Prices for used electric cars could tumble

Hans-Dieter Seufert
Used electric cars
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Manufacturers and sellers of electrically powered new cars are likely to n oh rubbing their hands at the last car summit : The increased purchase premium originally planned until the end of 2021 has been extended by four years. But the recent economic stimulus package has also made long faces. Namely with the sellers of used electric cars, which include dealers as well as leasing providers. 'The trade is already having a hard time selling used e-cars. Now the situation is getting worse,' says Martin Weiss, Head of DAT Vehicle Values, according to 'Automobilwoche'.

Low price levels will ' Permanent condition '

According to Weiss, the previously planned e-car subsidies would have meant that it would take a long time for the price level of the used vehicles to recover. This is now becoming 'a permanent state', according to the expert. Because people interested in electric cars now know that brand-new models will be offered at great discounts for many years to come. In contrast to used e-cars, these offer buyers full guarantees, for example on the battery. And in contrast to most second and third hand counterparts, they have the latest developments in battery and drive technology. In addition, the more new electric cars are sold, the greater the range of used cars will be in the foreseeable future. Does the demand not grow to the same extent, its even more under pressure.

Hans-Dieter Seufert
The Renault Zoe is often on the road with a rented battery.

In the slipstream of the growing new car marketRecently, that for used electric cars was also on the upswing. According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), there were 51.9 percent more changes in ownership of purely electric cars in 2019 than in the previous year. In spite of this, prices stagnated, which is also likely to be the result of the iron market law 'increasing supply with non-growing demand'. Germany's largest Internet car exchange Mobile.de listed a total of almost 1.4 million used cars in mid-May 2019, of which less than 6,000 were electric cars, currently at least 18,000 of a total of around 1.48 million cars offered there are purely electric.

Even the oldest electric cars are quite young

The fact that there are hardly any used electricians available at discount prices is primarily due to the low age of the stock. Apart from more or less obscure conversions or windy cabin scooters, the oldest e-cars at Mobile.de are from 2009. These are sinfully expensive Tesla Roadsters. A little later came the first electric Fiat 500, the oldest i-MiEV and Co. come from 2011. Nissan Leaf copies can be found from the end of 2011, the Renault Zoe from the beginning of 2013 and the oldest representatives of the BMW i3 and VW e- Up come from autumn 2013. The first VW e-Golf followed in May 2014.

Hans-Dieter Seufert
BMW i3: Often available as a used car, but still expensive.

Die cheapest electric Mitsubishis and their clones Peugeot iOn and Citroën C-Zero cost almost 8,000 euros, the majority is in the range up to 13,000 euros. The cheapest of the 1,350 Renault Zoes on offer are also in this price range, mostly cars with a rented battery; their costs are still on top. For the good 800 Nissan Leaf it will definitely be in the five digits, with many offers in the range up to 15,000 euros - including the battery, by the way. The cheapest of the almost 500 VW e-Golfs on offer cost around 18,000 euros. Most BMW i3s (almost 1,200 advertisements) are priced in a similar way. The smaller VW e-up is around 4,000 euros cheaper.

Fewer wearing parts in e-cars

In addition to the much-cited, supply, demand and priceFear of range, not the only reasons why used car buyers are reluctant to buy electric cars. Skepticism towards technology is likely to play a similarly important role. Will it last a while longer, even though the car has been around for a few years? Concerning the standard components, such concerns are unfounded. When buying a used electric car, the same rules apply in principle as when buying a used gasoline or diesel, the ADAC knows.

Due to the high starting torque of an electric car, the tires often wear out faster. Due to the heavy battery, shock absorbers and chassis have to cope with a higher vehicle weight and should therefore be carefully examined. The same applies - especially for the rear brakes. Sometimes they rust more, because they are used less often because experienced electric car drivers usually use recuperation to slow down. It is also important whether the high-voltage cables are intact. If a marten has let off steam here, it can be dangerous.

The advantages of e-cars: Compared to conventional combustion models, they have fewer wearing parts and do not have to be maintained so elaborately. There are no typical wear parts such as spark plugs, toothed belts or exhausts. There is also no need for regular oil changes. The technology of an electric motor is simpler than that of a combustion engine and therefore lasts longer. Nevertheless, buyers of a used copy should pay special attention to the drive.

The main focus is on the battery

The ADAC provides an electric car-specific sales contract with the most important questions and information. Buyers should therefore pay particular attention to the condition of the drive batteries, as they not only age with time, but also with the number of charging cycles. As a result, the range of the electric car decreases proportionally. A repair or even a new purchase is usually very expensive. A battery test protocol that provides information on the condition of the battery can help. This is also interesting for the seller, as he can sell his vehicle faster at the desired price.

If the log is not available, the buyer should definitely start a test drive with a fully charged battery. 'The range displayed in the car adapts to the driving style and temperature, so that after around 50 kilometers the capacity and range can usually be assessed well,' explains Stix.

Many batteries last longer than predicted and are also after a few years still good for ranges similar to that of the new car. According to TÜV Süd, 80 to 90 percent of their original capacity is still available for many batteries after 200,000 kilometers. The total shelf life should be 15 to 20 years. In addition, there is often a generous guarantee on the energy storage device: Usually between five and eight years or100,000 to 160,000 kilometers - whichever comes first. 'Up to this point in time, for example, a capacity of 70 percent of the battery is guaranteed,' says Thomas Stix, ÖAMTC expert for used electric cars.

In some electric cars, the drive battery is rented and therefore cannot be sold . This should of course be clearly communicated before the sale. In an e-car with a rental battery, the performance of the battery is usually guaranteed, so defects or defects are at the expense of the landlord. Buyers of such cars should clarify the conditions under which the takeover or a new rental agreement is possible.

Prefer cars with a heat pump

In principle, the younger car is usually the more expensive, but less risky Purchase: more modern batteries offer more range and last longer, the motors are more powerful, and they are often more convenient. It is also more likely that the air conditioning will work via a heat pump. If this is the case, it consumes less energy and increases the range. The charging performance is also a decisive criterion. Does the car of your dreams offer quick charging? In newer e-cars they were mostly standard, in older ones often only optional.

And what are the prospects for the used car market for electric cars? Electric cars currently lose a little less of their value on average in the first five years than comparable gasoline-powered vehicles. It should not stop there, however. 'As soon as new, cheaper e-models with a larger range come onto the market, there will definitely be one or two bargains,' says ÖAMTC expert Stix.

Does the dream car match your own mobility behavior?

But someone who wants to buy a used electric car should make the most important considerations before starting the search. For example, what your own mobility behavior looks like and whether the desired e-vehicle corresponds to it at all. What is the exact purpose of it? How big does the range have to be? There are also infrastructural aspects: Are there enough charging options in the area in which I would like to drive my car? Does this apply to my home? Or to my workplace when I use it to commute to work? What maintenance costs will I have to pay? In other words, everything that buyers of a new electric car also have to think about.

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