Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Dereck asks: Would you ever recommend an electric car under any circumstances?
My reply: Sure! When the EV is priced (or leased) so attractively that it makes up for its functional limitations. For example, a while back – before they finally cancelled it – Chevy was offering a lease deal on the Volt. Two years for $200 per month, I think it was. An inexpensive way to drive around in brand-new $35,000 car for a couple of years – and the Volt’s low cost of operation reduced the cost to drive even more.
Used EVs can be a good deal, too – because they depreciate so rapidly. One can find, as an example, 2-3 year-old Nissan Leafs that originally sold for $30,000 or more for around or even under $10,000.
The asterisk here is that it’s critically important to make sure the battery pack in the used EV is in good shape; i.e., that it can still be charged up to at least 75-80 percent of its original capacity.
If the battery pack’s charge capacity has degraded significantly, the car’s range will have been reduced correspondingly. Since EVs like the Leaf start out with only about 150 miles of range with a brand-new battery, the loss of say 30 percent of that range can be crippling.
The problem will get worse as the battery continues to age. Eventually, the car will have no range at all.
And the only way to fix this is by replacing the battery – which can be very expensive.
So, it’s really important to make sure the used EV’s battery is basically ok. I’d avoid any used EV that’s more than five years old and which has more than 50,000 miles on it. Unless the EV’s price is so low that it makes up for what you’ll have to spend on that new battery!
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