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Electric Vehicle Selection Researching Electric Cars

Buying New vs Used Electric Cars – Everything You Need to Know

The choice to buy new vs used is one of the biggest considerations you’ll make when shopping for your next car.  But, what about the choice to buy used electric cars? Are there additional considerations to factor in? What about a used electric car vs used gas powered vehicle? 

We’ll address these questions, plus some pros and cons for buying a used electric car.

tesla-model-3-buying used electric car

Used Electric Car vs Used Gas Powered Vehicle

If you are shopping for a car, and haven’t decided between electric vs gas powered, there are many great reasons to consider electric for your next vehicle.  First, owning an electric vehicle can save you time with less trips to the gas station, and to the repair shop

You can also save money by not paying for gas, and with less frequent maintenance visits.  But, you’ll first want to research charging costs in your area to find out how much you can save.  Also, consider various electric car charging methods and options by checking out our in-depth guide on all electric car charging options.  If you are concerned about the environment, you may consider the benefits of electric car emissions vs gas powered vehicle emissions.

Used Electric Car vs New Electric Car

If you have already decided that you want an electric car for your next vehicle, but are now debating between new vs used, we will go over some pros and cons of each, and some additional considerations and tips for buying used electric cars.

Pros and Cons to Buying Used

Used Electric Cars – Pros

Save More by Buying Used Electric Cars

The primary reason to buy used generally comes down to cost savings. How much value you can get compared to what a new vehicle will cost.  Electric cars usually have higher depreciation rates than gas powered cars, according to a recent report from iSeeCars.  This can provide a great value opportunity for certain used electric vehicles. According to their research, electric cars lose about 52% of their value after 3 years, compared to 39.1% for gas powered sedans, 39.7% for gas powered SUVs, and 34.3% for gas powered trucks.  An exception is Tesla, which depreciate much less than all other electric vehicles.

Used Electric Vehicle Average Depreciation
Car(s)% 3-Year Depreciation
Electric Cars52%
Gas Powered Sedans39.1%
Gas Powered SUVs39.7%
Gas Powered Trucks34.3%
  
Tesla Model S36.3%
Tesla Model X33.9%
Tesla Model 310.2%
Source: iSeeCars

Electric vehicles depreciate faster over other vehicles because resale value factors in the $7,500 federal tax credit that was used to purchase the vehicle as new.  This may start to change, as the tax credits begin to phase out. 

Also, the technology is still changing rapidly and can get quickly outdated.  Consumers are also worried about lack of charging infrastructure for used electric vehicles that aren’t Teslas. 

Battery degradation is also a large factor in depreciation, as many used vehicles may see their range drop to 50-70 miles per charge.  Teslas depreciate much less, mostly due to supply and demand, more frequent software updates, trusted battery life, and their established charging network. 

If you are in the market for an electric vehicle, you may find great value from buying used.  And, if you buy a used Tesla, at least you’ll know it should hold its value well compared to other vehicles. 

Buying Used Electric Cars is Better for the Environment

While electric vehicles have been shown to produce less CO2 emissions over their lifecycle vs gasoline cars, it is no secret that the production or a new electric vehicle still requires about the same (or slightly more) carbon footprint as a new gas powered vehicle.  Buying a used electric car can help limit emissions from new car production.

Easier to Evaluate Used Car Condition

The battery in an electric car is like the engine for a conventional vehicle.  The only moving part in an electric vehicle is the rotor, while the gas-powered car has a gas tank, gas pump, gas engine, alternator, transmission, carburetor, etc. 

Teslas electric motors, for example, have 2 moving parts and single speed transmissions that have no gears.  Teslas says its drivetrain has about 17 moving parts compared with about 200 in a conventional internal combustion drivetrain. The battery health is an important factor to assess when buying a used electric car, but besides the battery, there isn’t much left to consider other than typical brakes, tires etc.

Used Electric Cars – Cons

Electric Vehicle Battery Degradation

As with most batteries, they degrade over time, and that is not any different with electric car batteries.  Remaining battery life is something to consider when buying a used electric car and can generally be checked by running a diagnostic to see the distance the vehicle will get on a full charge.  Battery degradation varies drastically based on many situations, so it is best to check the battery life on the used vehicle before purchasing.

Technology Rapidly Changing

The electric car technology is rapidly advancing year by year, with improving batteries, infotainment and other features, sensors, software updates, etc.  Electric cars are more susceptible to technology getting outdated more quickly, and many consumers want the latest and greatest.    

More Limited Choices

As most auto manufacturers begin ramping up production of new electric vehicles, consumers will have many more choices than they had five years ago.  But until some of these newer makes and models start to hit the market, used electric car choices remain limited.  Also, you’ll likely have to make a few sacrifices with customizations if you choose to buy used.

Not Eligible for Electric Vehicle Federal Tax Credits

Other than Tesla, most manufacturers are still eligible for the $7,500 EV federal tax credit, for now.  But, this only applies to new vehicles, and is not applicable to second hand vehicles.  This is a rapidly changing situation, however, as many manufacturers begin to use up their credits.  Also, Congress continues to propose bills that would alter or eliminate the federal tax credits for many consumers in the U.S.   

Depending on where you live, you may be eligible to local government rebates and other tax incentives.  For example, New Jersey offers a point-of-sale incentive of up to $5,000 on electric vehicles with over 200 miles that cost under $45,000. There are many state and local incentives, so check your local regulations to see if you can save even more money.

Ready to Buy a Used Electric Car?

Here are 9 tips to prepare you for your used electric car shopping journey.

  1. Decide where to charge it and how much range you will need.
  2. Understand that not all electric cars charge at the same rate, and that there are various charging methods.
  3. Check the title from a source like Carfax or AutoCheck for any accident or damage history.
  4. Run a battery check to get a detailed report on charging capacity, battery health and use the estimated range as a bargaining chip.
  5. Ask if the battery has been replaced and if there is any remaining battery warranty.
  6. Ask about maintenance history.
  7. Research government and utility incentives
  8. Look for all charging accessories for the vehicle.  Most electric vehicles come with the charging cables, so check to make sure those are included.
  9. Negotiate to include charger.  If the previous owner is upgrading, or won’t be needing their old charger, see if they would be willing to include that for a discount as well.

Still not sure what electric car to buy?  We can show you how to narrow down your list and how to find the right electric vehicle for your lifestyle.

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Electric Vehicle Selection

How to Find the Electric Vehicle that Fits Your Lifestyle

So you’ve decided to buy an electric vehicle for your next purchase, and don’t know where to start?

If shopping for a new car wasn’t difficult enough, now we need to learn about everything that goes into owning an electric vehicle (battery distance, charge time, electricity costs, etc.) and may not know where to start. Follow these steps to find the electric vehicle that fits your lifestyle.

Buying a new electric car doesn’t have to be daunting.  For many, buying a car is one of the largest purchases you will make, so understanding how to shop for your next vehicle is important to help save you time and stress throughout your shopping journey.

“Narrow down your shopping list”

How to Buy a New Car in 10 Steps | Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com)

In a KBB article listing 10 steps to buying a new car, they list “Narrow down your shopping list” as a key step, which may be the most important step to save you time and prepare you for your next vehicle purchase. 

But, how do you narrow down your list when there are thousands choices, and new cars coming out every month?

Luckily we’ve created a better way to research the best electric car for you.

In this article we discuss…

The Problem

The problem with most car websites is they don’t really help you narrow down your list unless you already know the make and model you are looking for. You’ll usually start with a body type or two, that still leaves thousands of vehicles to search through. Also, most car websites rely on ads revenue, so their goal is to get users to increase clicks, not save time. Finally, most car websites haven’t fully adopted electric vehicles as the future.

Car searches don’t help you find the electric car to fit your lifestyle

Many of the big-name car sites we turn to have several shortcomings that do a poor job of meeting our needs as consumers.

The first shortcoming is the search. Whenever you turn to buy a product, you are looking to fulfill a need. In my case, our family needed a safe, reliable, seven-seat electric car with a 200-mile range.

Today, car sites prompt you to search for a car by body size or vehicle model. You are forced to look through pages of content searching for electric cars that best fit your needs.  The search by body style or model works well if you know what car you are looking for but is of little help if you want to find the right electric vehicle that fits your lifestyle.

If you have not settled on a vehicle, searching through countless pages of information is time-consuming, and unless you look at every vehicle, you may miss out on a vehicle candidate that meets your needs.

Electric Driver collected feedback validating 61% of people considering a car are looking at more than one option.
Electric Driver validated that most shoppers do not know what specific electric car to buy.

Display Ads lead to Poor Experiences

Part of the reason car sites make you look through countless pages is financial. Most publishers make money by displaying advertisements on their websites. Therefore, the More pages car sites show you, the more money they make. As a result, they have an incentive to show you as many pages as possible when you visit their website.  Any feature that will reduce the number of pages you will consume makes these car websites less money. Therefore many of these car websites place a gauntlet of pages in front of their visitors. 

Financial Incentive

The last but vital reason car sites do a poor job of covering electric cars again is financial. Gas-powered cars make up 98% of the automotive market. As a result, car sites focus most of their resources and mindshare to make money off the gas-powered auto market. As a result, electric cars are not a major priority for most car websites at this time.

 


A Better Way to Find the Best Electric Vehicle that Fits Your Lifestyle

Having experienced difficulties researching what right electric vehicle best fits our lifestyle, we decided there had to be a better way. Electric Driver is my opportunity to create a better way to research and find the right electric car for you. We believe electric cars are the present and the future. Therefore Electric Driver’s only focus is electric cars. Focusing exclusively on electric cars allows us to create an experience completely dedicated to addressing the unique needs and questions that arise from electric car shopping.

Helping Shoppers Transition to EV owners

Electric cars can save you time, money and reduce your emissions, leading to a healthier environment. Our goal is to help show you the benefits of owning an electric car. We feel once you experience these benefits electric cars provide, you will have a hard time going back to a gas-powered car. Before we go on, I won’t ask for your help. When visiting Electric Driver, if you do not see an answer to an important question you have, please let us know. We want to create a better experience and need your help creating this better way to research electric cars.

How to better research and shop for electric cars

  • Research Starts with Your Needs
  • Comparison Shopping Helps Make Decisions

Research Starts with your needs

When you look to buy a product or service, you search for a solution to your problem. In our case, when we wanted to buy an electric car, we needed a vehicle that could seat seven, travel at least 200 miles on a charge, be safe, reliable, and we wanted to cut our monthly gas bill. We wanted to find the right electric vehicle that fits your lifestyle. Our list of needs served as a checklist to evaluate which electric cars were contenders. Whenever you shop for a high-priced item like a car that will stay with you for years, spend the time determining what is important to you. Your needs are what will guide you to a better purchase decision. 

Electric Driver's survey feedback of biggest concerns car shoppers have when buying an electric car.
Electric Driver compiled the top concerns car shoppers have when considering a vehicle.

 

Any shopping journey begins with knowing what needs are important to you. Our solution is what we call a needs-based search. After you tell us what matters to you, we ask for your price range, how many people you need to transport, and how far you need to drive on a single charge.

Electric Driver needs-based search matches you with the top three vehicles that fit your needs.

Electric Driver then goes to work and matches you with the vehicles that most closely match your needs. The specific needs we use on Electric Driver result from countless interviews and feedback from people like you. 

When We Shop We Compare 

When considering a purchase, you make decisions, evaluate between multiple imperfect options, and find the solution that best meets your needs. Whether it’s deciding which college to attend, what movie to watch, or what car to buy, our nature is to compare and evaluate trade-offs between available options. In our example, our search at the time had us selecting between two choices, a Tesla Model X or Tesla Model Y. When using our list of needs to evaluate each vehicle, the seating was the tiebreaker for us. The Tesla Model X won out in the end because the seven-seat option was roomier and had more interior space.

You want to know what is important to you going into the shopping process in order to make better decisions.  Make sure you do your homework and leave no stone unturned when looking for suitable options to evaluate. The worst feeling is purchasing a high-priced vehicle only to find out your search overlooked a better option. 

How We Help You Compare and Evaluate to find the best fit for your lifestyle

Once you enter your information into Electric Driver’s needs-based search, we go to work. First, our website goes through all available electric cars to find which ones best meet your needs. Then Electric Driver presents you with the top three electric cars that most closely meet your needs within your budget. The search helps find the right electric vehicle that fits your lifestyle, Next, based on your needs Electric Driver shows you evaluate all three vehicles and shows you the trade-offs between all three options. Furthermore, Electric Driver also identifies which vehicle is the closest match. If for some reason, you do not like a specific vehicle, you can replace it with another electric car of your choosing. Once you have identified a potential candidate, you are ready to learn more about that specific vehicle.

Electric Driver's comparison page
Electric Driver’s comparison page helps you evaluate between vehicles to determine which one best fits your needs.

Vehicle Overview with Pros and Cons

While most have heard of electric vehicles, a small percentage admit to being knowledgeable about them. According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, approximately 98% of drivers say they’ve heard of electric vehicles, but only 30% say they’re knowledgeable about them. 68% say they have “heard of” plug-in EVs but “don’t know much about them.”

Our goal is to help give you a better picture of what it would be like to switch from your gas-powered car to an electric vehicle. Most people want to know how much money they would save by switching to an electric car. Electric Driver can estimate how much you could save by switching to an electric car. In the background, we use gas and electricity prices in your state to give you a local estimate.

The image below is the overview section for a 2021 Tesla Model 3 to illustrate what you can expect. We also share with you some benefits and drawbacks of owning an electric car.

Electric Driver 2021 Tesla Model 3 Overview
Electric Driver’s overview shows you how much you can expect to save in electricity costs versus gas plus other essential information.

 

Estimated Cost To Own an Electric Car

Another question you may have is how much does it cost to own an electric car. Specifically, how much can I expect to pay for maintenance, electricity, and insurance? Electric Driver provides estimated costs for maintenance, insurance, and electricity based on each specific electric car. In addition, electric Drive estimates cost based on what state you live in and what electric car you are considering. We also provide an estimate of what a gas vehicle would cost to own to help you visualize what you can expect to save by switching to an electric car.

Electric Driver Cost to Driver displaying insurance, electricity and maintenance estimates
Electric Driver Cost to Drive provides you with electricity, insurance, and maintenance cost estimates based on your location.

 

Electric Car Environmental Impact

Understanding what kind of environmental impact switching from a gas to an electric car is not clearly understood by many people. You know electric cars are better for the environment, but probably don’t have a deeper understanding. Electric Driver set out to find out more about the environmental impact. We show the environmental benefits of owning an electric car. We also created an electric car model-specific feature that shows how much carbon emissions you will save.

Electric cars are a good choice for the environment, but they do not eliminate emissions. Specifically, when you buy electricity from your electric utility, you may be creating some emissions in the process. Each state has various means they generate electricity including, coal plants, petroleum, hydroelectric, nuclear, or renewables. For example, electricity from coal creates more emissions than electricity from renewable resources. Electric Driver gives you insight into where your electricity is coming from and how much emissions you create.

Rest assured, the emissions from electricity in most cases, will be much less than what a gas-powered car creates. Ideally, the better option is to buy your own solar panels and further reduce your environmental emissions. Below is a rendering of our environmental impact feature, which should be available in August 2021.

 

Electric Driver provides environmental impact by model
The image shown is a rendering of our environmental feature that should be released in August 2021. The feature will show you how much emissions are saved and where your electricity comes from within your state.

Understanding your Electric Car

Once you have a leading contender, the next step is to learn more about the specific electric car and how it fits your lifestyle. Specifically, you want to see how the electric vehicle could fit into your life.  Now looking beyond your core needs is acceptable because you are trying to figure out how this vehicle can fit into your life. Understanding the warranty, reliability, and other features will help you visualize what owning this electric vehicle would look like.

 

Electric Driver vehicle specs of a Tesla Model 3
Displayed are safety, reliability, warranty, and charging information for a Tesla Model 3.

 

EV Charging In Your Area 

An Important yet overlooked question people may not consider is an electric vehicle charging in their area. Your electric vehicle will do most of its charging at home overnight, but there may be times you need to charge away from home. Therefore, you will need to have electric vehicle charging infrastructure in your area.

Electric car charging for Tesla Model 3 in Orange, CA shown.
Electric Driver also shows you a map of available chargers in your area.

 

Electric Driver – No Ads, Electric Vehicle Centered

No Display Ads on Electric Driver

We want to create a better way to research the right electric car, and display ads will get in the way. By skipping display advertisements, Electric Driver can remove unwanted distractions. By having Electric Drive be display advertisement free you are free of influence allowing you to be clear-headed when selecting the electric car that is right for you. 

An Electric Car Centric Experience to Help You Find the Best Electric Vehicle for Your Lifestyle

Electric Driver wants to help you find the right electric vehicle that fits your lifestyle. So Electric Driver created a unique electric car research experience designed to help you identify and select the right electric car with ease and no distractions. If you encounter a question on your electric vehicle journey that we don’t answer yet, let us know. We aim to get more people to save time, money and reduce their emissions by owning an electric car. 

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Electric Vehicle Maintenance Electric Vehicle Selection Researching Electric Cars

Using Needs-Based Search to Find the Right Electric Car

Over 61% of car shoppers do not have a specific car in mind when buying a new vehicle. Instead, shoppers are looking to find a vehicle that will best meet their needs within their price range. Car sites provide search methods that cater to the shopper that knows what vehicle they want. Electric Driver created a needs-based search to help shoppers find the right electric car for shoppers that do not have a specific vehicle in mind.

 

What is Needs-Based-Search

Whenever you buy a product or service, you are looking to address a need. For example, when my wife and I had our son, we outgrew our Camry; we needed a safer vehicle with decent mileage that could seat seven people. We ended up buying a new 2011 Highlander, which we kept till we bought our electric car. Whenever you shop for an electric vehicle, you probably have s set of needs you are looking to address. Needs-based search is designed to help you find electric cars that most closely meet your needs within your price range. We have defined needs into the following:

  • Price Range:  Your price range will help Electric Driver filter out vehicles to only show you vehicles that meet all your criteria. If Electric Driver cannot address all your criteria, we will show electric cars that most closely meet your needs.
  • Seating: The following criteria: Electric Driver will ask you how many people you need to seat at the minimum.
  • Battery Range: The minimum distance you will want to travel on a single charge is another crucial factor. Typically you should think of many miles you need to cover your daily driving. Also, if you live in an extremely hot or code environment, I recommend you factor in an extra 20% range. 
  • Location: Electric Driver will ask for your location to show you how many electric car chargers are available near where you live. It would be best to be confident you have a charger where you travel if you need to charge.
  • What Matters Most to You: What is important to you is what you will you to evaluate each electric car you see. We have nine criteria you can use to find vehicles best meet your needs. Some of the criteria we came up with to define needs-based search are listed below.

 

Electric Driver needs-based search matches you with the top three vehicles that fit your needs.

 

Needs-Based Search Criteria

    • Safety: If you are looking for a safe vehicle, selecting safety will help identify secure options. Electric Driver will show you the safest cars that meet your criteria. What Electric Driver uses to filter out the safest vehicles is how well each car fared in crash tests and safety features that help reduce the severity of an accident.
    • Performance: If you are looking for a fast electric car, you will select performance. The performance we filter vehicles based on their top speed, acceleration, horsepower, and the drive type (Think two-wheel or all-wheel drive).
    • Cost to Drive: For those of you who want a vehicle with a low operating cost, you would select cost to drive: What cost to drive will show you cars that will have lower electricity bills, maintenance, and insurance costs. The idea is to lower your monthly cost of owning an electric vehicle.
    • Autopilot capable: Choosing autopilot will show you cars that have the self-driving option. Electric Driver will show you how the autopilot systems will differ and how much the autopilot systems will cost.
    • Infotainment: For those interested in navigation, streaming capabilities, and entertainment within your vehicle, infotainment capture these needs.
    • Cargo Capacity: Selecting cargo capacity will show you the cars with the largest storage space within your budget and other criteria.
    • Reliability:  Selecting reliability, Electric Driver will show you electric cars with the best warranty and the least reported issues.Complaints and recall information to help you form your opinion on the most reliable electric car.
    • Charging Time: If you want to spend the least amount of time waiting while charging, Electric Driver can show you electric cars that quickly recharge based on your budget and criteria.

 

Ranking Your Needs 

Speaking of what matters to you, not all needs are equal. Electric Driver allows you to choose what need is most important to least order. All you need do is decide what is most important to you first, the next most important need, and so on. Once you are ready to proceed, Electric Driver does the heavy lifting. Electric Driver searches through all available vehicles models to show you what electric cars best fit your needs. Visit Electric Driver to find the right electric car using a needs-based search or check out our guide.