Electric cars are expensive. It’s an observation. New, of course, although they benefit from a great ecological bonus, which only reduces their price to that of a thermal car, and again… But also second-hand!
In fact, after a big facade discount, which actually only corresponds to the ecological bonus consideration, they are discounting very slowly, thanks in large part to sustained demand.
Despite this, we started to find opportunities at affordable prices, in particular in the first models of the “new wave” (we’re not talking about the Citroën Saxo electric or Peugeot 106 from the 90s) launched on the market.
Thus, the first Renault Zoé, Peugeot Ion or Citroën C-zéro, now almost 10 years old, can be found, like some other models, for less than 5,000 euros.
But at this price, should you go for it? Or, on the contrary, run away?
Let’s see this case by case.
Used electric cars: €1,000 purchase aid
Let’s start right now by informing you that since December 8, 2020, the State has been offering help with the purchase of €1,000 for a used electric car. No conditions other than the purchase of a vehicle over 2 years old. Thus, it is possible to reduce the purchase price. It is therefore necessary to withdraw €1,000 from all the prices we will quote below, in order to get the “true” second-hand purchase price.
And to all of you, all honors, let’s start with the one that has somehow democratized the electric vehicle in France and that has been the best-selling electric vehicle with us for years, namely the Renault Zoé.
The Renault Zoe
It was marketed in March 2013, the first copies are over 8 and a half years old.
Advertisements offering to buy back the car start at around €4,500. Of course, there are offers for less than €200 per month, but it’s LOA offers or LOA takeover offers along the way, and that’s not what we’re interested in here.
Pure and simple rescue is usually accompanied by battery rental. Yes, even for a second-hand purchase, you must continue to rent the battery. However, there is the possibility to buy the battery from Renault in order to become the full owner of Zoé. But it is still expensive (price depends on the age of the car).
As far as the car itself is concerned, it is therefore a first version of the Zoé “R210”, or at best R240, with a small battery of 22 kWh, which allows approximately 130 km to 160 km of autonomy. at the base, a little less today. That’s a lot less than the latest versions of the ZE40, with almost double the battery capacity and even the ZE50 for the latest version.
These Zoé charge a maximum of 43 kW for the R210 or Q210 (Q for fast charging), 22 kW for the R240. Now it’s 50 kW for the latest ZE50.
So, should you fall in love with a €5,000 model, which will have between 75,000 and 100,000 km, a low range and a recharge most of the time of 22 kW max? I’m not sure we can advise you on this. Except for really short trips, and being able to recharge at home all the time.
It’s best to go with a ZE40 or ZE50 version, but they start at €7,500 and €12,500 respectively. It’s not the same song.
At Renault still, the Fluence model, which existed in a 100% electric version. An adaptation of the Mégane 3 sedan with trunk, less well finished, equipped with a 95 hp engine and battery that, in theory, allows a maximum range of 200 km. In reality, only 100 km, depending on conditions. And a recharge in 8 to 10 hours in a wallbox.
All encased in a not-so-sexy body, extended by 13 cm on the rear overhang to house the batteries, which unbalances the line, and road behavior. The latter being disappointing. Basically, the services are not up to par.
So, do you pay at least €5,500 to €6,000 for this model, with the additional battery rental? And not. Honestly, this is not the best plan…
Peugeot Ion and Citroën C-zero (same Mitsubishi i-Miev)
This trio represents, like the Peugeot 107/Citroën C1/Toyota Aygo, simply a series of clones. The first were the Japanese. However, the latter is almost impossible to find second-hand, while you can find some not too expensive Ion and C-zero.
These cars were marketed in 2010, even before Zoé, but they had little success. They were relatively expensive and their performance inversely proportional to price. Random handling, wind resistance, reduced habitability, small trunk, that alone is not very encouraging.
If we add a small battery of only 16 kWh and a real range away from the theoretical 150 km, or around 100 km, and yes 90 km for older models, we are moving away from the ideal electric car!
Even second-hand prices are not so low: with offers from €4,600, little cheaper than a Zoé, for 2011/2012 vintages, with more than 80,000 km. That’s around €6,000 for less than 50,000 km.
So yes, that makes for a practical, easy-to-park electric car for €3,600, €1,000 of help, but honestly, there’s better for the price, starting with a Zoé…
The Nissan Leaf
This is a serious competitor in the second-hand market, facing Zoé. The Leaf, of course first generation (launched in 2011) as they are first-price models in the second-hand market, however, not boxed in the same category. It is much larger, 4.45 m against 4.08 m, so it is a compact city car, not versatile. With 330 liters of trunk it will be necessary, on the other hand, to limit the transport of luggage, it is hardly better than the small Renault.
It is also more powerful than the first Zoé, with 109 hp and 280 Nm of torque. And it goes up to 144 km/h against 135 for Zoé. On the other hand, its 24 kWh battery promises only an average range of 100 miles, or around 160 km (200 km in the unrealistic NEDC cycle at the time), a figure that we managed to reproduce at the time of our test, within a few kilometers.
The Leaf is also a car very similar, in terms of benefits, to a thermal car. Soundproofing, comfort, performance. Everything is on par with the compact sedans of the time, except that it’s no local CO2 emissions.
So, Leaf? A good opportunity then?
You should know that it was sold at the time complete or with battery rental. Second-hand models with a battery included from €7,000. With the rental battery, it starts at €5,300, plus a minimum of €79 per month. So calm down a bit.
In 2015, a 30 kWh battery appeared (NEDC range of 250 km). These versions are more expensive second-hand, starting at €8,500/€9,000, but mostly without battery rental. We started to move away from what we might define as “cheap” in any case. But they’re better deals at the end, thanks to the extra battery life.
Shall we break then? Yes, but you have to ask for a battery freshness report before signing. Because they tend to lose more capacity, faster than other models.
The Smart Fortwo ED
This city chip was offered in an electric version in 2010 in experimentation, then in 2012 officially. In the menu 41 hp, 135 Nm, theoretical range of 135 km with a small battery of 17.6 kWh, plus 2 seats and a trunk of 220 liters.
And it’s a rigorous urban, even more so with a range of 45 real kilometers (90 km of autonomy no longer in real life). Its performance is insufficient outside the city (maximum speed of 100 km/h), and even in the city it is necessary to have a heavy foot to stay in the flow of traffic. And unlike other electric cars, it’s not even silent, with an electric motor spinning behind the driver.
In short, unless you love the way it looks, need a car under 3m and are confined to hypercentres, there is no need to invest at least €5,000/5,200 for this 0-emission version of the shortest cars on the market.
Other unattractive exotic offers
We will speak only briefly of the other “cheap” proposals on the market: Bolloré Bluecar and Renault Twizy. The first is unworthy at all levels to serve as a personal car. Your battery must remain plugged in at all times to maintain its charge as it must remain at temperature. This means you consume more if you don’t drive often than if you drive regularly. A peak! It lacks comfort, equipment and its maintenance will not be easy. It was, as we recall, originally intended for car sharing only for short-term rentals. However, it’s available at a low price, it’s true, and for good reason! From €4,300.
The second is a heavy quad, which reaches 80 km/h in the licensed version and 45 km/h in the unlicensed version. No comfort, no equipment. And from €4,000 in good condition. To be reserved for very specific or recreational uses only.
As for Teslas, it’s impossible to find one for less than €28,000, hence their absence here. CQFD.
THE BALANCE SHEET
These cheap electric occasions are not famous. At around €5,000 or less, these are old models, with autonomy that today seems to be very low, given the improvement of the new products at this point. What to do in fact, unless you target your needs very clearly, with a car capable of covering only 80 to 90 km?
A first Zoé is certainly better (150 km), but newer versions double that number!
A compact Nissan LEaf, more consistent in terms of performance and almost the same price as the small Renault, can be a good option, however, if the battery is in good condition.
For the rest, let’s be clear, it’s better to wait, build a bigger nest egg and opt in 2 or 3 years for cars that will have a more substantial range, most of which will also have abandoned the idea of leasing the battery. , even for a second-hand purchase, and which will have faster loading possibilities. To have it today, you need to count at least €12,000. It’s not really “cheap”…
The reliability of electric cars
Of course she is not perfect. Yes, there have been cases of engine replacement on the Renault Zoé, yes there have been battery replacements or integrated chargers. Same on the Nissan Leaf and the others.
But in proportion, it is quite rare. And, overall, the reliability of electric cars is better than that of thermal ones. A phenomenon that can be explained very simply. The only components that can fail are the motors, batteries and management electronics.
With an electric car we avoid all the worries related to: gearboxes, pollution control system, clutch, steering wheel, turbo, starter, alternator, exhaust, etc.
And most electrical systems are warranted for 8 years or 160,000 km. What to see coming.