Is it really worth buying used electric cars?

Will used electric cars ever have a market in Italy?

After all that has been said about electric cars, one wonders used electric cars can make sense e.g. when a used battery-powered car market will emerge.

There are many questions, starting with autonomy: we know the accumulators of any device they lose their effectiveness over time, and we see it with smartphones, which two years after purchase have a shorter lifespan than when we bought them. Does the battery in an electric car have the same problem? Let’s try to understand more.

Used electric cars could accelerate the spread

Let’s start with the data. Across the EU, the number of electric cars has risen from a market share of 3.5% in the second quarter of 2020 to 7.5% in the same period of 2021. A clear growth, although not yet so marked. As for Italy, at the end of 2020, they represented the electric ones 4.3% of the market sharein line with the European “Big” (France and Germany, slightly higher) and, as you know, well below the northern European countries: Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland have a share of electricity above 15%, a factor primarily due to of the very high income of the inhabitants, but not only. That it is positive data, it is not up to me to say: Everyone should make their own considerations.

The fact is that at least in Italy, where the second-hand market is very booming, the absence of a used electric car sector is a brake element. The sale of e.g. new is driven, in the case of cars in use, almost exclusively by incentives and discounts from dealers, which in most cases deducts over 10,000 euros to the high list price of battery-powered cars. It is no coincidence that whenever the incentive fund runs dry, the whole market goes into alarm. And if it goes in alarm for thermobiles, let alone electric.


The used battery

Unlike other markets, such as the UK, in Italy there does not appear to be a market for used electric cars yet. A normal number considering that the new one can be said to have started quite recently.

But in itself could be a success. I have read about many people who want the electric car for a simple personal taste, but they can not buy it because the price is too high for them, even with incentives. Therefore, used electric cars can be crucial. given the loss of value (approximately 20% is lost in the days immediately following the purchase).

In addition, the cost of insurance. The latter is already particularly advantageous on new battery-powered cars with reductions in some of the toll incentives (such as reduction or exemption from tolls). But it is an objective fact that used car insurance costs lessnor should it be underestimated.

In addition to the economic factor, there is also advantage of “fast delivery”. For many, including myself, it can be nerve-wracking to wait 6 months for the arrival of their car, especially if in the meantime there are no other options. Thanks to the semiconductor crisis, the new is less and less accessible and with more and more hassle. Used electric cars, on the other hand, are immediately available and are for the most part models of newer production and complete options (choices aimed at “to justify” the high price), equipped with all the most advanced security and connection systems. Like used thermal cars, used electric cars therefore only pay for and take home.

Finally, used electric cars, like new, they do not run into circuit problems: those who buy a used petrol or, above all, diesel, risk blocking traffic and obstructing access to cities.

The battery problem

What I think could also slow down the electric car market is the question of batteries, for it is coming the legitimate doubt which is no longer able to guarantee the same autonomy as declared at the time of enrollment. The loss of battery capacity is not exclusively for used electric cars, but affects all devices that have them. The same thermal cars have to handle the control unit’s battery, which sometimes leaves us on foot.

The car manufacturers have moved in here to provide answers, based on the fact that the batteries are guaranteed to last long. Manufacturers such as Fiat, Volvo and Renault actually have guarantees for accumulators in force for more than 7 years or even for the entire life of the car (some calculated up to 20 years). This therefore means free replacement of the accumulator after 4 or 5 years, so as not to lose mileage.

In addition, the car manufacturers at least on paper suggest intervening with updates in the air. Tesla owes its success to these, but also Ford or the same three mentioned manufacturers have this ability, which serves to improve the control of the accumulator and often also to increase the possible autonomy. However, all of this, apart from Tesla, is only on paper, and we have yet to see how the control over time of these accumulators works in practice.

Just the question of battery life at the moment makes me lean towards a new electric car if I were to buy one: It’s the same principle that I’ve never taken a used smartphone to. However, I would be curious to see the birth, even in Italy, of a market for used electric cars, or even “refurbished” to stay in comparison with phones, to understand how they can be controlled, and above all, if this market is possible without any problems.

In conclusion, below is a video of our friend Bruce discovering a used Smart Electric first series, with all the considerations associated with buying a used electric car.

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