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Buying a used electric car: What you need to know

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For a long time, the market for used electric cars was very limited. The increasing supply in conjunction with falling prices ensures that the purchase of a used electric car is becoming increasingly attractive. We show you what to keep in mind when making a purchase.

How much does a used electric car cost?

The average purchase price for a used electric car  on the entire used market at the end of 2023 was CHF 33,000. The purchase price depends on various factors such as:

  • Battery size
  • Features
  • Year of manufacture
  • Vehicle model
  • Range of functions
  • Manufacturer
  • Performance

This means that you must first be clear about your personal  preferences and the use of the vehicle. The following questions may serve as a guide:

  • How often do I drive?
  • What do I expect from the vehicle?
  • How many miles do I drive?

Price differences between cars with combustion engines and electric cars

There are currently price differences on the market between used electric cars and used gas/diesel cars. The purchase costs of a used electric car are still higher than those of a used gas/diesel car, despite falling prices each year.

Despite the rejection by the National Council of a ban on combustion engine vehicles from 2035, demand for electric cars in Switzerland is rising steadily. More than 20 percent of the new vehicles registered in 2023 are fully electric. Manufacturers are responding with cheaper models to meet the increased demand. This will also be reflected in the used car market in the future. 

If you intend to buy a used electric car, the cost advantage lies primarily in the maintenance. Overall, you save on maintenance and consumption costs in the medium and long term.

The battery: the heart of an electric car

At CHF 120 to 130 per kilowatt hour (kWh), a lithium-ion battery is the most expensive component of the vehicle. However, experts are already forecasting that the price will fall to around CHF 100 per kWh this year. This is due to technological advances within the production process. This is an aspect that will also have an impact on used car prices in the long term.

In a used electric car, the size of the battery is the first indication of the possible range. The state of health of the electric car battery is also decisive. This depends on several factors:

  • Age of the vehicle
  • Odometer reading
  • Total number of charges and how often fast charges were made
  • Long downtimes with full or empty battery
  • Extreme loads and extreme temperatures

The warranty for the batteries of electric cars is generally eight years or approx. 160,000 kilometers, whichever comes first. Until this point is reached, the capacity should be at least 70 percent. If a used electric car is still under warranty, in most cases you can buy it without hesitation. But you should still carry out a battery test .

Carry out a battery check

Before you buy a used electric car, make sure that the battery is healthy. AXA offers its customers the option of measuring the battery cost effectively and easily using the battery test box developed by AVILOO.

These tips protect you against making a wrong purchase

Generally speaking, the same rules apply to buying a used electric car as for any other used car. In the first step, you should get an impression of the overall condition of the vehicle. The following questions may help you:

  • Is there paint damage to the bodywork?
  • Are there any dents or dings due to hail damage, for example?
  • Is the steering wheel worn out or are the seats worn?

If the vehicle passes the first test, you need to find out the following points in a conversation with the seller:

  • Is there a complete service history of the vehicle?
  • What is the current range?
  • Is there any information about the battery status?
  • Has your battery ever been damaged or repaired?
  • Is there still a vehicle guarantee?

This information is essential for you, for example to enforce the long-term warranty from the manufacturer or for subsequent resale. If you decide to buy the used car, you must include all the information in writing in the purchase agreement for the used car.

Were all service deadlines met?

The service booklet documents the regular maintenance intervals and certifies that the vehicle has a complete history. Ideally, all prescribed services were complied with. If not, this may lead to problems. Whether it makes sense to buy a second-hand electric car depends on whether there are legal warranty claims or long-term guarantees on the battery, for example. If so, it is hardly possible to enforce these against the manufacturer without a well-maintained service booklet. 

Conclusion – well prepared to buy a used electric car

Buying a used electric car is a wise investment – both for you personally and for the environment. Take the time to find a vehicle that meets your individual needs. Consider all the important factors, from the health of the battery to a clean service history.

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