Depreciation is the best friend of used car buyers as it helps bring down the cost of a new car to a much more affordable level. Few cars have suffered more from depreciation in recent years than electric vehicles (EVs).

The reasons for EVs suffering so much depreciation - up to 60% in the first year alone - are varied. For starters, the used car industry still isn’t quite sure about EVs as there are not sufficient numbers in the market to make a detailed and accurate assessment of each model’s desirability, reliability and customer demand. In short, people just aren't buying them.

The great unknown

Another reason used car dealers are shy about paying any more than bottom dollar to stock an EV is that they are unfamiliar with battery technology. Where a petrol or diesel engine is concerned, you can estimate its running costs and likely repair bills very accurately depending on its mileage and the type of use it’s had.

With an EV, there are far fewer moving parts thanks to it using an electric motor in place of a fossil-fuel engine. This means an EV should be more reliable than a car with an internal combustion engine as there is less to go wrong.

A Renault Zoe electric car.

The battery pack also has no moving parts, so there’s no fuel pump or fuel lines to falter. However, the battery still raises many concerns with the trade and buyers alike because they worry it will deteriorate over time and leave the driver stranded with no charge.

Better batteries

While it’s true batteries will degrade over time, those used in most current EVs will last for at least 150,000 miles. The worst thing for batteries is for them to be left unused for prolonged periods, so choosing a used EV with average or even higher than average mileage makes sense. The best way to use an EV is to top up with charge little and often. Fully charging and discharging the batteries will shorten their life.

[Related story: The car of your electric dreams?]

Another big concern with EVs is the cost of replacing the batteries when they stop delivering the claimed range of the car. Of course, range depends on the type of use the car is subjected to, so the faster you drive the less distance you will cover.

Replacement woes

As for the cost of replacement, a Nissan Leaf battery pack will set you back £5,000. That’s a lot of money, but it will only be necessary when the car has covered 150,000 miles or more, and the cost is comparable (at worst) to what you would likely spend on parts, servicing and fuel keeping a petrol or diesel car on the road to the same mileage.

An EV will save you money on service items you would expect with a petrol or diesel car. Regenerative braking with an EV recovers energy to help recharge the battery and slows the car, so you don’t need to use the brakes so much. There’s also no clutch or gearbox to worry about, and you don’t have to change oil, filters or spark plugs, all of which cuts the cost of servicing.

This should all mean that choosing a used electric car will add up to a huge saving over a similar petrol- or diesel-powered model.

Do you own a second-hand electric car - or would you buy one?  let us know in the Comments below.