The Best Used Electric Cars to Buy Right Now

Tom Ford

24 Jul 2023

It wasn’t that long ago that if you asked someone if they’d consider an electric car as their next second-hand buy, you’d be met with blank expressions, if not outright laughter. Old-school electric vehicles weren’t actually all that useful in some cases, a lot less practical and a lot more expensive than their more traditional petrol or diesel counterparts. But that has changed, and in a big way.

These days, electric cars are starting to lose the idea that they’re something weird or strange. They’re turning from specifically ‘electric cars’ into just… ‘cars’. But new ones are still on the pricey side, which means a lot of people who want to drive an electric vehicle are on the hunt for something pre-loved. And thanks to the massive explosion of new models and huge investment from the car industry, there’s now an actual second-hand car market for electric cars, rather than just the odd one cropping up in the classifieds. And that means choice. Which is always good.

Don’t forget, a used electric car offers up all the same benefits as a new one: they tend to be perky to drive, emit no emissions at the roadside, are quiet and comfy and - if you make some effort with your charging - very cost-effective to run.

Electric-power is also proving to be far more reliable than anyone expected, with batteries lasting longer than manufacturers thought (leading to some excellent warranties that last well into the car’s life), and mechanical bits much more robust than a car with an engine. Don’t forget, an electric motor has far fewer moving parts than an internal combustion engine, which simply means there’s far less that can go wrong.

But what are the electrifying.com best used electric cars? Well, if you want to buy a used electric car this year, it’s probably worth checking out our little guide and browse your way through some of our used car reviews.

Used Electric Car Buying Guide Browse Used Electric Cars

To help you get started, here’s a little roundup of the cars we think you should consider. It’s a Top 10 (ish!) list of the best second-hand electric cars out there right now.

1. Kia e-Niro

Models: 39.2kWh, 64.0 kWh

You won’t go far wrong with a Kia e-Niro, and that’s a fact backed up by Kia’s excellent warranty which passes withe the car. We know it’s probably not the sexiest pure electric car out there, but it’s incredibly practical and offers a wealth of hidden talent. Probably why it’s been so popular, leading to a decently long waiting list initially in the UK when it was launched back in 2018. You can see why it works; it’s a mid-sized SUV with a super-efficient electric drivetrain, sold for a reasonable price. You can fit kids and dogs and real life into an e-Niro without resorting to anything too wacky - basically going electric by stealth. There are two versions out in the wild at the moment, a 39kWh version that should see around 180 miles of range, and a 64kWh version that knocks out a whopping 280+, with the smaller battery getting a slightly less powerful electric motor, and hence less speed. The 64kWh version gets 201bhp by the way, making it surprisingly nippy, with a 0-62mph time of just 7.7 seconds.

Obviously the smaller-battery versions are the cheaper ones, but don’t discount them if you tend to do shorter journeys more regularly. The interior is robust and nicely built, but be aware that there was an update in 2020 that saw a bigger infotainment screen and LED headlights, so they’re worth looking out for if you’re in the market for a later model. Oh, and e-Niro’s get 77kW DC charging ability, so they’re actually pretty useful on a longer journey, even if their charging speeds aren’t up there with the most modern electric cars. In a similar vein, you might also want to check out the Kia’s sister car, the Hyundai Kona.

Choose the e-Niro if you want practicality for a reasonable price
Used Kia e-Niro Review Buy a Used Kia e-Niro

2. BMW i3

Models: i3 60 Ah, i3 94 Ah and i3 120 Ah

Ok, so this one has always been a firm favourite in the electrifying.com camp, and the i3 still looks incredible even after being around since 2013. In fact, it’s only recently that BMW has confirmed that the i3 has gone out of production in 2022, to be replaced by a new entry-level electric SUV called the iX1 (based on the new version of the X1). 

That’s a shame when the i3 did all the right things - and wasn’t yet another SUV - just maybe a few years too early. Still, it should guarantee vague cult status. It’s sold well over 200,000 units globally, so there are usually a few knocking about second hand. 

Although it is wise to take note of some of the i3’s various iterations, because there’s been a few. First up, there was an optional range-extender engine - sometimes referred to as a REx - which was basically a small petrol engine from a scooter installed in the i3’s rear to charge the batteries and help extend the range in certain circumstances. But be aware that if your i3 has this option, it’s no longer a zero emissions vehicle, so will become liable for things like congestion charges in low emissions zones.

Battery versions over the years came in 18.2kWh, 27.2kWh and 37.9kWh, referred to as i3 60 Ah, i3 94 Ah and i3 120 Ah respectively. As you can imagine, that gives you ranges that vary from 80 miles for the smallest to over 150 for the largest, so make sure which one suits. 

In terms of ages, the i3 60 ran from 2013 to 2017, the i3 94 from ’17 to ’18 and the 120 from 2018 until 2022. There’s 50kW DC charging on most, and that’ll fill the battery in about half an hour. There’s even a ‘sporty’ version called the i3s which gets better handling and faster steering which is remarkably good to drive. 

But all i3s get the good stuff; seating for four, interesting butterfly doors (the rears open the opposite way to the fronts), an amazing interior filled with recycled materials and eco-conscious effort. And they still manage to look completely up to date. Future classic? We think so.

BMW i3 driving front The BMW i3 is a firm favourite of ours, despite being replaced by the iX1
Used BMW i3 Review Buy a Used BMW i3

3. Nissan Leaf

Models: First generation 24kWh, 30kWh, second generation (2017- ) 40kWh, 62kWh

If you’re talking about second-hand or used electric cars, you simply cannot ignore the Nissan Leaf. Mainly because, as one of the very first real-world, modern pure electric hatchbacks, it dominated the sector (along with the Renault Zoe) for a decent chunk of time. It’s a practical, five-seat hatchback that didn’t cost the earth in the first place, and because it’s been around since 2010-ish, that means that the Leaf has one of the most robust second-hand markets of any electric car. And that means there’s a few to choose from.

But you must choose wisely Electrifyers, because there are many Leafs (leaves?) in this forest. Modern versions look a lot more angular - they’re the ones from 2017 and onwards - and come with either a 40kWh or 62kWh battery, with respectable range for each. A variety of specs and trims are available called variously Acenta, N-Connecta, and Tekna and on top of that are some of Nissan’s really very useful driver-assistance technology options. So do your homework on what you really want, and make sure the car you buy suits what you need.

Slightly more of a minefield are the earlier Leaf derivatives, which came with 24kWh or 30kWh batteries. They’re the ones from 2010 until 2017 when the new model took over. Now, if you’re doing lots of short trips and home charging is easy, these can make cracking second-hand, second-car buys. But they’re getting on these days, and will probably see some drop in total battery capacity as the power packs have reached middle-age. In other words, they won’t have as much range as when they left the factory. Not a huge problem if you know what you’re buying, get a good deal and it suits your mileage requirements, just something to be aware of.

The Leaf dominated the sector for a number of years
Used Nissan Leaf Review Buy a Used Nissan Leaf

4. Volkswagen e-Golf

Models 26.5kWh (2014), 35.8kWh (2017)

VW isn’t a stranger to electrifying their most popular models, and that started way before bespoke electric cars like the ID3, ID4 and ID5 that we’re seeing now. In fact, Volkswagen first converted a Mk1 Golf to electric motivation in the 1970s. Though we’re not suggesting that the best second-hand buys of 2022 stretches quiet that far back.

What we’re really interested in are the modern VW e-Golfs, of which there were two generations. The first generation lasted from 2014 to 2017 and managed a relatively modest range of 188 miles from a 24.2kWh battery. But the later versions that lasted from 2017-2020 - until the ID range broke cover - got a bigger battery (35.8kWh) and much more usefulness, mainly thanks to 185-mile range ability. More power, better efficiency, better range. Hugely popular in Norway, weirdly, where tax advantages for pure electric cars were way ahead of the curve, the e-Golf provides all the good things about a standard Golf, except with an electric drivetrain. No, they don’t provide the advantages of a bespoke electric car design like some of their younger siblings (like an ID3), but getting a good deal on a pre-owned e-Golf could make for a cracking second-car or commuter vehicle.

All you love about the standard Golf, but with an electric drivetrain
Used VW e-Golf Review Buy a Used VW e-Golf

5. Renault Zoe

Models: ZE (2012-16), ZE40 (2016-19), ZE50 (2019 -)

Much like the Nissan Leaf, the Renault Zoe should always feature in any conversation about good-value second hand electric cars, simply because they’ve been around for quite a while (since 2012), and bluntly, they’re great. A supermini five-seat hatchback with a pure electric drivetrain that can slide neatly into many people’s lifestyles with minimum fuss. The other thing to note is that there have been plenty of Zoes produced, and that it was the cheapest new electric car on sale for quite a while - meaning that the second-hand market is buoyant.

The basics to remember are that there are three models out there, the ZE, the ZE40 and the ZE50, and that those numbers relate to age and battery size. So the ZE has a wee 22kWh battery that would see about 90 miles of range, the ZE40 a much more agreeable 41kWh battery with 190 miles of range, and the top-spec (and youngest) Zoe ZE50 gets a 52kWh pack and the ability to travel nearly 250 miles in ideal conditions. Obviously we’d all like to plump for the a barely-used ZE50 and delight in a supermini that can match much more expensive cars for range, but the smaller-batteried cars are also worth a look if you’ve got a specific short-haul need, or just punt around town a lot. There’s a funky interior, a cute exterior and plenty to like. Just check that the car you buy doesn’t have a battery lease: some cars leased their batteries from Renault in the beginning to make them cheaper to own, so do some checking before you take the plunge.

Renault Zoe There is a buoyant second hand Zoe market
Used Renault Zoe Review Buy a Used Renault Zoe

6. Hyundai Kona

Models: 39.2kWh, 64.0kWh

The Hyundai Kona is a sister-vehicle to both the Kia e-Niro and Kia Soul, using the same super-efficient electric drivetrains to bring excellent range down from the stratosphere of Very Expensive Electric. Two versions are available, a 39.2kWh version that manages 180 miles and a 64kWh big-battery that should see the magic 300 in ideal conditions. If you want that sort of range in most other situations, you’d have to shell out quite a considerable amount more. The Kona is a bit smaller and slipperier than an E-Niro, by the way, so gets a touch more range for it’s electrons.

Still, you get a five-seat hatch - though five is a bit of a squeeze - and the kind of inoffensive styling that passes by unnoticed. If you want something more striking, it’s best to head towards the more singular Kia Soul. But the Kona has been an electrifying.com favourite for ages, and that’s mainly because it’s practical and value-for-money. And one of the first cars that started to chip away at the whole idea of ‘range anxiety’. When you can get 250-miles plus from an electric car in the real world, it makes a difference, and 80kW DC charging helps!

The good news is that because of their popularity, Konas are now knocking about on the second-hand market, and because of Hyundai’s excellent warranty (which passes with the car), there’s a lot of comforting support left on a three or four-year old vehicle.

You can now find Konas on the second-hand market that still have a warranty
Used Hyundai Kona Review Buy a Used Hyundai Kona

7. Jaguar iPace 

Models: EV400

Seems weird to be recommending a car second-hand that cost upwards of £65,000 when new, but the Jaguar iPace is it. And there are deals to be had. The iPace has been with us since 2018, and seemed to be a firm favourite with companies looking to electrify their fleets and take advantage of Government tax breaks. With those cars coming out of three-year lease deals, there’s a good number of pre-loved iPaces knocking about.

And what a car - a big 90kWh battery that offers some 200 miles of range in the real world. No, not terribly efficient, but wait until you drive it; the iPace remains one of the very best electric cars to drive, bar none. And it looks like a sports car on stilts - lower than a traditional SUV, wider and with more attitude. This was Jaguar’s first go at a bespoke electric car and we think the company knocked it out of the park. It’s also much more practical than the sleek looks might have you believe; there’s a 656-litre boot in there, a little frunk in the front for cables and some lovely interior details. No, the Pivi Pro infotainment isn’t the fastest, and 100kW DC charging isn’t going to change the world, but if you can get one for the right price, the iPace is an absolute stormer of a used buy. Just be careful of the spec; Jaguar upgraded and improved a few items through the car’s life, so make sure the car you buy matches up. And look out for cars with small wheels which look slightly odd, there’s nothing ‘low-spec’ about most of them, it’s just that the smaller wheels are the most efficient and were bought by fleets looking to maximise their user’s range.

Even the early iPace is one of the best electric cars to drive
Used Jaguar iPace Review Buy a Used Jaguar iPace

8. VW e-UP!/Seat Mii Electric/ Skoda Citigo e

Models: various

A bit of a triple-threat here, but essentially the same car with different flavours of badge, all with serious appeal for those with urban-centric needs. Basically the VW eUP!, Seat Mii Electric and Skoda Citigo e are all the same car underneath, featuring a 32.3kWh battery (nicked from the VW e-Golf, funnily enough) and about 160 miles of range. Although the eUp! (one must include the exclamation mark, apparently) did get a battery upgrade later in its life to give it even more miles before it needed to charge.

Still, what you have here is basically the antidote to all those electric SUVs that might emit no emissions but still feel a bit bloated. Packaging is excellent (they’re all sub 3.5-metres long), and any of these three make mincemeat of urban commuting, being easy to park, perky away from the lights (81bhp is enough in a small car like this), and capable of carrying four adults. If they like each other a lot, mind you. There’s 40kW DC charging (it’s a very modest battery, don’t forget, so that’s fine), a holder for your smartphone, air-con and the rest, plus all the safety kit you’d expect. There are also various manufacturer phone apps to monitor the car while it’s charging, and set timers.

The thing is, at around £20k for a city car, new versions looked expensive if you compared them to a petrol version. But with the new-age and new-fangled electric cars hitting the market, early-adopters have started having their heads turned… meaning that these little beauties are starting to appear more regularly on the used side of things. And they’re all absolutely brilliant.

Sear Mii Electric exterior rear driving in country The SEAT Mii electric is just one great city car available
Used Volkswagen e-UP! Review Used SEAT Mii Electric Review
Buy a Used Volkswagen e-UP! Buy a Used SEAT Mii Electric

9. MG ZS EV

Models: 44.5kWh, 72kWh

With MG re-positioning itself as a forward-thinking maker of value-for-money electric cars, the MG ZS has turned out to be quite the bargain. With a new, longer-range model with a 72kW battery and 273 miles of range having popped up for £28,495 after the Government grant, devotees of the compact pure electric SUV have started to upgrade.

That means that the previous-generation 44.5kWh model are popping up more regularly on the used market, and all the things that make the ZS EV a good buy are still on the table. For a start, this is an unassuming electric car that just… works. Even the ‘base’ models aren’t wastelands, featuring plenty of standard equipment that comes as a cost option on more expensive cars, stuff like air conditioning, bi-function LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, keyless entry and push-button start, vehicle-to-load charging, bird-view parking cameras, a 10.1-inch touchscreen and sat nav. With 163-miles of possible range and a practical bodystyle, pre-loved ZS’ make all sorts of sense, seeing as they didn’t cost the earth in the first place. In fact, the ZS's downfall is the strong used prices which don't make it seem quite such good value compared to a new version.

Great value for money with the MG ZS EV
Used MG ZS EV Review Buy a Used MG ZS EV

10. Tesla Model 3

Models: 55 - 75kWh

Designed to be direct competition to high-volume executive cars like the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-class, the Model 3 is sorta-kinda seen as Tesla’s ‘affordable’ car. And when you take into account what you can get on the average company car list, it certainly seems to have hit the spot, for both companies and private buyers - Model 3s seem to be absolutely everywhere. It’s fast, spacious, handles well and has an interior that feels a generation past most more traditional cars - both a plus point and a negative if you don’t love obvious tech. But that doesn’t stop it being an absolute hoot to drive, especially in Performance guise - that’s the one with upgraded twin motors and a 75kWh battery. There’s also the Long Range, which gets two motors, less power and the biggest 75kWh battery to give 360-ish miles of range, and the standard, two-wheel drive car that gets a 55kWh battery and 267 miles of range. Something for everyone.

Interestingly, there used to be a chunky waiting list, but as supply has eased, the initial bubble has burst and there are used Model 3s available in huge numbers. The fall in new prices and subsequent hit in used values has scared many traders off and the values are falling fast. That's good news if you fancy a cheap Model 3, but the tricky part is guessing when to take the plunge.

Tesla Model 3 There are a few used Tesla model 3s available
Used Tesla Model 3 Review Buy a Used Tesla Model 3

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