Buying and Selling Pre-Owned Alternative Fuel and Advanced Vehicles

Pre-owned alternative fuel and advanced vehicles (AFVs) provide a viable alternative to purchasing a new AFV or performing an aftermarket conversion on a conventional vehicle. Consumers and fleets can acquire quality AFVs at reduced prices without the delivery time sometimes associated with new vehicle orders or conversions.

Availability

AFVs typically enter the resale market from government and commercial fleets. Like conventional pre-owned vehicles, used AFVs can be sold at live auctions, online, or at vehicle dealerships.

One source for pre-owned AFVs is the General Services Administration (GSA), which leases vehicles to federal government agencies. When these government AFVs need to be retired, GSA Fleet Vehicle Sales makes them available to the highest bidders at auctions. Fleets can subscribe through the GSA website to receive email notifications about auctions and vehicle availability. State, county, and local government fleet vehicles are also sold at auctions, which are typically announced to the public.

Online public auction sites, such as eBay Motors' Green Driving website, allow users to buy and sell pre-owned AFVs. Purchasing a vehicle through these websites typically involves no additional cost, but the seller may be responsible for a listing or sale fee. Sellers also post information about used AFVs in online marketplaces, such as AFVResale.com.

Clean Cities coordinators are often familiar with auctions and other resources in their area and can help fleets find vehicles to meet their needs.

Vehicle Cost

Compared to conventional pre-owned vehicles, used AFVs in general can be obtained at a good value. The cost of pre-owned AFVs, however, can vary greatly depending on the local market, infrastructure, and incentives. In areas with alternative fueling stations readily available, AFVs sell at higher prices. Local and state incentives also can affect prices. For example, demand for AFVs typically increases in areas with ownership incentives, such as high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane or parking fee exemptions. Bi-fuel vehicles, which can operate on an alternative fuel or a conventional fuel, typically sell at higher prices than dedicated AFVs. Flexible fuel vehicles usually sell at prices similar to conventional pre-owned vehicles because they operate on E85 or gasoline.

The lower cost associated with pre-owned AFVs can make owning and operating them more attractive. The Vehicle Cost Calculator uses basic driver behavior and vehicle information to calculate total cost of ownership for most light-duty vehicle models.

Purchase Considerations

Some pre-owned AFVs, especially fleet vehicles, may have high mileage. Vehicle age and mileage are important factors to consider when assessing remaining vehicle life. Maintenance costs are also important to consider for older, high-mileage vehicles. For instance, the fuel cylinders in compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles expire typically 15 to 25 years after the manufacture date and must be visually checked by a qualified inspector every 36,000 miles or three years. Before purchasing a pre-owned CNG vehicle, check the date on the cylinder label and find out when the cylinder was inspected last and when it expires. All pre-owned vehicles should undergo a general safety and maintenance assessment prior to purchase.