You already know that depreciation is a significant issue for EV owners, especially the ones that buy a brand new EV. But that could be good for people that do not want to spend much on an electric car since they can get a used one. That was what Tiff Needell and Paul Woodman, from the Lovecars YouTube channel, had in mind when they evaluated three used EVs: BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, and Renault ZOE.

Ironically, they have invited Peter Greaves, also known as Petrol_Ped, to drive the EVs around. Their main concern with the vehicles, which are all three years old, was to see how they were holding up in terms of range and how cheap these vehicles were compared to new ones.

If that is an indication of a bargain, you would better remember that “there’s no free lunch.” To be more specific, if an EV was expensive and is now dirt cheap, there is something wrong with it.

The AAA study that pointed to the fact that EVs have a depreciation problem included no Tesla among the evaluated vehicles. They were the Chevrolet Bolt (LT)Hyundai Ionic Electric (Base)Kia Soul EV (+), Nissan Leaf (SV), and Volkswagen e-Golf (SE).  The Renault ZOE was not included because it is not sold in the US, but the i3 is.

bmw i3 used

It would be fascinating to have had it considered in that research, but we already know it loses value fast in the US: it is the fourth among the ten cars that lost more value in the US in 2019 after five years, according to 

That probably happens because the i3 is a small car for US standards. Kyle Conner, from the Out Of Spec Motoring and InsideEVs YouTube channels, has already presented it as a good option. It is the only one among these three to have a liquid-cooled battery pack, and that is more important for used EVs than it may seem: they last longer that way – and do not charge you $35,000 on a battery pack replacement.

The video below shows the advantage of liquid-cooling and, more specifically, of tab cooling instead of surface cooling. The BMW i3 has tab cooling, according to this Avid Technology article.

These are aspects of the ownership of these EVs that the video does not address. The Nissan Leaf and the Renault ZOE have air-cooled battery packs. Nissan has a history of charging way more than it should for new battery packs. Renault used to rent ZOE’s, so we do not have an idea of how much it will cost to replace them when it is time. BMW allows you to replace only the battery pack module that is defective, which implies it will be cheaper to do that when the batteries start to fail.

The video does not mention that, but the BMW i3 seems to be the logical choice when it comes to used EVs, some of them already out of their total warranty periods. We hope Lovecars explores these questions in more depth in their future videos on EVs unless they relate to dynamic aspects. In that sense, Tiff Needell will certainly give anyone a valuable lesson, as he usually does in his videos at tracks.