Car: Why there are hardly any used electric cars

If a new electric car is too expensive for you, you will find it difficult to buy used instead.

Car: Why there are hardly any used electric cars

If a new electric car is too expensive for you, you will find it difficult to buy used instead. The supply of used electric vehicles has doubled within a year, but they are still relatively rare, as figures from the vehicle exchange, the Federal Motor Transport Authority and the market observer DAT show. In relation to the new price, they are actually rather cheap. There could be a bigger push in a year or two.

The small offer

An average of 25,500 used purely electric cars were advertised on the vehicle exchange in January, according to an evaluation by the company for the German Press Agency, which did not take into account vehicles that were more than 20 years old or had covered 200,000 kilometers. That was a 106 percent increase from January 2022.

Nevertheless, the Stromer are exotic on the platform: even after doubling, they only accounted for 2.4 percent of the offer. And when it came to the actual transfers of ownership counted by the KBA, it was only 1 percent in January. In the case of new cars, the proportion of electric vehicles was recently ten times as high.

The deviation from the new car market is also evident when looking at the used electric vehicles on offer. The Renault Zoe is the most common on, ahead of the Tesla Model 3 and the BMW i3, which is no longer manufactured. In 2022, according to the KBA, the most frequently newly registered pure electric vehicles were the Tesla Model Y, Model 3 and Fiat 500.

The reasons

"There is currently no relevant offer for older used cars. This is mainly due to the fact that three years ago there was not a wide range of new electric cars and new registrations were correspondingly lower," explains Thomas Peckruhn, Vice President of the German Central Association Motor vehicle trade (ZDK). Three years is a typical period for used cars because many leasing contracts run for that long and the cars come onto the market at this age.

But the market for used Stromer is much younger. In the offer at, their average age in January was 25 months. Petrol vehicles were much older at 77 months, as were diesels at 66 months - there are also many old used vehicles here.

The future

If you want more choice, you have to be patient. "There will probably be a larger supply of used electric cars from 2024 or 2025," says Peckruhn. Then the leasing returns from previous years with higher proportions of electric vehicles will come onto the market.

However, the DAT points to another slowing effect: almost half of the Stromer sold in recent years went to private individuals. And they usually keep their vehicles much longer: five to ten years.

The prices

New Stromers are not cheap to buy. But at least the so-called residual values ​​were recently lower than for cars with combustion engines. In January, DAT calculated a residual value of 61.5 percent of the list price for a typical three-year-old Stromer. For diesel it was 66.8 percent and for petrol engines 69.6 percent. However, part of the difference is due to state subsidies for new e-cars.

The demand for used electric vehicles

In the case of the DAT, this is referred to as "behaved". Because for the vast majority of car buyers, an electric car is either not an option or only an option as a new car, as the survey for the annual DAT report shows. Even among the used car buyers surveyed, only 14 percent said that a used Stromer would be an option for them. Twice as many of them said "No, just a new electric car".

Nevertheless, the electric cars offered on are sold relatively quickly. In January, there was an average of 38 idle days. There were more than 50 each for petrol, diesel and hybrids.

It all depends on the battery

The condition of the battery is one of the things that concerns buyers when buying a used Stromer. In the DAT survey, the majority rated it as at least as important as mileage. Peckruhn also sees it as important for the price of an electric car. However, he emphasizes that the condition can be checked reliably. And there are also long guarantees from the manufacturers.