This is the prologue, the tl;dr on why I’m writing about electric vehicle ownership in the first place.
It was with great smugness that I sold my 10-year-old subcompact to a dealer in early 2022, at the height of the post-pandemic used car shortage and well before the subsequent price crash.
The car was nothing but a liability: gathering dust on the curb, it badly needed new tires and had an ominous engine rattle that the buyer either didn’t notice or wasn’t concerned about. All four quadrants had noticeable dings. The manual transmission, itself a liability these days, was much closer to the end of its life than the beginning.
I never could bring myself to view the listing, but I’m certain the dealer had the last laugh. Not that I’m bitter about it. For a long time afterward, I was on a bit of a high, feeling like for once I’d properly valued my time and mental health in a decision of some consequence.
But eventually the high wore off. The kids’ schedules got busier. I began to contemplate a career that would take me out of the house (and send me about town) multiple times per week.
I also found myself slipping down the climate dad rabbit hole. The rest of the family followed.
So by the third quarter of 2023, we knew that:
- Our household needed a second car (again), and
- Said car needed roughly the same cargo and passenger capacity as our 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, and
- It needed to be (even) more efficient than the RAV, which when feather-footed in warm weather gets close to 50 mpg combined, and
- It needed to be new-ish, AND
- We couldn’t afford to spend much more than we had on the RAV, about $29,000 before tax and title
Criteria two through five ruled out:
- Any body type smaller than a compact SUV (criterion two)
- Any traditional gas engine and virtually any suitably sized gas-electric hybrid (criterion three)
- Most suitable pure-electric vehicles and a decent share of suitable plug-in hybrids (criteria four and five)
Meanwhile, the looming UAW strike threatened availability of the most logical choice in light of these conditions: the Chevy Bolt EUV. The Bolt EUV was already in high demand — the dealers I talked to in the weeks leading up to the strike advised two- to three-month delivery timelines.
We geared up for a long, arduous buying journey, hoping that maybe we’d get lucky and have something in the garage by winter.
We needn’t have worried. At local used-car dealer specializing in on-warranty EVs, we found a rare deal on a barely-used, high-trim Volkswagen ID.4. The asking price was about $19,000 under MSRP and about $9,000 under third-party estimated fair market value.
Yes, there was a catch: Volkswagen had repurchased this particular vehicle under California’s Lemon Law, which protects buyers cars and light trucks with significant manufacturing defects. For obvious reasons, we hesitated. But extensive repair documentation and the fact that all original warranties still applied ultimately sealed the deal.
In future posts, I’ll go into more detail about our specific buying process and the EV buying process more generally. I also plan to devote at least one post to Lemon Law issues, along with a host of broad, narrow, and in-between topics related to EVs and EV ownership.
Thanks for reading.