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Why second-hand electric cars are the cheapest and most environmentally friendly way to drive

The UK is facing a fuel shortage crisis - and customers are turning to electric cars because of it.
The UK is facing a fuel shortage crisis - and customers are turning to electric cars because of it.   -   Copyright  Canva
By Nichola Daunton

News that petrol prices could hit £2.50 (almost €3) in the UK is making electric cars look ever more attractive.

Diesel may even reach £3 (€3.57) and need to be rationed, experts told MPs on Monday, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to drive up oil and gas prices.

As when the UK fuel crisis peaked in September last year, this means booming business for electric car sellers. Inquiries to electric car dealers have shot up over recent days as drivers seek alternatives to long petrol station queues.

Even before the fuel crisis, electric cars have been rapidly rising in popularity. 2020 saw record sales in the UK for electric vehicles, with 59,945 EVs registered. This rise comes ahead of the government’s ban on new petrol and diesel cars, coming into force in 2030.

EVs are only one solution to the wider energy crisis, of course. As climate charity Possible says, they’re trumped by e-bikes in the green transport stakes (see also: public transport, walking and regular biking).

But there are a number of environmental benefits to switching your petrol-powered one to an electric, especially when it's second-hand.

Frank Augstein/AP
A sign during the UK's September 2021 petrol shortages.Frank Augstein/AP

Is the second-hand car market booming?

While the used car market saw a dip in 2020, the EV share of the market rose by 27 per cent. “It’s encouraging to see more used car buyers snapping up low-emission vehicles as supply grows – but those sales remain low as an overall proportion of the market,” says The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) CEO, Mike Hawes.

“We still need the right policies and incentives from government to give new car buyers confidence to choose the cleanest petrol, diesel and electric models that best suit their needs.”

Three quarters of UK drivers would buy a used electric car.

In great news for the EV industry though, a survey by Motorparks has found that three quarters of UK drivers would buy a used electric car.

Richard Vogel/AP
Buying an electric car is much better for the environment as you can get around without producing any carbon emissions.Richard Vogel/AP

Benefits of buying a used electric car

Buying a second-hand electric car has many benefits, not least saving money. With around 20 per cent of a new car’s value lost the moment you drive it away, buying a used EV is becoming more popular. Currently nearly three used cars are being sold for every new vehicle in the UK.

But besides cost and environmental savings, there are lots of other advantages.

These days, factory warranties are lengthier than ever, so longevity is better than it was in the past. It’s also possible to pick up a high-spec used EV. All those gadgets you pay extra for? The previous owner has already paid for them.

Around 20% of a new car’s value is lost the moment you drive it away.

The green benefits of electric cars stack up too. While walking, cycling or using public transport are always better for the environment, buying second-hand and going electric is still a great choice.

Air pollutants from EVs are very low when compared to petrol or diesel cars. Particle release still occurs from tyre wear and braking, but with no tailpipe there are no nitrogen oxide emissions.

Canva
With a rise in new electric vehicle sales, we will undoubtedly see an increase in used sales, fuelled by the petrol crisis and the ban on fossil-fuel models in 2030.Canva

Thanks to advances in technology, battery packs are lasting much longer too, which makes buying second-hand a safe option. Experts claim that an electric car battery won’t need to be replaced for 10 to 20 years, and can cover around 150,000 miles in its lifetime.

With a rise in new electric vehicle sales, we will undoubtedly see an increase in used sales, fuelled by the petrol crisis and the ban on fossil-fuel models in 2030.