Selling an electric car or motorcycle

At the moment it surely seems like electric vehicles are the future, and according to industry titans competition is paramount. For the average-income earning consumer, however, a used electric car can be a difficult sell. After all, gas-powered cars, for similar performance, cost a lot less. Taking Tesla’s Model S into consideration, MSRP starts at around $68,000 for slightly less than 400-hp, vs the Corvette standing atop with 450-hp and costing near $55,000. The Model S also weighs more than 4,000 pounds and only goes roughly 100 miles on a charge. That’s not a great sell, however factoring in tax breaks, the fact that it needs significantly less engine maintenance than a gas-powered vehicle and the realization that trips to the gas station are no longer a factor, the EV can (eventually) pay for itself.

Unfortunately the tax breaks don’t factor in when selling a used EV, so if you’re trying to sell an EV privately you’ll need to make prospective buyers an offer they can’t refuse. The problem with most EVs is the depreciation, with cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt losing tens of thousands of dollars of value per year, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. If you’re selling your EV, no matter what you have be prepared to eat the cost of depreciation.

Unfortunately the cons list for buying an electric vehicle continues, with the overall price of the car not being worth the performance. The most powerful option for the Model S is the 90D starting at around a hefty $90,000, producing an impressive 690-hp, and still is able to go (according to Tesla) more than 100 mpge. That’s the same distance as the Nissan Leaf, which starts at about $30,000 but only has around 100-horsepower, which won’t matter if all you’re using the car for is commuting. The Tesla, however is a luxury vehicle so subjectively it’s going to be more comfortable, stable and be of higher quality. Basically, there’s still a massive gap between luxury EVs and run-of-the-mill commuters.

EVs also weigh a lot more than gas-powered cars due to batteries. Tesla’s Model S houses a 1200-pound battery. Comparing its roughly estimated 4,500-pound curb weight to the Honda Civic Type R’s modest estimated curb weight of 3,100-pounds, Top Gear’s observed 27-mpg, its estimated price tag of $35,000 and its turbocharged inline-four producing more than 300-hp, the Tesla Model S suddenly becomes a big question. However the average life span of an EV battery is supposed to be around 10 years, but the inevitable cost to replace it will be a four-figure beat down.

So, how to sell a used EV? It’s tough to create incentives out of thin air, especially when the government won’t allow them. If you’re selling your EV just to get rid of it, then no price is too low. EVs as they stand now are still very expensive, even when when selling one the losses can be disheartening, and all this just to not pay for gas, which isn’t even that expensive. Solution to selling an EV? Run it into the ground, then try to salvage parts for the apocalypse.

Selling electric motorcycles, however, is a lot easier. Granted the technology is still very new, electric motorcycles are easier to make, go farther and cost less. Zero Motorcycles of Scotts Valley, CA only charge around $10,000 for a base model motorcycle, a fully loaded more expensive model going for nearly $20,000. The fully loaded bikes go more than 200 miles, charge quickly and are fast enough. They also weigh about as much as a modern sport bike, still producing 70-hp, about as much as a Suzuki V-Strom dual sport.

Taking Zero Motorcycle’s products into consideration, the pros to owning an electric motorcycle are lonely with almost no cons to accompany them. Gas powered motorcycles already get exceptional mileage so fuel efficiency isn’t normally an issue for bikers, surprisingly Zero Motorcycles aren’t heavier than modern sport bikes, it’s belt-driven which means less maintenance and not a whole lot of power is needed to get moving. A con may be that it’s too quiet, and motorcyclists are typically grateful in dangerous situations when their bikes make noise. Another problem is, motorcycles are so cheap already in every way that there’s not a huge reason to buy an electric model in the first place.

So selling an electric car might not be the correct solution, and in fact keeping it around may prove to be more cost-effective, in a sense running it more miles ensures getting every dollar out of it. One thing to be aware of is, that depreciation sometimes lends itself to technology. In EVs it’s rapidly improving, rendering old models obsolete. Electric motorcycles suffer the same fate, unfortunately, of depreciation due to technological advances. The ultimate solution to selling an electric vehicle, it seems, is to not sell it at all.

How hard is it for you to sell an $80,000 car privately?

The short answer is it’s a lot harder than selling a $10,000 car privately, and it most-likely comes down to the money. Even $20,000 is a stretch, but still doable. Selling a used car has its own set of challenges without the car being horrendously expensive, so what happens when the price becomes the biggest factor? Of course there are no guarantees for how quickly it can happen, but there are steps that can be taken to improve your chances. One thing to remember first and foremost, when you hit the $80,000 mark you have “officially” entered the luxury range of interest, which means pricing your car that high puts it in competition against cars classified as luxury vehicles. This is just one aspect of the selling process, but before you know it once all the factors are laid out and considered, selling a higher-end car privately becomes a vicious balancing act.

Appeal to your location

No matter how much money you’re selling your used car for or whether it’s a mid-90s Civic or a brand new Corvette, where the car is physically can make all the difference. For instance, an $80,000 car will not sell (at least not very quickly) in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, which as of 2015 raked in an average median income of $15,405. That’s against San Francisco’s (at the time) average median income of $92,094, according to city-data.comHowever, selling your $80,000 car in a place like Atherton or Portola Valley will be a lot easier, where the average household income is closer to $200,000. So what if you want to sell an $80,000 car in a place like the Tenderloin district?

Practicality- Know your market

What kind of car are you trying to sell? The benchmark we’ve set, $80,000 may not cover every brand but it covers many different classes. For instance, a 2009 Audi R8 may go for near $90,000 or you may own a much newer Mercedes G-Class that’s worth around $80,000. One of those is a sports car, the other is a family-targeted luxury SUV. These have the similar prices but appeal to completely different markets so you need to sell your high-end car to the right people. Trying to sell an R8 to a family is going to prove immensely difficult. There’s little-to-no trunk space, the kids will need to sit on the passenger’s lap, and the car will only go about five miles before it needs refueling. Sure, the R8 will complete those five miles quickly, but the process will get old just as fast.

Join a club

One option that is valuable to owners of high-end cars is clubs. Because these high-end cars are so expensive it makes them collector’s vehicles, where the car was purchased not only because it fulfills a desire, but because it can’t be found around every street corner. There’s an air of exclusivity which breeds safe havens for owners of similar cars to gather and gawk. Within these clubs are prospective owners, or previous owners that miss the taste of luxury complete with leather seats and built-in Jacuzzis. Clubs like these make selling and buying luxury cars so much easier, because the club already caters to the correct demographic and those prospective owners have the money to spend. These clubs can come in the form of a Facebook group, a forum or even an official club with its own website and everything, like this R8 site. This will increase your chances of selling your car, especially if you post your already neat and tidy listing in the club’s classified section.


Perhaps the biggest factor that separates the process of selling a car for around $5,000 vs selling a car for around $80,000 is how you want to be paid. A very popular adage is “Cash is King”. Why? Cash means no hassle, all of the payment is there in your hand, there’s nothing left to do, except plop the cash in the bank. However with some exceptions people don’t carry $100,000 cash ready to throw at the next Porsche 911 Carrera 4s that comes their way. It’s important that at this stage of selling your high-end car to be realistic to the buyer’s options. However you don’t want to expose yourself to a suspicious situation at the same time. If the car is all paid off, the payment process is purely a judgement call. Meet the buyer at the bank to sign a check, watch them withdraw a vast sum of cash (enter Portola Valley), whichever is more comfortable. Just be sure to hold on to that pink slip until your bank balance skyrockets. Selling a car that still has payments left on it is a different beast altogether, but by no means impossible. Here is a handy guide for how to enter that arena.

This may have become apparent 2-300 words ago but as you can see, the factors that come into selling a used high-end car privately are pretty much the same as selling a low-end car. The biggest difference is the money, which magnifies all aspects of the process. The market, location and form of payment all become more distinct and less vague, which filters the available options. In terms of clubs and factoring in the money, chances are like owners will be less concerned about things like title status, miles and the condition of the car, because the luxury car owner demographic, with some exceptions, treat cars with similar habits. Posting your listing in a club’s classifieds means no longer selling to random people on Craigslist. You’re selling a special car to people looking for special cars, and that is an advantage.