What to bear in mind when buying a used electric car

More and more used electric cars are coming onto the market. This brings prices down but also leads to concerns regarding the battery, depending on the age of the vehicle. An expert tells you everything you need to consider before buying – and about the advantages of buying a used car from AMAG.


Electromobility is gaining more and more momentum in Switzerland – new models, better charging options, declining scepticism and a growing used car market all point to the fact that this form of alternative drive has arrived in Switzerland. “Most manufacturers launched an electric offensive three or four years ago – and we’re now also noticing this in the used car market,” says Hamza Forloul, Director Used Car at AMAG. “We now have the right model for every need – from city car to family SUV. The proportion of plug-in hybrid cars is also high.”

AMAG Used Cars offers models from the Group brands Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, CUPRA, Škoda and VW Commercial Vehicles. It is a new market with many opportunities – especially for those who have previously been reluctant to switch to an electric car primarily for cost reasons. “For EV newcomers, a cheaper second-hand model represents a smaller hurdle when it comes to switching,” says Forloul. By way of example, a VW ID.3 sold for CHF 54,000 in September 2020 costs just CHF 32,800 used, with 26,000 kilometres on the clock. Very affordable small models such as the VW e-up! are available from around CHF 18,000.


«Older models aren’t necessarily unsuitable»

According to the car valuation service Eurotax, the depreciation of an electric car is generally around 50 per cent after three years – which is slightly less than that for a car with a combustion engine (56 per cent). With the electric models, however, technological advances are also factored into the price trend. A lot is happening in the battery sector in particular, with positive effects on charging time and range. This in turn pushes prices of the older models downwards but makes them appear rather unattractive – 

reservations that used-car pro Hamza Forloul believes are not fully justified. “I wouldn’t just write off older models, because older means maybe six or seven years for most electric cars. Most of them are in very good condition. And when it comes to the shorter range of these vehicles, we clock up an average of just 35 kilometres a day in Switzerland – so even a range of around 250 kilometres is enough for a week.”


How do I know if the battery is still good?

Before buying a second-hand electric car, there are a few things to consider – including range and battery condition. “Before I choose a model, I need to be clear about how it will be used,” says Forloul. “That is, whether the aforementioned range will be enough and whether I'll mostly be using the car for shorter commutes. Or whether I’ll be doing a lot of longer drives in the car, in which case it’s better to choose an SUV or estate.”

Another important point is the condition of the lithium-ion battery. In the case of older models in particular, it’s important to know how good the capacity still is. This depends not only on the mileage, but also on how often the electric car has been charged. So am I taking a risk by choosing an older used electric car? 

Basically, you don’t need to worry if the battery is still under warranty, says Forloul. As a rule, this is eight years or 160,000 kilometres. The warranty covers the battery should its capacity fall below 70 per cent during this time. “There are only very few electric cars that are already eight years old,” adds Forloul. These are at most a few hybrid models or early Teslas. Most AMAG brands are no older than four years.”

AMAG also performs a health check as standard, i.e. precise diagnostic devices are used to test the battery cell by cell. “As a rule, the batteries are in good condition,” says Forloul. If, on the other hand, the check reveals that the capacity is no longer sufficient, the battery gets replaced. “So you’re playing it safe with us,” says the expert. And it also has an advantage over buying from a private seller. “In this case, the buyer has to arrange for the battery test themselves. And pay for it themselves.”


A thorough 110-point check

In addition to the battery, special attention needs to be paid to the tyres when buying an electric car. Electric cars have much greater acceleration, so the tyres are exposed to greater stresses, and the tread wears down more quickly. But AMAG also thoroughly inspects the tyres and 109 other points – as part of a comprehensive quality check. Each vehicle receives a certificate once this check is complete. As part of its performance promise, AMAG guarantees the proper functioning of all components and that the vehicle is accident-free, and provides a 12-month (or longer) additional warranty. 

EV buyers also receive comprehensive advice on the electromobility ecosystem from the trained staff. This includes a Helion charging infrastructure for the home, for example. “We want to offer more than just the norm,” says Forloul in summary. “We’re going the extra mile, so to speak, so that we can offer our customers a full service package. This is greatly appreciated, particularly in the used car segment.” 

And there is also the option of test-driving the used cars, of course. “I strongly recommend this to EV newcomers in particular,” says Forloul. Not least because the range of vehicles on offer is set to expand massively again in the near future. The expert estimates that one in five used cars will have an electric drive in the next five years.


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