As the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) has increased, so too has the number of used electric cars available at Irish dealerships. With new vehicles commanding big bucks and supply constraints causing problems among new car dealers, a used or nearly-new EV might be tempting. After all, who doesn’t like the sound of a cheap-to-run car with an asking price several thousand euro below that of a new vehicle?
But should you take the plunge and grab yourself a bargain electric vehicle? And what should you look out for if you’re thinking of making the switch to electric power?
- Consider the suitability
Before you buy an electric car, make sure that form of propulsion is right for your needs. Zero emissions and cheap fuel sound great – and it is if you are mostly going to use the car around town or for short trips – but if you mostly do long journeys, it isn’t going to work so well. Find out what the car’s range is, then work out whether it will work for you. Make sure you factor in a safety margin to allow for colder days, severe weather or anything else that might limit the car’s range.
- Think about charging
Also consider charging. If you have a parking space or driveway, can you install a charger? A generic household plug socket won’t have the power to charge an electric car at any sort of speed, but a ‘wallbox’ charging point will top up the battery overnight with ease.
If you don’t have a parking space or a charger, are there any suitable public chargers near your house, workplace or anywhere else you’ll park regularly? It won’t be as cheap as charging at home, but it’s the next best thing.
- Check the battery condition
Batteries degrade over time. Like a laptop or a mobile phone, old car batteries won’t store as much energy as new ones. Check the indicated range when the battery is full and compare that with the quoted range. If it’s wildly different and you can’t explain it away using weather conditions, vehicle set-up or driving style, check the manufacturer’s warranty on the battery. Most will guarantee something like 80 per cent of the capacity for a given timescale – usually eight years or thereabouts. If it’s still in warranty, any drop-off in range is less of a worry, because you can always get the battery replaced.
- Think about maintenance
Where are you going to have the car serviced and maintained? If you plan on using a main dealer, you can rest assured their mechanics have been trained on your car, but that isn’t the case at local garages. In fact, some mechanics in independent garages may never have been trained on any kind of electric car, and a dodgy repair could be dangerous to them and you. It’s always worth checking whether the garage you have in mind has trained its staff on electric vehicles.
- Don’t forget, it’s still just a car…
With all the focus on the electric powertrain, it’s easy to forget that electric cars are still cars. All the things you’d check with any other vehicle still apply, so make sure you carry out all the other due diligence normally associated with buying a used car.
With that in mind, make sure you check the car’s history – especially its service history and NCTs – and make sure there’s no outstanding finance through Cartell.ie. Do plenty of research on the make and model of car you’re looking at, so you know the car’s weak points and what to look for, and get a good, close-up look at any vehicle you consider buying.
If you can, go car shopping on a dry day, because rain droplets will camouflage dings and scrapes that would be blindingly obvious in the dry. And if you aren’t mechanically minded, you can hire a trained mechanic to perform a pre-purchase inspection and make sure the car is in good nick.