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With early innovators and many premium brands now firmly rooted in the EV segment, the next innovation wave focuses on overall affordable efficiency and versatility. Numerous factors play into the equation—battery type, charging speed and vehicle range, obviously—but without a reasonable purchase price to put them within reach of everyday consumers, the specifications are largely irrelevant.
The secret weapon, of course, is the $7500 federal tax credit and any of the various state and local credits that accompany most EV purchases. We say most, as once a car manufacturer hits a 200,000 unit threshold, the federal credit no longer applies. (As of March of 2022, General Motors and Tesla have hit this threshold; Toyota is on track to hit it in mid-2022. Legislation to increase the threshold is being considered.) When combined with the increasingly reasonable prices of the latest EVs, the numbers begin to pencil in your favor. Here, in ascending order, are the most affordable EVs currently available to U.S. consumers.
Here are the most affordable EVs currently available to U.S. consumers. They are ordered by the price of the most affordable trim line, excluding the tax credit available to most buyers but not to people leasing EVs. Lessees may get a reduced lease price equal to much but not all of the $7,500.
The 2022 Nissan Leaf features a comprehensive lineup of models. The S and SV trims have a 40-kilowatt-hour battery pack that powers a 110-kilowatt (147 horsepower) electric motor and drives the front wheels; the maximum range is 149 miles. The starting MSRP is $28,375, including the $975 destination fee but not any tax credits, making the Leaf the least expensive EV currently available. The Plus models that follow the same naming convention (S, SV and SL) feature a larger 62-kWh unit and 160 kW electric motor. Counter-intuitively, the most affordable Plus model—the S Plus—has the longest range and can achieve 226 miles when fully charged. The SV Plus and SL Plus trims can only travel 215 miles on a full charge. Given its maximum range and $33,375 base price, it’s the clear choice for value in the Leaf lineup. Read more Leaf details here.
Starting from $30,750 (before a $7,500 federal any other tax credits but including the $850 destination), the Mini Cooper SE is among the market’s most affordable EVs. It blends frisky handling and lots of features with the signature style that’s made Britain’s Mini Cooper an international legend for 61 years. There’s only one little problem: An official 110-mile driving range, less than half that of many EVs. As a result, it’s best to think of the Mini Cooper SE as a second or third car in the household, well-suited to daily commutes, errands or weekend fun. With that in mind, we’d stick with the base model, skip any options and enjoy its personality overall. Read the full review.
The Bolt EV offers a driving range of 259 miles on a single charge, and its 66-kWh battery pack can be fully recharged in 7 hours using a Level 2, 240-volt, home charger. Step up to a Level 3 DC fast-charging station, and it can add 100 miles of range in 30 minutes. (The available DC fast charge option is required.) As previously mentioned, GM has hit the limit in terms of federal tax credits, but the Bolt 1LT starts at $32,495, including a $995 destination charge making it one of the least expensive EVs on sale in the U.S. The 2LT is a $3,200 upcharge and brings leather upholstery, machined aluminum wheels, heated exterior mirrors with turn signals, and some added safety features; plus, it’s the only way to get adaptive cruise control ($375). We think the car is a solid enough effort to warrant stepping up to the 2LT. Read more Bolt details here.
The MX-30 EV starts at $34,695, including a destination fee of $1,225, while the Premium Plus trim is $37,705. Both prices are before a $7,500 federal tax credit and applicable state rebates. Both come very well-equipped, including such features as a sunroof, adaptive headlamps, blind-spot monitoring, rain-sensing wipers, and 18-inch wheels. But the CX-30 is hobbled by its weak-kneed 100-mile range. It’s hard to recommend for anyone outside of self-contained communities and maybe tiny resort islands, which is good, as it is currently sold only in California. Nationwide availability is coming in 2023. Read the full review.
There’s a lot to like about the Hyundai Kona Electric, including its $35,225 base price, including destination but not the $7,500 federal tax credit. Its 258-mile range is the best in class, as is its 120 MPGe estimate (both are official EPA numbers). Our biggest criticism is that Hyundai couldn’t find a way to put two key safety features—adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams—into the base SEL model as an option or as part of a package. The jump to the Limited, the all-in top-top trim, is $8,500. Nevertheless, it’s arguably a more interesting design than the Niro, Bolt or Leaf, and the warranty, maintenance and roadside assistance package is the most generous in the competitive set. Read the full review.
The 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 5 enters the market near the pinnacle of the compact electric SUV segment in almost every category. The base Ioniq 5 SE Standard Range starts at $40,945, including a $1,245 destination fee, is a good starter for anyone seeking a fully loaded EV that costs relatively little—especially for those who can claim a $7,500 federal income tax credit that lowers the actual cost to $33,445. Before applying any incentives, the big-battery rear-drive SE starts at $44,895 and brings a rewarding 83-mile bump in range and power. Read the full review.
In a small but competitive segment, the Kia Niro EV offers peppy performance, a quiet and comfortable cabin, and numerous standard features for the price, including a healthy set of advanced driver-assist technologies. Its 239-mile range and the ability to charge 80% in an hour should be enough for most drivers’ day-to-day needs. There are just two trim levels, the EX at $40,265 and the EX Premium at $45,825, both including a $1,195 destination charge. Both qualify for a $7,500 federal rebate, plus state incentives, but the Niro EV is sold only in 12 states. Read the full review.
True, the F-150 Lightning pickup is technically not a car, but you can bet many buyers use it that way. The same can be said of the Rivian R1T, but its $67,500 price tag is nearly $25k more than the Ford F150 Lightning Pro’s $41,669 base price (including the $1,695 destination). Both trucks are still applicable for the $7,500 federal tax credit. The Lightning bears a close physical resemblance to its best-selling F-150 gasoline counterpart, but underneath the skin is an EV powertrain capable of up to 320 miles of range in the extended-range version. However, the base Pro model has a range of just 230 miles. The biggest downside to the F-150 Lightning is the wait to get one; Ford says the entire first year’s production is sold out. Read the first drive.
Kia’s first dedicated EV, the EV6 leapfrogs much of the competition right out of the gate, not unlike its Ioniq 5 cousin with which it shares some commonality. The base EV6 Light model ($42,115, before the $7,500 tax credit but including $1,215 destination) might also be called the EV6 lite. Its price is relatively low, but its range is just 232 miles. The rest of the lineup—the $48,215 Wind and $52,415 GT-Line trims, again before any federal, state or local rebates or incentives—use a 77.4 kWh battery and are rated for 310 miles of range; all-wheel drive versions are available. Read the first drive.
The 2021 VW ID.4 is a competent electric crossover that easily matches most gas-powered rivals’ performance, comfort and convenience. While this isn’t the vehicle to take on unpaved backroads, it is ideal for urban adventurers and families who can charge at home, work or a station nearby. The Volkswagen RWD ID.4 Pro, which retails for $41,995, including the $1,195 destination fee, will be enough for most buyers that want to enter the EV market in the most cost-effective way possible. The Pro S commands a $4500 upcharge. A $7,500 federal tax credit reduces the base model to $33,100 for buyers who can claim it. Read the full review.
The Ford Mustang Mach-E lives up to its high-voltage hype with speedy, near-silent performance and sleek looks. Ford’s handsome electric SUV in the base Select trim can be had for as little as $44,995 ($37,495 after the $7500 tax credit and including the $1,100 destination) with front-drive and a 247-mile driving range. Stepping up to the Mach-E Premium with the extended-range battery boosts for an additional $5,250 increases the range to 303 miles. Read the full review.
For 2022, our rating categories, used to calculate scores for full reviews, are:
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Best Affordable Electric Cars For 2022 – Forbes
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