Buyers' Guide: Should you buy a used electric car?
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A switch to an electric vehicle (EV) can be a smart financial decision for drivers, not to mention a better choice for New Zealand's clean, green image.
Many drivers tell us how an EV would fit their lifestyle or purpose, but price is often a hurdle.
The good news is, the used car market for EVs is better than ever and why wouldn't it be? With fuel running costs equivalent to 30 cents a litre, it's easy to see why more Kiwis make the move into an electric future.
Depending on which car you go for, you need to be aware of the different charging options.
All models will have a charging cable with a standard New Zealand three-pin plug available, so you can simply plug the car into the mains. Charging this way can take anywhere from 10 to 14 hours for a complete refill.
Realistically, if you're in the market for an EV, you need to have a bit of patience when it comes to charging.
Charge stations are popping up all over the country. With a target of 105 by the end of 2018, it's all good news for EV owners.
These stations are particularly important for trips over 100km, so keep your mileage in mind for that next road trip.
If there's not already a charging station near you, chances are there will be soon. To find your nearest station, visit charge.net.nz, or alternatively download the Plugshare app. They all offer fast charging facilities, so a half-hour wait should fill the tank up.
Just because a used EV has low mileage doesn't mean the battery is going to last longer. If you buy a car that has trouble maintaining battery energy, your range will be reduced. It will suck the joy out of ownership and cost you in the long run.
The price of replacing a battery can be astronomical, especially when compared to the cost of buying a used EV, as electric cars have high depreciation that will soon see their used price fall below the cost of battery replacement.
Manufacturers are typically offering between 5-10 year warranties on their EV batteries.
The Nissan Leaf has a simple 12-bar display to present the health of the battery. This is great because you can see how much life it has left -- as the bars reduce, so does the vehicle's range.
On a test drive, we recommend going over your normal commute to ensure the vehicle has enough capacity to get you where you need to go on a full charge, and an allowance for a bit extra.
While an electric vehicle doesn't need the standard serviceable items such as oil, filters and spark plugs, you still need to take the likes of brakes, tyres and wipers into consideration, so when choosing a used model, look at its service history and see how well it has been looked after. With used imports, this can be harder to tell but a pre-purchase inspection will give you peace of mind.
EV registration charges have also taken a slide, which is an added sweetener. As of July 2017, electric vehicles will be classed with petrol vehicles and will pay the same lower levy. Previously these vehicles were classed as "non-petrol" and owners paid their entire ACC levy through vehicle licensing fees, similar to diesel-powered vehicles.
For many Kiwis, a used EV will likely be your introduction into the EV world. As such, it's important to choose carefully. Always ensure the vehicle will fulfil your needs and is right for you and your lifestyle. EVs are slowly becoming more popular here, with total registrations hitting 4200.
This demand will fuel an increased range and we will start to see more and more EVs filter down to the used car market.
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