When we launched our Drive Green program back in November 2016, if you wanted an electric car, your only option, essentially, was to buy a new car. Yes, there were some older Nissan LEAFs available, but not many, and they didn’t have a whole lot of range. Fast forward five years and things have changed – there are more electric vehicle (EV) models on the market, and more and more of them are coming off three-year leases, which means, finally, a used EV market is growing. If you’re looking for a used EV, we have a new tool to help you find it.
Why buy a used EV?
Used electric cars have all the benefits of EVs – lower fuel and maintenance costs – with the added benefit of lower upfront costs as well. From an environmental perspective, if you have to drive a vehicle, a used EV is the best way to go: your per-mile emissions are way lower than those of a used gas-powered car and you’re giving a second life to a vehicle that has already been produced.
Some folks are worried that used EVs might not be as reliable as other vehicles, because of wear-and-tear on the battery in particular. The good news is that EV batteries last as long as the vehicle, real-life data has shown that battery degradation is negligible, and warranties generally cover the battery for eight years or 100,000 miles.
A 2020 Consumer Reports study, in fact, found that “While new EVs offer significant cost savings over comparable ICE vehicles, the relative cost savings of an EV purchased when it is 5 to 7 years old can be two or three times as large.” In other words, if you’re going to get a used car, it really pays to go electric.
To learn more about all of these benefits, visit our page about buying a pre-owned EV.
How do I find the right car for me?
We have created a purely educational tool that you can use to find the perfect EV for you – by make, model, and year. This last piece – the year – is particularly important when thinking about used EVs, because the original electric range on a Nissan LEAF, for example, varies dramatically from 2010 (75 miles) to 2016 (84 miles) to 2017 (107 miles) to 2018 (151 miles) to 2019 (226).
How do I use the new tool?
When you arrive at our pre-owned car tool, you’ll see a “card” for each of the EV models that are generally available in New England on the used car market. We have grouped together model years that have the same electric range, so you’ll see that the BMW i3, for example, has one card for the 2014-2017 model years (which had 81 miles of range), one for the 2018 model year (which had 107 miles of range) and one for the 2019-2020 model years (which had 126 miles of range). On each card, you’ll see some fast facts: the vehicle type, style, and original electric range, in addition to whatever key information we think you should know about the vehicle.
On the right of each card, you’ll see some prices. On a regular basis, we check out Kelley Blue Book to find out what a fair purchase price for that vehicle is in the market currently. The low end is the lowest trim option and the high end is the highest trim option. (For cards that have multiple years, the low end is the earliest year, lowest trim, and the high end is the most recent year, highest trim.) We show you exactly when we last checked prices so you know how up-to-date they are.
On the left of the page, you can sort and filter by different characteristics. So, for example, if you want the cheapest available all-electric vehicle with at least 100 miles of the original range, you can check off “Battery electric vehicle” and “100 or more miles” and then sort by price. As of this writing, that sends you to a 2012 Tesla Model S. Now that you know that that’s a car you should consider, you can poke around your favorite used car site to see what’s available.
More options are coming…
The used car market, for ALL vehicles, is insane right now. Used vehicle prices have increased an average of about $7000 in the last year and, with all the supply chain issues, there’s no sign of things turning around anytime soon. We wish we lived in a world where having a car wasn’t necessary for so many people to access jobs, healthcare, and fun (and we’re trying to help build that world with our advocacy work!), but unfortunately, we still live in a time and place where many people are subjected to the expense of owning a vehicle (whether new or used) to lead fulfilling and healthy lives. Our hope is that this tool can help you access a used vehicle that is better for you, better for our public health, and better for the planet.
P.S. To our knowledge, there isn’t another tool out there that lets you compare used EV models of different years, so let us know what you think!