The choice between new or used is one of the first decisions every car buyer makes before shopping for a new vehicle.
There are pros and cons to each: New cars won't have a maintenance history, and they'll have the latest technology. Used cars will come at a fraction of the price and have a better comparative resale value.
The same decision must be made when shopping for an electric vehicles, though the differences between new and used aren't quite the same with electric cars.
Benefits of buying a new electric car
The advantages that come along with buying a new EV go beyond those realized when you purchase a new fuel-powered vehicle. Some of the big ones include:
Consumers who purchase a new - not used - electric vehicle may receive up to $7,500 in tax credits, which could be enough to convince you to opt for a brand-new car. However, keep in mind that there are some caveats to the rule.
While most all-electric vehicles and some plug-in hybrid EVs qualify, not all of them do. Also, the company from which you purchase matters now; the full tax credit is only available for purchases from companies that have sold fewer than 200,000 units. After that, the tax credit decreases annually until it disappears completely. Tesla has sold this many cars, and GM is next in line to pass the threshold.
The federal tax credit isn't the only incentive out there for new EV purchasers. There are also state and local benefits as well. Check out the list of EV tax credits and incentives at Energy.gov to find out what other perks you could be eligible for.
Auto manufacturers are a group that innovates particularly quickly. A used EV won't have the same technologies and features as a new one, and if you're looking for the latest features, new is the way to go.
This is true for all used cars in general, but the advantages of investing in the latest technology for EVs carries different implications. Some of the advancements in newer models of EVs include longer ranges and better battery performance, which are critical considerations when purchasing an electric model, Edmunds pointed out.
Battery life confidence
In most used car purchases, the vehicle's maintenance and performance history is somewhat of a mystery. However, there are resources you can use to look up parts of the car's past, and judgments you can make as to how the vehicle will perform going forward.
For many used EV purchases today, there's a little bit of uncertainty as to how battery performance will endure for a second or third owner. It's difficult to tell the charging history or how the battery was treated prior to being sold. Additionally, with many of today's available used cars still being relatively new, it's not quite clear how batteries will age, Edmunds noted.
Benefits of buying a used electric car
Though there are plenty of perks when purchasing a new EV, there are also a plethora of advantages that come with investing in a model that's been around the block:
Lower cost; better ROI
Like with most used car purchases, you'll pay far less money than you would for a new model. Cars depreciate quickly once driven off the car lot, and the same is true for EVs. However, in the case of EVs, the depreciation rate is faster than most fuel-powered cars.
There may be several reasons for this. One could be that people are unsure of how well the battery will last after the first owner, Phys.org explained. In other words, the battery life confidence that comes with buying a new car isn't necessarily applicable to a used vehicle purchase. Another could be the fact that tax credits and other incentives aren't available for used EV purchases like they are for new cars, Autotrader proposed.
No matter the reasoning, the fact remains: used EVs sell for a much more reduced price than their fuel-powered counterparts. This is a downside to buying new, but a benefit for used EV shoppers. You can likely find a car that's only a few years old at a much more affordable price. This is not only helpful at the time of purchase, but also further down the road when it's time to sell it again - since you won't pay as much for the car, you'll be able to recoup a larger percentage of your investment.
While it's true that you may have more confidence in the battery life of a new EV, it's likely that your used battery will still perform well. On the chance that something does go wrong though, there may still be a valid warranty on the battery.
While the warranty on the car itself will typically last three years (unless the previous owner opted for or the used car dealership offered an extended warranty), the battery will most likely have it's own separate warranty that lasts longer. Most manufacturers offer plans that last eight years or 100,000 miles, and in some states like California, EV batteries are required to be covered for at least 10 years, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Less maintenance than fuel cars
When deciding between buying a used EV or gasoline-powered car, a major factor to consider is the maintenance history. Internal combustion engines have a lot of parts that must work correctly. Oil changes, timing belts, engine filters, transmissions and more are all important to review before a used fuel car purchase.
EVs don't have these components, which means there are fewer ways the vehicle can malfunction. Additionally, because EVs are designed to have less of an impact on the brakes because the electric motor helps to slow the car down, there will be less wear on this critical component of the car.
There are still some maintenance requirements for EVs that are the same for gasoline cars, like tire rotations and window washer fluid replacement, Phys.org pointed out. Nonetheless, with fewer potential issues with the functionality of the car, investing in a used EV could lead to fewer maintenance issues than a used gas car.
What to consider for any electric vehicle purchase
No matter what make or model of EV you choose to invest in, one thing is constant: you'll need to have a plan to charge your car. Installing a charger in your own garage is the most convenient way you can keep your car ready to ride. Webasto's chargers are the preferred options for certain electric Nissan, Ford, Volvo, Fiat, KIA and Mitsubishi models, and can be installed at your home by a professional. Explore your options or learn more by contacting Webasto online.