Electric driving

Buying a used electric car: everything you need to know

July 22, 2022

Pay attention to the range

The most important part of an electric car is the battery. This determines how far you can drive the car before you need to recharge. Nowadays, an electric car with a range (driving range) of at least 300 kilometers is quite normal, but relatively recently it was different. Technology is developing at lightning speed.

Most used electric cars from the previous decade (2010-2019 model year) have a battery capacity between 20 and 40 kWh. The actual range of these cars varies between 125 and 200 kilometers. So when looking for a used electric car, consider the distances you plan to drive in a day and whether the car is suitable for that.

Do you often drive long distances or don’t want to charge every day? Then a used Tesla might be an interesting choice. It has a much larger battery than most second-hand electric cars, which means you can drive many more miles without having to recharge in between. But such a large battery does come at a price. Therefore, a used Tesla is significantly more expensive than a used Renault ZOE, Nissan LEAF or Volkswagen e-Golf.

Range according to NEDC or WLTP?

Are you interested in an electric car dated before September 1, 2018? Then consider the difference between the manufacturer’s stated range and the actual driving range in practice. A difference of 30 to 40% is not at all crazy.

Until September 2018, the range of an electric car was still measured according to the NEDC measurement: an old, outdated method that was not accurate. Nowadays the range is measured much more accurately according to the WLTP method, but it will never be perfect.

Since range is affected by so many different factors, with an electric car there is always a difference between the theoretical range on paper and the actual driving range in practice. If you are interested in a used electric car, check how many miles you can actually drive with a fully charged battery before you proceed to purchase.

Pay attention to the loading speed

If you want to buy a used electric car, but are not yet aware of the charging possibilities in the Netherlands: rest assured. The Netherlands is the absolute leader in Europe with the number of charge points. By now, a charging point can be found nearby everywhere.

But do you think it’s important that the battery can be charged nice and fast? Then pay close attention to the charging speed when looking for a used electric car. In fact, the loading speed can vary considerably from one make and model to another.

To give you an example. The 44 kWh battery of a 2017 Renault ZOE can be fully charged in 2 hours and 15 minutes at a public charging point (AC). For a 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf with a 36 kWh battery, it takes 5 hours and 15 minutes.

Fast charging everywhere important?

In terms of fast charging (DC), each electric car also performs differently, although the differences are smaller than for AC charging. Some older electric cars are not suitable for fast charging at all.

Do you think it’s important that you should be able to fast charge anywhere in the Netherlands? Then also look at what plug you can use to fast-charge the car. Some electric cars introduced to the market before 2018, including the first and second generation of the Nissan LEAF, can only fast-charge with a so-called Chademo plug.

However, in 2017 the European Commission decided that everywhere in the European Union the CCS plug must be used for fast charging. That’s a different plug than the LEAF’s Chademo plug.

As a result of these European regulations, all new electric cars newly introduced in Europe from 2017 onwards will therefore have a CCS connection. And virtually all new fast-charging stations built or renovated since that time have only CCS charging cables.

This makes it increasingly difficult for electric cars with a Chademo connection. The Chademo plug is slowly being phased out and, relative to the total number of fast charging stations, can be found in relatively few places.

Want to pull a trailer or caravan?

It is not a given that you can take a trailer or caravan with an electric car. Many electric cars on the used market are not allowed to tow a trailer at all. You can’t order a tow bar for these cars either.

Many other electric cars are allowed to tow something, but only up to 500 or 750 kg. Perhaps that is just enough for what you need.

Looking for an electric car that can tow at least 1,500 kg? Then you are forced to look in a high price range. Also keep in mind that an electric car uses 30 to 50% more energy when towing a trailer.

Long battery life

What you hardly have to consider, if at all, when buying a used electric car is the reliability of the battery.

A lot of research is being done worldwide into the lifespan and capacity loss of lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars. But despite the gigantic amount of data from millions of electric cars around the world, there is as yet no unequivocal answer to the question of battery life.

There is no proof that a battery lasts a maximum number of kilometers or a certain number of years. This is mainly because the lifespan of a battery depends on all kinds of factors, while there are also differences between the batteries of different manufacturers. There are electric cars with more than 250,000 kilometers on the clock, while the battery still offers more than 90% of its original capacity.

Manufacturer’s warranty offers security

Because lithium-ion batteries in electric cars last longer than previously thought and to give consumers extra confidence, the vast majority of electric cars come with an 8-year/160,000-kilometer manufacturer’s warranty on the battery.

In most cases, that guarantee is for the retention of at least 70% of the original battery capacity. And factory warranty is always transferable to next owner. So even if you want to buy a used electric car, chances are you’ll enjoy extra security due to the manufacturer’s warranty still in effect.

No road tax

Electric cars are (currently) subject to various financial benefits, including for used electric cars. For example, you pay no road tax (MRB) for a used electric car. That will last until December 31, 2024, after which that exemption will be phased out.

As of January 1, 2025, you will pay a quarter of the normal MRB rate. Starting in 2026, you won’t get a discount at all. Then you pay the full MRB rate for an electric car, based on the weight of the car and the province where the owner of the car is registered.

Low additional tax rate

If you want to buy an electric car for business purposes and you then have to pay an additional tax as a rider, you can still benefit from a low additional tax even with a used electric car.

The additional tax rate for an electric car in 2022 is 16% over €35,000 for an electric car, instead of 22% over the full list value. That low addition applies for a period of 5 years from the date the car is newly registered. Depending on the age, you can also benefit from a lower additional tax rate for a young used electric car.

After that five-year period, the addition will be redetermined based on the rules in effect at that time. Since the additional tax credit for electric cars expires in its entirety in 2026 anyway, now is the time to still take advantage. Purely for the additional tax, it doesn’t matter anyway whether you choose a new or used electric car, since the additional tax is based on the original new price.

Subsidy used electric car

Individuals who want to purchase a used electric car can apply for a subsidy from the government (RVO.nl). This is the so-called Subsidy Scheme for Electric Passenger Cars (SEPP), which is valid until December 31, 2024.

The amount involved is €2,000. However, the car must meet certain conditions. Also, for a whole a certain subsidy budget has been set aside by the government. If the subsidy pot is already empty halfway through the year, then you can’t get a subsidy in that year, as is now the case in 2022.

Beginning in 2023, you can apply for subsidies again. But please note that the subsidy will not be paid until the car has been delivered, put in the name of the subsidy recipient and a confirmation has been received from the RFO. No advance is paid. The subsidy is therefore not a discount on the car, but an extra that you receive afterwards. You may also only use the subsidy scheme once.