Used Electric Cars in Vermont - an Update
Plug-in electric cars are often praised for their low cost of ownership. Electricity costs less than gasoline to run on, vehicle reliability is good, and competitive prices offer a compelling value. A bonus is these cars have a much smaller environmental footprint over their lives compared to gasoline powered options. As electric car adoption continues to grow we are seeing more used cars enter the market. These are often available at a fraction of the cost of a new vehicle and can further reduce transportation costs.
We first explored availability of used electric cars two years ago and the market has continued to expand since. The increased supply of used electric cars is primarily driven by people leasing electric cars to take advantage of federal tax credits, reduce the risk of depreciation, and allow them to keep up with new and updated models at relatively low cost.
Leasing remains popular for both types of electric cars, including plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) powered by batteries for 10-50 miles before seamlessly switching to running on gasoline for extended range as well as all-electric vehicles (AEVs) powered solely by batteries with ranges of 80 to 300-plus miles before recharging is needed.
Both varieties of EVs can be charged by plugging into a standard 120V home outlet overnight to get about five miles of range per hour of charging. Access to 240V power speeds things up to 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging depending on the vehicle and charging power. Some AEVs also include DC fast-charging capability which provides an 80% charge in less than an hour.
The table below summarizes used electric car pricing and availability based on a search of Cars.com and Tesla.com in late August 2019. There were about 990 used plug-in vehicles advertised within 250 miles of White River Junction, Vermont. The table excludes a few lower availability models, so the actual number is somewhat higher. In addition, some buyers have looked further afield and had cars shipped from larger markets in the south and west, so broadening your search area could be worthwhile.
Used Electric Car Pricing and Availability as of August 2019
Source: Cars.com and Tesla.com searches within 250 miles of White River Junction, VT
Used Electric Car Incentives
Used electric cars are not eligible for the State of Vermont's new electric vehicle incentive program or Federal incentives, but many utilities do offer incentives to support used purchases. You can check what your utility offers on our incentives page. Also, the MileageSmart program is funded by the State of Vermont to offer lower income households an incentive covering 25% of a used high efficiency vehicle purchase, up to $5,000. More information is available at MileageSmart.org.
- Electric cars have proven to be extremely reliable, but getting a car checked out by a qualified mechanic before buying can help avoid any costly surprises. Electric car batteries are one of the most expensive components to replace. Fortunately, the batteries are engineered for eight to 10-plus year lifespans, and the majority continue to work well. Smartphone apps and devices are available for a few models that can connect with the on-board diagnostic systems to provide a detailed report of battery health.
- Many electric cars have increased their electric driving range over time through improvements to batteries and/or vehicle efficiency. For example, a 2013 Nissan LEAF offers 75 miles of range, while a 2019 LEAF will have 150 or 226, depending on the model. FuelEconomy.gov is an excellent resource to check estimated vehicle range when the vehicle was new and compare to current estimates provided by a fully charged used EV to better understand the battery health.
- As the above pricing table indicates, there is significant variation in prices depending on the model, range, condition, dealer and other factors. Shopping around and negotiating can help get the best deal.
- Some EV models destined for the northeast are shipped from the manufacturers with “cold weather packages” that increase performance in colder temperatures with battery heating systems or more efficient cabin heating. It is worth checking on the availability of these options as used EVs coming from other parts of the country may not have included this equipment.
- DC fast charging is often an optional purchase on an all-electric vehicle. We highly recommend this, so be sure to check the vehicle specifications include this unless you are certain you do not need it.
Vermont auto dealerships will sometimes have used options available for sale, but if you are willing to go further afield the supply increases significantly. The links below are to Cars.com searches for all-electric and plug-in hybrid availability within about 250 miles of Montpelier. Cars.com does not include every available vehicle, so it may be worth checking with individual dealers or other websites to further research your options. If you are interested in a Tesla, then Tesla usually has a good number of used electric vehicles availalbe, although their Model 3 is hard to come by used at this point since it is still relatively new to the market. We do expect to see significant increases in used availability as the electric vehicle market continues to mature and additional numbers of off-lease vehicles enter the secondary market.
- Cars.com - All-Electric Vehicle Search
- Cars.com Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Search
- Tesla Used Availability
Want more information? There are many excellent online resources and forums with information on electric cars and used vehicle pricing. Here a links to a few:
- Consumer Reports - It's a Great Time to Buy a Used Electric Vehicle
- Plug-in America - Used Electric Vehicle Buyers Guide
- Edmunds - The Pros and Cons of Buying a Used EV
- FleetCarma - A Simple Guide to the Used Electric Car Market
A version of this article first appeared in the September 2019 edition of Green Energy Times.