Electric cars may be the way of the future, but there's one major problem with them now

When I last wrote about EVs I was called a dinosaur, but I'm convinced and here's the biggest reason I won't be buying one, writes Adam Lucius.

Adam Lucius (left) and EV cars lined up (right).
Adam Lucius says he's happy to be called a dinosaur but he'll be lining up at his local Caltex for a while yet. Source: Supplied/Getty

When I last wrote about my concerns over buying an electric car, a mate rang to say I was an anti-green, right-leaning dinosaur who would be on the wrong side of history when the world's roads are dominated by battery-powered cars within 10 years.

A bit harsh, I thought.

And a touch hypocritical.

How committed to the cause would he be if he realised choosing an electric car over a conventional car could substantially hit him financially a few years down the track?

I soon had my answer.

I sent him a link to data revealing the poor re-sale value of EVs – and received in return three grimacing emojis, a crying face and a peace offering of a six pack of my choice.

Chalk up a win to the dinosaur.

And add it to the list of reasons why I'll be lining up at my local Caltex for a few more years to come.

The minute you drive a battery-operated car out the door, you can kiss goodbye to recouping anywhere near what you paid for it when it comes to selling your vehicle.

Re-sale and trade-in values are through the floor.

For further proof EVs are not quite the sound investment they are often made out to be, I tracked down Sydney prestige used car sales manager Benson Saap for his take.

A quick look at the Saap Auto website reveals vehicles for sale ranging from a 1937 Chrysler Imperial Sedan to a 2014 Lamborghini Roadstar worth $690,000.

Of the 55 cars on the showroom floor, only one is an EV.

It's a 2016 BMW, priced at just over $30K, and has been sitting there – in Saap's words – "forever".

Benson Saap (left) and the BMW (right).
Benson Saap says he's having the worst luck trying to sell this used BMW electric car. Source: Supplied

While Saap is open minded about EVs and acknowledges they are emerging as a major player in Australia's car market, he just can’t shift them.

He told Yahoo News Australia: "If we buy one, we just don’t see clients walking through the door enquiring about them."

"We've trialled it and it just hasn't worked. They're a hard car to sell second hand," he said.

"They only really suit new car buyers."

Why's that?

"You are asking people to buy a second-hand car with effectively no real service record while banking on the hope the battery doesn’t blow up and cost you 20 grand," Saap continued.

"Who's going to take that risk?"

The stats back up his claims.

Data taken from car dealers and private sales in 2023 show the re-sale value of second-hand EVs drop 57 per cent in value if aged between two and four years old and around 75 per cent if five years or older.

In comparison, petrol/diesel cars retained 86 per cent of their value between two and four years of age and 69 per cent if five to seven years old.

Woman browses BYD electric cars on display.
Electric cars are exciting when they're new, but their resale value drops drastically as soon as you drive them off the lot. Source: Getty

It also takes sellers a lot longer, on average, to offload EVs as wary buyers baulk at taking a risk with the unknown.

While EVs may well be the way of the future, they're not the way of the present if you are looking for a return on investment.

Some would argue it's another solid reason to pull the plug on electric and power on with petrol.

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