Over the past year and a half, used car prices have taken a nosedive. The days of paying over sticker price for generic new cars and receiving eye-watering Carvana estimates are long past us. As the market shifts, the barrier to purchasing an electric vehicle has lowered significantly. Plus, with the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) used EV tax credit, now is a great time to get behind the wheel of a second-hand electric car. 

Better yet, if the upper limit of one's budget is $15,000, there are plenty of lightly used EVs that easily slide into that price range— even without considering the tax credit. And no, we're not talking about old, high-mileage ones. There is the possibility of securing 2022 model-year EVs with fewer than 20,000 miles for under $15,000. If that car was registered in 2022, it would still have a remaining battery warranty for the next six years or 80,000 miles. 

No longer is buying an EV something that only the one percent can afford. In many situations, opting for an EV will be more financially advantageous than choosing an internal combustion engine vehicle. Low fueling and maintenance costs mean driving electric is more affordable and convenient. Even for those without a garage, many workplaces and universities offer public charging. For many car buyers, used electric cars make perfect sense— especially at these price points. 

2019 to 2022 Chevy Bolt

2017 Chevrolet Bolt: First Drive

The Chevy Bolt is the perfect starter EV— it offers solid range, decent performance, and impressive reliability. It provides a substantial EPA-rated range of 259 miles, and in our 70-mph range test, we saw 226 miles. Both of these numbers are highly respectable. The 66-kilowatt-hour battery pack can accept a rather paltry 50 kilowatts of DC power for recharging. This means it can add 100 miles of range in 30 minutes. It's not great— but it's in line with many other sub-$15,000 EVs. 

The Bolt also comes with a sprightly 200-horsepower front-mounted electric motor, delivering a zero-to-sixty time of around six and a half seconds. It's quick, though the eco tires tend to lose traction when pushed. The software allows for true one-pedal driving, and the throttle calibration is pretty refined. 

GM's electric hatchback features a spacious cabin and seating for five. The interior might leave more to desire, though, with lots of scratchy plastic and unsupportive, rigid seats. Then again, at its price point, it's hard to focus on the negatives when it offers more real-world range than some far more expensive EVs. 

Find used Chevrolet Bolt EVs near you. 

  • Battery capacity: 66 kilowatt-hours (~60 usable)
  • EPA-rated range: 259 miles
  • AC charging: 7.2 kilowatts
  • DC charging: 50 kilowatts
  • Power: 200 horsepower
  • Torque: 266 pound-feet
  • Seats: 5 passengers

2020 to 2022 Nissan Leaf

2020 Nissan Leaf SV Plus Exterior

In 2018, the Nissan Leaf received a significant redesign, which in turn made the hatchback look more like a typical car, instead of one that screams "EV." Along with the new design came a new battery pack. All 2019 and newer Leafs come with either two batteries: a 40 or 62-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion one. Neither are liquid-cooled, though degradation should not be a significant worry with these vehicles as they come with significantly more advanced batteries that tolerate heat better.

The 62-kilowatt-hour Plus version has between 215 to 226 miles of range and can accept up to 100 kilowatts of DC power— twice as much power as any other EV on this list. The Plus also ups the horsepower to 214, unlike the standard battery's 147. However, finding one for under $15,000 is a bit of a stretch. Consider yourself lucky if you can locate a 2019 with under 50,000 miles in that range.

As for the Leaf's non-powertrain attributes, there is nothing too special. The Leaf has an interior characterized by dark gray hard-touch plastics and cloth seats. The SL version has leather seats and a Bose audio system, though Nissan discontinued the standard battery SL version in 2019. Moreover, by the 2023 model year, the Japanese automaker eliminated all trims besides the S and SV Plus. 

The Leaf is not a very interesting car, but considering some low-mileage 2022s are under $15,000, it is a big deal. 

Find used Nissan Leafs near you. 

  • Battery capacity: 40 kilowatt-hours (39 usable)
  • EPA-rated range: 149 miles
  • AC charging: 6.6 kilowatts
  • DC charging: 50 kilowatts (CHAdeMO, optional)
  • Power: 147 horsepower
  • Torque: 236 pound-feet
  • Seats: 5 passengers

2020 Hyundai Ioniq EV 

Hyundai Ioniq Range test

The Ioniq EV was Hyundai's first mass-produced electric car. For the 2020 model year, Hyundai updated the design and added a larger, liquid-cooled 38.3kWh battery pack, yielding an increased range of 170 miles. Power was also improved, though take that with a grain of salt. The original Ioniq EV made 118 horsepower, and the 2020 improved that to 134, which won't raise any eyebrows. That said, nothing about the Ioniq EV is notable. It's simply a compact commuter car that happens to be electric. 

In its entirety, the Ioniq EV is a smart-looking, efficient electric hatchback, but it doesn't do much to stand out from the crowd. For one to justify purchasing one, it should be significantly cheaper than the Chevrolet Bolt, as that offers better range and performance. 

Find used Ioniq EVs near you.

  • Battery capacity: 40.4 kilowatt-hours (38.3 usable)
  • EPA-rated range: 170 miles
  • AC charging: 7.2 kilowatts
  • DC charging: 50 kilowatts 
  • Power: 134 horsepower
  • Torque: 218 pound-feet
  • Seats: 5 passengers

2018 to 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf (hard to find)

VW e-Golf - $31,895

Volkswagen's first EV sold in the United States was the e-Golf. It was only available in select states and had mediocre specs. Sold as a compliance car, the electric Golf rides on its ICE-powered counterpart's platform utilizing an air-cooled battery pack from Panasonic. Despite not having liquid-cooled batteries, VW claims that Panasonic's battery chemistry provides exceptional heat resistance and that liquid-cooling would add too much weight

For the 2017 model year, VW implemented a larger 35.8kWh battery, delivering 125 miles of range. Horsepower comes in at 134, which is adequate at best. Frankly, the car leaves more to desire, but buyers wanting the charm of a Golf with an electrified powertrain might find value in the e-Golf.

Find used Volkswagen e-Golfs near you. 

  • Battery capacity: 35.8 kilowatt-hours (32 usable)
  • EPA-rated range: 125 miles
  • AC charging: 7.2 kilowatts
  • DC charging: 50 kilowatts
  • Power: 134 horsepower
  • Torque: 214 pound-feet
  • Seats: 5 passengers

2017 BMW i3 (hard to find)

2017 BMW i3

The BMW i3 is the only option on this list that offers a rear-mounted electric motor, carbon fiber monocoque, and coach-style doors. Eleven years after the i3 hit the streets, it still feels modern and premium, thanks to frameless windows, futuristic lines, and a floating central display screen.

One perk of buying a 2017 i3 is its larger liquid-cooled battery pack— an upgrade over the previous model year. It has a total battery capacity of 33.2kWh, but its usable number is 27.2kWh. Despite the 2017 model year weighing in at just 2,866 pounds, its real-world range isn't that great— 114 miles, or less than half of a Bolt's EPA range rating. 

But range isn't the i3's strong suit. Propelling the i3 is a 170hp rear-mounted motor. Mix BMW's engineering expertise and a RWD setup, and the i3 is enjoyable to drive. It doesn't feature any of the annoying torque steers that FWD EVs have, and there is no tire slippage when accelerating. It's simply a well-driving vehicle. 

But as the i3 ages, it's fair to expect more reliability-related issues with it (charging port door malfunction, to name one) compared to other options in this guide. 

Find used BMW i3s near you. 

  • Battery capacity: 33 kilowatt-hours (27.2 usable)
  • EPA-rated range: 114 miles
  • AC charging: 7.2 kilowatts
  • DC charging: 50 kilowatts 
  • Power: 170 horsepower
  • Torque: 184 pound-feet
  • Seats: 4 passengers

Before purchasing one of these vehicles, it's important to know a few things regarding the $4,000 EV tax credit. For a used EV to qualify, it must be at least two model years old, sell for under $25,000, and not have been transferred to a qualified buyer after August 16, 2022. The latter part essentially means that a dealership should not have sold it after August 16, 2022. For newer cars on the list, it's best to filter out vehicles with more than one owner. 

Moreover, there are income caps too. These income caps are $150,000 for joint filers (married couples), $112,500 for heads of households, and $75,000 for single filers. If a buyer secured the $4,000 point of sale credit and makes $150,001, then he or she would have to repay the IRS the tax credit amount. 

As the prices of used EVs fall, some solid deals are appearing. Especially with the point-of-sale EV incentive, some of these options could be as low as $10,000. Electric might be the move if you're in the market for a used car on a budget.  

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