Electric cars (EVs) have come a long way over the last few years and with rising concerns about climate change and air pollution, many drivers are choosing to drive electric.

With an increase in electric vehicles entering the second-hand market, there is now a greater choice at a more favourable price point for those considering going green. But should you buy an electric car?

Before purchasing any used car, there is a lot to consider and electric cars are no different. If you are thinking of making the switch our helpful guide will help you consider the pros and cons before making a purchase.

Electric cars pros and cons

Much like conventional petrol and diesel cars, electric cars also have their benefits and drawbacks. Below we have highlighted some of the pros and cons you should consider before purchasing a used electric car.

Benefits of electric cars

Zero emissions

One of the biggest advantages of electric cars is the positive impact they have on the local environment. Unlike petrol and diesel vehicles which use an internal combustion engine (ICE), electric cars feature an electric motor that is powered by rechargeable batteries. With no need for a tailpipe, electric cars do not emit any harmful exhaust gases like their traditional counterparts.

Fuel savings

Generally charging an electric vehicle is much cheaper than filling up your car with petrol or diesel. The cost of charging your electric car will ultimately depend on when and where you charge it. For example, charging your car at home using a 7kW home Wallbox charger costs roughly £17.87. A 100+ kW ‘ultra rapid’ charger that you’ll find at motorway service stations could set you back as much as £37.99.

Less maintenance required

Unlike vehicles with an internal combustion engine, electric cars have far fewer moving parts which are prone to wear and tear. The simplicity of their design means less maintenance is required over the lifetime of the vehicle compared to petrol or diesel vehicles.

Exemption from road tax and the Congestion Charge

Many financial incentives come with owning an electric car. Whilst you must still register the vehicle for road tax, electric vehicles are exempt from paying the road tax charge. Electric cars are also currently exempt from the Congestion Charge, the Low Emission Zone charges and the Ultra Low Emission Zone charges, making them favourable amongst those who live in cities.

Improved driving experience

Driving an electric vehicle is usually a quieter and smoother experience due to the electric-powered engine and structure of the vehicle. The placement of the battery means electric cars have a low centre of gravity, allowing them to handle corners well whilst the instant torque means they typically accelerate much faster than petrol or diesel cars.

Disadvantages of electric cars

Charging points

If you are toying with the idea of purchasing an electric vehicle, one of the biggest considerations is whether you have appropriate charging point access for the vehicle. For those who live in apartments or homes with limited parking options close by, this can pose a significant challenge.

Whilst public charging points are more readily available, access to these charging points can cause anxiety among drivers.

Length of time to charge

Unlike filling up at the petrol station, charging an electric car can take anywhere from 30 minutes up to 12 hours to fully charge. Whilst rapid chargers are increasingly available, these are often a lot more expensive compared to charging your vehicle at home.

Driving range

Range anxiety is a term coined by those who are concerned about the distance an electric vehicle can travel on a single charge. Whilst this can be a valid concern for many, with recent improvements in public infrastructure and charging facilities along with the improved range capabilities of newer electric vehicles this is becoming less of an issue.

Higher upfront costs

One of the main disadvantages of electric cars is the upfront cost compared to petrol or diesel vehicles. Whilst the upfront costs may be higher than electric alternatives, the reduced running costs when you own an electric car can often outweigh this.

As the demand for electric vehicles keeps growing, we have also seen an influx of used electric cars on the market which makes these vehicles far more accessible than they once were.

Lifespan of battery

As with any battery, batteries on electric cars can degrade with age. Current predictions suggest that an electric car battery will last anywhere between 10 – 20 years or 100,000 to 200,000 miles. However, this will vary depending on the age and model of the vehicle.

Though the vast majority of electric cars come with a battery as part of the purchase price, it’s worth noting that leased batteries can be found in (much) older electric cars. When purchasing a used electric car with a leased battery, you will also be required to sign a lease battery contract with the manufacturer.

Types of fully-electric car

Electric 4x4s

From estates to hatchbacks and SUVs to saloons, there is a wide range of electric 4x4s on offer. From city roads to off-road terrain, they are known for unbeatable grip and traction delivering great performance even in challenging conditions.

Electric SUVs

Electric SUVs offer some of the longest ranges with with some boasting ranges of over 300 miles. If you regularly drive long distances and you are looking to make the switch to electric, you should consider an electric SUV.

7-Seat Electric Cars

Perfect for larger families, 7-seat EVs offer practicality and additional storage to suit busy lifestyles. Previously 7-seat SUVs were hard to come by, nowadays there are plenty of options available on the market.

Electric cars for families

The family car segment is now well catered for by electric car manufacturers. From small and medium-sized hatchbacks to crossovers and SUVs, there are lots of family-friendly options available.

Budget electric cars

There are a lot more budget-friendly electric cars than you might think. Targeting buyers with lower budgets even as new cars, when it comes to used cars these electric superminis and city cars are great value.

Electric cars for new drivers

Electric vehicles are excellent for new drivers because of how easy they are to drive and maintain. Many of the choices available are small, easy to manoeuvre and come with excellent safety technology, too.

Tips on how to buy an electric car

Purchasing an electric car works in the same way as if you were buying a petrol or diesel vehicle. With lots of choices on offer, the best piece of advice is to research and shop around. If you can, test-driving the vehicle yourself is a great way to get a feel for the car and it allows you to ask any questions you may have.

Below we have detailed some key things you should consider when looking to buy an electric car.

Consider your budget

Your budget will be the ultimate deciding factor when looking to purchase a used electric car. Electric cars could cost anywhere between £5,000 and £100,000 depending on factors such as age, current mileage, condition and brand.

Consider how far you will need to travel

The range of electric cars will vary between 100 and 400 miles depending on the model of the car so you should factor this in when looking to purchase one. If you regularly travel long distances, then you should consider a car with a longer range, however, for city driving and shorter commutes, a car with a range of 200 miles should be sufficient.

Consider where you will charge the vehicle

When looking to purchase an electric car, you will need to factor in your charging capabilities. The cheapest way to charge your vehicle will generally be overnight at home, so having a parking space close to your home will be of benefit. If a home charging point is not achievable, then you will need to consider if you have easy access to a public charging point.

You can explore our Electric Vehicle Hub for more useful advice on the things you should consider when buying an electric car.

Warranty on used electric cars

When you purchase a new electric car, most come with two warranties. One covering the car and the other covering the battery. Generally, battery warranties will last 8 years or 100,000 miles depending on which comes first. In some cases, warranties cannot be transferred if the vehicle is sold so it is recommended that you get in touch with the manufacturer to discuss this.

If you purchase an electric car through a manufacturer-approved dealer or an independent dealership it will usually include a used car warranty. However, they are not obliged to include this.

If you choose to purchase an electric car privately then you might want to consider purchasing a car warranty through a third-party provider.

Government help to buy an electric car

Unfortunately used electric cars do not qualify for the same Government grants as new electric vehicles are eligible for. However, some might be eligible for the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) which provides funding of up to 75% towards the cost of installing a charging point in your home, depending on your individual circumstances.

Should I buy an electric car?

As with any car, deciding on what type to purchase is purely down to personal preference and circumstance. Over recent years the performance and options available with electric vehicles have rapidly improved, giving people greater choice and encouraging more people to make the switch.

Frequently Asked Questions