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Why Wait For A $35,000 Tesla Model 3? Get A Cheap Used EV Right Now

Smart Buy / 8 Comments

Thanks to increasing battery range, used EVs are now hilariously cheap.

Whenever Apple releases a new iPhone, the one you have instantly loses a ton of value. Electric vehicles work much the same way. Automakers are striving to improve (even double) their EV range with each new generation, making the previous generation appear antiquated by comparison. As range continues to improve and battery production gets cheaper, the original EVs will continue to plummet in price.

Tesla has been promising its "base" Model 3 for years now, with an affordable starting price of $35,000 and a range of 220 miles. Unfortunately, the base car has yet to enter production. If you don't feel like waiting for the Tesla or are one of the many people asking when $35,000 became "affordable," we have found eight used EVs that may be perfect for you.

While none match the Tesla on driving range or available technology, these used EVs can be purchased starting at just one-seventh of the Tesla's price. So if you have a short commute and need a cheap means of transportation, these cars may be perfect for you.

2011-2012 Nissan Leaf (Under $5,000)

The Nissan Leaf was one of the first mainstream EVs to get people interested in electric cars at an affordable price. However, with a range of just 84 miles, the first generation Leaf cannot match the current crop of electric cars. Couple this with some funky looks and the Leaf is now a used bargain. We found several used examples for less than $5,000 with relatively low mileage (50,000 to 100,000). If your commute is less than 84 miles round trip, a used Leaf may be one of the most affordable means of transportation available right now.

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2012-2014 Mitsubishi i-MiEV (Under $6,000)

If you'd like to be unique, take a look at the Mitsubishi i-MiEV. The i-MiEV, which stands for Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle, was also sold in Europe as the Peugeot iOn and Citroën C-Zero. Only around 1,800 of them were sold in the US, likely because of its odd design and lackluster range of just 62 miles. The i-MiEV was pretty affordable when it was new, less than $23,000. Now, used examples can be found for less than $6,000 with less than 30,000 miles on the odometer.

2013-2015 Fiat 500e (Under $7,000)

Many automakers were "forced" to build EVs in order to pass California's Zero Emission Mandate. The Fiat 500e was one of these cars, sold only in California (and Oregon) at a significant loss for parent company, FCA. Even though it was only made to keep California happy, the 500e is one of our favorite options on this list. An electric Fiat just makes so much sense. The car is small and nimble and the 111-horsepower electric motor gives it a 30-50 mph time of just 3.5 seconds.

Even though it was initially sold in California and Oregon, used models are now finding their way to other parts of the US at hilariously low prices. We found used examples with less than 40,000 miles for less than $7,000. The 500e only has a range of 84 miles, which isn't the worst on this list.

2012-2014 Ford Focus Electric (Under $8,000)

Many consumers shy away from EVs because of their strange design. If you want an EV that looks like a normal car, the Ford Focus Electric may be perfect. Aside from the wheels, grille, and a few badges, the Focus Electric looks pretty much like a normal Focus, even on the interior. The Focus Electric packs 143 hp and a 76-mile driving range. The cheapest used example we found was less than $8,000 and most examples are less than $10,000.

2015-2016 Volkswagen e-Golf (Under $11,000)

While we are on the subject of EVs that look normal, the Volkswagen e-Golf also fits the bill. From a distance, it would be difficult to tell this is anything but a normal Golf. Even though the e-Golf only has 115 hp, it has almost as much torque as a GTI. Amazingly, the e-Golf is actually quicker than the GTI from 0-30 mph, which is much more useful than 0-60 mph in the real world. The e-Golf has an electric driving range of 83 miles and we found used examples starting below $11,000.

2015-2017 Kia Soul EV (Under $12,000)

If you aren't a fan of the Kia Soul's exterior design you probably won't enjoy the Soul EV. Just remember, a box is the best shape for storing lots of stuff, so the Soul's boxy shape allows it to be one of the roomiest cars in its class. The Soul EV only has 109 hp, but it does have over 200 lb-ft of torque. The driving range is a decent 90 miles, and with nearly 50 cubic feet of cargo space with the seats folded flat, the Soul EV is one of the most practical cars on this list. We found used examples with low mileage for less than $12,000.

2014-2015 BMW i3 (Under $14,000)

BMW's first electric car, the i3, is a bit of an odd duck. It doesn't really look like other models in the BMW range, which may be one of the reasons why it didn't sell in massive numbers. So long as you can get over the i3's funky looks, a used model is now an incredible bargain. We found used 2014 and 2015 model year i3s for less than $14,000. These aren't even high mileage examples either - some had less than 30,000 on the odometer.

The i3's range isn't great, just 72 miles of electric driving. However, we also found a few range extender models for around the same price, which house a tiny motorcycle engine in the back. The i3 range extender has a much more useable range of around 150 miles. Like most BMWs, the i3 is actually fairly quick with a sub-seven second 0-60 time and a rear-wheel-drive layout.

2014-2015 Mercedes B-Class (Under$17,000)

Let's be honest, you probably forgot about the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive - we certainly did. Mercedes stopped selling this electric hatchback model after the 2017 model year. With used prices starting at under $17,000, the B-Class is the most expensive car on our list. It does, however, have the longest electric driving range of around 100 miles. It may not be as sleek as other Mercedes cars, but the B-Class does offer more luxury and prestige than the other cars on this list if the $35,000 Tesla Model 3 is outside of your budget.