Best used electric cars you can buy right now
30th Apr 2020 Danny Morgan
We think the used market will be key to truly making electric cars affordable for the masses. Our editor Danny Morgan has spent far too much time on AutoTrader so he could create this Guide to the Best Used Electric Cars You Can Buy Right Now.
The list price for EVs is already competitive with cars such as the MG ZS EV and the Seat Mii Electric both around the £20k mark. But there is also excellent value to be had in the used car market and we love a bit of car shopping. So here are a few of our favourite electric cars you can buy on the used market right now. Watch the video or read our list below.
VW e-Golf – used prices from around £15,000
We’re starting with the gold standard of reasonably priced family hatchbacks. The Volkswagen Golf has been the benchmark for quality for many decades and the fully electric version is no different.
The Volkswagen e-Golf has all the same positives as the normal Golf, albeit with a slightly smaller boot, but it’s quieter and has a real-world range of around 140 miles.
That’s plenty for the average commuter and family, plus it looks like a “normal” car. That might be a turn-off for some, but there are plenty of people who think: “Can’t they just take a Golf and make it electric? That will do just fine for me.”
Well, they did. Sadly, the e-Golf has been discontinued and it has also held its value which doesn’t make it the cheapest car on our list, but it’s probably the best all-rounder.
Our editor’s verdict: Fantastic all round and perfect for EV “newbies”. A great choice if you don’t know what EV you want – stick with what you know because we all know what a Golf is like.
Renault Zoe – used prices from £7,000 - £15,000
Despite its quiet introduction in 2013, the Renault Zoe is one of the most celebrated EVs on the market right now. This multi-award-winning car is testament to what can be achieved when a big manufacturer builds an EV from the ground up and keeps things simple.
The Zoe looks smaller than it actually is thanks to its supermini profile (it’s a touch smaller than the e-Golf), but its frame masks its brilliance somewhat. The comfortable interior is basic, but it has all you need including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which may seem like a cop-out but let’s face it - both Apple and Google do a better job of in-car entertainment than many manufacturers.
As it’s been on the road for some time, there are a few variations with different ranges including the latest Renault Zoe R110 which achieves over 200 miles.
But on the used market, we would plump for the older 22kWh version - there are plenty available meaning you can grab a bargain but also choose a spec that suits you.
These go for around £7-9k, but keep in mind earlier Renault Zoes were sold with a “battery lease”, which does mean an ongoing monthly cost for the battery of up to £99 per month depending on your mileage. However, this includes breakdown cover and means any issues with the battery are Renault's problem and it also helps keep the cash price down.
Our editor’s verdict: There’s a huge selection of used models to choose from and a fantastic owners’ club (RZOC) to get detailed advice from. It’s a bargain for an everyday run-around – just be mindful of the battery lease. You can find newer models without a battery lease, but these will cost closer to £15,000.
Nissan Leaf Mk1 (2010-2017) – used prices from £5,000 - £15,000
Arguably the car that started it all, it’s hard to see where the EV market would be right now if it weren’t for the humble Nissan Leaf launching in 2010.
The volume sold means plenty of choice on the used market, with prices starting around £6,000 for a decent early model. The value has held well, though, and the Leaf can go for closer to £11,000 for a low-mileage and well-specced example.
Regardless of what is powering it, the Leaf is a genuinely excellent family hatchback with 370 litres of boot space and a spacious interior. There’s a reason it’s one of the best-selling electric cars in the world.
Range varies depending on the battery size of course (there are 24 and 30kWh versions) as well as its age and how much the battery has degraded. The 30kWh option offered about 125 miles real range when new, so taking into account some range loss, this is the one to choose.
Our editor’s verdict: A brilliantly capable car, I would go for a 30kWh version as the bigger battery versions were newer cars and more likely to have retained battery health and, therefore, their range. On the spec side, the Acenta has a good balance between features and price. You can pick up a 2017 30kWh Acenta model with less than 10k miles for about £13,000.
BMW i3 - used prices from £8,000 to over £20,000
We’re going to say it. Classic. The BMW i3 wasn’t just ground-breaking because it was a Beemer with a battery under it chassis, but because of its revolutionary design and build.
Almost all of the materials are either made from recycled materials or can be recycled, while the plants where the i3 was manufactured were powered by renewable energy. So if you want an electric car that was green when it was made, as well as zero emissions, then the BMW i3 is right up your street.
The unique design may be divisive, but we think it brought out the best from BMW’s designers and engineers and because of that it could be one of the first “electric classics”.
That does make getting hold of one for a low price quite difficult, but if you can stump up then it’s worth it. There’s a few different versions, but we like the “E” variant as there are lots on the market. The earlier full electric models had about 115 miles of real world range, which is just fine for everyday driving. As the i3 is a four-seater, it’s not exactly designed for long family trips, although the rapid charging function makes it more than possible.
Our editor’s verdict: We found a 2015 plate i3 E with less than 10k on the clock for under £14,000. If you want something different, BMW design at its best and decent urban range then you can’t go wrong with that price. If the range is an issue, but the i3 is still winking at you from your computer screen then you can still find the “Range Extender” variants which included a small petrol tank and generator to give the battery some extra juice. If you’re going to do a hybrid, this is the way to do it for me.
VW e-Up - used prices from £10,000
It was a toss-up between including the e-Up! and the e-Golf on our list, but the recent upgraded battery (162 miles range) makes the brand new e-Up! the better option over its predecessor and it is still good value at under £20,000.
Smart ForFour - used prices from £12,000
Nobody seems to really talk about Smart’s electric cars, which is a shame because the Smart ForFour is a good example of what urban EVs should be trying to achieve. Small in dimension, with a diddy 17kWh battery to match, this car is lightweight and just fine for pootling around town.
Don't forget, if you're buying a used EV you will most likely be charging it at home. Check out our range of dedicated home charge points, starting from just £382 (or £34 a month) including installation.