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Is now a good time to buy a used electric car? Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf, Hyundai Ioniq used car listings analysed

The original Nissan Leaf was a pioneering EV and it offers the best value on the used market.

The price of a new battery electric vehicle is still out of reach for many Australians.

A big chunk of EVs available in Australia right now are built by premium brands and cost north of $100,000.

There are a growing number of models that are priced under $80,000 and even a few that costs less than $50,000, but you’d struggle to call any of them affordable.

With the cost of batteries and other EV-related mechanicals coming down, so too the price of EVs. Emerging brands, largely from China, will also help push down the price of an electric model, but some of them are a couple of years off.

State and territory governments including New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT have committed to transitioning a percentage, or of their fleet to EVs by or before 2030. This will create a larger pool of EVs in the used car market as governments regularly refresh their fleets.

If buying a new EV is not an option, is now a good time to buy a used EV? We have looked at dealer and private used-car classified listings on CarsGuide and Gumtree to see if there are any electric bargains on the market.

There are a number of used examples of the Hyundai Ioniq Electric online. There are a number of used examples of the Hyundai Ioniq Electric online.

Small electric hatches and SUVs

It’s fair to say that EVs are, for the most part, holding their value. It’s hard to find a used model with a pricetag that is dramatically less than its price when new.

But the electric models that are the most affordable on the used market are small hatchbacks, liftbacks and SUVs from non-premium brands.

One of the cheapest EVs we found was a 2012 example of the tiny Mitsubishi i-MiEV city hatchback. The New South Wales-based seller says it gets 67km of range per charge – substantially less than the circa-150km when new – and it is priced at just over $10,000.

Mitsubishi sold very few i-MiEVs in Australia so you won’t find too many on the used market. Lack of interior space and low driving range means they were a niche car.

Nissan was early to the EV market with its ground-breaking Leaf in 2012 and there are plenty of examples of both the first and second-generation models online. The vast majority are the current model that arrived in 2019, and a large number are dealer demos.

Of the first-gen examples (2012-2017), the price hovers between $16,000 and $30,000, depending on the year and kilometres, but the average price is just over $20,000. A number of these have been directly imported from Japan by local importers, rather than the manufacturer.

A 2015 example from the ACT with just over 50,000km on the odometer will set you back $22,910. When new the Leaf was priced at $47,000 drive-away.

Current-gen examples of the Leaf from 2018 are around the high $30,000 or low $40,000 mark and 2019 Leafs are on average about $49,000. Current pricing for a new Leaf is $49,990 for the regular version and $60,490 for the Leaf e+ that ups the driving range to 385km.

Hyundai launched its first EV, the Ioniq small hatch, in 2018 as part of a three-pronged eco car strategy – the Ioniq is available as a series hybrid, plug-in hybrid or EV. Not to be confused with the striking Ioniq 5 SUV that landed in 2021, the older Ioniq came in for a makeover in late 2019.

The BMW i3 is one of the most affordable EVs from a premium brand. The BMW i3 is one of the most affordable EVs from a premium brand.

Aside from a bunch of dealer demos that are asking around the current new price of $49,970 for the Ioniq Electric Elite and $54,010 for the Premium, there are a small handful of 2019 models ranging from 11,000 to 35,000km, with an average price of $40,000. That’s around the price of a new, higher grade Toyota Camry Hybrid.

If you’d prefer an SUV body style, Hyundai’s other EV, the Kona Electric, is available in very small numbers online second hand. It seems to be holding its value better than the Ioniq, with sellers asking an average of $52,000 for the 2019 Elite and about $60,000 for the Highlander. They were priced at $59,990 and $64,490 respectively in 2019 when new.

There are more examples of the Ioniq on the used market as it has been on the market for a little longer and is more targeted at fleets than the Kona Electric.

Another small EV you’ll find on the used car market, albeit in very small numbers, is the Renault Zoe. In fact, we found just one second-hand Zoe in our search – a 2018 model with 50,000km on the odo, priced at $35,000. A 2018 Zoe brand new was $49,490.

It might be a premium brand but the quirky and appealing BMW i3 can be found for just under $50,000 with just under 50,000km on the odo. Back then a new i3 would set you back $71,900.

Models like the MG ZS EV, Mazda MX-30, Kia Niro, and Hyundai Ioniq 5 are too new to show up in used car listings with decent kilometres and a lowered price just yet. However, some dealer demos with a couple of thousand kilometres on the clock are available for a couple of grand less than the new price. Get haggling!

The Tesla Model 3 is just starting to appear on used car listings. The Tesla Model 3 is just starting to appear on used car listings.

The Tesla factor

Tesla has been around in Australia now since late 2014 so there are quite a few examples of the flagship Model S on the used car market.

Examples from 2014 and 2015 have an average price of the low $80,000 mark, which is about $30,000-$40,000 less than their new-car pricing. They range between 70,000 and 95,000km on the odo.

There are far fewer examples of the Model X SUV online. One Model X from 2018 with 27,000km is being sold for $120,000, which is $20,000 less than the brand-new price for a 75D.

Given its status as the most affordable Tesla, there’s quite a few used examples of the Model 3 small sedan. They appear to be holding their value with a couple of flagship Performance variants from 2019 and 2020 going for about $92,000, which is only a few thousand dollars less than the new price of circa-$95,000.

When new in 2020 the Standard Range Plus retailed for $67,000, and a couple of examples online from 2020 and 2021 are fetching roughly the same amount.

The Jaguar I-Pace has been on the market longer than many of its premium rivals. The Jaguar I-Pace has been on the market longer than many of its premium rivals.

The premium marques

Because it’s been on the market longer, there are more Jaguar I-Paces available in the used market than its European rivals. All examples are six figures but some from 2018 and 2019 have between $20,000 and $35,000 cut from their new-car price.

All other examples of the Audi e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQA and EQC are dealer demos with very little dropped from the price.

It is inevitable that the price of used EVs will come down when there are more models to choose from and a larger pool of vehicles for sale. But for now, the best value when it comes to used EVs is with non-premium offerings like the Nissan Leaf and Hyundai Ioniq Electric.