Buying A Used EV : Some Pros And Cons From A European Prospective

JUN 6 2017 BY MARK KANE 22

BMW i3, Volkswagen e-Golf, Nissan LEAF and Renault ZOE at fast charging station

Autocar released an interesting overview of the pros and cons behind purchasing a used battery electric car – from a UK perspective of course.

Tesla Model S

Regionally in the country, there is not that many all-electric offerings on the second-hand market, but slowly more and more are now appearing, and with some attractive pricing.

Here are few examples quoted by the outfit:

  • Renault Fluence Z.E. £3000
  • Renault Twizy £3000
  • Renault ZOE £5000
  • Nissan LEAF £6000
  • BMW i3 £14,000
  • Tesla Model S 85 £46,000

(A full model-by-model further breakdown on these examples can be found in the original article at Autocar here)

Big pros are noted as a low barrier to entry on the pricing, lower energy costs to operate, no congestion charges, and limited other taxes.

However there are some hazards related directly to BEVs, like the uncertainty of existing battery conditions, and replacement costs of those batteries (that is, if one would be needed in the future of course).

A lot of cars sold by Renault, and sometimes by other manufacturers, are also separated from the batteries, which are leased. It’s not obvious whether it pays to lease a battery for older car.

“Buying a car that includes the battery obviously means no monthly rental fees but also no means of easily replacing it. That said, EV battery life appears to be pretty robust, with the earliest Japanese-market Leafs giving up their batteries for a second life to provide electricity storage for the grid, although most UK-sold EVs are too young to have reached that point. When the battery pack does deteriorate to the point that the range is affected, the owner must weigh up whether it’s worth spending a sum greater than the car is worth to replace the battery, or scrapping a car that will otherwise have loads of life left in it, given that electric motors and gearboxes are good for hundreds of thousands of miles.

Check out the Renault Fluence forums, for example, and you’ll find a few owners contemplating the possibility of scrapping their cars rather than renewing the battery pack, because they can’t bring themselves to commit either to an expensive three-year lease or to pay for an entirely new battery for a car that could be worth as little as £2500 despite it having covered far less than 100,000 miles.”

However there are also smaller things worth remembering for first time BEV buyers, like the need to purchase a home charging station for faster charging (if there will be none attached with the car).

source: Autocar

Categories: Buying Advice


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22 Comments on "Buying A Used EV : Some Pros And Cons From A European Prospective"

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In the US, batteries on modern EVs are still well within the original manufacturer’s warranty. Whereas there is variation amongst manufacturers regarding what constitutes coverage for battery degradation, outright cell failure should result in a no-questions-asked battery pack replacement. In the next few years I would expect businesses popping up that would rebuild post-warranty packs.
This is a brave new world, and one would think that buying a used BEV from a dealer should be accompanied by a certificate of actual measured pack capacity. Will there come a time that this is legislated, just like odometer readings?

Would there be? Unlike NiMH, LiIon could catch fire very easily if not done correctly. Even if the battery is done correctly, something else (eg BMS) going wrong could be catastrophic. New cars aren’t likely to suffer problems, but 10 year old EV would have problems other than the battery, which could cause catastrophe (eg. fire).

Then who’d want to take the risk? Sure, mom-and-pop stores might do for a while, at least until someone’s car burns up.

I’m very pessimistic about this whole “rebuilt battery” business. If the battery dies or too low after warranty, it’s best to discard the EV.

I know right, it’s not like the experts even seem to always know what they’re doing.

Not ‘rebuilt’ battery. That’s BS. ‘repurpose’. Entirely different thing. Take an EV battery and use it as grid storage. Much MUCH less demanding on the cells.

What makes you think Lithium batteries are so fire prone? As they say, arsonists do not use them to start fires. I have repaired several lithium ion batteries, it is not significantly different than rebuilding a Prius battery, which anyone can learn to do at a community college.

That is bull. I have a 2008 Prius hybrid that I did rebuild to a plugin by adding a piggyback battery to and that works great, the original battery is almost dead but the new pack keeps running fine and I hope to change that pack to a new one in about 5 years from now. 500.000 km should not be any problem.

As you know, the Federally-mandated 8-year warranty on EV batteries only means the battery still functions, but it is not an indication of its quality.

As for revealing EV battery capacity in used cars? That’s en excellent idea, but it will never happen. That would be like requiring a good compression test on an ICE car.

I’ve seen used Leafs with 8 or 9 bars, and 45 miles range showing on the guess-o-meter when it’s full. I wouldn’t touch them.

But then again, the dealers don’t want prospective buyers to comprehend just how compromised the batteries are in these cars, just as they don’t want you to know how bad any other car is they’re trying to sell.

“Whereas there is variation amongst manufacturers regarding what constitutes coverage for battery degradation, outright cell failure should result in a no-questions-asked battery pack replacement.” I’m not sure what you mean here. If you use lots of li-ion cells in battery pack, it’s almost guaranteed that one or more cells will fail before the rest do. That’s why Tesla designs its packs to “cut out” a cell which has failed, so it won’t limit charging or discharging of the rest of the pack. In other words, Tesla engineers the pack so that the failure of a few cells won’t have a serious impact on capacity or remaining lifespan. Not sure if other EV makers do the same, but certainly they ought to. So no, EV makers certainly should not be held to a standard that they should have to replace “outright cell failure”, unless it substantially impacts the capacity or power output of the pack. “In the next few years I would expect businesses popping up that would rebuild post-warranty packs.” Li-ion battery packs are a lot less forgiving of differences between cells than packs made with other types of batteries. Due to the difficulty and high degree of knowledge and… Read more »

Yes that is what we do. It is much easier then people think. But you have to know what your doing, still much rather work with batteries then with gasoline.

I would hope Battery degradation on the Leaf isn’t as bad in Europe’s climate.

My Leaf is almost 5 years now, passed 60k km / 37k miles, and still has all bars. LeafSpy reports 87% Health, but about half of that 13% degradation is from a software update which limited the capacity. The numbers have been very stable since i started using LeafSpy and are very common Norwegian climate.

I recently saw a used 2013 leaf with 186k km /116k miles that had just lost its first bar (85% Health, 15% loss).

The Leaf batteries hates staying at 100% charge in high temperatures.

Same here, e-nv200, 77k miles (in 17 months),battery still at 87% and journeys of 400-700miles a day a pretty common to me

Totally agree.

Interesting, I took my Leaf in for a service and the LeafSpy Hx value dropped significantly after. The SoH didn’t really change, but there was a spike and then it settled down again. Hx has been dropping at a consistent rate. The Leaf is 5yrs old (2012 model) with 30,000kms and SoH reports 79%. I can basically do about 100km on a good day.

I’ve thought about buying an EV. My wife is retired and I soon. I walk to work, so we only need one car and then only drive it a few times a week. We would only be able to use $2500 of the tax incentives, no state incentive in GA plus high depreciation would steer me to a used one. A 2013 Leaf could be had for $8000 or less. Drive it a few years, replace the battery for $6000 and you should be good for another 75,000 miles or more. Total cost $14,000. I think that is a steal for an EV.

In two or three years when I retire, there should be a few Bolts coming off lease (maybe a Model 3?).

Or heck you can get a new Leaf S for what, like $17k a lot of places. I think this is the problem.

Why bother with an older car with more issues than a newer EV at more or less the same price, assuming you can use the rebate which happens to roll over to additional years. So even if you can only use $2.5k in Year 1 you’d get to use the rest in Year 2 and 3 right?

No. From what I understand, the federal rebate can only be used in one year up to the amount of your tax bill. The old $5000 GA rebate that was ditched could be carried over for five years. That made it very attractive for lower earners.

Then just lease a Leaf. You get the Federal tax credit upfront, i.e. bundled into lease cost reduction. When lease is over, you pay the residual value.

Ta-da – you just took advantage of the tax credit without having to meet the min tax liability.

Real numbers:
2017 Nissan Lease S 30kWh battery.
MSRP: $38,795
Adjusted Capitalized Cost: $16,363
Residual Value: $9,130
Monthly Payments: $201.68 (36mth)
Zero down, zero drive off

Doesn’t include the CA $2500 CVRP. What a sweet deal. Half the cost of a Bolt.

All this talk about reduced range really applies to gen 1 EVs with 75-125 miles of range when new and when battery degradation eventually happens you have a crappy 40-60 miles. 2nd gen affordable with 200+ miles even when half dead will still offer what Gen 1 EVs had new. Wonder what 10 year old Tesla S will have for range and what price they will fetch?

Tesla’s current batteries are slated to reach 95% capacity after over 200,000 miles. That’s like 25+ years for average driver’s mileage…

At an average of ~14,000 miles per year, the average American driver will reach 200,000 miles in 14.3 years.


Problem is you can’t generalise that all EVs have x % degradation. Leaf has worse degradation than Tesla according some research.