and have the opportunity to show off to all your friends. Beyond bragging rights, the newest cars will also have the latest safety and entertainment features.

Tax credit
In an effort to encourage citizens to invest in cleaner technology, the IRS offers a tax credit for people who buy qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicles. Beginning with the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008, consumers have been able to get as much as $7,500 back on their taxes, depending on what type of car was purchased and when.

The credit will begin to phase out as soon as 200,000 qualifying cars have been sold in the U.S. Once that number is reached, the tax credit will be cut in half for cars purchased in the following two quarters, then in half again for a third quarter. After that, the program will be over.

As of this year, the tax credit is still in effect, which means that if you buy a new electric vehicle this year, you’ll still qualify, according to Green Car Reports.

If you’re buying used, on the other hand, these attractive tax credits aren’t available to you, Autotrader pointed out.

Battery life
Most people have run into the frustration of trying to turn on a flashlight or clicking the power on the TV remote only to find that the batteries have died and you need to find a new AA. Discovering that the battery in your electric car is dead and you need a replacement is like that, but worse, and with a much higher price tag. Luckily, most electric car batteries have a life expectancy of about a decade, which means even the oldest vehicles still likely have a few years left in them. However, if you’re buying new, you won’t have to worry about this problem for a while.

Why you should buy a used electric car

According to study conducted by Kelley Blue Book, the Nissan Leaf has one of the worst resale values, losing 9.45 percent of its value in just three months. While that’s bad news for whoever bought it new, it’s great news for the used-car shopper. You can get a relatively new electric car with all the features you’re looking for, at a cheaper price than the original buyer paid.

Carfax.com pointed out that a one-year-old Leaf may cost half as much as a new one, making it much more affordable for the average commuter. Each year after the first, the car is expected to lose another $1,500 to $1,700 in resale value.

If you’re looking to buy an electric car for the tax incentives, used isn’t for you. But Autotrader pointed out that in some cases, a used car is priced so far below the price of a new one that you can still save money opting for a pre-owned version, even when factoring in the tax credit for buying new.

Buying an electric vehicle can be a great investment. It’s good for the environment and your fuel budget. Whether you want to buy used or new, though, all depends on your priorities.