Looking For A Deal? Buy A Used EV

FEB 11 2018 BY JEFF PEREZ 31

Cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt aren’t as expensive as you think.

If you’re in the market for an EV, you know that some of them can pricey with options. We’re looking at you, Tesla. But the reality of its is, not all electric cars garner premium price tags over their gasoline counterparts. There are more than a few options that will still give you the efficiency you’re looking for without breaking the bank.

Autolist Infographic

According to Autolist, most buyers think that a quality EV will cost on average about $5,000 more than a standard gas-powered vehicle – but that’s just not true. In a survey of 1,249 vehicle owners, with listing data derived from a live market analysis of over 17,738 vehicles, the website found that most EVs aren’t nearly as expensive as you think.

RELATED: New Tesla Model 3 Or Used Tesla Model S – Updated Video

Just seven percent of buyers think that they can get a quality used EV for $5,000, compared to 25 percent of buyers looking at a gas-powered counterpart for the same price. At $15,000, the majority shifts from gas to EVs, with 25 percent of buyers thinking that $15,000 is the ideal price point for a quality used EV, compared to just 23 percent of buyers suggesting the same price for a gas-powered vehicle. As the price goes up, so does the percentage of buyers thinking that they’ll be able to get a better used EV.

Autolist Infographic

Comparing gas-powered segment leaders like the Focus, Corolla, and Civic, to the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt in 2015, the average price of a Nissan Leaf comes out to just $12,780, making it the second cheapest option behind the Focus ($12,505). At $16,965, the Volt is the most expensive of the bunch, and the Corolla and Civic come in at $14,313 and $15,495 respectively. If you browse through the Motor1.com car shopping experience, you’ll find a few of these EV options at reasonable prices.

Autolist Infographic

Still, with all these facts, some people are still hesitant about buying an EV. A total of 41 percent of buyers are concerned with reliability, while 28 percent cite concerns about charging time. Another 11 percent cite upcoming technological advances, while just 20 percent say that they have no concerns with buying a used EV.

Source: Autolist

Categories: Buying Advice


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31 Comments on "Looking For A Deal? Buy A Used EV"

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And, if you’re looking at used Leafs on the web and only have pictures to go by, this feature guide may come in handy. Often the dealer doesn’t know if it has DCQC or not.


Good link for the aspiring preowned EV buyers that are shopping the Leaf bargain bin.

Getting LeafSpy Pro and an OBD 2 dongle, will also take any battery capacity loss / degradation guesswork out of the equation.

Just remember when using the LSP App, to check the “Trip and Charge Log” under QC (Level 3 fast charge). If the most recent charges have been QC, then the Leaf will show a temporarily (approximately 30 days) heightened level of SOH. This (1-3% increase ) spoofing of the Leaf actual battery capacity, is always suspect when dealing with less reputable sales persons.

This would be a good way to wait for your Model 3, buy a used Leaf. Get your car charger setup. Get enough Amps in your charger for a Model 3 and enjoy a bargain used Leaf for a year.


Consumer Reports is helpful too.

Also of note is that there are lots of 14′ BMW i3s that are in the $16,000-$18,000 range. As they come off lease this year there will be tons of ’15 i3s for the same price.

Loaded 2015 BMW i3 REX models are going for $22,000. The gas savings over the course of ownership pay for the car. It’s a free sports car.

What kind of warranty do get on those?

Fear of high maintenance and repair costs would prevent me from buying an i3 to own long term.

The factory warranty is 5yr/60k powertrain and 10yr/100k for the battery. CPO i3 get an additional year (unlimited miles) after expiry of the factory warranty. Additional years can be purchased at a negotiated price.

Interesting how long it’s taken to have an article like this on Inside Ev’s. I’ve been beating this drum for 5 years, the length of time that I’ve owned my gently used Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. Saved MASSIVE amounts during these last 5 years. Both vehicles are going strong, except for the accelerated battery degradation of the Leaf. Were I to do it over again I would’ve bought another Volt vice the Leaf.

Overall, it’s absolutely the best bang for the buck, especially considering the depreciation of EV’s is so much higher than ICE vehicles.

Now I’m patiently waiting for my used Tesla- and with all the money saved on my current EV’s, I’m in the driver seat (pun intended). I figure Autopilot / AWD Model S will be in the mid-high $40k range 12-18 months from now and then it’s GAME ON!

It’s also interesting to note that the misconception of ‘Reliability’ of EV’s is the highest concern of the uninformed buyer. Other than periodic tire rotations, I haven’t seen a service center for either of my EV’s in the last 5 years. Can’t say the same was true for my Jeep Cherokee I owned previously!!

Battery reliability is an unknown to most people, because the average car owner buys a car on looks. New tech means they’ll have to do research.

This is why EV’s are an incredible bargain right now. If you buy used, this is the time to buy, because this ARTIFICIAL DISCOUNT will not last.

Not sure about that one. I’ve been thinking there’d be a run on used EV’s for awhile now, once awareness happens. But I think what’s happening is the public’s inevitable appetite for the “latest, greatest thing” always offsets those who wake up to used market. And considering how fast EV technology is changing and evolving, along with the ever increasing expanded offerings by mainstream manufacturers, I think the used market will continue to stay very accessible and attractive for years to come.

MY14 ELRs which has the older grill and older CUE infotainment are smoking deals right now…If you live in SoCal where it rarely rains, could spend a couple to turn it into a permanent convertible…

Good advice on the chop top convertible, right before it will actually rain later this week in sunny So. Cal. ?

Yes, when I blog about the immense value of getting a used EV, there are always people who have never heard of that, and some people who end up buying one – typically (but not always) a Volt.

Good to see Autolist expand the message. I wish the mainstream media would do a bit of that too, rather than just spread ignorance about EVs, and generally bash all EVs nearly all the time (with occasional exceptions to Tesla).

Paid about $15k for a loaded ’13 Volt in ’16. Over a year later got about $14k back and leased a new one. Can’t beat it. Volt batteries are NOT degrading and cost to own is insanely cheap in Oregon, overnight charging for like a buck to do a 30 mile commute! No power sacrifice either, unlike competition with pathetic 0 to 60 times.
Couldn’t quite afford a Bolt but drove one and want it bad. This ’17 Volt will tide me over until then.

Have to be careful with used LEAFs. Its just the LEAF, not other EVs, but battery degradation can make the car unusable depending on what range you were expecting. Gives EVs a bad name.

There’s a 2013 LEAF in great shape in my area now that is only showing 30 mile range on a full charge.

Naive buyers won’t have a clue until they’ve purchased and are wondering why the range is so bad.

New LEAF has 12 capacity bars, the narrow bars on the right side of the display. Any less than that already shows 12% capacity loss at a minimum. Nissan considers the battery normal down to 65% capacity. Capacity warranty is gone after 5 years of 60k miles whichever occurs first.

That is excellent advise from David. If an EV doesn’t have liquid cooling the battery will not hold up in any warm climate and even losses capacity faster in cold areas.

The Best battery life EVs are Tesla, BMW, Chevy,FORD and FIAT.
AVOID Nissan, KIA, HYUNDAI and any others with no battery cooling.

“Avoid Nissan”…”with no battery cooling”. What you are warning prospective buyers of, is that Leaf batteries (24 kWh), are not holding up to their 5 year / 60k mile – 70% of new total capacity warranty. It is misleading to suggest this case is the norm, or that this is the typical battery degradation schedule for this particular EV.

Yes, you are right that certain individual Nissan Leafs (24 kWh) have had to have battery replacement under warranty in hotter climates. There are a few individual warranty replacement cases from the 30 kWh Leaf batteries as well, as the 8 year / 100k mi. – 70% of capacity loss, has been a much higher threshold to beat.

If I found that one, I’d offer $2k for the car and replace the battery at $6500. It’s unlikely that the current owner would even be able to get rid of that car with range like that. For $8500, you’re basically getting a like-new 24kwh Leaf, with the newer hot-climate battery chemistry.

Reliability is an issue with any Chevy Volt. Ask anyone with over 100k miles but this is “priced in” their resale value.

We are starting to see some sporadic battery degradation reports with the 2011/12 Volts on the gm-volt forums. They manifest as Propulsion Power Reduced messages. Seems to be more age related than mileage related, but it’s unclear how widespread it is or will become.

So far GM’s fix has been to load firmware that reduces usable battery range by about 1kwh, increasing the lower buffer size. That’s about a 10% reduction in usable battery range. Not terrible. But, if the issue persists, GM may need to start replacing batteries under the 8/100 Voltec warranty, or risk some very annoyed owners.

In any case, a used Gen1 Volt with 30-50k miles for $7500-10000 is a great deal. Some of those cars had new MSRPs of $45k!

“41 percent of buyers are concerned with reliability”!?!?!


That’s the opposite of the truth. The recharge time & new tech make sense but this doesn’t.

I was seriously considering buying a used Spark EV. One of the largest downsides was trying to figure out which dealers in my area would be able to service it in a timely manner. I don’t live in a CARB state, so they were not sold new here. The dealers I called were alarmingly coy about whether they could service EVs or not.

I know that EVs have fewer moving parts and less that can go wrong, but that lower rate is paired with a higher impact if something does go wrong. On top of that I cannot rely on my ICE-based instincts. I’ve nursed enough ICE cars from 100k to 200k, that I can tell when the powertrain is about to get really expensive. I have no idea how to test (on a 30 minute drive) whether a battery pack is in good shape or not.

It’s because they don’t know anything about EVs to begin with.

My BIL was already a Volt owner, and driving his made me look into EVs. When he sat in my C-Max Energi I bought used, he was amazed at what we got for what we paid, and when his wife needed a car they bought a used C-Max Energi too.

Now his wife’s brother is shopping them.

Also, after hearing me talk about how much I liked driving on electricity, one of my managers bought a used Leaf.

Used EVs/PHEVs really are a great deal, and they help get EVs into the hands of people who might not get the tax credit, or want to lease.

I’m in the market for a used EV right now. I need an around town 2nd car, so I don’t mind 60-80 mile range. I have seen 2015 e-golfs in the 14-16K range. That’s amazing to me considering they sold for 32-38k only 2-3 years ago. I’m also contemplating taking over a lease from swapalease. No upfront fees, but I still need to register the car and pay taxes. Still, that’s a great deal.

I’m surprised they didn’t use the Focus EV as a comparison to the ICE Focus. That would be the a good apples-to-apples comparison. Maybe because the Focus EV was so expensive to start with?

Gave my 2011 Leaf (lost 30% of capacity) to my nephew who lives in Seattle. Bought a 2013 Tesla Model S (lost 5% of capacity) to replace it. I wouldn’t get another EV without thermal management of the battery unless/until it is proven they can take the Southern California heat without undue capacity loss. Now both of us are happy!!!

The upside is that since *we* all know how amazingly reliable EVs are (especially ones built by Nissan or Kia or maybe even Chevy), *we* can take advantage of this fact and save boatloads of money before the rest of the world wakes up to the fact that there’s huge deals to be had, and pushes the price of those deals way up.

And because *we* understand the limitations of the cars, an old 2012 Leaf that “just gets you to work” where you can charge all day, makes a perfect second car that you don’t use for anything beyond commuting and grocery runs.

Sounds like a win-win to me.