When it comes to obstacles keeping electric cars from the mainstream,range anxiety and charging infrastructure are usually the first things people think of. But cost remains a key barrier to mass EV adoption. Even the cheapest new electric cars these days, after all, start at close to $40,000 — and many of the best ones are far more.
Granted, a $7,500 federal tax credit helps — at least, for vehicles still eligible for such things, which start to phase out after a carmaker sells 200,000 EVs. Even so, though, affordable EVs like the Hyundai Kona Electric are still dramatically more expensive than combustion alternatives.
Now, EV prices should drop over the next decade (maybe by a lot). But if that new Kim Stanley Robinson novel spooked you and you're looking to ditch internal combustion ASAP, a used EV could be a cost-effective option.
Admittedly, these affordable early-to-mid 2010s EVs offer far less range than many new ones — less than 100 miles per charge, according to the EPA (and that was when their batteries were new). But let's face it, you probably drive much less than you think you do — or at least could swing one of these as one part of a two-car household. If you have access to a home charger, a used EV could work out nicely.
Here are five used EVs you can find for relatively little money.
VW sold perhaps the most compelling of the early, non-Tesla takes on the EV. It was a battery-powered Mk7 Golf that was still very much a Mk7 Golf.
Volkswagen has since ditched it in favor of its upcoming EV line, even though sales were starting to rival the combustion-powered model before it departed. 2016 and earlier models with an 83-mile range can be found in the $10,000–$15,000 range.
The Nissan Leaf was the first mass-market electric car. Early first-gen models were outmoded by today’s standards, with either a 75-mile EPA range (2010–2013) or a bump to 84 miles (2014–2016). Both can be found for less than $10,000 today — and many will still be covered by Nissan’s eight-year / 100,000-mile battery warranty.
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Ford offered a limited-run EV version of the Focus during the third generation of the car. Early versions had a 76-mile EPA range and can be found for less than $10,000 now. Ford upgraded the battery pack for 2017 to earn a 115-mile range; those may run for a bit more than $10,000.
Fiat managed to convert the 500 to an electric vehicle with an 84-mile EPA range while doing a decent job retaining the car’s character.
They are relatively rare, as Fiat only sold the 500e in California and Oregon to meet emissions requirements. Then FCA chairman Sergio Marchionne urged customers not to buy it. As a result, though, 2018 models are out there for less than $10,000.
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