Expert Insights

What Are the Best Used EV Buys?

Laurance Yap
April 25, 2024
Because they contain relatively new and fast-evolving technology, electric cars can depreciate more than conventional vehicles. But while that means a little financial pain for an EV’s original owner, it can make for some great electric car bargains.
EV parked at business

What Are the Best Used EVs?

Depreciation is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, when buying a new car, depreciation can give reason for pause, as you know that the moment you drive off the lot, your car is worth less than you paid for it – even if it will give you long and faithful service for years to come. On the other hand, depreciation is great for bargain-hunters, as it means that someone else has taken the financial hit on a product you can purchase nearly new.

Because electric cars still represent relatively new technology, it’s hard to know yet, long-term, how much depreciation they will ultimately be subject to. Only Nissan, Chevrolet, and Tesla truly have more than a few years of sales behind them to have established depreciation patterns. And even then, all three of these brands have adjusted prices on new cars, leading to shifting values for used versions of the same model. (Tesla, for instance, dropped prices on multiple models multiple times through 2023; Nissan recently cut up to $6,000 from the starting MSRP for the Ariya.)

Do EVs Depreciate More?

Still, the theory is that in some ways, EVs might have steeper depreciation curves than more conventional vehicles, as the technology is developing so rapidly. While they are unlikely to lose value as aggressively as a smartphone in their first year of ownership, there are some electric cars that depreciate more than others. And for those of us looking to go electric – but hoping to save a bit on the initial outlay – it means there are deals to be had on nearly-new vehicles.

Indeed, a recent survey by industry watcher iSeeCars ranked some of the best deals going for EVs that are just one year old. If you’re in the market for a new electric car, but are willing to purchase a vehicle with a few miles on it, and which isn’t 100 percent new, you could save yourself tens of thousands of dollars – and still enjoy a current-generation vehicle and all of the fuel savings and low-maintenance benefits of going electric. Here’s a list of the best year-old EVs to look for.

2023 Volkswagen ID.4

2023 Volkswagen ID.4: 32.9%, or $15,609 Less Than New

The Volkswagen ID.4 is one of the best-selling electric vehicles in the country, and it represented over 10 percent of the brand’s sales in 2023 – making it a bona-fide hit. The ID.4 is lovely to drive, with a smooth, powerful electric drivetrain, decent range, and a well-made interior made of sustainable materials. Late in 2023, Volkswagen also shifted production of the ID.4 to its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, meaning that the ID.4 is made in the USA as well.

Like all EVs, the ID.4 is evolving rapidly. The 2024 model not only packs more powerful electric motors, but it also has significantly more range than the 2023 – and its infotainment system has a larger screen with backlit volume and temperature sliders as well as a more responsive interface.

Those meaningful upgrades mean that 2023 models are a great deal, if you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of range, or don’t mind its smaller screen. A year-old ID.4 will save you a third on the original model’s starting MSRP.

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5

2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5: 32.9%, or $16,805 Less Than New

One of our favorite electric crossovers, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 is packed with goodness. It has a spacious, extremely versatile interior with easy-to-use climate, navigation, and infotainment controls. It is swift and secure on the road, with available all-wheel drive, and when equipped with the long range battery, it has among the best EPA range estimates in its class.

Charging speed is best-in-class as well, with a sophisticated 800-volt electrical system, like a Porsche Taycan, that lets the Hyundai charge at up to 350 kW, making this a very good road-tripper. Recent strong retail offers on new Ioniq 5s mean that 2023 models can be had for significantly less than MSRP, and the model hasn’t even received a mid-life facelift yet. Which means the Ioniq 5 continues to be a favorite – whether you purchase new or used.

2023 Kia EV6

2023 Kia EV6: 33.3%, or $18,081 Less Than New

Closely related to the Ioniq 5, the Kia EV is built on the same Hyundai-Kia E-GMP architecture, which features ultra-fast charging, very good range, and the option of vehicle-to-load (V2L) capability that can power tools or other equipment from the vehicle. Where the EV6 differs is in its styling: while the Ioniq 5 has a retro vibe characterized by sharp angles and pixelated graphics for its lighting, the EV is swoopy, sleek, and sexy – looking as much like a sports car as a crossover SUV.

Those appearances are slightly deceiving. While the EV6 is indeed sporty – it accelerates quickly, has instant throttle response, and is secure in the corners thanks to its low center of gravity – it is also remarkably spacious and flexible. Built on a platform designed for electric first, the EV6 doesn’t have an “engine room,” meaning that almost all of its footprint is devoted to passenger and cargo space. Rear-seat legroom is truly limo-like, and there’s plenty of space for all your family’s gear.

2023 Nissan Leaf parked in driveway

2023 Nissan Leaf: 45.7%, or $15,786 Less Than New

As a nameplate, the Nissan Leaf has been on sale longer than any other electric vehicle on the market. And while the latest Leaf, which was introduced in 2017, is a much better car than the original, which came out in 2010, it’s definitely feeling its age compared to more modern competitors. Range, charging speed, and feature content are behind the curve, and charging on the go is becoming a challenge as the Leaf still uses the old-style CHAdeMO connector for high-speed charging – a plug that is becoming increasingly rare on the latest-generation chargers.

While we think the new Nissan Ariya crossover is a much better fit for families as an all-round electric vehicle, with its impressive range, large cabin, and decent charging speed, the Leaf remains a fine choice as an urban runabout or a second car. Upgraded for the 2023 model year with improved tech and a little more range in both base and Leaf Plus forms, the OG Nissan EV is a great deal at a year old and almost half its original MSRP.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQS: 47.8%, or $65,143 Less Than New

Historically, the fastest-depreciating vehicles have always been large luxury sedans. Typically leased by companies for their executives, these feature-packed, leather- and wood- laden land yachts have always been used car bargains in gasoline form. Mercedes-Benz S-classes, BMW 7 Series, and Audi A8s are all fantastic used car bargains; and the Mercedes-Benz EQS, the Stuttgart brand’s top-of-the-line electric sedan, is one as well.

At just a year old, a 2023 EQS loses almost half of its value – over $65,000 – compared to its original starting MSRP. At just over half-price, you still get a nearly-new sedan packed with industry-leading technology, including a giant “hyperscreen” that spans the entire width of the cabin, the most advanced driving assistance systems available on the market, and a huge, beautifully-appointed interior with lounge-like seating, a stunning Burmester audio system, and more.

While 2024 EQS models were improved with a standard heat pump (for better range in the winter), more power, and improved software which makes brake regeneration and cruising more efficient, the EPA range estimates only increase by single digits. If you live in a temperate climate, the 2023 EQS could be the best deal of the year.