What do you do if you don’t have the time, space or ability to build your own EV? I recommend that you look into second hand electric cars. You probably haven’t looked into where to buy a used electric car, but a quick search shows me that there are dozens of EVs available within 100 miles of me, and they’re easier to find than you think. A used electric vehicle may be exactly what you’re looking for if you want to break your addiction to gasoline. There are a lot of good reasons to buy a used EV if you’re not into converting one yourself.
Why should I buy a used electric car?
There are several reasons you may want to consider going this route. Below I have listed some things to consider if you’re looking for your own used EV.
They can be had cheap…really cheap. I have seen home built electric vehicles for sale on Craigslist for under $2000. Sometimes you will find that these cars need a new battery pack but that’s not a big deal. A lead acid battery pack can run you $100 on the low end up to $3000 on the high end. I personally paid $100 for the 10 Deka Dominator gel cell batteries in my car.
You can get incredible value by buying second hand. I have seen cars for $1500 with components that total over $2000 if bought new. That’s not including the batteries, cost of the car itself or time invested in the conversion. Buying used may even be an option for those who are building their own EV, but can salvage components from a used EV. The other benefit here is that you can negotiate a price for a used car. It’s much more difficult to negotiate on new parts if you’re buying all of your components new.
If you buy used, most of the work is done for you. Somebody else has engineered the thing, invested the time into sourcing and mounting components, weight distribution, wiring and a plethora of other time consuming tasks. If you want a cheap electric car of your own, but just don’t have the time to build one on your own, a used EV is a great option for you.
Where can I find a used electric car?
Believe it or not, these things can be had for a song all over the internet. There are many people who lose interest in a project (which for some reason, always seems to happen when it’s 95% complete), need a new battery pack and don’t want to invest the money or inherited an EV that they just don’t want. Here are some places I recommend you start your search.
Yes, there are lots of use electric cars available on Craigslist. If you live in a big city, even better. I recently did a search for “electric car” on Craigslist Seattle and it turned up two results. One was a mostly-completed Ford Probe project car and the other was an older Ford Ranger conversion in need of a couple new components. What they had in common is they were both cheap!
EV Tradin’ Post
This is a classified site specifically for Electric cars, parts and components. At the time of this writing there are a couple dozen ads for used electric vehicles on the site. It’s also a great place to find used parts. There’s everything from chargers to adapter plates, motors and controllers on the site, and you can typically negotiate a price for used stuff.
EBay is a great place to find parts and used vehicles. There are several conversions on there now including an S10, a VW squareback wagon and others. Try searching “electric car conversion” and “electric truck conversion” and variants of those. I will say that you need to be careful what you buy on EBay, especially if you’re in the market for parts. There is a lot of great North American stuff on there, and some great Chinese stuff. I love a good deal and if the cheap, Chinese version of something will do the job, I’m willing to consider it. After having a Chinese volt gauge catch fire on the dash of my car recently, I’m a little more wary of the latter.
Local Electric Vehicle Associations and Clubs
This is a treasure trove of used stuff. You can find great conversions for sale at amazing prices on these sites. I was just surfing the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association website and there are more than 10 EVs available at great prices as well as tons of parts. Most major cities, states or provinces will have some sort of club for electric vehicle enthusiasts. Just do a Google search with your city or state name followed by “electric car club” or “electric car association”.
You will be surprised how willing to help some parts suppliers are. They are typically well-connected in the EV industry and will likely know of some vehicles for sale that may not be advertised. I have found parts suppliers to be super friendly and willing to help. Why wouldn’t they be? If they help you find your new car they are likely to earn your business someday when you need parts or want to upgrade.
There are lots of high-quality used electric cars out there that can be found at a great price if you know where to look. Researching and writing this post has actually made me start thinking about buying a second hand electric car for my next vehicle instead of doing another conversion myself. There’s just so many great, cheap EVs out there!