Best used electric cars to buy

Best used electric cars to buy
Fiat 500e

Going to the supermarket with an empty stomach is never a good idea, the same principle applies when searching for an electric car to buy, let me explain why…

If you’re EV hungry and really want to start driving an electric car more than anything else, in most occasions you would do better if you satiate your EV hunger with an used and cheap electric car, while waiting for the “perfect” electric car to be available. Otherwise you might buy an overpriced electric car and then regret it when better and cheaper alternatives start to appear.


In 2020, because of tougher vehicle emission standards, electric cars will start to become mainstream. They’ll be cheaper and have less compromises (better range and charging time).

Imagine a Renault Zoe or a Nissan Micra EV with a realistic 400 km range, 60 kWh battery and 150 kW DC fast charging available in 2020 for less than 20.000 €, it would be nice, wouldn’t it? A car like this would be almost “perfect” for most of us. However, since we live in the present, it’s much more comfortable to wait for our “perfect” electric car if we’re already satiated driving one EV, even if it’s far from “perfect”.


In my opinion a good used electric car to get while waiting for the “perfect” one, should fulfill some important requirements:

  • Best value for the money

This is essential to prevent buyer’s remorse.

  • Reliable

You don’t want to have any problems during the wait, especially with the battery.

  • Useful as a second car when your “perfect” car arrives

Two different sized cars in the same household can complement each other very well.


Since electric car’s availability differs from country to country, I’ll make my recommendations for two different regions.


North America (Canada, USA and Mexico)


2016 Fiat 500e


I can’t think of a better used electric car to get now than a Fiat 500e. Let’s see why.

  • Super cheap
  • Very useful 6,6 kW internal charger
  • Solid 24 kWh liquid heated and cooled battery made with NMC Samsung SDI cells
  • Small and perfect for city driving, great as a second car
  • Fun to drive with a very responsive motor
  • Cute and iconic look, can become an electric classic car


Here are some examples of what you can find on Fiat 500e.

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You might also want to check AutoTrader before deciding to buy.


The Fiat 500e is definitely the electric car I would get if I was living anywhere near Oregon and California. For safety and battery durability reasons I would try to get one in white, but wouldn’t mind to have one in orange, it looks super cool.





In Europe I haven’t so many certainties in which used electric car to recommend. While the triplets (Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero) were the obvious choice years ago, today I wouldn’t recommend them, especially because they were almost forgotten by their makers and if you need a battery replacement you’ll have a very bad surprise. They cost almost as much as a new car.

If you want ease of mind and affordable price, an used Renault Zoe R240 is hard to beat. Even better choice is the Renault Zoe R90 with the new ZE 40 battery – if you can wait a little longer until used units start to appear on sale.


Renault Zoe in white


I don’t recommend the Renault Zoe Q210 nor the Renault Zoe Q90 since the charging system is less reliable and efficient. Another reason is that the 43 kW fast charging is mostly a marketing figure, since you hardly get more than 30 kW charge rate for most of the time – not much better than the 22 kW available in the more reliable, cheaper and efficient R240 and R90 versions. Equipment wise the middle Intens trim level offers the best value for the money.

The battery leasing is an annoyance but it makes this electric car more affordable to buy and future proof by simplifying the battery’s upgrade process.


You can find an used Renault Zoe on autoscout24 at great prices. If you live in the UK, you might get a better deal at AutoTrader or eBay, see some examples below.


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How about you? Which used electric cars would you recommend for someone to get while waiting for the “perfect” one?

Leave a Reply


In the UK there’s only really the LEAF, presuming you don’t want a battery lease, and they’re about $10k-15k USD. Not very appealing even for the convinced.


In the UK you also have the Zoe-i with battery included. I purchased an 4 month old ex-demo with 15 miles, yes 15 miles on the odometer in May 2016 for £10,250 less that half the price of when new!

Just completed 5k miles in her with NO battery lease to pay and it is so nice to know that I own the whole car

That was a really great deal.


I can’t find a single Zoe-i for sale in the UK, but there are hundreds of LEAFs.


I found one no problem in-fact Renault Northampton had 6 in at the time.

First port of call is here
presently there are a few of the longer range 41kWh Zoe’s available with battery lease starting at £11900.
I’m just waiting for a 41kWh Zoe-i to come along as I could do with one of those as well.

Would not touch a Leaf as it is ugly as sin and what a stupid name and not got our required driving range anyways.

Jonas Jovial

I totally disagree with the best choice for Europe. The Zoe is not a god choice, because: 1st – It’s hard to find an used zoe without a battery renting associated. Even if you buy the battery to end the renting, you will find yourself paying much more that the real value of the battery. 2nd – The Zoe is know to have issues with some chargers (refusing to charge at all). Also the charging efficiency is not that great and it requires a 3 phase installation to have a good efficiency. Not everybody has a 3 phase installation or… Read more »

Thanks for sharing your opinion. 1. While I dislike to rent the battery for ever, I think that for the moment it’s the best thing to do. Then in one or two years negotiate with Renault/RCI to buy the battery – when it’s cheaper. Remember that the LG Chem battery cell factory in Poland is opening later this year and will drop the prices for the battery drastically. 2. You don’t need a 3 phase installation to have good charging efficiency, 32 A at 1-phase (7,4 kW) is enough, please check this article for figures: 3. I’m not aware… Read more »

Jonas Jovial

Hi, Pedro:

2 – Even one phase and 32A requires a total hired power of more of 30A (or superior to the 6.9kVA standard), because you have to account for the other stuff at home.

3 – As for the brakes failure, there are several cases reported. Here you can see the story with one and links to others:

The story is long, but well detailed. Here you can see how Renault Portugal is simple ignoring their clients and doesn’t care a single thing….

To charge the Zoe I would get a portable and adjustable EVSE like this one:

And leave it charging at 24-28 A.

That’s a sad story on that forum with the old Zoe Q210 from 2013. That’s another reason why I don’t recommend the Q210, the R240 that arrived in 2015 is much more reliable. But don’t forget that now the Zoe is the best selling electric car in Europe and problems like those are in the past.

Eduardo Francisco

You can have 10,35 kVA (45 A) one phase installation in Portugal…

Jonas Jovial

Not in every house. In my apartment, despite it his recent, in order to get more than 6.9kVA, i must undergo another certification with no guaranties that it will pass and pay a lot for it!


I have owned 3 Zoe’s since 2013 and not 1 of them have had brake problems so where is your “Knowledge” coming from?

Zoe does NOT require a 3 phase installation just a standard domestic 16amp or 32amp home charger pod.

Some early Zoe’s were very temperamental with charge point with regards to earthing impedance but this was rectified with software upgrades.

To me the Leaf is but ugly and is not as good a drive compared to a Zoe and Jonas I have driven them both and few other BEV’s.

Jonas before speaking false news please, please do your home work 😉

Jonas Jovial

Maybe it should be you that should make your homework.. I already point out a case. If you don’t want to have the work to simple google for more, i’m not going to do it for you.. In order the charge be efficient, you need to have a at least 30A dedicated only to the Zoe or a three phase installation.. There are still several problems with some chargers, were other cars charge well.. Also the lack of a real fast charge solution does not go well with long travels. As for which one is better, Zoe or Leaf..well.. the… Read more »


?? I travel across the UK and use the Ecotricity rapid chargers network and Zoe is charged to 80% in 25 minutes, have a coffee and I go for another 100miles and visit daughter 250 miles away within the day. I plug Zoe to my 32amp Rolec home charger and Zoe is good to go in 4 -5 hours from empty now Jonas have you ever been in a EV? Maybe you say something about bad wiring in Portugal and yes when we have stayed in that beautiful country the wiring can be a bit flakey and here in northern… Read more »

Michael Roberts

Best choice at the moment in the UK is to lease for a couple of years on a Nissan LEAF. No battery rental. No need to worry about battery degradation as lease is only a couple of years. Very good reliabilty record. Monthly cost of less than £200 (new), or around £100 second hand, and you hand it back in a couple of years just when the really tasty stuff is coming to market. Anyone switching to one of these from a fossil car would probably be break even on fuel and associated extra costs of running a petrol/diesel.


Leaf, no butt ugly and the stupid foot-hand brake is awful plus rear visibility is hindered by the massive C pillars. Zoe is prettier, more entertaining to drive and has a longer range, London to Manchester being some 190 miles no problem now with a Zoe ZE40


Best ever EV drive that I’ve had has to be the Tesla Model S on a test drive though Birmingham and then worst Renault Twizy during the Renault ZE presentation October 2012 not suited to northern Europe whether and highways but Tesla was £70K and the Twizy £4-5K 🙁


In my opinion the smart ed is a good choice:

– you can get 11 kW (22 kW in Brabus) AC-Charging
– Thermal Management ( real 100 km in Winter)
– Battery lease OR buy

Checking I found a lot of e-up! for around 13k€ with CCS enabled. How about that?

Hint to german buyers: electric FIAT 500 in Germany ARE NOT 500e – they are “karabag” from hamburg. Nice cars, but not as goog as the real 500e

The trouble with the Fiat 500e in most of the US is that, as far as I know, it’s not universally supported outside the handful ZEV states where it’s sold new. As an Arizona resident, I can travel the 350 miles or so to southern California to purchase used off-lease examples of any number of EVs sold there. Unfortunately, local dealers in Arizona won’t touch most of those brands if something needs factory service under warranty, unless the vehicle is also sold new here. Hence, Arizona consumers do purchase used California EVs and bring them back home, since there’s so… Read more »


I have a good deal on a fiat 500e but I am in Georgia and am weighing the risks oh buying and hoping nothing goes wrong b4 fiat here starts selling them


I got a used 2014 fiat 500e in Texas with 15k miles. After driving golf cart battery ICE conversions for a couple decades I gave up for a while and went straight bicycle commuting since my last EV truck would not have made my commute when they changed my work location. A few years later my work has a charger, I can’t ride a bike anymore and now I have an EV which is the fastest, funniest and smoothest car I’ve EVer owned and while I don’t need the charger at work I do plug in and gladly pay the… Read more »


*funnest. Although some people around here with all the jacked up trucks and emission delete everything’s might call it funniest.

Tom Houlden

I love my used 500e! 3 years ago I had the exact same thought process as Pedro wrote above, but even now there still isn’t an EV available here that I’d rather own for my needs (I don’t like the otherwise-superior eGolf’s air-cooled batt, & even though I rent ICE for roadtrips, Smart range & price are poor).
As for warranty, my 2013 model is one of the first ever produced, yet during the entire warranty period the only issues were 3 exterior lightbulbs (rear side marker, headlight & side brakelight, chronologically)

Rick C.

Bought a used 2015 (with 21K miles) last year the day after thanksgiving, put exactly 19,000 miles on it to date. No apparent battery degradation, as I still manage about a hundred miles on certain drives. Short of a Tesla, the cooled/heated Samsung SDI batteries are probably the most degradation-free and long lived out there.