The growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) could help to improve the car buyer experience and accelerate the move to online sales, says Startline Motor Finance.

Gregor Sutherland, chief operating officer, said the fact that EVs had fewer moving and wear parts than their internal combustion engine (ICE) equivalents meant that there was simply less to go wrong, to the benefit of the consumer.

“Really, the traditional, time-honoured test drive is all about the consumer making sure that the car works. In 2021, the vast majority of used cars are sold in good, operable condition, but there is a kind of hangover from a time when the condition was much more variable.

“Going forward, the chances that a used EV doesn’t work in the same way as an ICE car might fail because of a worn gearbox or a clutch is very low. The main issue, over time, will be about whether the battery retains charge over time, but there is already evidence that this will not prove to be the kind of issue that was once feared.

“All of this means that, in general, any EV purchase can be approached with more confidence than an ICE car. If there are any problems, they are likely to be visible and there is probably not going to be the kind of general mechanical problems that you find emerging over time.”

Sutherland added that, as consumers became more cognizant of this idea, it could also help to accelerate more remote, online car purchasing.

“By following a few simple steps, such as ensuring there is a provenance check, positive dealer reviews, a high quality online video for viewing and a warranty, you are probably going to be able to buy almost any EV online with confidence.

“Of course, some people will always, we believe, want to see the vehicle in person because they want to examine factors such as whether it fits their family lifestyle, or to check that the driving position is comfortable, but these are likely to become fewer.

“Within our dealer portfolio, used EV activity has been very low so far but we are seeing interest start to ramp up significantly now and are planning to integrate these vehicles into our product line-up. We hope to be able to announce something soon.”

Anticipating greater in-person and online sales, Startline recently stepped up its recruitment to meet expected demand in the used car market in early 2022. Some 10 employees are being added to the company’s origination team based at its Glasgow headquarters to handle the increased levels of business.