If you are considering the purchase of an electric vehicle, good news: It's now possible to get an up-front federal rebate on an EV purchase instead of filing for a tax credit, and that's true of used EVs as well, which can net buyers up to $4000. Instead of waiting until tax time, a customer can request $4000 off the purchase price. For shoppers looking to take advantage of this federal largesse, we've surveyed the landscape and chosen a total of nine EV models (all of which would net buyers the full amount) at three different price points.
To satisfy the rules, a used electric car must be:
2022 model year or older;
priced below the $25,000 cap;
sold by a dealership, not a private seller.
The ones we found are all clean-title, no-accident cars listed nationally in our Car Buying Service. There are additional caveats that could reduce or forfeit this credit, so brush up on our tax credit guide before buying. (And check out our separate plug-in hybrid story, which lists those that give you a tax break.)
You can't get a new Bolt anymore (or, at least, you won't be able to once dealer stocks run dry), as the Michigan factory is converting to electric pickups. Chevy eventually will field a replacement for the Bolt, but likely not until at least 2025. The Bolt is a good choice as a used EV, though, and the larger EUV model is actually a pleasant car to drive. Considering the EUV in top Premier trim cost $38,495 back in 2022 (Chevy cut the price by $5000 for 2023), paying 25 grand is reasonable for a well-equipped two-year-old Bolt with between 6000 and 15,000 miles. Some may have Super Cruise, GM's highly accomplished hands-free highway-driving system. The one bad thing: Charging maxes out at 55 kW, which is only one-third the rate at which many new EVs' batteries can ingest electrons.
More than half of all new EVs are Teslas, and now that the Model 3 has been out for more than six years, the used Tesla market is growing fast. Still the undisputed champ for range, driving performance, and reliable and consistently high charging speeds, the Model 3 cannot be beat for the price. Battery capacity and equipment changed on a near-quarterly basis with this car, so the mileage and model years vary wildly even at the same asking price. You may have to dig into the Tesla forums to determine the true specs. The good thing is that you don't have to spend 50 to 60 grand to get the same Tesla everyone's driving.
The Tesla Model S has tanked in value. This is the supersedan that early adopters eagerly bought for $100,000 new—or $136K in the case of our loaded P85D long-termer. Now, you can grab a higher-mileage example for the price of a Hyundai Sonata. And we're talking about the fast versions: the rear-wheel-drive P85 (470 horsepower) and the all-wheel-drive dual-motor P85D and P90D (691 horsepower). They're very fast—although not quite hypercar quick, like the Plaid—and handle well.
The first-gen Kona Electric rode more comfortably and accelerated more rapidly than the gas-powered Kona, but 37 grand was a steep ask for a subcompact hatch. Upon its debut, the Kona Electric boasted an EPA range of 258 miles, and we got 160 miles in our 75-mph highway range test (which was hampered by sub-freezing temperatures). This is a tiny SUV that can't fit big people in the back seat, yet it's fun to drive and easy to park. Mileage on a $20K Kona EV will vary depending on trim level and location, but should be roughly between 20,000 and 50,000 miles.
Whereas the new Ioniq 5 is a cutting-edge EV with standout looks and a price tag that can reach $50,000, the first Ioniq Electric was something much different. It was an unexciting economy car that was sold in only 14 states. Like the Honda Clarity, the Ioniq offered multiple alternative powertrains, and it served as a bridge between Hyundai's traditional gas cars and its now-growing Ioniq subbrand of EVs. The Ioniq Electric's 60-mph time of 8.6 seconds is nothing to write home about, but there are steering-wheel paddles to alter lift-off regen. With just over 120 miles of range, this Ioniq is a short-distance errand-runner that can be scooped up for $20,000 or less with under 30,000 miles.
No one wanted a $40,000 EV with 100 miles of range, so Mazda's MX-30 scurried back to Japan after just two model years. Despite what we described as "an artful interior, a stylish exterior, and responsive steering and handling," the market found Mazda's first EV to be small, slow, and pretty impractical for most drivers. As such, you can nab these Mazdas with under 10,000 miles for 20 grand, or likely much less after the selling dealer sees that you're actually interested in taking one off their hands.
The Leaf was the first mass-market EV and has sold more than 650,000 units globally. Alas, the second-gen Leaf is unsexy and not very innovative with its technology or class-leading in its performance, but for a cheap set of reliable wheels with a factory warranty, it's tough to beat. You can find base S trims with 9000 to 15,000 miles at this price. The S has the smaller 40-kWh battery instead of the 62-kWh version in the Plus. If you're fine with fewer than 150 miles per charge, a two-year-old Leaf will leave your pockets full.
Fifteen grand is at the very high end for a Ford Focus Electric, though this budget guarantees you'll spend the minimum needed to get the maximum credit. The 2017 and 2018 model years were the last for the Focus Electric, and they saw the stated range improve to 115 miles from the original's 76. Given that range and the slow Level 2 charging, we're shocked people have racked up 40,000, 70,000, or even more miles in these cars (a two-owner Focus Electric listed in California with red ST wheels has over 90,000). For just under $15K, we found a handful available with between 15,000 and 25,000 miles. The biggest benefit of the Focus Electric is that this Focus doesn't have the faulty dual-clutch gearbox that has bedeviled gas-powered Focus models.
For a BMW that featured such exotic materials as eucalyptus wood and a carbon-fiber monocoque, the i3's resale value sank like lead. These cars were over 40 grand when new. Plenty are now available for under $10,000, but these typically are the early models (2013–2016) with an EPA-estimated range of just 81 miles (versions with the gasoline "range extender" engine pushed that to 150 miles). The better choice is the 2017 and later model with a more potent, 33.2-kWh battery pack that was good for 114 miles. A 60-mph time of 6.6 seconds isn't bad, but keen drivers will want to seek out an i3s version, which has sportier chassis tuning. A 2017–2019 i3 at the $15,000 price point will have between 20,000 and 60,000 miles. You can't fit much or drive far in an i3, but with its concept-car styling and tiny footprint, it makes a stylish city vehicle, one that looks like it could be in showrooms today.
You Might Also Like