Buying a Used Electric Vehicle
It can be difficult to find insightful data and trends on used electric vehicles. While articles are published each day about upcoming new models and the growing demand for EVs, market reports for pre-owned cars scarcely exist. We partnered with Marketcheck, a vehicle inventory data provider, to change that.
Our analysis of the used EV market is updated each month. If you drive an electric car, we have data for you, too. Connect for free to receive monthly EV range reports.
- From last month, the overall trend in the used EV market is a decrease in inventory - in particular, GMs, Teslas, and Fiats are being bought up faster than their stock can be replenished. Dealerships across the country are noting inventory shortages on used vehicles in general -- as an indirect result of slower-than-expected new vehicle manufacturing.
- Despite these recent decreases, March inventory is still 37% higher than July 2020 signaling increased interest in used EVs.
- 2018 models have now surpassed 2017 models as the most popular used EVs on the market.
Examining Cost per EPA Range Mile
One way to look at used EV prices is by comparing cost per range mile using EPA estimated range. One thing to keep in mind is that EPA range specifies how far your EV will go when the battery is new. EV batteries degrade based on age, how they have been driven, and how they have been stored. To really understand the value of an EV, it is critical to understand the battery in its current state, after several summers in the driveway or several hundred charging cycles.
Keep in mind: These values assume base model trim for the range and use mean retail price for calculations. There is particular variability in Tesla cost per range because our source data doesn’t account for trim dependent battery capacity.
The Best Electric Cars for $15,000, $25,000, and $35,000
Around $15,000: If you're looking for an inexpensive used EV, there are options under $15K. Depending on the model and year, the battery warranty may be close to expiring, so make sure you understand how much range you can expect compared to the original EPA range.
- 2015 BMW i3 - $14,660
- 2016 VW egolf - $12,300
- 2016 Ford Fusion Energi - $12,950
- 2017 Chevy Volt - $15,200
- 2014 Toyota Rav4 EV - 14,700
Around $25,000: The next price tier introduces newer EVs, with 2017 and 2018 models, and a variety of luxury German brands. A 2018 Audi A3 sportback e-tron will average just below $25K, as will a comparable year Mercedes or BMW. You can also find a 2019 or newer Bolt in this price point
- 2018 Audi A3 sportback e-tron - $24550
- 2019 VW e-golf - $21,300
- Mercedes C Class C350e - $24,400
- 2018 BMW i3 - $22,200
- 2018 BMW 330e - $24,300
Around $35,000: In the $35K range, you’ll be able to choose between an older (2014-15) Tesla Model S or a newer, non-Tesla option, such as a 2020 Hyundai Kona. The battery in a newer model will likely be under warranty, but the battery degradation over time is less studied.
- 2014 Tesla Model S - $34,400
- 2020 Hyundai Kona - $33,500
- 2019 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid - $32,300
- 2021 Chevy Bolt - $31,900
- 2017 BMW xDrive40e $34,500z
What Do I Need to Know about Used EVs?
Although EV batteries are similar to the lithium ion batteries in our phones, they can last much longer and retain good performance over many years. With a slew of older EV models on sale, it’s important to understand just what the range will look like over time and what factors affect battery health.
If you are shopping for a used electric car, try our range scoring tool for shoppers.
Each month we publish a new report with the latest industry data. Browse this section to review previous reports and their findings. Each image links to the full report!
Seasonality exists in used car sales and due to COVID-related economic changes, but this trend is real. Used car sales follow a predictable time delay, peaking at 3-4 years after being sold new. This pattern exists in electric vehicles as well: Six months ago, the most common model year for sale in used EVs was 2017 by far. Now, there are nearly as many 2018 model year used EVs for sale as 2017’s.
The Most Popular Used Electric Cars in March
- Used Tesla Model S, Model 3 and Model X are a large and growing part of the used electric market.
- BMW EVs are a surprisingly strong part of used EV inventories, but it’s not the i3’s that are growing in supply. Instead, there’s been a surge of the availability of BMW’s plug-in hybrids (5-Series 550e, 3-series 330e and the X5 xDrive40e) in the last 6 months.
- Despite the Nissan Leaf being one of the most recognizable EVs on the road for years, it’s only the 4th most popular used EV for sale today.
Used Cars around $10,000, $20,000 and $30,000 in March
- Under $10,000: If you're looking for the cheapest used EVs out there, you can do it for less than $10K. You're likely going to be choosing between a first-generation Nissan Leaf, an older Chevy Volt or a Fiat 500e that’s just a few years old.
- Around $20,000: In the mid-range for used electric cars, $20K is a pretty sweet spot. You’ll have lots of choices, mostly 2017 and 2018 model year Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Chevy Bolt, Toyota Prius Prime, Honda Clarity, Ford Fusion Energi. (** March 1 Update on Chevy Bolt pricing - there have been some very recent changes in new Bolt pricing which are likely to impact used Bolt prices. These may not be reflected in our data yet.)
- Around $30,000: If you can spend in the $30K range, you’ll likely be choosing between an early Tesla Model S (with lots of calendar age on the battery) or a pretty new non-Tesla EV (with less battery calendar age).
How do older EV batteries hold up?
EV owners and shoppers perceive that EV batteries last just seven years (Cox Automotive study), but the reality is generally better. A lot of factors play into the battery life of each EV over its life, including manufacturing variances, pack layouts and cooling systems, calendar age, use, temperature history, charging behavior. In our data analysis of 1000’s of EVs on the road, we’ve found that odometer reading alone isn’t particularly helpful in understanding each vehicle’s battery life.