Not so long ago, this journalist grew weary of the endless whiplash that accompanies the vagaries of global oil markets.
In more specific terms, I was sick of spending $80 every time I filled the family car’s gas tank.
Spending that amount was particularly infuriating to me because, as a long-time market reporter, I and every trader I’ve met know full well that oil prices are rarely badly affected by supply problems or political speed bumps.
More often than not, it was simply a matter of transportation and negotiation by OPEC member countries or a sign that other parts of the market were feeling nervous – two things that made the price of driving around town boring, but driving across the country to see the rest of our family downright painful.
So I set off in search of what many have assured me is the unicorn of automobiles: a cheap, good used electric vehicle.
Oh, and I wanted it delivered.
Determine what you are willing to spend on the electric vehicle
My first step was to analyze how much I was willing to spend to add a second vehicle to our family of five, balancing how much it would be used and how much it would cost to maintain it.
The cost of the car would also be determined by where I lived – a study by Recurrent Auto found that used electric vehicle prices could vary by as much as 33% between states, a massive change that I wasn’t willing to pay for up front, and that also partially thwarted the goal of get a used car in the first place.
Recurrent’s research compared popular used electric vehicle models of the 2017 BMW i3, Chevy Bolt, and Tesla Model S; BMW 530e 2018, Honda Clarity, Nissan Leaf, Audi e-tron 2019, Tesla Model 3 and VW e-golf.
He then tracked their selling prices in California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Washington and Oregon.
He found that every state had something to offer: Washington had incentives, while California had four times the inventory of anywhere else. His conclusion? If you know what you want to buy, research it in as many states as possible before making a deal.
“It’s worth researching your electric car across state lines because many retailers will ship vehicles from out of state,” says Recurrent. “Even with the shipping costs, you can still find your dream car within your budget.”
How do you know which electric vehicle is best for you?
While doing my research, I discovered that each electric vehicle has its pros and cons. Some had longer ranges for their batteries, others had more power. Some lasted longer as primary vehicles, while others had amazing gadgets and amenities in a mid-priced car.
Fortunately, in August 2021, just when I was buying, US News released its list of the best used electric cars and SUVs. They rated each model based on lineup, price, trade-in value, features, and a host of other metrics. Using this scale, they ranked them as follows:
- 2019 Kia Niro Electric
- 2019 Jaguar I-Pace
- 2017 Nissan Leaf
- Audi e-tron 2019
- 2017 Tesla Model X
- 2019 Hyundai Kona Electric
- Tesla Model 3 2019
- BMW i3 2017
Be sure to search online for the best used electric vehicle
After considering all of these factors, solidifying my budget, and trying out different states for different vehicles, I had one last tool in my toolbox: the Internet.
And again, that made everything else downright clunky in comparison. At first, it was as simple as typing models I like into Google search, then clicking the Shopping feature to find out what was out there.
Honestly, it worked really well, and I was about to buy a really nice little Nissan Leaf when I stopped and asked my relatives for their thoughts on enjoyable car experiences. The two I kept hearing about for used electric vehicles were Carmax and Carvana.
So the next day I went to Carmax and tested the few electric vehicles they had in the field. They said that with such high demand during the pandemic, they don’t always have a lot of inventory, so call first and research their site online before taking a test drive.
Taking a tip from my sister, I then checked out Carvana – and it was love at first sight. In less than two minutes, I had set all the filters I wanted in my used car, including price, age, size, electrics.
Lo and behold, my winner emerged: an all-electric used 2013 Ford Focus for just under $11,000.
Now came the best part: After buying the whole thing on sale, Carvana delivered the car three days later straight to our driveway.
The whole process took about 15 minutes and the car itself was exactly as pictured, easy to drive and charged using our washing machine plug from the start.
So what have we learned about buying an electric car?
And that’s what I drove very happily – and cheaply! – since. He’s been through hot summers in California and freezing winters in Kansas, three children under the age of eight and a springer spaniel.
But the most compelling part is happening right now: if you’re looking for Carvana in the same filters as me – all-electric, used, no down payment, monthly payment of $300 or less – they have over 40 cars all available.
At Carmax, still using these same filters, about two dozen are currently on sale.
Which brings me, and I hope the reader, to a somewhat optimistic conclusion – it’s possible to buy a used EV quickly, simply, and within your budget much easier than we thought. probably.
And they can even deliver.