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How to choose and buy a used electric car

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We talked to electric car expert and YouTuber Nicolas Raimo, EV Nick, about his five-step guide to buying a used electric car.

After 15 years spent working in his father’s car showroom, Nick knows and loves cars. Around five years ago, he became interested in the electric car market, partly for environmental reasons and partly as he could see the direction things were heading. 

‘I bought one myself and thought ‘this is brilliant’,’ said Nick. ‘So I bought more electric cars and started selling them. There’s a lot of info to take in and people have loads of the same questions and concerns. I think there are five steps people need to think about when buying.’ 

second-hand electric car

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Nick's five-step guide to buying a used electric car

1. What do you want to spend? 

‘Spend is number one. Some electric cars can cost more to buy – but you also need to look at what you spend on fuel and remember there’s an immediate saving on petrol or diesel, as well as lower maintenance costs. Once you’ve decided how much you want to spend, you’ll be able to see which cars are within your budget. 

‘You’ll also need to work out how much range you’ll need. If you’re not sure, you can check how much mileage you’ve done in the past year by checking your MOT history and then dividing by 365 to find your daily average. I find it’s often less than people think.’ 

2. Which car do you want?

‘Most people already know what type of car they want – whether that’s a hatchback, an SUV, a saloon or estate. Electric cars are similar to their petrol/diesel equivalents in looks, size and badge. So look at cars available in your budget, range and spec, and then test drive a few. 

And don’t rule out a brand you wouldn’t normally consider, because there are great cars out there from brands you wouldn’t expect. For example, I know a BMW driver who’s just bought a Hyundai.’ 

3. How will you charge it – home or public?

‘If you have a drive, it’s cheaper and easier to charge at home. There are lots of different options and Rightcharge is a handy site for helping you choose which is best. If you’re not a geek who loves to swot up on the numbers, any charger will probably do. If you’ll usually charge at home, you don’t need to worry about how long it’ll take. 

‘If you live in a rented house or a flat and will need to charge publicly, it’s a good idea to think about whether you can fit charging into your normal routine, for example when you’re at the supermarket, the gym or at work. Some supermarkets even offer free charging. 

‘If you do a lot of miles on the motorway, you’ll find plenty of rapid chargers along the way, where you can stop for a break or a coffee and quickly charge up. The range on a car is pretty accurate these days.’  

4.  Buy the car

‘So you’ve decided what type of car you’re going to get and you’re ready to buy. You should treat it just like buying any other car – if you’re buying from a dealer, make sure they’re reputable and read their reviews. And, of course, you should check the car over in the usual way – have a look at the paintwork, brakes, wheels etc and make sure all the moving parts are working. 

‘Most batteries are very healthy, but you can always ask for a printout of battery health. If it’s within warranty, you don’t need to worry, but if it’s out of warranty, check if the battery is still under eight years old. You can also ask your dealer if you can plug in an onboard diagnostic reader, or if they’ll do it for you.’ 

5. Should you change to an electric car electric tariff?

‘If you’re going to have a home charger, it’s worth crunching the numbers on your electricity costs and working out how much you’re likely to spend. 

‘Some energy suppliers give cheaper rates overnight, so it can be a good idea to pick an electricity provider that will offer this. It can mean it’s much cheaper to fill up.’

Nick Raimo is a true electric car aficionado. You’ll find him sharing his knowledge at his father’s car showroom, Luigi Motor Services, and on his YouTube channel, EV Nick, where he makes videos to help people understand the benefits of electric cars and low carbon solutions.

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