As the world continues to morph into something completely unrecognizable by those fresh out of a 2010 time machine, the automotive market follows suit, creating a used car market that is both unpredictable and surprising. With a plethora of new ideals and wants, electric cars have jumped to the forefront of consumer wishes. With the implementation and adaption of new building techniques and efficient charging tactics, the once-overlooked electric car industry has become a mainstay.
The extreme inflation of gas prices and environmental despair has certainly helped, too.
With the popularity of cars like Teslas and electric BMWs, the on-road statistics of electric cars are reaching new heights. Statistics continue to grow. As of 2023, the amount of electric car sales has doubled since just 2020 (6.6 million), bringing the total number of electric cars on the road to 16.5 million. And with the implementation of new laws, like California’s Light-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Sales Requirement, the sales numbers will continue to increase exponentially.
Henceforth, if you are planning on jumping into the foray of electric cars, the market can be scary. If you aren’t versed in the fairly-new technology, you may find yourself confused and used. Furthermore, if you are looking for a cheaper, used option, you may not know where to begin your search.
Simply put, electric cars can get pretty pricey. If you are looking for a cheaper option, here are the best used electric cars that won’t puncture your wallet.
Note: all photos below are provided by AutoBlog.
What Makes an Electric Car an Electric Car?
Let’s start by getting on the same page. There are so many different running options for vehicles in the modern age, it can be hard to keep track of them all.
Just by perusing car-selling websites, you may be overwhelmed by titles like BEVs and other strange acronyms. At the end of the day, you just believed an electric car was… Well. An electric car.
Have no fear. Let’s break down the three most popular electric car types:
- Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) or just EVs– These cars run entirely on a battery. This is your stereotypical electric car (i.e. Tesla). Therefore, this is the type of car we will be listing in this article.
- Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)– The best of both worlds. These vehicles have a battery and a gasoline motor, meaning you can choose between the two options. They can be charged or filled with gasoline. Both are viable options, not relying on each other to work. Ultimately, these are the more expensive options in the electric world.
- Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)– These cars are basically normal cars. They use a gas-powered engine with an electric motor for support. They are technically gas vehicles, but the electric support helps lower gas usage significantly.
As stated, this list will cover EVs.
5. Fiat 500e
Cute and compact, Fiats tend to find themselves on all types of lists. From the most reliable vehicles to the most affordable, the original mission of the Fiat brand still stands: create an affordable car for the working human, providing long-lasting efficiency and mobility. Since its inception in 1899, the little Italian brand still does it right.
The Fiat 500e, an EV model of the standard Fiat, is no exception. The tiny driver is still an absolute blast to roll around in and the compact dimensions make handling a breeze.
The 500e is used for small drives, though, with a battery mileage of around 85 miles (making it the lowest mileage on the list). Also, despite being made in 2014, the 500e can be difficult to find. Initially, the model was only sold in California and Oregon. If you can find one, though, it’s fairly cheap. Earlier models can go for less than $10,000.
4. Chevrolet Bolt
Though the Chevrolet Bolt may be one of the more expensive electric cars on this list, it’s for good reason. The EV, originally released in 2016, has won a plethora of awards, making it class-leading in an array of categories. Hardware aside, its statistics still boggle the average consumer brain. With a battery mileage of over 250 miles on newer models (and 230 on older), it’s easily the longest-range EV for the price.
Higher-milage Bolts should be less than $20,000. The only issue is the bevy or battery recalls. Make sure the specific car you are looking at has been fixed by Chevrolet.
3. BMW I3
What’s a car list without a stylish and comfortable BMW?
With a quirky design and surprisingly spacious interior, the I3 is one of the strangest EVs on the market. We don’t mean strange with a negative connotation, though.
The I3 is rear-wheel drive, one of the only EVs to do so, making it great for more power-desiring situations (especially during bad Colorado weather). Its carbon-fiber design makes for a lightweight ride. Furthermore, it sports a range of 114-180 miles per charge (depending on the year).
If you want an EV with the high-end design of a BMW, the I3 is perfect. Older models should come in below $20,000.
2. Ford Focus Electric
If you are looking for a vehicle you know you can trust, look no further than a Ford.
With a longstanding history of reliability and top-notch sales, the Ford Focus model decided to dip into the EV market in 2011, attempting to compete directly with the next vehicle on our list. The completion brought greatness. Iron sharpens iron, after all.
Though no longer in development, the Ford Focus Electric was an early adaptation of the EV model and brought about a plethora of features still used in EVs today. A grandfather, if you will. The Focus has all the safety and convenience features of a Ford and contains a battery with around 107 miles of range.
You should be able to find one for less than $15,000.
1. Nissan Leaf
When Tesla was scorching the market as the only reliable and powerful EV, Nissan struck back with an affordable competitor. The Nissan Leaf, created to make EVs more affordable than the hyper-stylish Tesla, won over millions of customers. The compact EV continues to soar to new heights, getting objectively better with every model.
It started in 2011 as a short-range EV, making older models a bit lower in battery mileage (around 100 miles), but the newer models have stretched to road-trip-worthy heights. 2018 and beyond can reach up to 226 miles per charge.
Due to its decade-long prevalence, older models have reached significant lows on the market. An older model can cost lower than $7,000. It also packs the reliability of a Nissan, being one of the most customer-friendly brands in the industry.
If you want to dip your toes into electric cars but don’t want to pay the significant price of admission, a Nissan Leaf is the way to go. Hands down.