Tesla is facing the best kind of problem an automaker can have —they can’t produce enough cars to meet the demand. That’s especially impressive when you consider the Model S starts at over $70,000. Other manufacturers aren’t quite as lucky as Tesla, but overall the market for EVs (Electric Vehicles) and PHEVs (Plug-In Hybrids) is growing at a steady clip. The world is getter greener, and we’re not referring to these green cars. These days, Nissan Leafs and charging stations are a normal sight in parking garages and driveways around the US. With 126,000 all-electric vehicles and 142,000 plug-in hybrids sold in the US between 2010 and 2014, a market for used electric vehicles has finally emerged.
At over 70,000 cars sold, the Nissan Leaf is leading the charge (no pun intended). The Leaf also stands out as the only EV to sell over 10,000 units in its first year of availability. Most EV models have only been available for a year or two, although a small batch of Toyota Rav4 EVs was rolled out in the early 2000’s.
While depreciation hurts the original buyer, it helps those looking to buy used. More than 70,000 of the EVs sold are 2 years old or more, and many can be found for half the MSRP of a new model. We explored MojoMotors.com to see what the options are for those looking to buy used EVs.
We expected to find dozens of Nissan Leafs for sale, but we weren’t expecting the prices to be so low. For under $15,000, you can step into a Nissan Leaf with under 30,000 miles. A comparable Mitsubishi i-MIEV could be had for even less. The Nissan Leaf also faired well in our electric vehicle cost per mile comparison, making it an excellent value. Since Nissan guarantees the battery to last 8 years/100,000 miles, any Leaf for sale should still have many miles to travel before diminished range becomes an issue.
If you’re seeking something more luxurious and unique than the Leaf, ze Germans have what you are looking for. BMW began selling the i3 just last year, but there’s already several for sale on the used market. The BMW i3 has a range comparable to the Leaf, but has a more upscale feel and much more appealing interior, especially for those who respect wood. The exterior styling is admittedly love-it or hate-it, but it certainly has more flair than other EVs. With only 14 used i3s available on Mojo (and most of those in California) you better be prepared to travel to pick one up.
Here is something we weren’t expecting to find at all —an original, 1st generation Toyota Rav4 EV. The EPA rated its driving range at an impressive 97 miles on a single charge, although that number has surely dwindled over the many years. Toyota produced 1,400 from 1997 to 2003 and its estimated that 500 are still on the road today. As of the publish date, this beauty is still available. You can see the listing here.
The second generation Rav4 EV was developed in collaboration with Tesla but unfortunately didn’t inherit Tesla-level range, instead maxing out at 103 miles per charge. But it does have 154hp, which dwarfs the 64hp from the original Rav4 EV. It also comes with modern features, such as an infotainment system. The original Rav4 EV doesn’t even have a way to tell the driver the remaining range, but its still impressive that some are on the road to this day.
Remember the 1980’s movie “Twins”, where Arnold Schwarzenneger and Danny DeVito were brothers resulting from a genetic experiment? Well, think of the i3 as Danny and the i8 as Arnold. After you step in through the i8’s swan-wing doors, you can do 0-60 in 3.8 seconds and forget entirely that you’re in a plug-in hybrid.
The 357hp BMW i8 looks like a supercar from the future because that’s exactly what it is. It doesn’t compete with other hybrids, it competes with Audi’s R8, Porsche and other traditional supercars. The one shown here is the top-of-the-line Pure Impulse model that comes with exclusive features.
With plugins and hybrids projected to make up 7% of the global light vehicle market by 2020, we can expect steady growth in the used market. Even without the $7,500 federal tax credit (which only applies to new cars) you can still get a great deal on a used EV thanks to high depreciation. With improved battery technology and good factory warranties, diminished range becomes less of an issue. Therefore, if you’re looking to save money while getting your Al Gore on, it’d be wise to shop used.
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Written by Tristan Cathers
Graphics by Sam Jackson