But all that sexy side only matters for a small part of America. Seventy percent of vehicles sold in the country last year were used, according to Edmunds data. So when Americans switch to electric, most will do so in a used vehicle.
There is more than savings involved. “If we are serious about meeting climate change targets, we need to get rid of all internal combustion engines within the next 15 to 20 years,” says Ryan Sclar, who studies electric mobility at the World Resources Institute. “We won’t get there without using the second-hand market. It is essential, he says, that electric vehicles stay on the road as long as possible, no matter how many times the keys change hands.
So far, however, there hasn’t been much of a market for used electric vehicles. On the one hand, there haven’t been a lot of used electric vehicles to buy. EVs didn’t even reach 1% of vehicle sales in the United States until 2017. If you’re looking for an older EV, the choices can be slim.
But there was also not much demand for used electrical appliances. Most of the new EVs were leased, and when leases expired, dealers complained that they languished on the lot. The range anxiety that plagues new car buyers also affects used buyers, but even worse, as potential buyers fear that expensive batteries inside vehicles will degrade all at once. The first generation of electric vehicles was renowned for its poor performance. It stayed for a while.
“The idea was that one day this battery – this giant, expensive battery – would die for good, and the owner would have to replace it,” said Joe Wiesenfelder, editor of the online automotive market Cars. . .com. “People were very afraid that a used car would be much closer to the cemetery, unlike cars with internal combustion engines. But that was a false assumption on the part of a lot of people.
Today, more efficient electric vehicles, with ranges exceeding 100 miles, are making their way to used car fleets, such as Bmw i3, Nissan Leaf, and Volkswagen E-Golf from 2014 and after. As the market grows, some say it’s not too early to think about ways to support it.
The electricity market can be like a flywheel: spin it and you won’t have to worry about spinning it. “Will a lot of the concerns and barriers to entry over electric vehicles erode over the next three to five years? Absolutely, ”says Karl Brauer, executive analyst at automotive research firm iSeeCars.com. “It’s just kind of an inevitable trend.”
The ranges of new vehicles keep increasing and the batteries (which cost over $ 5,000 to replace) have not degraded as some feared. Some of those curious about electric vehicles also seem to realize that they don’t need an expensive car with a range of 300 miles to do their daily tasks, especially if they have another car for longer trips.
Omar Islam got interested in electric vehicles because of Tesla, but he knew he couldn’t afford it. So he bought a used 2013 Nissan Leaf two years ago. When the car was new and cost $ 36,000, it had a maximum range of 75 miles; by the time Islam bought it from Craigslist for $ 6,000, it had driven 69-71 miles per charge. It was more than enough for his daily commute to Marietta, Georgia, where he lives. He loved the car, until a collision put it out of service. “If I had the funds, I would buy the same car again,” he says.