Electric vehicles are no longer an automotive anomaly. There are enough of them out there at various price ranges that make them an attractive alternative if you’re looking for a used vehicle. In fact, initial high prices, big tax subsidies and large-scale leasing have taken a toll on resale value. Also, some of the early limited-range models just aren’t worth as much as the newer longer-range versions, which has also tended to depress prices.

However, just like with a hybrid vehicle, this unique technology needs a unique set of ownership requirements to make the right fit. Here are five things to consider if you decide to plunge in the used electric vehicle market.

1. Finding the right EV.
The first- and second-generation electrics are all over the map on size and range, although other than the Tesla Model S and Model X, there are few that are much larger than a compact car. So if you need to carry a crew, most EVs are not a good fit and if you decided that a Tesla might fit the bill as a family hauler, be prepared to pay much more thanks to the fact that they are luxury vehicles and are priced accordingly.

2. Range is money.
Just as most affordable EVs will be smaller, like the Fiat 500e and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, they will also have limited range. The Fiat 500e, Mitsubishi i-MiEV and early Nissan Leaf models were good for somewhere in the 80- to 90-mile range when new and have seen some degradation over time, but still are able to deliver at least 60-70 miles. These models will be the most affordable and if your lifestyle is one where you stick pretty close to home or have a high school student who needs to drive, these models would be a good fit. Other models, like the Focus Electric or the e-Golf, are closer to the 100-mile mark (and later models may go as far as 125 miles) will cost more. The bonus here is that both the Ford and the Golf are based on existing compacts and offer virtually the same utility as a traditional gas engine model.

3. Check the battery life.
When shopping for a used EV, the biggest concern will be the life of the battery. You can have the battery life checked by a dealer or a mechanic specializing in EVs. There will be likely some degradation in older models, but it might not be as much as you think. Also, avoid vehicles that were used in extreme hot or cold climates as those weather conditions have an effect on the life of the battery pack.

4. Kick the tires.
One of the advantages of owning an electric is the fact that there is no traditional internal combustion engine to service. That means no oil changes, coolant flushes, tune-ups and general repair issues that come with owning a gas-burning vehicle. The other benefit is that EVs recoup energy through regenerative braking, which means brake life will be much longer than on a conventional car. Still, EVs rolls down the road like other vehicles, so you have to check things like the tires and windshield wipers for wear and possibly be prepared to replace them. Also, make sure the EV you buy comes with the charge cord that allows you to charge the car via a conventional three-prong 120-volt wall outlet.  

5. Consider a Certified Pre-Owned unit.
While your best prices may be from private parties, it might be worth the extra expense to buy a Pre-Owned Certified EV from a dealer. While all EVs have standard bumper-to-bumper warranties that may or may not be transferable, makers also have battery pack coverage that extends to 8 years/100,000 miles ensuring that the unit will retain anywhere from 70 to 80 percent of its original range. A CPO unit may offer the peace of mind that comes from going through a more rigorous inspection and may have some supplemental coverage for those features not related to the powertrain. Typically, most CPO vehicles will be off-lease, have low mileage and are well-cared for.

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