selling it second-hand in a few years will be mission impossible

It is often said that buying a car is the worst possible investment. By the time our car is registered and has put a wheel out of the dealership it has already lost value.

And it will continue to lose as time goes by. After a year it would have already lost 16%. That according to the Treasury, because the reality is sometimes more cruel. And in the case of electric cars the depreciation is even greater.

Low prices for older models

second hand electric car trap

If we go through the great portals of our country, coches.net Y Autoscout24.es, we can get an idea of ​​the rapid depreciation suffered by some models.

We take as an example the three models that were pioneers in Spain of electric mobility with significant sales, namely the Renault Zoe, the Nissan Leaf and the BMW i3.

Does something more than one year, the average price of a first-generation Nissan Leaf, with a 22 kWh battery, was around 11,000 euros. Today, the 2021 Leafs are advertised for 6,500 euros, they have 50,000 or 120,000 km.

The trap behind buying an electric car today: selling it second hand

If it is a unit from 2014 we are talking about 9,000 euros on average, although some seller asks for 11,000 euros, but it is more an exception than a rule. And it is that between 11,000 and 13,000 euros is what is currently requested by the 30 kWh version of the Leaf first generation.

In the case of the Renault Zoe, the 2013 and 2014 models are around 8,000 euros. A year ago, the Zoe prior to 2017 (year of restyling and updating of the Zoe) s could be found from 8,500 euros, with the best units (with less than 30,000 km) hovering around 12,000 euros. In the case of the Zoe, its residual value seems to hold up better over time.

The trap behind buying an electric car today: selling it second hand

In the case of the BMW i3, the trend varies greatly depending on the battery equipped. Most BMW i3s for sale start at around 16,000 euros, when a year ago they started at 18,000 euros. It is true that the oldest units, from 2013 with a 22 kWh battery and with more than 100,000 km, now start at 13,000 euros.

The autonomy of the battery of the oldest electric car is a brake for sale

Second hand electric car trap

And is that in all these cases, the price is determined by the battery. The little autonomy offered by older models With respect to the most current electric cars, it makes the depreciation more pronounced in these cars than in any other.

In terms of autonomy, each new generation offers autonomy with respect to the previous model, sometimes doubled. We continue with the 22 kWh Nissan Leaf that approved an autonomy in the NEDC cycle of 199 km and that went to 250 km (NEDC cycle) with the 30 kWh version.

charge electric car

In the latter case we speak of a real autonomy of between 180 and 200 km. In the case of the current Nissan Leaf E +, the real range is 340 km, with a range approved with the strictest WLTP protocol of 385 km.

The same goes for the BMW i3. While the first units had a real autonomy of about 120 km, the current versions They touch the 200 km of real autonomy. The progress made in the development of batteries makes that with each restyling or new model, the autonomy of the previous model seems very poor.

Battery degradation is the biggest fear when buying a second-hand electric

The trap behind buying an electric car today: selling it second-hand battery electric car

And that’s before taking into account the state of the battery after numerous charge and discharge cycles that it will have experienced, thus affecting its capacity. and therefore to their autonomy. On a practical level, in some cases it may have lost capacity. And it’s a trend that will get worse as those cars are older than eight years and the battery warranty expires.

Most manufacturers offer eight-year warranties for your batteries, guaranteeing at least 70% of its capacity, but still it is not enough. The depreciation will be even more pronounced if the car in question is seven years old and the end of the warranty is therefore approaching. It could be very difficult to sell it again later.

Renault Zoe battery

Replacing an electric car battery is a very expensive operation. There are variations depending on the brands and the type of battery, but for example, a 52 kWh battery from Renault Zoe it costs on average 8,100 euros. To which should be added the labor and other associated operations, such as recycling.

And changing the battery in an electric car is a relatively long operation. Come on, in many cases it would not compensate to change the battery in an electric car when it exceeds the market value of the car.

Not all electrics are doomed in the second-hand market

The trap behind buying an electric car today: selling it second hand

So which models will best hold their value over time. According to a study by FOCUS Online y Bähr & Fess Forecasts, Teslas are the ones that best withstand their residual value over time, although the constant and sudden price changes of the brand, sometimes with sharp drops, make it difficult to calculate its depreciation over time.

Thus, Tesla, due to its prestige in the electrical segment, its dedicated charging network and the good reputation of its batteries (with guarantees of 10 years and not eight), seems to be the only safe value in the second-hand market of electric cars, according to these consultants.

The trap behind buying an electric car today: selling it second-hand seat mii

Even a model whose new price was affordable and with a decent autonomy, like the SEAT Mii Electric With 260 km of autonomy and even more than 300 km if we only drive through the city, it seems to be doomed to lose a lot of value. New, the Mii Electric was officially worth 21,230 euros in 2020, but the few that are second-hand already cost about 17,000 euros. That is, in a year they have already lost almost 20% of their value.

Affordable models to come are likely to follow suit. That rapid depreciation of electric cars for their battery is a problem that in Renault plan to solve with retrofit, upgrading with new batteries from older cars and the circular economy at its Flins factory.

This fear of residual value would be one of the reasons why brands propose leasing or renting formulas in priority for electric cars to help convince the customer to take the step.

In Motorpasión | We tested the Nissan Leaf E +: 62 kWh for an electric car with an urban vocation but with a hypersensitive autonomy


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