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eBay Motor Listings Are Full of Used Electric Car Gems

Sometime in the past week, the 100,000th plug-in electric car was sold in the U.S. That means it’s only a matter of time before a vibrant market for electric cars begins to emerge. Already, we can see a few dozen used EVs on eBay Motors—so it’s a great time to evaluate what’s on sale for the electric car shopper.

Buying an EV is very similar to buying any car. You should check the car’s service record for any recurring problems. And it’s always a good idea to get an independent inspection of a used electric car or plug-in hybrid, preferably by someone who knows the technology.

Beyond that, the only major issue to consider is the health of the battery pack—the biggest and most expensive component in an electric car. It’s worth investigating if an EV’s battery warranty is still in place. Many new electric vehicles currently come with an 8-year, 100,000-mile warranty for defective batteries. And most EV makers go further—like Nissan, which added a five-year, 60,000-mile replacement warranty if a battery loses more than 30 percent of its charge capacity. The Tesla Model S now includes an eight-year unlimited mileage warranty for the 85-kwh battery pack—and an eight-year 125,000 mile warranty for the 60 kwh pack.

With those ground rules in place, here are the major types of electric offerings available on eBay:

Tesla Model S – These aren’t used vehicles, because the Model S just hit the market late last year. The California start-up company started taking deposits and pre-orders a few years ago. What you’re seeing on eBay are reservation holders either selling their spot in line, or essentially flipping the car. You could find a deal, but beware: Only the first owner qualifies for the $7,500 federal tax credit.

Fisker Karma – The Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid is a gorgeous vehicle. And the current eBay prices are significantly lower than the previous $100,000 sticker price. But there’s a catch: Fisker Automotive is expected to declare bankruptcy any day. That throws any service and maintenance plan into question. If you’re willing to take that risk—and work with a friendly neighborhood mechanic to maintain your electric sports car—then you can get a great deal on a used Karma.

Cool Conversions – Electric cars buyers are an independent and creative lot. Why go half way? Instead, find a truly one-of-a-kind unique electric conversion of a classic car. You might not get the driving range of the latest generation new EVs, but your silent cruise around city streets will reveal a true sense of automotive style.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles – When you peruse eBay’s electric car listings, you’re bound to see a number of vehicles that look like the love child of a golf cart and a family sedan. Those cars, made by such companies as GEM and Zenn, are called neighborhood electric vehicles (or NEVs). Commonly, these battery-powered vehicles are not legally allowed to travel on roads with speed limits above about 45 miles per hour. Many are technically not able to go above 25 miles per hour. Still, they are perfectly suited to in-town errands. Their prices are a fraction of competing electric cars, so maybe your local zero-emissions car could be one of these NEVs.

Previous Generation EVs – The Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt are popular new plug-in cars. But in a previous wave of electric cars in the late 1990s and early 2000s, carmakers made very capable electric cars that still have a lot of life left. When you see a first-gen Toyota RAV4 EV or Ford Ranger Electric, take a close look. These are durable electric machines often available at bargain prices.

Tesla Roadster – Before Tesla introduced its sleek award-winning Model S sedan, Tesla Motors sold a rip-roaring fast two-seater built on the frame of a Lotus Elise. It’s a low-to-the ground Roadster that will make any driver and passenger scream and squeal with delight as it accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour in about four seconds. Many new Model S owners previously owned a Roadster, so their first Tesla crazy-fast car is now up for sale. Buy one and you’ll never look back.

Article by Brad Berman, appearing courtesy eBay Green Driving.