If you can think small, the cheapest electric vehicles are highly affordable.
High prices are a big reason for low electric vehicle sales volumes, which finally reached 1% of the U.S. market for the first time in June 2016. That hasn’t been the case on the used auto market, where plug-in vehicles have dominated this year. However, there are numerous other factors at work in the slow adoption of first-generation EVs.
According to a study released in May 2016, confusion reigns among consumers with regards to the segment. Most don’t know the basics about electric car range, hybrid or not, and a shockingly small percentage of those surveyed knew about available incentives. In other words, many consumers aren’t aware a car listed at $30,000 costs $22,500 or less after credits and may come with single-occupancy HOV lane access.
That sounds like more of a deal, and some of these cars are great buys. Here are the five cheapest electric vehicles on the market in 2016.
5. Nissan Leaf
A 2016 Leaf is available brand new for $21,510 before local incentives.
The 24 kWh Nissan Leaf, capable of 84 miles on a full charge, is the best-selling pure EV in U.S. history. In many ways, it has offered the best package at a reasonable price and remains near there at $29,010 for the base model offering 107 horsepower and 187 pound-feet of torque. Dig a bit deeper ($34,200) and you can afford the 30 kWh, 107-mile-range Leaf. Subtracting just the federal tax credit, that makes this very solid vehicle $21,510 new off the lot in the base trim. If you live in Colorado, the price becomes absurdly low.
4. Volkswagen e-Golf
The VW e-Golf comes in at $21,495 before local incentives are applied.
The Volkswagen e-Golf delivers 115 horsepower and 199 pound-feet of torque and can travel 83 miles on a full charge. At a base price of $28,995, consumers might find it a steep proposition. However, after federal tax credits, the e-Golf’s price drops to a very reasonable $21,495. Those who like the Golf style and general drive characteristics will feel good in this EV. The best part? It doesn’t take diesel to get it moving.
3. Chevy Spark EV
The diminutive Spark EV is among the cheapest electric vehicles available.
Getting into the most affordable electric cars means making a size compromise. We’ll start with the miniChevy Spark EV, capable of 82 miles on a full charge and listed at $25,510. Factoring in the $7,500 tax credit, that makes the base price a very reasonable $18,010. As a second car in the family garage, 82 miles can go a long way. There is a serious 327 pound-feet of torque available to make that green driving fun as well.
2. Smart Electric Drive
Speaking of tiny EVs, the Smart Electric Drive is about as small as you can get for a highway-capable car. You’ll be able to go forever with 68 miles on a full charge mixed between highway and city driving, so don’t plan on many road trips. However, don’t plan to pay a lot for this car, either. At $25,000 before incentives and $17,500 after just the federal tax credit is counted, new car buyers can get this one cheap.
1. Mitsubishi i-MiEV
You won’t go styling or profiling around town in the Mitsubishi -MiEV, but you can get yourself there in the most economical fashion at 112 miles per gallon equivalent. On a full charge, you have about 59 miles with which to work. On a brighter note, the base price of your i-MiEV is $22,995, which comes down to a cool $15,495 after the federal tax credit enters the picture. It might not be pretty, but it will be cheap and awfully green.