Each month Recurrent publishes a market report that examines electric car trends and available used cars. It's a chance for our researchers to study the variables that affect car prices while helping EV shoppers find the best deals on used vehicles at any point in the year.
Buyers must consider lots of factors when looking for any used car, and used electric cars are no exception. While many of the traditional under-the-hood pitfalls are less of a concern, because electric cars have fewer moving parts, vehicle range is certainly important to understand and verify.
Most shoppers want the longest range for their dollar. One way that we have thought about it is average EPA-rated cost per range mile, like you can see in this chart from a recent EV market report.
Total price is still the most common determining factor for many buyers. A few extra miles of range are not important if the car is out of your budget. This article looks used electric cars by price categories from under $10,000, under $15,000 and under $20,000. Click through to the individual vehicle pages, if available, to learn more about each car.
Best Used Cars under $10K
For many years, it seemed like electric cars were toys for the wealthy. It made headlines in 2017 when Tesla came out with the “affordable” electric Model 3 - meant for the general car buying public - priced between $35,000 and $42,000 for the base models. Although Model 3 has become the best selling EV in the world, the price tag does exclude many drivers.
Luckily, EVs don’t start and stop at Tesla. There is a universe of affordable choices when you’re ready to go electric. If your budget is under $10k, you will likely wind up with an older model such as:
- 2013 or 2014 Chevy Volt plug in hybrid (PHEV)- 38 mi battery range, with up to 300 including gas
- 2014 or 2015 Ford Energi C-Max Hybrid - 20 mi range on battery, with up to 550 including gas
- 2015 VW e-golf - 83 mi range, under 4 hours to charge at 220V
- 2015 Nissan Leaf - 84 mi range, around 5 hours to charge at 220V
- 2016 or 2017 Fiat 500e - 84 mi range, around 4 hours to charge at 220V
Many of the individual vehicles in this price range will have higher mileage, but mileage is not everything for an EV. A high-mileage battery that was protected from the elements can be better than one with low miles that baked in the summer heat for years.
Several of these choices are also plug-in hybrids, meaning that they will use up available electric range before switching to their internal combustion engine. If you don’t have very far to go everyday, something like the Chevy Volt can get you around without relying on the gas engine. Hybrids are also a great option for anyone who has to occasionally make a longer commute or road trip.
If you’re looking at an older EV, you should consider carefully how far you need to drive every day, whether you have a second or backup vehicle for longer trips, and if you can accommodate charging your battery every day at home, work, or an easily accessible public charger. If your driving needs are suitable for an older EV, you will find them reliable and safe cars.
Best Used Cars under $15K
If your budget is between $10K and $15K, there is a wider range of vehicles available. You can get a slightly newer model or a European luxury brand experience. Again, it is important to think about what you need from your EV. Do you have a reliable and fixed commute with access to charging at both ends? Do you drive for a rideshare service, with many short, local trips? Or, are you driving off into the mountains looking for adventure, wanting a little bit more flexibility? There are options for everyone.
- 2015 BMW i3 - 81 mi range, 4 hours to charge at 220V
- 2016 Ford Fusion Energi - 21 mi range battery with up to 600 including gas
- 2016 VW e-golf - 83 mi range, under 4 hour charge at 220V
- 2017 Chevy Volt - 53 mi battery-only, 420 mi total
- 2017 or 2018 Nissan Leaf - 107 or 151 mi range with 6 or 8 hour charging time at 220V
There remain a lot of hybrid options in this price range, giving you flexibility and helping to alleviate range anxiety.
Best Used Cars under $20K
If your budget goes up to $20K, you start to see some newer models and serious all-electric range. Models from 2017 and 2018 turned a corner in the EV game and this price point makes them available to you.
- 2017 BMW i3 - 84-114 miles range based on trim, 4.5 hours to charge at 220V
- 2017 Mercedes B-Class - 87 mi range, three and a half hours to charge at 220V
- 2018 Chevy Bolt - 238 mi range, charge time 9 hours at 220V
- 2018 Chevy Volt - 53 mi battery-only, 420 mi total
- 2018 Ford Fusion Energi - 21 mi all-electric range with charging time under 3 hours
- 2018 Honda Clarity - 47 miles all electric, 340 with gas
- 2018 Hyundai Sonata plug in hybrid - 28 mi all electric, 600 mi total
- 2018 VW e-golf - 125 mi range, around 5 hours to charge at 220V
Please note that our charging times in this article are estimated with a 220V charger. This is the same sort of outlet you need for a washer/dryer, and an electrician usually needs to install it. Standard 110V plugs can charge most EVs but at a much slower rate. The charge times listed are for full charges, but you can usually get to 80% charge much faster than listed. EV batteries charge faster when they are near empty and slower as they approach 70-80% in order to protect the battery health.
As EVs continue to grow and become more mainstream, there will be more and more used vehicles on the market - and plenty of affordable options for all budgets. If you’re looking to buy, make sure to check out Recurrent’s resources for shoppers.
Final Tips for Finding the Best Used EV
Two of the key variables that affect used EV prices are age and range. In general, you’ll find that less expensive used electric cars are older and have smaller batteries that can travel less distance on a single charge. This is largely due to the price of lithium ion batteries, which has dropped around 85% in ten years on a per kWh basis, and means that even modest batteries in 2013 were far more expensive than bigger batteries in 2020.