*Okay, terms and conditions apply. Read on to find out what they are.

It wasn’t long ago that due to post-pandemic supply chain issues, all cars including second-hand ones were worth a small fortune. That included EV’s, which held their value at astonishing levels. Those days are over. Due to significant ‘loosening’ of the supply chain and the fact that people simply have less money in their pockets, car prices have dropped significantly across the board.

The high point of sales was 2016, when an astonishing 3.2 million new cars were sold in the UK. Compare that with 2022, with a mere 1.9 million rolling out of showrooms. This means that manufactures are offering big discounts on new cars. Added to that, the ‘pent-up’ post-pandemic demand has been fulfilled. A further factor that particularly affects second-hand EV’s is the rapid pace of development, which means some older models can seem rather outdated in comparison with the newer generation.

It is widely thought that new EV’s are significantly more expensive than conventional cars. There certainly has been some truth in that, but today the gap has narrowed and in some cases it has closed altogether. For example, Vauxhall are offering the Corsa in two versions which are identical apart from the drivetrain (or ‘engine’) and the electric version can be leased at a lower price – and of course the electric version benefits from lower running costs straight away.


Second hand, an overview.

In reference to prices, we are all guilty of living in the past, while you probably won’t hear many people saying “you could go to cinema the and buy a bag of fish and chips for 50p in my day” any more, you will still hear people sucking the air through their teeth at the prices of things and ignoring the role that inflation plays. Since 2005, inflation has effectively doubled prices. A new Ford Fiesta that was £12k back then would set you back a rather more eyewatering £24k now – good to keep in mind…

Budgets: I was surprised to read that the average cost of a second-hand car in the UK is £18,000, so I’ll take a short dive into what that can buy, followed by a £10,000 car and finally a so-cheap-it-soon-becomes-free sub-£3k model.


£18,000 – the average price of a second-hand car in the UK.
The first thing to note is that you can actually buy a new EV for not much over £18k. With large discounts being offered the Vauxhall Corsa-E, the Nissan Leaf and the Peugeot E-208 are all available new at under £20k. Many other cars will be joining those in the coming 12 months, including the much anticipated Dacia Spring, which has been near the top of European car sales charts for the last three years.

An almost new electric car sitting at the average second hand price

When it comes to second-hand electric cars at £18k, you have a choice of every brand including premium marques such Audi, Tesla and BMW plus VW, KIA, Peugeot, Renault and others.

At this price, the cars are usually two to three years old and typically have 20,000 miles on the clock or less. All have batteries with capacities over 50kw, delivering in the region of 150 – 200 miles (real-world figures) all the way up to 64kw packs that will carry the car 200 – 240 miles on a single charge. That’s easily enough to drive to London and back without stopping along the way.

At the time of writing, there are 552 electric cars between £17k and £19k on the market nationally on AutoTrader.


£10,000

At this price, the market is dominated by two cars: the Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe. Alongside those, you’ll find a few Hyundais, Smarts and VWs.

You can expect to see cars which have less than 50,000 miles on the clock and are likely to be between four and seven years old. Batteries in this category are mainly ‘small’ by today’s standards, with units in the region of 30 – 40kw giving the cars realistic ranges of between 120 and 160 miles. On a return trip to London, you’d likely need a pit stop for a quick charge.

Older than others in this price range but a very luxurious car for under £10,000.

But that’s not necessarily the case with models available of the much-loved (yet a little dated) Renault Zoe that are equipped with 52kw batteries and have less than 20,000 miles on the clock. At that kind of price, they are a cracking car for the money.

Nationally, at prices between £9k and £11k there are 524 electric cars advertised on AutoTrader.


Sub £5k

Ten years ago, there were two dominant electric cars on the mass market, the above-mentioned Nissan Leaf (launched 2010) and Renault Zoe (launched 2014). Both these cars did well in the UK, selling around 60,000 and 30,000 respectively.

Searching nationwide under £5,000 on Autotrader, you can now find the following number of electric cars: 94 Nissan Leafs, 39 Renault Zoes, 6 Peugeot iOns and 5 Citreon C-Zeros. 11 of those are under £3,000.

Good news, eh? But, what about a sub £3k EV? Just how good (or bad) are they?

The early Nissan Leafs fall into two categories: those imported from Japan and those made in the UK at the Sunderland plant. Generally, the Japanese-made ones have not faired as well as the UK versions due to different batteries being fitted. They are easy to tell apart: the imports have a tan interior.

So what could you expect from a UK-made £3k Nissan Leaf? Well, it’s a mixed bag, but if you know what you are looking for then, you can grab a car that will happily run you to and from the shops, and even from Freshwater to Bembridge and back for the more adventurous.

As we have all grown used to phones that start off great and after few years need almost constant charging, it is hardly surprising that the big worry has always been battery longevity. However, EV batteries are very different beasts, and the even ten-year-old first-generation low-tech batteries are very capable. Experience shows us that they don’t suffer from a sudden drop-off in capacity, but rather the degradation is steady and predictable.

On a sub £3k EV you would expect the battery to have in the region of 70% of its original capacity remaining. On the oldest Nissan Leafs the – tiny by modern standards – battery will probably still deliver around 60 miles of range. That would undeniably make trips to the mainland difficult with lots of planning needed, but here on the Island that kind if range – I’ll wager – is suitable for 9/10 people 95% of the time. In fact, it could allow almost 22,000 miles of driving a year, three times the average UK annual mileage.

Ten years old, 160,000 miles and still a very nice comfortable car.
Still very capable for the the island!

Luckily for buyers no guess work is needed when it comes to batteries, all EV’s can provide accurate reports of their ‘State of Health’ which will accurately reflect the remaining capacity. Getting that info involves plugging in a simple widget that costs £15 and pairing with an app. Every dealer should be willing to show you that info in-person so you can be assured that you’re not buying a car that won’t do what you expect. As mentioned, cheaper Leaf’s after around ten years old may be reduced to 70 or more percent, Renault Zoes seem to fare better and Hyundai Ioniq’s better still, there are many videos available on YouTube going into great depth about the batteries on these models and how to accurately test them.

The all important SOH (State Of Health) and the milage on an 8 year old car.

Coming back to the FREE electric car offer that this article comes with… a quick bit of maths:

The typical car in the UK does 7,000 miles a year, costing around £1,200 in fuel.

Those same miles can be done for £140 when you drive electric and charge at home – a saving of £1,060 per year.

This means that if you were to switch to a £3,000 EV, then after less than 3 years your car would have paid for itself in dodged trips to the petrol station, hence the free car!


Notes:

You can read about islanders experiences as EV owners in this blog.

A short blog about the environmental benefits of EV’s in this blog.

An article about how rarely EV batteries need replacing (virtually none since 2016)