Fun Stuff

Depreciation Appreciation: Cheap EVs to Try

Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, your pals at dig up an instance of how depreciation can make for an extraordinary used-car deal.

It’s Earth Month here at, so this time around, we’ll switch things up with our monthly column and focus on three vehicles, instead of just one. Today, it’s all about second-hand electric vehicles (EVs) that are priced within reach of the shopper who is curious about EV ownership, and maybe, just wants to give it a low-commitment try. Below, we’ll look at a few EVs that are available, at reasonable used money, for the shopper who might just want to give things a go.

People buy cars, electric and otherwise, for a wide range of reasons. The reasons they might avoid a car are equally as varied.

“But I can’t drive an EV because I don’t have time to charge it.”

Maybe so, maybe no. But your new-to-you EV never needs to go to the gas station, never needs an oil change or transmission filter replacement, and you can charge it at home with an extension cord. So, it might just even out. (Get a Level 2 charger for much faster home charging.)

“But EVs are too new and complex and that’s scary.”

EVs are just regular cars, but instead of a complicated engine (made of hundreds of moving, reciprocating parts) and a transmission (same), they just use a battery and an electric motor.

This is less complex and virtually eliminates maintenance (but check the owner’s manual). Also, mankind has been building batteries and motors for well over a hundred years, and we’re pretty good at it.

“But I can drive further in my Civic.”

That’s true, and especially compared to the used EV models we’ll highlight below. Still, for many, an EV may make a compelling choice as a second, around-town runabout (that never needs gas) for use alongside an existing minivan or pickup.

Without further ado, here are some affordable used EV’s to consider, if you’re looking to try one out, on the relative cheap.

2011–2017 Nissan Leaf

Nissan’s popular electric car has now sold over 400,000 units globally, and it’s the top-selling car in Norway. All models are front-drive, and pack about 110 horsepower, backed by nearly 190 lb-ft of torque. Most drivers report real-world driving range of 100–150 km, making this one highly feasible as a gas-free commuter in many locales. Look for plenty of feature content including a Bose stereo and heated leather. An updated battery and slightly improved driving range came with 2016 and newer units.

You’ll find plenty of units for sale like this one and this one for under $20,000, all day long.

Smart Fortwo Electric Drive

If you’ll mostly drive in the city, or for shorter distances, than a used Smart Fortwo Electric Drive might make a perfect first-time EV for you. You’ll find them cheap – and models like this and this can be had from the low teens, all day long.

Just note that you only get two seats, limited cargo space, a range of about 100 kilometres, and a top speed that maxes out just beyond the highway speed limit. If you’ve got a short in-town commute and typically travel alone, this affordable EV might be right for you.

Fun Fact: opt for the Cabrio model, and you’ll be driving the world’s first mainstream electric convertible.

Chevrolet Spark EV

If the Smart Electric Drive is a little too small, then the Chevrolet Spark EV is worth some investigation where maneuverability and compact sizing matter more than driving range. Look for feature content like Bluetooth, leather seating, OnStar, and more.

Drivers can expect real-world range of about 100–120 kilometres per charge, depending on numerous variables. Like the Leaf, this is a five-door hatchback – meaning there’s room to spare for a few extra passengers, or a load of shopping.

Best of all, you’ll find used units like this and this from the low to mid-teens, all day long.

Good to Know

Here are three additional tips to keep in mind when considering a used EV for purchase.

Full Inspection Mandatory

By eliminating the complicated mechanical driveline components used in conventional cars, electric vehicles seem to give owners little to worry about from a reliability perspective – though shoppers are advised to have any used EV inspected in full by a technician at its dealership, before they buy. This can help ensure you’re buying a model that’s healthy, up-to-date on any servicing and software updates, and one that’s running a healthy battery.

It’s a Car, Too

There’s not much going on under the hood of an EV, but remember that a used EV has other components that may need attention. Tires, brakes, suspension parts, displays, lighting, climate control provisions, infotainment systems, and the like should all be confirmed to be in proper working order before you buy, for maximum confidence.

Check the Gear

Don’t forget to carefully check the charging provisions out before you buy. If the EV you’re considering comes with a charging kit or charging cable, carefully check for signs of damage, splits or cracks in the wiring, bent or damaged electrical prongs, sings of burning or melting, and any other damage. Using a charger that’s in poor shape can be a safety hazard, so budget for a new one if you have any concerns.