Used electric car sales are soaring as more and more buyers look for cheaper ways to switch their vehicles.
Figures from the UK’s motor industry body the SMMT show that sales of second-hand EVs jumped by 57% in the second quarter of 2022 even as the overall used car segment shrank by 8%. The latest data shows that used EVs now account for in every 105 transactions, an increase from one in 157 in the first quarter of the year.
While interest in electric cars is growing, high asking prices and supply shortages mean second-hand models are becoming a more attractive option, especially as worries about their longevity are dispelled. However, a lot of drivers still don’t know what they should look for in a second-hand EV, especially if they are looking for an all-rounder that will get their family to and from school, work, and all the kids’ activities.
With that in mind, we’ve spoken to James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars, to get his advice on what to consider when buying a used EV and his selection of some of the best family friendly EVs you should consider.
What to consider when buying an EV
If you’re thinking of buying your first electric car, the first thing to consider is where you are going to charge it.
For the majority of EV drivers, most of the charging takes place at home, which is usually much cheaper than at service stations or other locations. However, you may also need to use charging points away from home on long journeys, so it is worth checking the location of charging points on regular routes. Look near where you live, at places you often visit, and along the routes that you regularly drive. As of September this year, there were 38,460 public EV charging points available in the UK, of which 6,411 were rapid or ultra-rapid devices, so there should be plenty around.
The cost of buying an EV outright can still be relatively high. Anyone who wants to drive an EV but cannot afford the upfront cost could consider leasing one. This is a great way to try an electric car for the first time and comes with the added bonus of knowing you are paying a fixed cost each month, including vehicle tax and, in some cases, breakdown cover.
Despite the hike in electricity prices, it is still cheaper to run an EV than a petrol or diesel car and there are environmental advantages. There are also other savings that come with an EV, including no ultra-low emissions zone charges, preferential parking charges in some areas, and lower servicing costs.
What to look for in a family-friendly EV
Check that the car is capable of rapid charging. The last thing busy parents want is to be hanging around at charging stations for long periods of time.
When weighing up which EV to go for, consider how far you travel daily and compare the range of each model you are interested in. Range is not the issue it was when EVs were first introduced, and many can cover 300 miles on a single charge.
Outside of charging and range, many of the features you consider in an EV will be the same as you’ll look for in a petrol or diesel car. The good news is that there are plenty of family-friendly EV options, including hatchbacks and SUVs. You can even squeeze three child seats side-by-side in the back of a number of EVs. It’s recommended you view a car before buying so you can check that the amount of space works for your family. This includes checking the boot fits any prams, luggage or other equipment, and that it will have enough room in the back to accommodate growing children.
Read on for James’s pick of some of the best electric cars for families.
The Nissan Leaf was the first truly affordable mass-market EV. As it was one of the very first electric cars on sale, there are now a good number of second-hand models available. It’s a practical choice, offering a roomy interior and a decent-sized boot – more so than many petrol and diesel models of the same size. Early models may not have the range you are looking for, unless you only drive short journeys. If range is important, the regular 40kWh battery version is claimed to manage 168 miles on a single charge, but if you opt for the long-range E+ model, that official range increases to 235 miles.
Some drivers want the certainty of a familiar car that just happens to be an EV. The Volkswagen e-Golf is a great choice in this respect, and it follows the template of a petrol or diesel Golf, only with a battery instead. With its quick responses, it is arguably an improved drive on the original Golf. Like its fuel counterparts, the e-Golf is easily big enough as a family car, with more space in the back than you’ll find in a Nissan Leaf. However, the position of the battery means the boot space is slightly reduced, even though it is still larger than many other EVs.
MG ZS EV
MG might be familiar to you as an old British sports car manufacturer, but it has undergone a lot of changes in ownership since then and production now takes place in China. The brand’s focus is on value for money, and this car lives up to that promise, coming in at a lower price than many on this list. It benefits from a generous amount of space in the cabin, with plenty of legroom in the back and many used models will still have some manufacturer warranty thanks to MG’s generous cover. Although the regular MG ZS does have a disappointing three-star Euro NCAP safety test rating, the ZS EV scores the full five stars. MG ZE EV review.
This small, family SUV is one of the most comfortable in its class, with plenty of legroom for passengers, and good headroom in the backseats. As you’d expect, it also comes with a generously sized boot. The e-Niro is a practical car with a range approaching 300 miles. Every e-Niro can use a 100kW rapid charger, which cuts the charging time dramatically.
Tesla Model S
Tesla didn’t produce a car before 2008, and now makes close to a million every year, specialising purely in EVs. The Model S was the company’s breakthrough car, though the Tesla name means it still comes with a higher price tag than the other vehicles on this list. It boasts a range from 260 miles to 400 depending on the age and model, and its roomy cabin offers a comfortable journey for drivers and passengers. Tesla may have been one of the first EVs out of the gate, but it has many rivals that can better it for quality, and often at a lower upfront cost.
Until this Jaguar arrived on the scene, the Tesla Model X SUV was the only real car of this class — now it has great competition. Despite being an SUV weighing in excess of two tonnes, the I-Pace handles more like a sports or saloon car. You can charge it at rapid-charge points at speeds up to 100kW, meaning that in just 45 minutes the battery can be charged to 80 per cent. Inside, the I-Pace is a perfect blend of luxury and technology. It is also a very roomy EV with plenty of space for adults in the rear seats and a 656-litre boot that’s perfect for the family. Jaguar I-Pace review
The electric Zoe hatchback has proven popular since its introduction in 2013, offering low-cost motoring with no real compromise when it comes to driving dynamics and practicality. Early cars were let down by a small range, but more recent models have been able to go nearly 250 miles on a full charge, making it one of the best in its class. This Renault is best suited to driving around town, butthere is a decent amount of rear room and at 338 litres the boot is a good size, too, though unlike some other electric cars, there isn’t anywhere to keep the charging cables. Renault Zoe review