More Sales, More Choice
In 2023, it’s anticipated that sales of new electric cars in our country will cross the one-million mark for the first time. Electric cars now represent just under 1 out of every 10 new cars sold in the U.S., and that share is growing. But, the average price of a new EV is still higher than that of a new gasoline vehicle – around $60,000, compared to about $50,000.
For those of us on tight budgets that want the benefits of going electric, such as reduced fuel costs and zero emissions, there’s good news: just as the number of new EV choices continues to grow, so will the choice in used EVs. After all, the first Nissan Leafs and Tesla Model S sedans went on sale more than a decade ago, with many other popular models introduced in the intervening years. And with more available used EVs, drivers will have more choices at different price points.
There’s even better news if you’re shopping for an affordable electric car. If you meet income and other restrictions, the federal government introduced a new used EV incentive in 2023 – offering a tax credit of up to $4,000 on the purchase of a used electric car with a price of under $25,000. This credit brings EV ownership within the reach of a whole new group of drivers – drivers who could most benefit from EVs’ savings in fuel costs.
Here are our favorite affordable used EVs.
On sale since 2010, the Nissan Leaf is the first mainstream electric car to be sold on our shores. Early Leafs can be had for very little money, but they also have a reputation for losing a fair bit of their battery capacity over time. So, we’d hold out for a second-generation Leaf, which was introduced in 2017 and which had a much-improved battery. Two versions were available, offering 149 or 226 miles of EPA-estimated range when new. All Leafs are spacious, easy to drive, and come with intuitive technology that makes them a cinch to live with.
Mini Cooper S Electric
The all-electric version of the popular Mini Cooper debuted in 2020. In its tiny body is packed a 181-hp electric motor that makes the little Mini terrific fun to drive. Other than electric power, this car is all Mini, with great handling, a spacious and fun interior, and up to date technology. EPA-estimated range was poor when new, at 114 miles. But, when used as a city runabout and charged at home overnight, this is a great car in a compact package.
About to end production, the Bolt is the most affordable new EV you can buy in the U.S., but it’s also one of the best. This popular EV debuted in 2010, and it’s just a great package. While it has a compact footprint, there’s big-car room inside the Bolt, and its performance and range are also from a class above EPA-estimated range for the Bolt was 259 miles even on the base version. Later models have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard along with a full suite of technological aids.
The Mazda MX-30 wasn’t sold for very long in the U.S., as many buyers were put off by its short EPA estimate of 100 miles of range between charges. However, used in the city, and with access to home or workplace charging, there’s a lot to like in this package: stylish looks, cool clamshell doors that give access to a spacious interior, luxurious finishes, and the latest driver assistance tech. The 141-hp electric motor makes the MX-30 a lot of fun to drive, as well. If you can find one of these on sale, it’s bound to be a bargain.
Hyundai Kona Electric
First introduced in 2019, this subcompact electric crossover was available both with front- or all-wheel drive, and with a choice of a 39.2-kWh or 64-kWh battery pack. The larger of the two packs offered drivers up top 258 miles of range, according to EPA estimates. We like the Kona because it’s a quick and nimble little car with an attractive and spacious interior. Later models, refreshed in 2022, added additional features like automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and lane centering.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
Having debuted in 2021, the first Mustang Mach-E models are just starting to come back from leases, or are being traded in on newer models. This hot Ford was the recipient of the North American SUV of the Year award, and was our favorite family EV in 2021. Probably the priciest vehicle on our list, the Mach-E is a spacious electric crossover that is a blast to drive, looks great, and has an infotainment and driver assist tech.