Top 9 Cheapest Electric Cars to Buy in The US Today
Top 9 Cheapest Electric Cars to Buy in The US Today
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Over a decade ago, when the Nissan Leaf appeared as the first widely available mainstream electric car, the only drivers genuinely interested in buying one were early adopters with short commutes. Saddled with only about 100 miles of range and a new consumer phenomenon later dubbed "range anxiety," the Leaf had limited appeal.

Today's EVs range from pokey and basic to fast and luxurious, with price tags to match. But if you don't absolutely need the longest range available, some of today's top electric vehicles can be had for the price of a typical crossover SUV, or possibly less when you factor in federal and state incentives.

From the Nissan Leaf to Ford F-150 Lightning, We've gathered up the most affordable electric vehicles you can buy today.

All-Electric Car Price Comparison For U.S.

The Nissan LEAF remains the least expensive electric car on the market (thanks to the MSRP price reduction in August). The entry-level version with a 40 kWh battery and 110 kW electric motor is offered at an MSRP of $27,400 (+$975 DST), which effectively is $20,875 (thanks to the full $7,500 federal tax credit).

Then we can see the MINI Cooper SE (effectively $23,250), but it's a niche vehicle with only 114 miles of range (183 km).

The LEAF e+ version with a 62 kWh battery and 160 kW motor (+$5,000 over the base LEAF) completes the top three of the cheapest EVs. With 226 miles (364 km) of EPA range, it's the cheapest BEV with more than 200 miles of range.

The Hyundai Kona Electric, at effectively $27,685, is the least expensive EV with a range above 250 miles. Its rating is 258 miles (415 km).

The entry-level version of the Hyundai Ioniq 5, which is coming in a few months surprised us with an effective price of $33,425 and it has 220 miles (354 km) of EPA range.

The all-new Ford F-150 Lightning will enter the market soon with an effective price of $34,169 in the entry-level Pro version with the Standard Range battery. Believe it or not, the Ford F-150 Lightning Pro is also the least expensive all-wheel-drive BEV. Not bad for a pickup, although most of the customers probably will go with the Extended Range battery version.

The Kia EV6 Light RWD (with a small battery, but good for 232 miles EPA) starts at $34,615. See all the versions compared here.

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 SE RWD, at $37,375 (effective) is the least expensive model with a range above 300 miles of EPA range - exactly 303 miles (488 km).

The least expensive Tesla in the U.S. happens to be the Tesla Model 3 RWD at $46,190. Mostly because Tesla is not eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit. For reference, the base Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD starts effectively at $60,190.

Among the most expensive BEVs, we can see the Porsche Taycan family, Tesla Model S Plaid/Model X Plaid and Lucid Air family and Audi RS e-tron GT. All beyond $120,000 effectively.

Top 9 Cheapest Electric Cars to Buy in The US Today

1. 2023 Nissan Leaf ($28,895)

Photo: xedoisong
Photo: xedoisong

The 2023 Nissan Leaf is a compact electric hatchback that's one of the most affordable and practical choices in its segment. The Leaf offers up to 212 miles of EV range, which is plenty for commuters, and Nissan includes a range of standard safety and technology features to make every drive more comfortable. Top rivals are sportier to drive and more modern. The Nissan LEAF is a 5-seater vehicle that comes in 2 trim levels. The most popular style is the SV PLUS, which starts at $36,895 and comes with an Electric engine and Front Wheel Drive. This LEAF is estimated to deliver 121 MPGe in the city and 98 MPGe on the highway.

2. 2022 Mini Cooper SE Hardtop ($30,750)

Photo: ccarprice
Photo: ccarprice

Those willing to accept the Mini Cooper SE's limited driving range will find plenty to like about this two-door hatchback. Notably, the front-drive 181-hp Cooper SE is a joy to drive, as it shares its dynamic DNA with its gas-powered kin.

Much like the Mazda MX-30, though, the Mini's affordable starting sum of $30,750 strikes us as rather costly for a vehicle with such limited long-distance legs. Nonetheless, we wouldn't fault anyone who has the means to own a Cooper SE as a second or third car for use around town.

Even better, Mini may soon offer the Cooper SE's electric powertrain in convertible guise. The British brand has shown a concept version of the electric drop-top; however, the car's production-ready vibe leads us to believe there's a strong chance a convertible Mini Cooper SE may arrive as soon as the 2023 or 2024 model year.

3. Mazda MX-30 ($34,695)

Photo; vnexpress
Photo; vnexpress

Mazda’s first full EV sold in the U.S., the MX-30, went on sale in California in October, with a national rollout in the works “over the coming years,” the automaker said. An SUV-like hatchback, it sports a coupe-like roof design with rear-hinged half doors and a minimalist interior. Inside, environmentally friendly materials include cork in the center console, animal-free upholstery, and recycled plastic bottle fibers for the door trim. The electric motor makes 144 hp and 200 pounds-feet of torque, and draws power from a 35.5-kWh battery driving the front wheels; AWD isn’t offered. The overall range of just 100 miles is underwhelming even among affordable EVs like the Leaf and Bolts, but Mazda throws in a few other perks, such as a preset number of complimentary loaner vehicles for road trips and $500 in ChargePoint credits for public charging or toward the installation of a Level 2 home charger.

4. 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric ($34,000)

Photo: tinmoiz
Photo: tinmoiz

The 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric is a fully electric subcompact SUV that offers excellent value and a sneaky fun driving experience. Like the regular gas-powered Kona, the Electric boasts nimble feel around turns and quick steering. Plus, its electric motor makes it downright quick — just step on it and go. As for value, the Kona Electric presents a more budget-friendly way to go electric than many of the larger electric vehicles on the market.

The Kona Electric gets its first major update since its debut in 2019, as does the rest of the Kona lineup for 2022. Up front the faux grille is gone, giving the nose a much sleeker appearance to go along with new LED daytime running light and headlight designs. The taillights and rear bumper have also been reworked, though the Kona Electric's overall shape remains the same.

5. MINI Electric ($34,225)

Photo: muaxegiatot
Photo: muaxegiatot

The next car on this list is British-made. The 2022 Mini Electric SE Hardtop 2 Door is the second cheapest electric car in the U.S. Prices start at USD 34,225 (excluding USD 850 destination and handling), and a potential federal tax credit of $7,500 benefit is available on the EV.

The electric hatch has a 32.6 kWh battery pack that offers an EPA-estimated range of 114 miles. The fast charging can top up the battery to 80% in 36 minutes at 50 kW. The AC home charging can fill the battery in 4 hours. The electric motor powers the front wheels and produces 135 kW (181 hp) and 199 lb-ft (270 Nm). A 0-60 mph sprint is achieved in just 6.9 seconds.

The base Signature Trim comes equipped with features like heated front seats and steering wheel, touchscreen navigation, carbon black leatherette upholstery, 8.8-inch infotainment system, LED headlights with cornering function, rearview camera and park distance control, comfort access with keyless entry, forward collision, and pedestrian warning and advanced braking technology.

As we write this, MINI is developing an all-new three door hatch. Expect the 2024 MINI Cooper electric, with all-round improvements, at American dealers in late 2023.

6. 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV ($32,495)

Photo: caranddriver
Photo: caranddriver

The Chevrolet Bolt EV enters 2022 with reworked interior and exterior designs, but a carryover powertrain. That's no issue with us, as this inexpensive electric car's 200-hp front-mounted motor offers plentiful performance, while its sizable 66.0-kWh battery pack affords 259 miles of EPA driving range.

Like its larger Bolt EUV stablemate, the $32,495 Bolt EV is likely to be found with a steep discount, as the 2023 model is set to see its base price drop by nearly $6000. The Bolt EV may not technically be the cheapest electric car for the 2022 model year, but it certainly makes a case for itself as one of the segment's best values.

7. Kia Niro EV ($41,205)

Photo: xehay
Photo: xehay

Kia’s Niro EV is part of a line of electrified-only hatchbacks that also includes hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, all of which received a full redesign for the 2023 model year. Pricing and range information isn’t yet available for the 2023 Niro EV at the time of this writing, however, and it has not yet gone on sale. The 2022 EV model, which is still on sale, shares a 64-kWh battery and 201-hp electric motor with the Hyundai Kona Electric (Hyundai and Kia are affiliated automakers), but the more family-friendly Niro has a larger backseat. A full bundle of driver assistance tech is standard, and DC fast-charging capability is up to 100 kW.

8. 2022 Hyundai IONIQ 5 ($41,245)

Photo: giaxeoto
Photo: giaxeoto

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 is one of the all-around top EVs available. It offers great style and a wide range of choices, all of them well-equipped. The Hyundai IONIQ 5 is a 5-seater vehicle that comes in 4 trim levels. The most popular style is the SEL AWD, which starts at $51,045 and comes with an Electric engine and All Wheel Drive. This IONIQ 5 is estimated to deliver 110 MPGe in the city and 87 MPGe on the highway.

The handsome Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV is a compact family crossover with the cabin space of an especially roomy midsize SUV. It is proof that Hyundai is quite capable of building a world-class electric vehicle, with loads of driver-assist and safety tech, a near-luxury cabin, a smooth ride, and responsive handling. Hyundai has priced the Ioniq 5 in the near-premium segment, which might surprise some shoppers. But it belongs there, competing for buyers with the likes of the Audi Q4 e-tron, the upcoming Nissan Ariya and many of the Ford Mustang Mach-E models.

9. Ford F-150 Lightning (​​$41,669)

Photo; vnexpress
Photo; vnexpress

The only pickup truck to make this list as of this writing, the 2022 F-150 Lightning presents an intriguing choice for EV buyers with its combination of price, range and utility. With dual-motor four-wheel drive, the Lightning offers either a standard- or long-range battery pack. With the long-range battery, the XLT and Lariat have an EPA-estimated 320 miles of range; the long-range only but heavier Platinum maxes out at 300 miles; and all Lightnings with the standard-range battery pack top out at 230 miles. Models with either battery pack have 775 pounds-feet of torque, while horsepower figures are 426 hp for the standard range and 563 hp for the long range. Ford will also sell buyers a number of home chargers, including an 80-amp charging station (standard with the long-range battery) that — with some additional equipment — can be used with the F-150 Lightning to provide power to the home should traditional power sources fail.

Fuel Cost: Electric Cars vs. Gas Cars

Comparing the costs of electricity required to run an electric car versus the costs of gasoline to power a regular car is still an arcane science with many variables. Charging at home overnight, for example, allows you to charge at off-peak hours, reducing your costs. If you charge during the day, you'll see those rates jump. If you often charge at work or an outside charging station, you'll need an account with one of the growing numbers of electricity providers. Generally speaking, electricity costs less than gasoline and its pricing is more stable. But there's a learning curve to understanding when it's cheapest to tap into the grid to top up your EV.

Fully Electric Cars vs. Plug-In Hybrids

Electric cars are just that: cars powered solely by electricity stored in a battery pack. Plug-in hybrids, on the other hand, use a regular gasoline engine paired with a battery pack and electric motor. The battery pack can be recharged from an electrical outlet or charging station, but it can also store energy recaptured during braking. Usually, the battery pack on a plug-in runs out of electricity within 20-40 miles, at which point the gas engine takes over, so you never need to worry about running out of juice. Full EVs require more thought, route planning, and evolving knowledge of the location of charging stations

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