What’s Behind the Big Deprecation of Second-Hand Electric Cars?

Over the last few years, electric vehicles (EVs) have become something everyone is more aware of, and there are plenty of reasons why someone might choose to buy one over and above a traditional petrol or diesel vehicle. For one thing, they promise reduced emissions, they have lower operating costs, and they’re a good way to become more sustainable, which is great for the environment.

However, although all that is true, and although EVs are gaining in popularity, there’s another noticeable trend; the big depreciation of second-hand electric cars. This phenomenon has left many potential buyers scratching their heads in confusion, wondering exactly what’s driving this reduction in value, so with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the contributing factors.

One of the biggest reasons why there’s a big depreciation in the value of second-hand electric cars is quite simply the fact that technology is moving on quickly, and what was once a state-of-the-art electric vehicle is actually not all that great by the time the owner comes to sell it on. Newer models often come with enhanced battery technology, longer ranges, and generally improved performance compared to older EVs, and as a result, those older cars can quickly become outdated in terms of technology, making them much less desirable in the eyes of potential buyers.

On top of that, advancements in the way cars can be charged and software updates can also help explain the depreciation of older electric cars. Buyers are often willing to pay a premium for the latest features and conveniences, and that leaves older models at a big disadvantage when it comes to resale.

When you think about it, the battery is one of the most important parts of an electric car, and how it works (and how well it works) will directly impact the vehicle’s performance and range. As time goes on, lithium-ion batteries degrade, and that means reduced capacity and range – it’s called battery degradation, and you might have noticed it happening on your smartphone, for example. However, while you can easily upgrade your phone, upgrading a car is more expensive and time-consuming, and you’ll want to make good choices – that’s why second hand EVs are less desirable (why would someone who’s battery is degrading opt to be a car with an older battery?).

In other words, buyers might not want to buy a car if they’ve got concerns about how much life the battery has left or how well it will perform for them – the perceived risks mean that second-hand EVs drastically lose value, with many people opting for newer versions so they can be sure of the battery life.

Unlike traditional vehicles, the resale market for used electric vehicles compared to their gasoline-powered counterparts is much smaller, and as a result, there’s limited demand for second-hand electric vehicles. It’s clear that if there’s no demand, the price is going to tumble, and that’s precisely what’s happening.

There are plenty of factors that go into why people might not be convinced by electric vehicles just yet, despite the positives that come with them. For one thing, the battery and range issue is always going to be a question mark – where is the car going to be charged? How much will it cost? Plus, since standard cars are a lot less expensive and easy to buy, many people choose to save their money and, after a free car reg check to make sure all is in order, they’ll stick to what they’re used to and what they understand – yes, it might be worse for the planet, but if it’s better for the wallet and for peace of mind, that’s often going to win out.

Government initiatives and incentives are fantastic when it comes to EVs – they give people plenty of information, and they offer price reductions to ensure those who are on the fence make a decision in favour of the electric car.

That all sounds wonderful, but these schemes have their downsides too. Because they’re targeted towards new vehicles, it means that older second-hand electric cars won’t even be considered. After all, if the government is offering you money off a brand-new EV, why would you choose a second-hand one? Since there’s no government support for second-hand electric cars, it’s obvious that their value is going to seriously depreciate.

Perception and awareness also play a crucial role in the depreciation of second-hand electric cars. Although there are environmental benefits and plenty of cost savings associated with EVs, some people might still have reservations about buying one. It could be about using the new technology, where the charging stations are, how safe electric vehicles are, and so on. They’d rather wait until they become more mainstream and the waters have been thoroughly tested.

Are Electric Cars Really More Expensive Than Gas Cars?

In recent years, the automotive industry has witnessed a remarkable transformation with the growing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles. As the world strives to combat climate change and reduce its carbon footprint, consumers are increasingly turning to electric cars as a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. However, a common concern that often arises is the perception that electric cars come with a hefty price tag. But is this really the case? Are electric cars truly more expensive than their gas counterparts, especially in the United Kingdom?

Let’s delve into the world of electric vehicles (EVs) and compare their costs with those of traditional gasoline cars.

Initial Purchase Price

One of the primary factors that have contributed to the perception of electric cars being expensive is their initial purchase price. Historically, electric vehicles did carry a premium, primarily due to the cost of advanced batteries and electric drivetrains. However, times have changed, and advancements in battery technology, increased production volumes, and government incentives have substantially narrowed the price gap.

In the UK, there are now a variety of affordable electric options available from established automakers and newer entrants to the market. Models like the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, and Volkswagen ID.3 offer competitive pricing when compared to their petrol or diesel equivalents.

Moreover, government incentives and grants, such as the Plug-In Car Grant and the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme, can significantly reduce the upfront cost of an electric vehicle. These incentives make EVs a more financially viable option for many UK buyers.

Running Costs

When considering the total cost of ownership, electric cars often come out ahead of their gasoline-powered counterparts. Electricity is generally cheaper than petrol or diesel on a per-mile basis. Additionally, electric vehicles benefit from reduced maintenance costs because they have fewer moving parts and typically require less servicing.

Charging an electric vehicle at home can be significantly cheaper than filling up a petrol tank at the pump, especially if you take advantage of off-peak electricity rates or public charging infrastructure. Furthermore, electric cars are exempt from road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty) in the UK, saving owners even more money in the long run.

Government Incentives

The UK government has demonstrated its commitment to the electrification of the automotive industry by offering various incentives and policies that favour electric cars. Apart from the aforementioned Plug-In Car Grant and tax exemptions, EV owners can benefit from reduced Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) taxation for company cars, making them more attractive to businesses and fleet operators.

Resale Value

Electric vehicles have been showing strong resale value trends in recent years. As more consumers embrace eco-friendly driving and electric technology becomes increasingly mainstream, used electric cars are in high demand. This demand translates into better resale values, narrowing the cost gap between electric and gasoline cars even further.

In conclusion, the notion that electric cars are inherently more expensive than gas cars is becoming outdated. While there may still be some premium electric models with higher price tags, the overall landscape is changing rapidly. Advances in technology, government incentives, and a growing used electric car market are making electric vehicles more accessible and cost-effective for consumers in the United Kingdom.

When considering the total cost of ownership, which includes purchase price, running costs, and potential incentives, electric cars can often be on par with or even more affordable than traditional gasoline vehicles. As the UK continues to invest in EV infrastructure and green mobility, the financial advantages of electric cars are likely to become even more compelling in the coming years. So, if you’re wondering whether electric cars are more expensive than gas cars, the answer is increasingly a resounding “no.” The future of mobility is electric, and it’s becoming more affordable by the day.

Electric Cars are Awesome, Charging is a Crapshoot

Electric Cars

Green machines get better every day. But when you’re relying on public chargers? Getting juiced up can be a huge pain.

Later in the day, it would actually snow. But at the moment, it was only pouring rain in Los Angeles. The battery on my electric press car was under 15 percent — and the range was dropping quickly.

To preserve juice, the small crossover had cut the climate controls, so the interior was rapidly fogging up, and I was running out of options. Two of the ChargePoint stations the car’s navigation had directed me to were broken. The janky Flo Charging station was — apparently — members-only. The instructions on the Powerflex station, located in an empty parking devoid of services, proved impossible to decipher. And the Electrify America stations at the grocery store were all in use.

Out of options, I limped back to my girlfriend’s house, and resorted to the vehicle’s 120v charging cord. It had been a miserable morning, and it would be more than 24 hours before I felt confident enough to drive this fast, expensive machine again. Unfortunately, as this recent AudiWorld thread details, my experience wasn’t all that unusual, and showed that even if you’re in an area — like Southern California — rife with charging stations, actually charging can be a crapshoot.

So if you’re going to drive an electric car, the best bet is to pony up for a home charging station, as many members have done.

Now, while I’m an old-school gearhead who loves the smell of gasoline and the feel of a clutch pedal, I happen to love electric cars. I love the silence, the lack of emissions, and especially, the incomparable feeling of thrust they deliver. But for someone who lives in an apartment? Where I can’t even hook a battery tender to my motorcycle? I wouldn’t actually consider one, because I’d always feel — whether it’s realistic or not — like I was a hat trick of broken chargers away from being marooned.

This is to say nothing, of course, about the experience of using a fully functional charger. For example, all of the ones I’ve encountered require you to download an app to use them, which is stupid. Sure, it’s useful to be able to see your state of charge while you’re walking around the grocery store or sitting in a restaurant. But it’s far from necessary, and if you’re visiting a type of station you haven’t used before, it means that you have to spend five or ten minutes slogging through a setup before you can get a trickle of juice into your car. And what happens if your phone is dead? Or if you don’t have service? At that moment, you’re screwed.

After my recent charging odyssey, I had three useless apps on my phone — all of which had access to my billing address and credit card info. It’s enough to make you want to go and buy a diesel pickup.

So I’m proposing a couple of ideas to make charging easier. First, every charger should have a credit card reader. That doesn’t mean you still can’t use an app, because heaven knows companies love apps. But you should also be able to roll up to a charger, plug in your vehicle, slide your card, and start charging. It should be no harder than using a gas pump. Second, every charger should ping out not only whether it’s occupied, which some do, but whether it’s actually functional. Given that cars already receive real-time traffic updates and the like, that shouldn’t be hard. Either of those would have saved me a bunch of grief on my little adventure.

But what do you think? Am I whining unnecessarily? Or am I on to something? And what else could be done to make charging less risky when you’re on the move? Hit me up and let me know!

Image Source: Audi, ChargePoint

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Less-Expensive Audi Models are Coming — and That Could be Amazing

Audi urban concept

Smaller, less-expensive electric vehicles could be game changers for urban environments and be loads of fun to boot.

This week, Audi held its annual media conference, and CEO Markus Duesmann had plenty of interesting things to say about the future of the Four Rings. One big takeaway was that Ingolstadt plans to launch roughly 20 new models by 2025, half of which will be EVs. Of course, while manufacturers can be coy about what exactly a “new” model is, 2025 is just two years away. So that’s still a full dance card, particularly since some high-profile projects are years behind schedule.

But as our friends at Reuters pointed out, “less-expensive” Audis are also on the way. And that’s exciting.

Now, before we get too carried away, Audi certainly isn’t going to start a race to the bottom, and undercut brands like Mitsubishi. According to Duesmann, one new offering will be an entry-level EV priced less than the current Q4 e-tron, which makes perfect sense. It’s also reasonable to expect that buyers will be able to find cheaper versions of the current A3 and A4 models on showroom floors, since the global pandemic and chip shortage have — mercifully — begun to wane. Meaning Audi no longer has to triage, and only crank out its profitable models.

But when I think about new cheaper Audi EVs, I always come back to remarks that Duesmann made back in February of 2021, about how in the future, range will go down.

When you think about it, it’s not a wild concept. Because while charging on the fly is still challenging, that won’t be the case forever. As the infrastructure for electric vehicles increases, and drivers become more accustomed to how much range they actually need, they’re less likely to be scared away from vehicles offering “only” 250 miles between charges.

Hopefully, that shift in mindset will open the market up for smaller, cheaper, short-range vehicles that can serve as city vehicles — like the Urban Concept Audi revealed over a decade ago. Because not only is it small and efficient, it also looks like it would be an absolute hoot to drive.

The electric two-seater was designed to be light and maneuverable, and as the press release explains, fun is built into its DNA:

The Audi urban concept technology study is a 1 1 vehicle for urban and metropolitan areas. The electric powered show car has four wheels, but does not fit into any current automobile category. Weighing just 480 kilograms (1,058.22 lb), the Audi urban concept combines elements of a racecar, a roadster, a fun car and a city car into a radical new concept. It has the potential to become the trendsetter for a new form of mobility.

Now, there weren’t any power figures in the documentation. But at just over 1000 pounds, it’s around half the weight of a first-generation Lotus Elise, and only about 100 pounds heavier than a Harley-Davidson CVO Road Glide Ultra. So you could probably bolt the motor from a Vitamix to the chassis and call it good.

All kidding aside, as a car enthusiast and longtime urban dweller, this is exactly the kind of electric vehicle I want to see happen. There’s enough room to hold some groceries, a takeout order, and — on at least one version — a roof to keep the elements out. Since I don’t particularly enjoy off-roading, that’s what I think about when I think about the future of the hobby, and I hope that someday, manufacturers will produce practical EVs build around the joy of driving. Audi has already shown them the way.

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Would Audi Owners Actually Take an Activesphere Off Road?

Audi activesphere concept in Arctic Teal

The Activesphere Concept raises interesting questions about the design, capability, and sustainability of luxury off-roaders.

Even if Head of Audi Design Marc Lichte doesn’t think it’s particularly “aggressive,” the Activesphere Concept is a wicked-looking piece of kit. It’s also no poser. Because as Gael Buzyn, manager of the company’s Malibu Design Studio, described when it was revealed, this green machine offers “true off-road capabilities” — just like the potential G-Wagen fighter hinted at last month undoubtedly will.

The big question, however, is would any meaningful number of Audi owners actually take them on anything more treacherous than a trip up to the slopes, or a snowy school run. And as Alexander Edwards, president of automotive research firm Strategic Vision recently told Capital One’s Auto Navigator, the answer is probably not. Now, to be fair, Edwards wasn’t asked about Audi customers specifically. But he did say that group’s research indicated only 2% of SUV owners drive through mud or rocks more than once per year.

The vast majority — meaning  91% — stick to dirt or gravel, or never go off-road at all. For most people, a rugged SUV is more about the potential than the actual:

“The thought process is, if I want to be proud of myself, and part of the way I imagine that is through the ideas of freedom—being able to go anywhere, do anything—and I happen to be someone who is tied to a job or family where I have so much responsibility, I can’t actualize it,” Edwards explains. “By purchasing the SUV and having that capability, that fills that emotional deficit or gap that I’m having. It says, ‘I still am this person, even if I’m not doing it.’”

This is something that Karl Brauer, executive analyst at iSeeCars.com, has also discovered in his studies. Here’s what he told ABC News when the latest Land Rover Defender was starting to arrive on dealer lots:

“Consumers who buy these vehicles love the ‘what if’ idea. That alone will get them to buy these vehicles. Consumers want flexibility and confidence. But few will make that leap from mall parking lot to off-roading adventuring.”

Of course, there are Audi owners who might exploit the full abilities of a burly off-roader. Gene Pascua modified his 2015 Audi Allroad for overlanding, and two years ago, Matt Farah shot a video with an RS 4 Avant that was given the safari treatment. But I think it’s reasonable to consider the owners of those vehicles outliers. It’s also reasonable to ask what the harm in people having exponentially more capability than they need really is.

But unfortunately, even when a vehicle is electric — like the Activesphere — there’s still a tremendous cost associated with giant, heavy SUVs. Here’s a relevant bit from a new piece in the New Yorker:

The calculations become more complicated when the vehicles are electric, but the same basic math applies. Heavier vehicles require more energy to move around, and so, until the world is operating on zero-carbon electricity, the more an E.V. weighs, the more emissions it will produce. (Indeed, with electric vehicles, the weight problem is compounded: bigger cars need heavier batteries, which adds to their weight.)

It’s also important to note that along with unsexy metrics like tire particulate and pedestrian deaths, the bonkers level of performance offered by electric SUVs could make for some truly gruesome accidents. For example? The Hummer EV will go from zero to 60 in three seconds — and it weighs 9,000 pounds. And you don’t need to have a doctorate in physics to grasp what will happen when one collides with a small vehicle, or like, a large building.

So I think it’s worth asking about what percentage of owners will use an electric off-roader to its abilities, and how that number lines up with the green message automakers — not just Audi — are sending by pivoting from internal combustion engines. If you think I’m wrong, hit me up. 

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