There’s little doubt that electrification is the future of the automobile. Witness the bevy of EVs that are now for sale and coming soon, like the Mustang Mach-E. Cadillac is pledging to take their entire brand EV-only by 2030.
However, like all cars, EVs are not immune to the laws of depreciation. They will change hands, and some will eventually be abused, neglected, or even outright abandoned. Some may even become curbside classics to be featured in some future post at this site.
In theory, EVs should make great beaters. With no engine, transmission, exhaust system, fuel system, or cooling system, there are far fewer things to break and cause a “career-ending injury” that we so often see when the repair cost exceeds the value of the vehicle. Other than the battery and electronics (the jury is still out on the long-term durability of both), there is little preventing an EV from running almost indefinitely. (ED: there are liquid battery cooling systems on almost all EVs. And there’s heat pumps used on an increasing number of them)
If you are one to neglect maintenance, then you are in luck: EVs have no fluids to replace (or leak), they require no tune-ups, and thanks to regenerative braking, the brake pads and rotors could very well last the lifetime of the car. A fresh set of tires every so often is potentially all you need to keep on motoring. (ED: there’s still brake fluid to change)
Some early model EVs are already getting close to CC-level prices. You can find early Nissan LEAFs all day long for under 10 grand, and I was able to find some running examples for under $4,000, which is really getting close to beater territory.
Granted, the interior of this model is water stained and looks like it was used to transport mulch, but still, you could do far worse at this price point.
Cheap Teslas are more difficult to find. The least expensive one I could find was this 2014 Model S (edit: it now appears to be gone) with a worn interior, ripped seats, scuffed up bumpers, and badly misaligned panels (which may or may not have been like that from the factory). Even with all these cosmetic issues, the seller was still asking $20,000, which is not exactly buy-here, pay-here territory, but at least is entering the neighborhood.
So how long do you think it will be before we start seeing pictures in the Cohort of Nissan LEAFs covered in, well, leaves, or Teslas sinking into the ground surrounded by overgrown weeds?