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How to sell an electric car

In 2020, the UK government brought forward its ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars and vans from 2040 to 2030. As a consequence, new and used electric vehicle (EV) sales in the UK are expected to rise rapidly over the next decade.

The tide may have begun to turn on fossil fuel cars already. Hit by Covid-19 restrictions in 2020, the UK automotive industry saw a corresponding slump in new petrol and diesel car sales. However, the number of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles sold saw a substantial increase a percent of all sales. Indeed, nearly one-fifth of all cars registered (17.5%) in 2020 were zero-emissions capable – up from just 7.4% the previous year.

Thankfully, with the number of used electric cars on the road growing month on month, demand is increasing. It’s now easier than ever to sell your electric vehicle.

If you are ready to sell, you can value your electric vehicle with Motorway and find a great offer from a verified dealer.

But if you’re not quite ready to wave goodbye to your EV, read on below for more info on selling when you’re ready. And if you’re yet to make the leap to owning an electric car, we also explain a few things about values if you’re looking to purchase one any time soon…

sell electric car
Highly sellable, the ever-popular Nissan LEAF in a charging bay

The electric car market is growing at a rapid rate – with many automotive professionals now suggesting that the sale of ICE cars and vans has already peaked in the UK.

As of February 2021, there were more than 215,000 pure-electric cars on UK roads and over 455,000 plug-in models. With the sale of new petrol and diesel cars set to be banned in the UK by 2030, sales of EVs are liable to rise exponentially as the UK government plans to make the country carbon-neutral by 2050.

With growing consumer demand, increased interest in electric vehicles, and ongoing government support, if you are thinking about selling your electric vehicle, now is certainly a good time to find a great offer. The used EV market is growing fast as demand from buyers surges.

In this ultimate guide to selling electric vehicles, we’ll look at the following:

What are the difficulties associated with selling an electric car?

With so many drivers making the switch to electric cars, it might feel like an odd time to sell – but with such high demand, you could find that you get a good return if you choose to sell now.

It’s quick and easy to profile your electric car for sale with us and we’re ready to help you every step of the way. You can find your best offer from over 3,000 verified dealers, many of which are now very keen to stock up on used electric cars to retail.

There may be many reasons to sell your electric car. With EV performance improving all the time, perhaps you’re looking to upgrade to an electric model with greater range? Or, perhaps, your battery has degraded and your EV is no longer performing as you’d like? You might even have decided that you would prefer to make the switch back to a petrol or diesel ICE car ahead of the 2030 ban?

With demand on the rise, you can expect a healthy price selling a used EV. However, selling an electric car can be tricky at times, with a few complexities to consider, depending on how you bought it.

A white electric vehicle charging at an electric charging point.
A white electric vehicle charging at an electric charging point

Typically, when you buy – or take out finance on – a traditional petrol or diesel ICE vehicle, the sale will include the car or van’s batteries. Whereas, with many EV sales, there is the choice to either buy or take out finance on the whole car, or to pay for the car and lease the battery separately.

If you decided to lease, it means that if the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery degraded significantly, the company that you leased from would replace it. However, it also means that whilst you own the car – you do not own the battery pack. This is a good way of ensuring your battery’s health and keeping the initial price down when you purchase – though, of course, you will still need to pay the monthly leasing charge.

When you come to sell, however, having a car with a leased battery may make it challenging. The resale values of pure-electric cars are not generally helped by some car manufacturers, like Renault, retaining ownership of the car’s battery. Many EV car advertisements are not clear about whether the asking price of the car includes the battery – or whether it must be leased. Naturally, this can be frustrating for potential buyers.

For some car brands and models, battery leasing is not an option. Teslas and BMW i models, for example, will always have the battery pack included. Other models, such as the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe will typically be purchased with a battery leasing deal – although some owners will choose to buy the battery outright.

If you are selling an EV, it will save your time – and that of potential buyers – to make clear the situation with the vehicle’s battery from the outset.

Which popular electric vehicle models hold their value well?

Like conventional internal combustion engine petrol and diesel vehicles, EVs will depreciate in value over time – and, similarly, the principal factors that cause this depreciation are the vehicle’s age and mileage.

As the EV market is currently growing, electric vehicles are typically more desirable than equivalent petrol or diesel models – a trend that is set to continue for at least the next decade – and, consequently, residual values on EVs remain higher for longer. This is good news if you are selling, as it gives you more time to find the price you want for your car.

ICE vehicles are likely to be subject to an ever-growing series of charges and inflated running costs over the coming years, as governments seek to restrict their use – and this will also make EV ownership more desirable. Costs associated with low-emissions zones and congestion charges will continue to hit owners of ICE vehicles, whilst government incentives and changing attitudes with regards to the environment will make EVs more attractive. These factors will mean that EVs continue to be sought-after and continue to hold their market value well.

Of course, not all EV models keep their value at the same rate – and the residual value of a car is dependent on a number of factors including mileage, condition, and availability. However, based on UK car sales, the following five EVs were the models that maintained their value best after three years.

The Porsche Taycan

The Porsche Taycan Turbo S maintains its sale value well.
The Porsche Taycan Turbo S maintains its sale value well

If you consider that the average depreciation of a standard petrol or diesel car after three years is 40-65% of the original selling price; with a drop in value of just 37.1% in the same period, The Porsche Taycan is the electric car with the slowest depreciation rate on the market.  

With its low centre of gravity and agile handling, the sporty Taycan offers an impressive 254-301-mile range and rapid Formula 1-style acceleration. However, with the price of a new entry-level model being more than £70,000, it remains outside the budget of most drivers.

The Tesla Model 3

The Telsa Model 3's value depreciates slowly after sale.
The Telsa Model 3’s value depreciates slowly after sale

The Tesla EVs typically hold their value well. The Model 3 has a claimed 267-mile range on a single charge and manages 0-60 mph in just 5.3 seconds. With the sale price of the entry-level Model 3 at around £40,000, it is significantly more affordable than The Porsche Taycan – and holds its value almost as well. On average, the Tesla Model 3 depreciates at around 40.4% after three years.

The Tesla Model X

The Tesla Model X maintains a strong residual sale value.
The Tesla Model X maintains a strong residual sale value

Though described by Tesla as an SUV, the slick X looks much more like a car than most SUVs – and crossovers – on the market. It is the Model X’s remarkable acceleration that marks it out from other EVs – in the Performance version, it can go from 0-60 mph in an incredible 2.6 seconds. The ‘Long Range’ seven-seat family model also has a claimed full-power range of 295 miles. Like the Model 3, the X holds its value well, losing just 41.3% after three years. Though it has recently come down in price significantly, a new entry-level Model X will still set you back more than £80,000.

Polestar 2

A white Polestar 2 on sale at a showroom.
The Polestar 2 on sale at a showroom

Not one of the bigger brands on this list, Scandinavian company Polestar began as a banner for Volvo’s motorsport activity, before graduating to become a standalone EV manufacturer in 2017. The company’s first offering – the Polestar 1 – was an altogether unremarkable plug-in coupe, but the Polestar 2 is something much more impressive – featuring top-of-class design, usability, performance, and handling – all of which the company hopes will make it a potential ‘Tesla killer.’ With a range of 245 miles, the fastback-style Polestar 2 also depreciates slowly – at 41.8% over the first three years on average.

The Tesla Model S

The Tesla Model S maintains its sales value well.
The Tesla Model S maintains its sale value well

An executive saloon that combines impressive performance, a luxurious, high-tech cabin and sleek design, the Model S was Tesla’s original success story – and, possibly as a consequence of its formidable reputation, it continues to depreciate slowly. Its range of 390 miles on a single charge, makes it a standout EV. After three years, its value only drops a respectable 43% on average.

Popular electric cars to sell

Whilst a lot of the luxury EVs maintain their value well, they are not necessarily the cars that sell best on the used car market, simply because, even second-hand, their asking prices are outside the budget of many drivers.

Unsurprisingly, the top-selling electric vehicles in the used car market are more affordable models – such as the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe.  

The Nissan Leaf

The Nissan Leaf - the top-selling EV in the UK in 2020.
The Nissan Leaf – Motorway’s most popular electric car to sell in 2020

Motorway’s Used Carometer recently revealed that the Nissan Leaf was the most popular used electric car to sell in the UK in 2020.

The world’s first mass-market electric car, the Leaf is renowned for being spacious, easy to drive and comfortable. With its affordability, robust battery, and decent range, the Leaf is considered the ideal family EV. The sharp, aerodynamic lines of the sleek, new v2.0 are also more in line with the more popular models in the Nissan family, such as the Qashqai.  

The official range of the Nissan Leaf is a respectable 168 miles, with the bigger battery e+ model delivering an impressive 239-mile range. With electric cars in demand, the Nissan Leaf offers the kind of value for money and solid reputation that will typically ensure a quick sale on the used car market.

The Renault Zoe

The Renault Zoe - the bestselling electric car in Europe in 2020. Source: Wikipedia.
The Renault Zoe – the bestselling electric car in Europe in 2020. Source: Wikipedia

In 2020, European sales of the Renault Zoe rose by an unprecedented 118% on the previous year, even eclipsing sales of the Tesla Model 3, the previous year’s bestselling EV.

It’s easy to see why the Zoe is popular. The five-door hatchback EV costs less than the vast majority of electric cars on the market and can do an outstanding 245 miles on a full charge.  The Zoe also comes with a wall-mounted 7kW charger as standard, allowing owners to charge cheaply at home. A full battery charge at home costs around £8, depending on tariff and time of day.

The residual value of the Zoe is also amongst the best of any used car, meaning that the model is perpetually in demand and liable to give the seller a strong return.

How long will electric vehicles continue to sell well?

Despite Covid restrictions and repeated lockdowns, according to the most up-to-date information on vehicle registrations, more than three times as many pure EVs were bought in the UK in the first nine months of 2020 than in the whole of the preceding year – with the surging demand seeing many carmakers struggling to manage orders.

As well as the current range of incentives being offered by governments hoping to make electric vehicles more attractive to drivers, recent studies have also shown that due to such factors as lower energy costs, smaller maintenance expenses and slower depreciation, most of the current family EVs on the market are around £130 a month less expensive to run, in real terms, than comparable ICE vehicles.

The take-up of EVs in the last year is likely to continue (and grow), but for a true mass market, it requires more commitment from automobile manufacturers to provide a more diverse range of electric vehicles at more affordable prices.

The cost of lithium-ion batteries – traditionally the most expensive components of electric vehicles – have seen a dramatic fall in price in recent years. Energy sector researchers Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) maintain that the drop in lithium-ion battery pack prices between 2010 and 2019 was a huge 87%. If this trend continues, EVs should reach a price parity with new ICE vehicles sometime between 2025 and 2029 – just in time for the electric switchover.

Though the Tesla 3 was the UK’s top-selling car in December 2020, the model is not affordable for many car buyers, and the car manufacturer that gains the most market share in the next decade will perhaps be the one that produces efficient, eco-friendly models – and manages to close the affordability gap for those on a tighter budget.

In the short term, the high cost and limited production of EV models means that there has been a distinct lack of trickle-down to the used car market – which helps keep EV values high. Consequently, for owners putting to market practically any model of EV, it remains – at least for the time being – a seller’s market.

As well as dedicated websites to sell cars, such as Motorway, when selling an EV there are also a number of dedicated options available, specific to electric vehicles, such as MyEV and Drive Green.

Thinking of selling your car to buy electric? Or have an electric car to sell?

Consider your options with our handy car selling pages and guides: