A used electric car (EV) is the ideal stepping stone to making the switch from fossil fuel to battery power.
There’s now a large selection of used EVs on the market, from city slickers to super SUVs, and many have proven their batteries continue to offer a usable driving range as they get older. With legislation pushing us in the direction of EVs, here is our pick of the best used models in alphabetical order.
The e-tron couldn’t arrive quick enough for Audi when it was launched in 2019. With rivals such as Jaguar and Tesla already snapping up sales from large SUV buyers keen to switch to electric, and the pain of the Volkswagen Group’s emissions scandal still raw, the e-tron offered a fresh start. It immediately impressed with it refinement and comfort, though not so much with its handling or outright battery range of around 200 miles.
There are a surprising number of e-trons on the used market, and almost all through Audi’s approved used. This suggests a lot of people were early to adopt the e-tron but have now moved on. As a result, a year-old e-tron with less than 5000 miles is around two-thirds of the price of a new, with prices from £42,000.
The BMW i3 has been around since 2013, making it an old-stager in EV terms. This has the benefit for used buyers of providing plenty of choice and prices that are similar to what you’d pay for many equivalent petrol-powered small hatches with a decent specification. Around £10,500 will get you into an early i3 with 50,000 miles on the clock from a private seller or independent dealer.
When choosing the i3, make sure you know if the car is a pure EV model or the range extender version with its petrol engine that acts as a generator to charge the battery pack as well as for get-you-home emergency use. With the all-electric model, real-world range is around 124 miles, so fine for town driving but less so for higher mileage drivers. BMW provided an eight-year, 100,000-mile guarantee with new i3s that the battery would retain at least 70% of its capacity, and owners report they are holding up better than this.
Citroën’s C-Zero shared everything bar the badges with the Mitsubishi i-MIEV and Peugeot IOn. Choosing between this trio is as much down to availability as few were sold new due to their high prices and small battery range, which means no more than 80 miles on a full charge realistically.
However, as city transport, a used Citroën C-Zero or any of its variants is one of the cheapest ways into EV ownership. £5000 will get you a lightly used example with around 30,000 miles under its wheels and the battery will have plenty of life left in it as they will easily retain most of the original charge capacity up to 80,000 miles. It has low running costs, a tight turning circle, funky cabin, and outright range is much less of a concern in town.
Hyundai hedged its bets with the Ioniq when it was launched in 2016, offering hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions alongside the pure EV version. Now, the EV model looks the smarter buy for most drivers thanks to its 174-mile range, which was boosted to 182 miles in 2019. That range comes from a decently large battery, which in turn is the result of the EV using a torsion beam rear suspension design in place of the other Ioniq’s multi-link set-up. Still, you won’t notice much difference in comfort or handling.
A five-year old Ioniq EV with 30,000 miles will cost from around £15,000, half the price of a new version. At higher mileages, there are reports of range dropping to around 100 miles on a full charge, but these tend to be for cars in hot climates. For a car with decent performance, variable regenerative braking, and fast charging, the Hyundai is a sound used choice.
Jaguar’s first electric car had plenty of expectations to live up to, not least delivering the sort of agile drive and cushy ride associated with the company. On arrival in 2018, it was clear these targets had been met and the I-Pace is among the best of EVs to pilot. It’s also spacious, well equipped and can be yours from around £40,000 for a three-year old with 20,000 miles on the clock.
Higher mileage I-Paces can seem like a bargain, but several owners report the battery starts to lose its charge range and a drop to 80% is not unheard of by 50,000 miles. However, the I-Pace comes with an eight-year, 100,000-mile battery warranty and a claimed range of up to 292 miles.
It is a good recommendation for the Kia e-Niro that there are some higher mileage examples out there two years on from its launch. This is welcome because it shows the car’s range is useful at up to 280 miles on a full charge and the battery doesn’t degrade in the way some rivals’ can. Kia says the e-Niro’s battery will only degrade by 1% during a typical three-year’s mileage, and the car comes with a 100,000-mile, seven-year warranty that includes the battery.
Look for a two-year old e-Niro with 25,000 miles and reckon on spending £28,000, which is not far shy of the new list price and demonstrates the popularity of this EV.
Kia Soul EV
The funky Kia Soul EV is one of the shrewdest used electric car buys there is. On sale from 2015, there’s a good selection in the used market and prices start from £10,000 for a six-year old with 50,000 miles on the clock. With a seven-year, 100,000-mile warranty, you still have peace of mind when buying used.
The only drawbacks of this Soul EV are the 132-mile range and slow recharging times, though Kia addressed both with the new Soul in 2020 that offers a 252-mile range and rapid charging.
MG’s affordable new prices for the ZS EV have translated into appealingly low used prices. A one-year old ZS EV with 15,000 miles under its wheels can be had for £17,500 from a franchised dealer, which is around £10,000 less than a new example.
If that tempts you, the 163-mile range may temper that and we’ve found around 115 miles is a more real-world range from a fully charged battery. The ride is also not as composed as most of its competitors and the safety systems can be too intrusive in normal driving.
Tesla may grab the headlines, but the Nissan Leaf has done much more to democratise electric vehicle use. It’s been around since 2011, with a second generation launched in 2018. The first generation offers used EV buyers a low entry price from £4000 for a 10-year old car with around 70,000 miles covered.
Reliability has proved strong for the Leaf, though some may find its 120-mile maximum battery range limits its appeal. You can also expect the battery to have degraded in that time, with tests showing it has dropped to 80% capacity at five-years old, and some far worse than that – something to check before buying.
In theory, it could be cheaper to buy a brand new Porsche Taycan than choose a used one, but only if you can live with a car without a single optional extra. With new prices from just over £70,000, a used Taycan at £80,000 seems like madness, but demand is very strong and the used car will have some choice additional kit included such as metallic paint, larger wheels, and extended leather upholstery.
Depending on which battery is fitted to the Taycan, it can cover between 220 and 268 miles on a full charge according to Porsche’s figures. However, our experience is the real-world range is likely to be around 50 miles less than those numbers.
Renault wrong-footed everyone with the Twizy in 2011. First off, it was electric, and then there was the design. The tandem two-seat configuration has more in common with a motorcycle, as does the minimal weather protection, but the Twizy is also fun to drive in short bursts.
It will be short bursts too, as the Twizy has a range of up to 62 miles maximum. In real-world use, that’s more like less than 50 miles and charging can take up to three and a half hours. You’ll also have to be careful any used Twizy doesn’t come with a battery lease charge that you’ll end up paying every month, which will be from £55 monthly depending on your annual mileage. Dodge that, though, and a 2014 Twizy with 20,000 miles covered can be yours from £6500.
The Renault Zoe is a good barometer of the EV market. It introduced the idea of an affordable electric supermini and did the job well, even if maximum range was a mere 130 miles. In 2020, that was upped to 247 miles with the mildly facelifted model. With either version, the Renault is decent to drive and cheap to run.
Time has also been kind to the Zoe’s battery, which experiences much less capacity drop than most EVs, so reckon on five-year old example still delivering 95% of its original range. Pick one of that age and a Zoe with 20,000 miles can be on your drive for £6500.
Smart EQ ForTwo
Electric cars are at their best in the city and so is the Smart ForTwo, so combining these two should make for the perfect urban runaround. The EQ arrived in 2018 and aimed to address the woefully short range of the previous generation electric Smart. However, the small battery means the EQ has a range of just 70 miles.
On the plus side, the EQ is cheap to run, easy to park and sidesteps any Low Emissions Zone charges. The battery is also likely to carry on delivering its maximum capacity as the car gets older. Choose a three-year old with 5000 miles for £11,000.
Tesla Model S
The Performance version of Tesla’s Model S may be the one people ask about, but we’d look for a 75kWh model that better balances pace and range. It’s still no slouch thanks to its 317bhp electric motor, but you could also see up to 370 miles between charges depending on use and conditions. After five years, reckon on the battery capacity degrading to 90%.
Look for a Model S that’s five years old with 60,000 miles to its credit and you’ll pay around £32,000 for a very refined, quiet executive car.
Tesla Model X
There are plenty of reasons to choose the Tesla Model X over its battery-powered large SUV rivals. Notable are its superb performance, decent range and seven-seat practicality. Yet it’s the rear Falcon Wing doors that people will always ask about as they rise up to give access to the back seats.
Expensive new, the Model X is pricier than its rivals as a used buy too, so you’ll need to fork out £52,000 for a four-year old 75D with 50,000 miles under its wheels. The good news is the battery will only have lost 8% of its capacity in that time and you should easily see more than 200 miles between charges.
The Vauxhall Corsa has always fulfilled the supermini brief very well and the electric Corsa-e is no different. If anything, it’s even better suited to town use than its petrol siblings thanks to brisk acceleration at typical city velocities, so you can make safe, quick progress.
In the used market, the Corsa-e is available from £19,000 for a one-year old car with 10,000 miles on the clock, which is a £10,000 saving over the basic new list price. With a claimed range of up to 205 miles and half-hour recharging from 100kW rapid chargers, the Corsa makes a strong case for itself for any supermini buyer swithering over choosing electric.
The Volkswagen Golf is a perennial of the automotive world and it holds true with EVs. The first e-Golf arrived in 2014 to be early, though not the first, to market. It offered a 124-mile range, which was reasonable at the time, and this was upped to a more flexible 186 miles in 2017.
For this reason, we’d search for a 2017-on model, with a four-year old costing from £16,000 for one with 40,000 miles to its name. If you don’t mind an earlier version with the shorter range, £12,500 will bag you a clean example with the same sort of mileage. Encouragingly, the e-Golf also seems to suffer less battery degradation than some rivals, losing on 5% capacity over a five-year period.
A used Volkswagen e-Up sidesteps the two obstacles this car has always faced as a new model: cost compared to its petrol sibling and battery range. Depreciation takes care of the first issue, while those seeking a simple EV for town use are well served by the e-Up. It drives very well and the 100-mile range will rarely be a concern in town, and VW improved this to 159 miles with a facelift in 2020.
The e-Up is quite rare on the used market, but some searching will turn up a five-year old model with 30,000 miles under its nose for £10,000. Like its e-Golf sister, the e-Up also appears to suffer less battery capacity degradation than most competitors, so you will still enjoy close on the original predicted range.