Car shopping can be a difficult task if you don’t know what to expect. When it comes to buying an electric car, it becomes much more of a step-by-step process. The good news is – that by following these four steps, your EV car shopping will be a lot easier.
What type and model of plug-in electric do I want?
The first major step in the process is determining what type of electric vehicle you want. You can decide on a pure electric vehicle like a Chevy Bolt EV or choose a plug-in hybrid electric like a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. There are so many brands of electric vehicles out there, and it can be difficult to choose which one is best for you. We recommend using an interactive online guide like the Compare Cars tool linked on the EV ENE website. Since new and used car dealers may not always be familiar with which of the cars they have on the lot are plug-in electrics, make a short list of the models you want to see and drive, rather than just asking the sales person “Which electric cars do you have in stock?”. This is because sometimes they may actually not know the answer, or be able to give you an accurate one.
GM has made four electric cars so far, the two most popular being the Volt PHEV (2011-2019) and the all-electric Bolt EV (2016-present). The Volt has also been a very popular affordable used electric car choice. The Bolt EV is rated at 238 miles per charge.
At which dealers can I find electric cars on the lot?
Next, use an online car search tool to see which electric vehicles are available near you. One of the best places to start looking at is Autotrader.com. Autotrader features cars of every brand and every type and makes it easy to search within your local area. When I first went on Autotrader, I came across an electric car that really intrigued me; A used 2015 Nissan Leaf EV which only had around 10,000 miles. The price of that Leaf was only $11,500 which is such a great deal. In fact there are many used low mileage electric cars locally for under $12,000, and some for $7,000 or less! After doing some research, I decided this LEAF was the best deal because I was easily able to compare cars of similar age and mileage.
The Nissan LEAF (2011-present) is one of the most popular affordable EVs in the US and the best selling electric car in the world. Pictured is the 2018 (generation 2) model.
Get prepared! (to visit the dealer)
Once you have chosen a vehicle to go see, print out the specifications from the online listing to bring with you and refer to when speaking with the salesperson. This is because the final step to this process is checking out to see if the seller knows their info on electric vehicles. Important tip: Before you visit the dealer, call in advance and request that they ensure the car is fully charged before you come to see it. If they are unable to do this, then move on to another dealer.
Quiz the salesperson!
When finally going to dealers, it is important to ask many questions. It’s important to see if the salesperson knows enough about electric vehicles and their different features, as they are very different than gas powered cars. This will also tell you if the salesperson knows the product well and therefore is a trusted person to deal with. This can also help the process go smoothly as this can that the car has likely been properly taken care of. By identifying that you are talking to an experienced EV dealer, you will get better guidance, and the right deal can be done. Happy EV shopping!
-EV Specialist Sarah Federico