The top, cheap electric cars on sale today

It’s been over ten years since the first mainstream, usable electric cars joined the UK’s showrooms and roads. After years of low-range, lightweight and flimsy projects such as the G-Wiz and Mitsubishi i-MiEV (also sold as the Peugeot Ion and Citroen C-Zero), Nissan and Renault introduced big batteries and sensibly-styled, safe electric cars anyone can enjoy in the shape of the Leaf and the Zoe. And then, there’s this company called Tesla. You might have heard of them; they introduced the luxurious and large Model S.


Things kicked off for electric cars in 2013, which is further away than you might care to admit. That means there’s a good variety of electric options available in Britain’s pool of second hand cars for sale, and we’re looking at the top three you can buy.


1: BMW i3 (2013-2022), from £13,000


Best everyday electric car


BMW recently announced that i3 production will end in July 2022, and the biggest surprise is that this car has been on sale for nine years. It’s a futuristic four-seater supermini made using the same advanced technology you’d find in a McLaren or a Formula One car – carbon fibre body, lightweight alloy parts, it was designed to be light, strong and efficient – yet it’s as affordable as EVs made just by putting a battery and motor in a heavy, metal, existing model. The newer you go, the bigger the battery, but earlier models include a REX range extender with on-board petrol generator. This is a future classic, but also, an excellent everyday electric car.


2: Tesla Model 3 (2019-on), from £35,000


Best for long-range drives and motorways


Do you think the Tesla Model S should be the second hand choice? You’ll need £31,000 to get the oldest, highest mileage examples, and for all of Tesla’s high-tech know-how, it doesn’t know how to make a robust car. Early models could be called ‘public beta’, and while they can be upgraded we think the Model 3, which is a size more suited to UK roads and has much newer technology and batteries, is a better investment. Pay attention to the panel fit and paint, check what charging entitlement the car has (some have lifetime charging included), and enjoy an electric car with a range comparable to many petrol models, and performance that would leave many Ferraris in its dust.


3: Renault Zoe (2013-on), from £6,000


Best for low-cost electric commuting


If the BMW i3 showed how to make a focused, purposeful electric car, the Renault Zoe showed how to do it at a low cost, for a large market. Early models have battery lease agreements, which held prices down; most cars will be out of those schemes now. It’s a five-door, five-seater hatchback that’s a little bigger than a Clio, quiet, smooth and with the larger battery capable of over 250 miles of urban driving. Motorways hit range hard, but it’ll still do 160 miles at 70mph with a 52kWh battery. Earlier models have 22kWh or 41kWh batteries, and different charging technologies are offered, so make sure you know the Zoe you’re buying meets all your needs.


Top used electric car buying tips:


  • Battery capacity drops, but the cars are still usable – unless the car is cheap, though, look for more than 80% remaining (some cars can display this, some need tests)
  • Brakes and fluids work less hard, but still need checking
  • Check you have all cables, keys and manuals
  • Specialists can rebuild battery packs – on older, cheaper cars a better option than dealers
  • Accidents and rust still happen, so don’t neglect those checks
  • Many EVs use low rolling resistance tyres – if it’s got budget tyres, budget to replace them

Similar Articles




Most Popular