The cheapest & most affordable electric cars 2022
There’s not really any getting away from it – electric cars are more expensive than their petrol or diesel equivalents, and that’s not going to change any time soon. The materials that make up an automotive battery pack are simply too expensive for electric vehicles – that is, viable electric vehicles – to compete on price.
But the situation is improving all the time and there are some genuinely affordable electric cars on the market right now.
We’re not too sure we’d call any of these cars ‘cheap’ – even the cheapest electric car here is almost double the price of the least expensive car in the UK, the Dacia Sandero – but when you factor in other advantages of electric motoring such as zero road tax, low charging costs and being exempt from London’s congestion charge and ULEZ zone they can become comparable in overall cost of ownership to an equivalent petrol or diesel model.
There are other benefits to going electric, too, making the question of ‘should I buy an electric car?’ easier to answer. Zero tailpipe emissions help keep city centres clean, while the instant response inherent to an electric motor means even entry-level EVs are great fun to drive.
Though some cars on this list don’t have the battery capacity to be much more than a city car, others are endowed with a long range and, with a bit of planning, can genuinely replace petrol or diesel as a family’s only car. Don’t believe all the myths you hear – electric cars don’t have to be scary or result in a huge lifestyle change.
Keep reading for our list of the most affordable viable electric cars – all prices quoted are after the government’s £1,500 plug-in car grant, and are correct at the time of writing.
If you’re considering buying an electric car then you’re in the right place to get a quote and see how much it would cost to insure. Of course, if you’re trying to save money overall, you might be more interested in our overall rundown of the cheapest cars to insure.
Fiat 500 Electric – £22,335
Our list kicks off with what we consider the cheapest viable electric car on the market. With an official range of 115 miles on a charge, undertaking longer journeys in the 500 will require a lot of forward planning, but it’s great if your annual mileage is low and your journeys tend to keep you within the city.
What we like about this entry-level model is that costs have been kept down in sensible ways. Instead of a pricey stereo and sat-nav system, the 500 comes with a bracket for your smartphone – neat, simple and useful. It’s also fun to drive and practical enough for two people, though the back seats really are for occasional use only. Spend a bit extra and you can get a longer-range version, capable of up to 199 miles on a charge.
Volkswagen e-Up – £22,585
The e-Up might sound like somebody from Yorkshire’s trying to get your attention, but it’s actually Volkswagen’s brilliant little city car converted to electric power. Based on an older design than the Fiat 500 (above) but it doesn’t feel past its prime – though its cheap car underpinnings show through in some places, particularly the interior with its untrimmed door panels.
All versions are capable of 160 miles on a full charge and are fun to drive, with agile handling. And with five doors as standard, even on such a tiny car, it’s quite useful if you occasionally need to use your back seats.
Vauxhall Corsa-e – £25,805
Vauxhall’s always been a good choice for those on a budget. It’s Corsa-e isn’t just cheap on cash price, it’s also typically available on some very generous finance packages.
And cheap doesn’t mean nasty in this case. Not only will the Corsa-e do up to 222 miles on a charge, it’ll cover those miles in comfort thanks to a high-quality and reasonably spacious interior. We also like the way the Corsa-e looks, especially compared to its drab predecessor.
Nissan Leaf – £26,995
The original Nissan Leaf is probably the car you can credit with making electric mobility mainstream and, for a long time, was the best-selling EV in the world. The second-generation model was launched in 2018 and now sits as a good way to get a big, practical electric car for not much money.
For this price you’ll get a model with a 40kWh battery and 168 miles of range – a longer-range version is available for more cash. All Leafs are comfortable to drive and come with lots of equipment. Not especially futureproof, though – they use an older style of charge cable that isn’t always available at modern public chargers.
MINI Electric – £27,000
With its stylish image and brilliantly fun handling the MINI Electric makes a great choice for those who just want something really cool. Of course, with just 145 miles of electric range it’s not the best option for long-distance drives – nor is it particularly practical. But that’s not really the point, is it?
You can customise your MINI Electric to look almost identical to a petrol or diesel one if you’d rather not stand out, or you can go the whole hog with yellow accents and crazy alloy wheels designed like a plug socket.
Mazda MX-30 – £27,145
The MX-30 really looks the business thanks to its bonkers suicide rear doors and cork dashboard. It’s also fantastic to drive, like most Mazdas – the company really wants its owners to enjoy driving, and the MX-30 doesn’t disappoint with accurate steering and fun handling.
We love the interior, which is high-quality and easy to use without any sort of gimmicks. It’s a shame the maximum range is only 124 miles, though. However, Mazda has promised a range-extender version – with a built-in petrol generator – is on the way, which could be a really interesting alternative to a traditional hybrid car.
MG ZS EV – £27,495
The ZS EV is significantly more of a useful proposition than low-range city cars. First of all, it’s a proper family-sized SUV – a compact one, granted, but there’s easily enough room in the back for two kids in child seats and the boot’s spacious enough for all the trappings of family life.
The ZS EV will do up to 273 miles on a single charge, too, which is a highly impressive figure from such an inexpensive car and makes even some premium EVs look weedy in comparison. You do have to put up with a rather low-rent interior and dull driving dynamics, but for the price the ZS EV is very hard to beat.
Renault Zoe – £27,595
Another bargain EV with a genuinely long range. The Zoe is the size of a supermini but packs in enough battery to cover 245 miles on a charge, an impressive range. It’s not a bad place to while away the miles, either – the dashboard is very much like the Renault Clio’s, with a big touchscreen infotainment system and swish digital dials.
Previously Renault wanted you to lease the battery pack separately, but that’s no longer the case and you can drive your Zoe without any additional monthly fee just like everything else on this list.
MG 5 EV – £27,945
Just slightly more expensive than its SUV-shaped sibling, the MG 5 EV is ideal if you prefer an estate car body to a faux-offroader. It’s very similar to its sibling when it comes to driving, which means it’s competent but not exactly good fun. But it also means it can go up to 250 miles between charges, still a highly impressive figure.
And if you like load-lugging this is the car for you, with a large boot and massive capacity if the seats are folded down.
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