What’s the best used electric car for me? 

A reader wants to swap his petrol-engined Ford Focus for an affordable second-hand electric car. What's his best option?...

Nissan LEAF front three-quarters

I currently own a 2006 Ford Focus and am keen to trade it in for an electric car but don’t want to pay too much to make the swap. The car needs to be big enough to accommodate my wife and two children, aged 11 and eight. 

Is there an affordable EV that would suit our family? 

Francis Burdett 

What Car? says…

Electric cars are popular at the moment, but you don’t have to pay too much to get a good one. The first-generation 30kWh Nissan Leaf, which was on sale from 2011 to 2018, can be had for as little as £6000. 

The Leaf is our favourite used electric car for those wanting to spend £13,000 or less. It is a family-sized hatchback with enough head and leg room in the back seats for a couple of 6ft-tall passengers, so it should remain roomy enough for your children as they grow. While its official range is around 155 miles, you’re only likely to get 100-125 miles in real-world driving, but most drivers cover less than 30 miles per journey, so this should be adequate as long as you have convenient access to a charging point. 

There is one thing to watch out for if you're buying an older Leaf: to reduce the price when new, Nissan offered buyers the chance to lease the car’s battery pack rather than buy it outright. So in addition to the cost of the car, buyers pay a monthly fee that varies depending on their annual mileage. If you do a lot of miles, this can make the car expensive to own, and having an ongoing additional monthly fee is a less attractive proposition if you’re buying a used car. Our advice would be to opt for a car you can buy outright rather than one with a battery lease fee.

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Best used electric cars 2020

Now, with constant improvements in battery technology and range, and the proposed legislation regarding the banning of the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 looming, demand for them is growing and sales of both new and used cars are on the up. 

Buying used will get you into EV motoring for a lot less cost than buying new, though. Our top 10 has everything from small city cars to top-of-the-range luxury SUVs to whet your appetite; some of them are cheaper than others, but all of them represent the best of their type.

10. Volkswagen e-Up

Volkswagen e-Up

Basing your electric car on the cute little Up is not a bad place to start since it’s one of the best city cars on sale. Trouble is, because the battery pack on earlier e-Ups is so small, the range is only really 66 miles, which limits it to those who mostly do urban driving and have easy access to a charge point.

Still, if you regularly commute into central London, not needing to pay the Congestion Charge or ULEZ is useful. A 7kWh charger will refill your e-Up in about six hours, while the rapid-charging facility means you can be back in action in 30 minutes.

Kia Soul EV front cornering

The Kia Soul EV is proof that electric cars need not look boring. And it’s still a highly practical five-seat family car that’s much cheaper to run than the standard car.

A home charger should recharge a fully depleted Soul in six hours, while a fast charger will get the battery to 80% in about 30 minutes. The claimed range of earlier Souls is a respectable 132 miles. 

Next: more of our favourite used electric cars >>