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EV CPO: A Basic Guide to Certified Pre-Owned EVs

by Nick Versaw Updated April 20th, 2022

EV CPO: man holding an EV charging

Interested in purchasing an electric or hybrid electric vehicle, but worried about the cost of a brand new car? Purchasing a certified pre-owned (CPO) electric vehicle gives you the peace of mind of knowing that the used EV you buy will come with guarantees for quality and long-term durability.

Older model used EVs often don’t come with the features contemporary drivers want in a modern car. From iOS and Android compatibility, to even more advanced features like full self-driving, autopilot, and smart air suspension, onboard and performance technology has been known to advance rapidly each successive model year. EV CPOs offer buyers access to newer EV technologies at a more affordable price than buying brand new. 

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Every model year, automakers are making improvements in performance, onboard technology, interior comforts, and cargo space. That means drivers who purchase new EVs are regularly trading in their lightly used cars for the latest models. 

Whether you’re interested in buying a gently used Tesla Model X or a pre-owned Chevrolet Bolt, going the certified pre-owned route is a terrific strategy to save. In addition, purchasing an EV CPO offers a variety of assurances and protections that conventional used car purchases do not provide. 

Read on to learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of buying an EV CPO and to learn about some online resources you can use to make sure you get the best deal. 


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Benefits of Buying an EV CPO

The benefits of buying an EV CPO are right in line with the benefits that once came with buying a gas-powered certified used vehicle. EV CPOs are plucked from a lineup of gently used pre-owned cars that are then subject to comprehensive inspection processes to ensure quality and durability.

While EV CPOs are almost always more expensive than purchasing a conventional used electric vehicle, the extra costs go toward extra peace of mind. While every automaker and dealership‘s CPO program differs, all certified used car programs have the same basic configuration. Here are some features you can expect:

Affordability

EV CPOs cost significantly less than purchasing a new electric vehicle, yet the difference between a new and certified pre-owned vehicle is often hard to recognize. CPO vehicles traditionally have fewer miles and go through extensive reconditioning processes. If you’re a driver who doesn’t mind knowing that your vehicle has already traveled several thousand miles, then the savings is definitely worth it.

Quality Guarantees

CPOs come with guarantees that conventional used cars do not. Whether you buy a certified pre-owned Tesla or a certified pre-owned Prius, all EV CPOs undergo an extensive inspection process by factory-trained mechanics that cover a checklist of hundreds of key points, from functional cupholders to suspension and door latches. 

EV CPOs also come with extensive vehicle history details, including maintenance records, as well as exclusive limited warranties to protect your purchase in the event of unforeseen mechanical or technical failures.

Special Perks

Whether you choose a Tesla CPO or a Hyundai CPO (or anything in between), all automakers tend to include special perks with CPO purchases, and EV CPOs are no exception. 

From free trial offers for satellite radio to premium access to 24-hour safety alert systems like OnStar, many added services that are often extra charges are included in certified pre-owned packages. 

Roadside Assistance

EV CPO packages come with a variety of emergency maintenance perks to put your mind at ease should you ever break down on the road. 

From 24-hour towing services to networks of brand-certified automotive service providers, CPO buyers pay for a variety of protections for their vehicles in the event of an emergency. 

These protections also cover routine maintenance, often at no cost. If you drive many miles across the calendar year and want the added comfort of knowing that you’re always protected in the event of a breakdown or emergency, buying an EV CPO might be the way to go. 

Flexibility 

Unlike the finality of signing a new or used car financing deal, automakers usually give CPO buyers opt-out clauses that allow them to swap their vehicle out for another if the car is not to their liking. 

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Drawbacks of Buying an EV CPO

EV CPO: couple charging an electric car

Whether you’re buying an electric car or a conventional gas-powered car through a CPO program, it won’t be without a few drawbacks. This list outlines a few things to consider before you make the decision to buy an all-electric or hybrid model CPO car

  • Price: While purchasing an EV CPO has many perks, those perks do come with a cost. That’s why buying a certified pre-owned car is almost always more expensive than buying a traditional used car.
  • Pre-owned is still pre-owned: Whether it’s been driven 100 miles or 10,000, a pre-owned car has been driven by someone else before you. And while drivers have a variety of protections in place, that doesn’t mean that their CPO car doesn’t come with the potential for problems inherent in all used vehicles, namely potential performance problems and minor cosmetic flaws.
  • EV CPOs are just behind the curve: Certified pre-owned electric vehicles can give you many of the perks modern drivers are after, but many won’t offer the cutting-edge tech that purchasing new does. Buying a certified pre-owned means being content with knowing that there are smarter, more efficient, and more tech-savvy new vehicles being released every model year

Where to Look for an EV CPO

From automotive company websites to second-hand sites specializing in used vehicles, there are a wide variety of options when it comes to shopping for a certified pre-owned gas car. Searching for an EV CPO is a little bit trickier. You’ll have to do manual searches for what you’re looking for using different resources around the web. You can also go in person and walk the lot to find certified options. 

Looking for a Tesla in particular? Tesla.com is a viable option to search that automaker’s certified pre-owned inventory. Since the Tesla brand operates without dealerships, all CPO Tesla models are processed and resold by the company itself.

To skip the dealership-hopping, you can instead search for all used electric vehicles in your area by entering your ZIP code below to start comparing:


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Buying a Pre-Owned EV With Compare.com

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Whether you’re in the market for a new, pre-owned, or certified pre-owned electric vehicle, having Compare.com in your corner is the first step in making an informed decision that will result in you driving home the EV that’s right for you.

Take the time to do the research and familiarize yourself with the basics of EV ownership before taking a test drive by perusing our library of quick, easy-to-read articles.

If you’re looking for a used electric car but don’t want to pay a premium to get a CPO directly from the manufacturer, you have options. Compare.com lets you browse all the pre-owned EVs available in your area and compare your options side-by-side. Just click the button below and be well on your way to finding the used EV you’ve been searching for.


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