From small EVs to electric SUVs, there’s now a used electric car with a price and range to suit most drivers
A quick look around will confirm that electric cars are now part of the automotive mainstream.
EV sales have skyrocketed – 88% so far this year compared to 2021 – as a combination of carrot and stick persuades buyers to move from petrol or diesel to all-electric power.
Many of the cars on our list lack the big batteries and impressive range of the latest models, but they’re all still a great way to make the switch to all-electric driving, whatever type of car you need.
Recently discontinued, the i3 pioneered when it was launched in 2013, and even now its sharp design, carbon fiber construction and premium eco-friendly interior feel modern. Most i3s come with a 168 horsepower engine, although the i3 S boosts that to 181 horsepower for even more lively performance. Early models came with a relatively small 22 kWh battery, good for 120 miles when new. Later versions got a 33kWh unit which increased the range to 160 and a 42kWh option was added in 2018, bringing the theoretical maximum to 193 miles. For those concerned about the relatively short range, there is also a range extender version that uses a small petrol engine as a generator for the battery, adding a range of around 80 miles.
The Leaf is the grandfather of regular electric cars and offers a regular family hatchback with electric power. With the earliest examples now 11 years old, you can pick one up for under £5,000. However, these older cars had small batteries to start with (about 80 miles from actual range) and will probably have lost quite a bit of that by now, so they are better suited as a second car or local runaround. Later first generation cars got a 30 kWh battery for longer range, but if you can afford it, the second generation model was a major improvement inside and out and offered larger battery options for between 168 and 239 miles.
The Zoe is another long-term model in the EV market, where battery size, range and equipment have improved over the years. Essentially it’s a spunky little supermini with decent performance and, in later guise, good range. An evolving range of battery and motor combinations in the first generation car offered between 93 and 250 miles. Second-generation models received new motor and battery options that offered between 238 and 245 miles on a charge. Keep in mind that many first-generation cars and some early second-generation cars were sold on a battery lease, which keeps purchase costs low, but drivers pay Renault a monthly fee.
Not to be confused with the more recent Ioniq 5, the original Ioniq was unusual in that you could buy it as a full hybrid, plug-in hybrid or pure EV. A sensible and well-equipped family hatchback with a decent range, it’s now a fairly affordable and practical choice for those looking to make the EV switch. Early cars with the smaller 28 kWh battery had a claimed range of 274 miles, while a facelift in 2019 added more equipment and a 38kWh battery good for a claimed 193 miles.