► Planning on buying a used electric car in 2023?
► These are the best buys – from city EVs to luxury SUVs
► Save money or get a better car for your budget
Electric cars are selling incredibly well, with SMMT figures revealing roughly 20% growth year on year and a greater market share of new sales even during 2020-2022’s pandemic response 2023 marks a gradual return to an active used car market: that means there’s a reassuring amount of stock – and lower residuals – for those looking for the best used electric cars. If you want something new for less cash, take a look at our favourite cheap electric cars. Or, if you want an inexpensive electric car that’s also small in size, check out the best small electric cars here.
Part of the fall in residual values is not down to availability of stock, however. Even the best second-hand electric cars aren’t the money-saving life hack they once were. Public charging costs are now comparable to running a normal petrol car, the plug-in car grant ended, and the government has announced plans to introduce an EV road pricing scheme in 2025, compensating for the fall in revenues through free VED that many electric car owners take for granted.
The best used electric cars at a glance
So interested in getting an electric car for less cash? If so, we’ve put together a list of the best used EVs you can buy on the second-hand market.
Best used electric cars in 2023
Tesla Model X (2016–)
- Used price from: £34,950
- Big, showy six/seven seater electric MPV falls short of quality expectations
The Model X is a super-futuristic SUV available with six or seven seats. It’s huge and heavy, but it disguises its bulk with sleek design language. The cabin also feels very airy thanks to its panoramic windscreen, which starts at the front scuttle and ends at the tailgate.
The Tesla Model X is devastatingly fast for a car of this size, reaching 62mph in less than five seconds (3.1 seconds for the P100D!). It features all-wheel drive and has a range similar to many petrol-powered SUVs of around 280 miles between Tesla Supercharger stops.
Pros: Innovative features, impressive performance, the Tesla brand could attract many
Cons: Design polarising for some, newer rivals offer strong competition.
Best for those looking for the Tesla badge and some unusual features
Because of the cut-throat manner in which the new-car market operates at the moment, some nearly new Model X examples are more expensive than a brand new Model X. But you’re paying for the convenience of getting one on your driveway now rather than in six months.
Cars at the lower end of the spectrum will be likely to have loads of miles on them. The cheapest option we found had upwards of 120,000 miles on the clock. Cars like that will have suffered some loss in battery capacity after countless charges over that distance, so make sure you walk into your purchase with your eyes open.
CAR verdict: ‘This is an SUV that’s all about performance in both senses; it’ll show off at the Supercharger and show up many supercars at the traffic lights. But the driving experience is detached and as digital as the tech behind it.’
Read our full Tesla Model X review.
Smart EQ ForFour (previously Electric Drive) (2017–22)
- Used price from: £9,000
- Small, family-friendly, but limited range even when new
The electric Smart ForFour ED (or EQ ForFour) is a good choice, providing you get one at the right price. There’s a huge gap between the least and most expensive used cars, so stick to the lower half of the price chart if you can.
This little four-seater has the tiny charm of European city cars such as the Fiat 500 or Renault Twingo, which shouldn’t be a surprise as it shares a body with the latter. The electric option isn’t vastly different to the two-seater EQ ForTwo, but it’s pushing a bit more weight around.
Pros: Cute styling, small footprint, ideal city car
Cons: Tiny range
Best for those who stay in the city
Basic and a touch crude in places, the Smart is the opposite of the BMW i3 in terms of technical investment. It’s a conventional car adapted for electricity – and the biggest compromise is the range. It’s powered by a minuscule 17.6kWh battery, which means you’ll get lucky to get 70 miles of motorway speeds out of it, even in summer. That range will plunge in winter when electric cars are less efficient.
Keep it in the city, though, and the EQ ForFour is great. It has wide-opening rear doors for easy child-seat access, it is easy to park, and it can be fully charged overnight using a conventional three-pin plug. It’s efficient, too, making the most of its small battery with tricks like activating the heated seats and wheel for short trips rather than firing up its more energy-intensive space heater.
CAR verdict: ‘If more people liked cars like this, cities would be transformed. But they don’t, and we don’t expect you to either. But if it’s cheap and suits your needs, don’t overlook the electric Smart.’
Tesla Model S (2013–)
- Price used from: £22,500
- The definitive electric luxury car for almost a decade still turns heads
The Tesla Model S has been on sale for around a decade now. The company last updated the car in 2021, giving it some fresh styling and extra technology. Rather frustratingly for used buyers, they’re holding their value rather well. Much better than ‘big luxury cars’ have traditionally, and even at ten years old, they’re a substantial outlay.
A nearly-new Model S – or the very oldest – is pretty poor value, although it’s a very good EV. You can even have the older Model S feel fresh by having it upgraded, with a novel ability to buy the latest Tesla factory infotainment system. That sort of ‘in-service refresh’ is the kind of thing Tatra owners enjoyed but falls far from the mindset of mass consumption and production.
Pros: Range, performance, the Supercharger network
Cons: Newer rivals just as good if not better, touchscreen interface overwhelming for some
Best for those who want the Tesla experience for less
Upgrades and over-the-air updates mean that a Model S sold in 2015 may be a very different car by 2023. With no major changes to the design and continued reliance on the Supercharger network for efficient charging, the experience of a used Tesla won’t be much different to the rarefied heights of a showroom-fresh example. Just don’t expect to get a full charge overnight from your household socket…
CAR verdict: ‘The EV for long-distance drivers and the fashion-conscious, but being one of the first means there could still be a few bugs to iron out.’
Read our full Tesla Model S review.
Jaguar I-Pace (2018–)
- Price used: £26.000
- Traditional Jaguar values? The deprecation’s bang on – so is reliability
Jaguar I-Paces are plentiful on the used market, and surprisingly affordable given the £70,000-ish price when new. They’re excellent cars, rather like a Tesla with British sensibilities, designed by a company who made its fortune from sports cars and not software. But it’s a company with a poor record for reliability.
Pros: Avant-garde design has aged well, interior has too, driving dynamics are great
Cons: Range not so competitive in 2023
Best for those who want an engaging EV with added practicality
It’s powered by a 90kWh battery pack, which powers two electric motors. You get four-wheel drive, 395bhp, a 0–62mph time of 4.8 seconds and a maximum claimed range of 261 miles. It also handles well thanks to its aluminium body. It’s grippy yet adjustable – and that makes it great fun to drive on more challenging roads.
The I-Pace’s cabin feels traditionally sporting rather than forced futurism. There are touchscreens, granted, but they’re set alongside traditional knobs and buttons, which is reassuringly familiar. It’s also quite spacious. The flat floor means there’s plenty of room for passengers’ feet and, despite its rakish roofline, there’s loads of headroom and luggage space.
CAR verdict: ‘Cutting-edge design, but more importantly, genuinely good to drive.’
Read our full Jaguar I-Pace review.
MG ZS EV (2019–)
- Price used from: £15,999
- Affordable electric SUV is perfect for shorter trips and doesn’t feel as cheap as you might expect
The MG ZS EV represents excellent value for money. You can buy a brand-new one for the same price as a battered Tesla Model S – and good used examples are comfortably less than £20,000.
Pros: Very good value, later models have impressive range, long warranty
Cons: Dynamically not as refined as some competitors, wind noise
Best for those seeking a straightforward, no-frills electric SUV
A used MG ZS EV is worth seeking out, particularly if you value good basics more than a good brand. They come with seven-year warranties, so even if you do buy a three-year-old model, you’ll still have four years’ worth of cover on it.
The ZS EV launched in the UK in 2019 and received a big update in 2021. Early cars have a 44.5kWh battery with an official range of 163 miles. Later, ZS EVs can be identified in the small ads by their slimmer front lights and stamped-effect grille; these have a choice of a 51kWh (198-mile range) or 72kWh (273-mile Long Range) battery.
CAR Verdict: ‘Hugely sensible electric SUV with decent range and long warranty.’
Read our full MG ZS EV review.
Nissan Leaf (2010–20)
- Price used from: £5499
- The EV for early adopters is very reliable, but the cheapest examples have small batteries
Nissan should be the dominant EV force in the UK – but the quirky-looking Leaf probably did more to sideline the firm’s appeal to mainstream motorists, with its odd proportions and a strange, grille-less face. You won’t mistake a first-gen Leaf for any other Nissan, that’s for sure.
Pros: Affordability, practicality, and a decent range
Cons: Design and infotainment system lag behind some competitors
Best for those looking for a compact cheap EV with a proven track record.
By being unrelated to any other Nissan sold in the UK. However, the original Leaf gets to be clever. Opera seating for the rear passengers helps the feeling of spaciousness and allows Leaf occupants to have a little bit of SUV high-riding freedom without the associated bulk. It also had a class-leading range in its day, while its 108bhp motor allows brisk performance, though maximum speed is limited to 93mph.
Both 24kWh and later 30kWh models are available on the secondhand EV market. DC fast charging is also supported, although that does accelerate the loss of battery capacity over time that EVs suffer. Post-2013 models are the better buy and the second-generation Nissan Leaf from 2018 on is a very accomplished, affordable mainstream EV. Like the Renault Zoe, some models are part of a battery leasing scheme. Do your research in the showroom.
CAR verdict: ‘An amazingly un-rubbish electric alternative to combustion-powered hatchbacks.’
Read our full Nissan Leaf review.
Renault Zoe (2013–)
- Price used from: £7250
- The original small electric hatchback, Zoe, almost achieved for EVs what the R5 did for superminis
The Renault Zoe is a small electric supermini, about the same size as a Dacia Sandero. During the last decade of its production, Renault has steadily improved the formula, fitting larger batteries and more powerful electric motors.
Pros: Range, affordability, and significant interior improvements
Cons: Zero-star Euro NCAP safety rating is a significant concern
Best for those willing to weigh the benefits against the safety concerns
The earliest, most basic models feature a 22kWh battery and an 89hp electric motor, which offer a maximum range of around 130 miles. In 2016, Renault rolled out a larger 41kWh battery, which bumped maximum range past 200 miles. Another update in 2019 introduced a larger 52kWh battery and a more powerful 134hp electric motor.
In our experience, the Zoe’s rather inconsistent compatibility with fast chargers means trusting one for a carefully planned long-distance trip is risky. If luck is on your side, though, the Q90 model can take on an 80% charge in a little over an hour.
One aspect of buying a Zoe is the ongoing cost of battery leasing, which some lower-cost examples may be liable for. It’s generally more affordable than putting fuel in an economical car, and warranty coverage of leased packs means failure is Renault’s problem, not yours – but be prepared for monthly costs of up to £99/month if you cover up to 10,500 miles a year. This does include breakdown assistance, at least.
Discounts on new models and that unusual battery leasing arrangement impact the Zoe’s appeal as a used buy – but Renault did end up selling them with the battery included, and those represent excellent secondhand value for a subtle, practical EV that is immensely easy to live with.
CAR verdict: ‘Zoe is much quieter than Nicole, but Renault still knows how to package cutting-edge tech for the masses.’
Read our full Renault Zoe (2023) review.
Tesla Model 3 (2019–)
- Price used from: £24,500
- Aspirational, affordable and effective – the Tesla Model 3 could be the EV Model T
Tesla took its sweet time launching the Model 3 in Europe – but now it’s here, it consistently tops the sales charts. And arguably, it was worth the wait. A sleek, truncated four-door fastback shape evokes classics like the Citroen GS and Alfa Romeo Alfasud – and in time, the Model 3 will probably be remembered for bringing uncompromised electric-car tech within reach of the masses.
Granted, a new price tag of £43,000 (give or take a few thousand – price hikes, then cuts, mean the P11D could be £ 8,000 different between months) doesn’t sound mass-market, but there are loads of cars for that money on our roads. We guarantee the next time you leave the house, you won’t make it 100 yards without seeing a Range Rover Evoque, posh BMW SUV or blinged-up Nissan Qashqai – all of which typically cost the same as a Model 3.
Pros: Lengthy battery range, spacious interior, and advanced tech
Cons: Increasing competition, concerns about customer service experiences
Best for those who want a benchmark EV on the cheap
Strong residuals and low running costs mean, on a monthly basis, the Model 3 is a prudent choice, one that comes with realistic mileage claims, even if you regularly drive on the motorway. Even in 2023, Tesla’s own new leasing deals are extremely competitive, and cash buyers can save a little via a new Tesla-approved-used scheme.
Unlike the Model S, the Model 3’s secondhand values react strongly to price cuts on new models, and for cash buyers, the smaller Tesla can offer great value for money. Even on younger examples, it’s still possible to trade ‘age’ for ‘spec’, with a 1000-mile top-spec long-range AWD performance model, complete with supercar-baiting performance, for less than the standard entry-level model new. If you plan to keep the car a long time, that’s the best option.
CAR verdict: ‘The Model 3 does for electric cars what the iPhone did for smartphones.’
Read our full Tesla Model 3 review.
Volkswagen e-Golf (2014–20)
- Price used from: £13,250
- Once the definitive hatchback, now a reassuringly familiar EV – for short trips
Most manufacturers have gone down the route of developing bespoke electric models, but a few jumped on the bandwagon early by converting their existing vehicles. This has been a proven path for short-range experiments for decades, but there’s inevitably a compromise in the engineering and packaging. VW got in early in 2013/14 with the e-Golf and e-Up, continuing a line started with the Golf CityStormers of the ’80s.
Go for a 2017-on e-Golf if you can. Cars from that year onwards feature a better battery pack, faster charging speeds and a more powerful electric motor. It’s a good EV and has the advantage of being a completely normal-looking car. It’s the used EV for those who want to blend in, not stand out.
Pros: Quality, usability, familiarity
Cons: Real-world range of 120 miles
Best for those who want familiarity and quality and have access to home charging
This has its benefits, but tech-obsessed early adopters may find it disappointing. You don’t get an enormous infotainment system or futuristic design language. Aside from the blue trim, you’d never tell the difference from the outside – and the cabin looks pretty much identical to the petrol-powered Mk7 Golfs.
What isn’t disappointing is how the e-Golf drives. It’s more in tune with enthusiasts’ needs, and although the performance can’t rival anything from Tesla, a 0–62mph time of around 10 seconds and an official maximum range of 186 miles isn’t bad. The extra weight of the battery is well distributed, and the above-floor boot space is unchanged (although you do need to reserve some room for the charging cable).
CAR verdict: ‘Decent real-world performance, cohesive dynamics and compelling fundamental togetherness – a very classily-executed everyday car.’
Read our full VW e-Golf review.
BMW i3 (2013–22)
- Price used from: £11,995
- Optimised for electric from the start, the i3’s advanced approach still feels fresh
Somewhat surprisingly, one of the best-value used electric cars is the BMW i3. It’s a clever urban runabout with a carbon fibre construction and little shared componentry with other BMWs. It’s a groundbreaking EV that demonstrates the advantages of thinking differently.
The cabin is futuristic, blending exposed carbon fibre weave with natural materials. Underneath, there’s a relatively small 22kWh battery (or 60Ah in BMW-speak), which trades outright range for faster charging speeds to full capacity. That makes the i3 perfect for zipping around town.
Pros: Still impressive, still unique, REX also an option
Cons: Not as much space as some
Best for those who want a unique, carbonfibre EV that has no contemporary equivalent
As you’d expect from a BMW, there’s a performance edge. By EV standards, the i3’s 168bhp motor is very generous, particularly in a car this light. It’ll reach 62mph in 7.2 seconds. Later models include the 33kWh ’94Ah’ with increased range and DC fast charging and the i3 S with sport suspension, sharper handling and 6.9-second 62mph sprint. Production ended in 2022, and there’s nothing as bespoke or distinctive to replace it from any manufacturer.
Like the idea of the BMW i3, but still enjoy visiting petrol stations? There’s also the i3 REx – for range extender – that uses a tiny BMW scooter engine as a generator to top up the battery charge for an extra 80-90 miles of range. Or, if you’d rather ditch petrol completely, the latest i3s are also available with a 42kWh (120Ah) battery, which matches the range of the REx.
CAR verdict: ‘Eye-catching design, spacious interior and engaging driving experience – an immensely likeable, very quick city car.’
Why choose a used electric car in 2023?
Despite the concerns above, if you charge at home rather than on a public charger, the running costs are usually lower than those of a comparable combustion car. If you’re buying through a business or with salary sacrifice, they’re also better value as a benefit-in-kind.
What’s an EV really like to live with? We poll real-world electric car owners
Owning an electric car is the new premium. Even opting for an EV from a mainstream brand signals affluence, environmental responsibility and awareness. The reality is that the best electric cars provide a perfectly sensible means of transport for most drivers and their families once new habits are learned. They also remain highly appealing for company car users, used or new.
New electric cars can still be prohibitively expensive, both in cash and finance terms, with long waiting lists and delivery times for some models. An approved-used electric car from a manufacturer such as Tesla or via Spoticar, one of the Stellantis brands, is available right away at lower cost.
How old can a usable secondhand electric car be?
Electric cars have improved significantly since the Mk1 Nissan Leaf was introduced in 2010. Early EVs would service most drivers well for pottering around London, but they’ll fall over the second you ask them to stray out of the city. Their batteries will probably struggle to hold enough charge.
Technology improved significantly around 2013, and we’d consider this to be the earliest year to look for a used electric car unless you want to stay local. New EV sales really began to pick up after 2019, when the diversity of models coincided with targeted incentives, particularly around company car taxation.
Values of conventional used cars remain high – and they probably won’t drop until manufacturers have sorted out their supply chain issues and can start churning out new cars out at their normal rate. As such, there’s never been a better time to consider a second-hand electric car. They’re more expensive anyway, so you might as well.
Before going electric, though it’s worth considering a few things. Do you have off-street parking? Do you have easy access to charging? Are most of your trips less than 80 miles? If the answer to any of these questions is no, you might find a plug-in hybrid offers a better compromise.
Are used EVs still expensive?
No. If anything, prices are falling rapidly, but it’s more of a correction rather than a shift to lower values outright.
In 2022’s Auto Trader Retail Price Index, most used cars’ average prices slowed in growth while asking prices of electric vehicles (EVs) jumped an average of 27.5% year-on-year for mainstream models. In March 2023, that trend is reversed, with many used electric cars falling a similar amount and some second-hand EVs losing up to 30% compared with 2022 figures, according to cap-hpi.
Dealers are, unsurprisingly, not very keen on taking electric cars in or buying them for stock at the moment, which is applying further downward pressure. Even if you do find a bargain used EV for sale, check the finance figures carefully – high interest rates are prevalent for used cars when manufacturers can use incentives to offer cheaper finance on new models.
Best used electric cars 2023: the buying guide
Despite the new technology, buying a secondhand EV buying is much like taking on any used car. In fact, some aspects are much better. For example, brake wear is reduced thanks to regenerative technology (many Nissan Leafs were still on their original discs and pads after 60,000 miles), there’s less dirt and pollution from oil and combustion and simple single-speed transmissions.
Many electric cars fail their first MOTs on simple consumables, however, which suggests owners aren’t paying as much attention as they should. Look for worn tyres, neglected wipers and faulty headlights.
The downside of EV ownership is that if things go wrong, main dealer repairs can still be very expensive and time-consuming. If a deal looks too good to be true, it could be a much bigger gamble than you anticipated…
Below, we’ve listed the best electric cars to buy used, outlining how much you should expect to pay for each and why they’re worth considering as your next car. Prices listed are using second-hand car valuation data from our sister brand, Parkers.co.uk.
What’s the best used electric car, then?
Given the state of the economy, finance costs and erosion of electricity’s price advantage per mile over diesel and petrol, the best used electric car is one you’re buying out of necessity. We would still choose the BMW i3 for most purposes, partly because there’s nothing else like it and probably never will be again, but it’s also very efficient.
The Volkswagen e-Golf is also a great, gentle introduction to secondhand EVs (it’s a Golf Mk7, but electric), and the Tesla Model 3 is proving that dedicated supply chains and focused manufacturing pay off, remaining competitive new and, thus, good value used.
Those who are self-employed, sole traders and businesses with cash to spend will definitely find advantages buying a used electric car outright and working the numbers for salary sacrifice and benefit-in-kind. Beware of uncapped commercial energy rates if charging at work, though.
Our main advice is to think carefully if you’re ready to go electric before committing. If you know what to expect, we’d wholeheartedly back one of the cars recommended on this page. If you’re a first-timer, make sure you do your sums beforehand – to check that the bills and savings are what you expect and that the range will suit your needs.
Richard Kilpatrick is our used cars editor and has been writing about technology, photography and cars for longer than he cares to admit. He’s also driven every electric car on this list.