What You Need to Know About Buying Used Electric Cars at Auction

By Mike Richards Posted: 09/25/2017

The world of auto dealer auctions is about to become a hotspot for used electric cars. In 2013 and 2014, the more accessible consumer models were introduced to early adopters, who largely leased the vehicles from brands like Tesla, Fiat, and Nissan. As these vehicles get traded in now that the three-year leases are up, wholesale auctions are the place to watch. But there are definitely some things to keep in mind when buying used electric cars.

Resale Value of Electric Cars

There are some models that you’ll see for rock-bottom prices at an auto dealer auction, and others that still seem out of reach. For example, the Fiat 500e is routinely selling wholesale for as little as $4,000 right now. The Nissan LEAF is presenting very similar wholesale prices. The Tesla vehicles, however, are selling (wholesale, mind you) for over $30,000. So, when it comes to getting a great deal, the brand you buy definitely matters with electric cars.

The resale value is what many people who shop at auto dealer auctions are concerned with. The facts about electric cars might surprise you. Despite being such popular vehicles, they depreciate fast. Used car buyers are seeing the Fiat 500e for just over $10,000 – and that price drops every year by around $1,500. Used car dealers shopping the auctions will have to keep their eyes open for used electric cars in phenomenal shape if they want to charge top dollar – and even then, the profit margin might not be that high.

Battery Life on Used Electric Cars

A big issue for consumers looking to an auto dealer auction for a used electric car is the battery life. Most electric car batteries are warrantied for around eight years, which is a very good thing for shoppers who are able to get those three-year-old pre-leased cars. A brand new electric car battery will run into the thousands, and they are not designed to last forever. Shoppers who wind up with the earliest model consumer electric cars (we’re talking the accessible models, like the 2010 Nissan LEAF) can probably expect to need a new battery in about six years.

Other Factors to Consider

Owning a used electric car also means that the buyer will likely have to install a charging station. Just plugging the car in to your home outlet will take well over 12 hours to get a full charge. If you have it done by a pro, the average cost right now is somewhere around $1,200 for the installation. Shoppers also need to be aware of the range on most of the early model electric cars – which is still less than 20 miles on electric alone on many models.

All that being said, electric cars are still going to highly appeal to a niche market of buyers, so dealers would be wise to keep an eye out for these pre-leased vehicles at auto dealer auctions. Explore our Vehicle Auctions, as well as finding more information about How These Auctions Work.