As the production levels of electric vehicles like the Tesla Model X and the Hyundai IONIQ electric gathers pace, so the market for previously owned electric cars is maturing.
In the UK, the used market for electric cars has still not got to the size of the one catering for people looking for second-hand petrol or diesel cars. However, more and more used electric cars of about three or four years of age are coming onto the second-hand electric car market all the time.
Indeed, as family diesel cars and diesel models more generally are being phased out, many more people see the used electric car market as the place to find their perfect car nowadays.
With more interest than ever before in used electric cars, 2021 has been something of a turning point for the used electric car market.
But what are the best used electric cars out there and are the same ones as the best electric cars currently being sold as new models?
Not necessarily is the most straightforward answer to that question.
Reason on to find out which are the best used electric cars that offer good battery technology, low running costs and as comfortable a ride as the equivalent petrol car.
Having been in production for almost a decade, there are many ZOEs on the market making it one of the best used electric cars you could opt for if you want lots of choices available to you. By comparison, there are not so many Tesla Model Xs up for sale on the second-hand market.
Like most city cars, the real-world range depends on local traffic conditions, so the WLTP range of the Renault ZOE, some 245 miles, should not be taken as read, especially as the electric car ages. Older models will certainly not run as far on a single charge as later models.
Nevertheless, this is one of the best cars you could choose if you need a new car and want to test-drive something that has proven reliability and an electric motor that is ideal for most types of road conditions in the city and on the motorway.
It is a family car with five proper seats and a 338-litre boot capacity. This is an electric car that will charge up overnight in eight hours but it will mean investing in a 7kW wall box because a standard three-pin outlet would take almost 24 hours to recharge the car fully. By comparison, the IONIQ electric is faster to charge but this is basically down to the Hyundai's smaller battery and consequent lower range.
The Jaguar i-Pace is one of those cars that looks like a genuine article even in its electric version. With an impressive WLTP range of 292 miles, early models of the car are coming onto the used market now and the good news is that owners report they are performing just as well as almost brand new ones.
Ideal as a prestigious choice of next car for people who are new to electric car ownership, the i-Pace offers little by way of range anxiety, far fewer moving parts than most used cars running on fossil fuels and some futuristic styling to boot.
Owners can expect a spacious interior whether the rear passengers are burly adults or occupying child seats. Indeed, with 1,453 litres of room in the back with the seats down, the Jaguar is the perfect car whether you want it for urban commuting, a second car for the school run or to move bulky items to the municipal rubbish dump. In other words, even though it might not possess the classic styling of most sports cars, this car has plenty to offer whatever role it is fulfilling.
With a 0 to 62mph time of just 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 124mph, it is a car that is a pleasure to drive. And that's not something you can say of all used models on the market these days.
Since the Nissan LEAF is the best selling electric car in Europe, there are plenty of examples of this city car on the second-hand market nowadays. The first generation LEAF won the World Car of the Year in 2011.
Since then, the earlier models have been improved and a car from the 2013 iteration offered increased range and better regenerative braking. The 2016 version of the car had an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty on the car's battery, so many will still be under warranty, a good thing to know if your idea of the perfect car is one that still provides some cover.
Early examples of the LEAF can get to 62mph from stationary in 11.5 seconds and top out at 89 mph. However, a 2018 version of the electric car will get to 62mph quicker in just 7.9 seconds.
Inside a LEAF, new owners can expect an 8-inch touchscreen that is reasonable but nothing to write home about. The car offers compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, however, so that is good. The front seats offer plenty of space for what is quite a small car but the room in the back is perfectly adequate for children or for shorter journeys with adults occupying them. There is about the same amount of room in the back as you would expect in a Kia Soul, for example.
In other words, it is enough for most types of trips.
The boot is slightly larger, offering 435 litres of space in the latest LEAF. That's up from 405 litres in the previous model. So, it is worth checking if extra space is important to you which generation of the car is being sold. That said, the rear seats fold down in a 60:40 configuration like most of the best cars do these days. As such, there is always a way to find extra room when it is needed.
A 2016 version of the VW e-UP will offer owners just 83 miles of range. However, like any used electric car, this figure will drop in the real world somewhat.
It's a good thing the e-UP is primarily designed as a city car. This means that the range is less important for people who will only be travelling a few dozen miles at most for the majority of their car journeys. If not, then a plug-in hybrid may be a more appropriate choice.
Many owners are delighted with the fact they can recharge theirs fully overnight from a standard three-pin plug and even more rapidly from public locations. Highly practical, the car will charge from 20 per cent to 80 per cent in just 20 minutes from a 50kW public charging point.
If the electrically powered version of the VW Up sounds like the perfect car for your needs, then bear in mind that it doesn't have a conventional infotainment touchscreen. Instead, you use your smartphone to operate the car's systems by placing it in the supplied cradle. Many owners love this approach but it is a deal-breaker for others.
Even more surprising for a small electric car, this model offers 251 litres of space in the boot. That's almost as much as the Smart EQ Fortwo, for comparison's sake.
Owners of a used BMW i3 can expect plenty of features. Inside, there is a well-designed 10.25-inch screen mounted centrally on the dashboard. There is also a sat-nav system, a DAB radio, a USB socket and Bluetooth connectivity. Rear parking sensors also come as standard but there is no reversing camera on older model variants.
In terms of performance, a 2018 version of the i3 provides 191 miles of range under WLTP conditions, a top speed of 93 mph and 168 BHP of power from the motor.
In the boot, there's room for most families to stow what they will need on a holiday or road trip but at 260 litres it isn't as spacious as other options. However, the car's charging cable doesn't need to go in the boot. It has its own storage compartment at the front of the car, a neat design touch from the German carmaker.
The Volkswagen e-Golf is the perfect car for people who want an all-round performer. In fact, the e-Golf could end up dominating the used electric car market in the years to come, just as its petrol and diesel predecessors have done.
Comparing the two, the new version of the Golf has a slightly diminished boot capacity due to where VW's engineers have placed the car's battery pack. Even so, owners can expect 341 litres of space without folding the seats down.
The vehicle provides a theoretical maximum range of 144 miles. That's more than enough for a hatchback of this size for nearly all owners. Recharging it mid-journey is reasonably practical, as well. It would take 40 minutes to get it from 20 per cent to 80 per cent by using a 50kW public charging station.
With a top speed of 93mph and the ability to get to 62mph from a standing start in 9.6 seconds, a 2017 version of the hatchback has plenty of power. Opt for the GTE hybrid version with an 8.7 kWh battery and you can achieve even faster speeds and greater acceleration.