The 8 cheapest electric cars you can buy right now

Mini se electric, Nissan leaf, Hyundai ionoq 5 and chevy bolt in four square format
(Image credit: Nissan/Chevrolet/Hyundai/Tom's Guide )

If you want to pick up one of the cheapest electric cars, your options are pretty limited. Electric cars are already more expensive than an equivalent gas-powered car, and to make matters worse automakers tend to work from the top down. So we see them focus on premium and luxury vehicles before moving onto cheaper segments.

It’s great to want to ditch gasoline and buy an electric car, though it does rely on you being able to afford one. Buying a used electric car might expand your options a little, but even then it helps to know which ones were on the cheapest end of the spectrum already. So here are the cheapest electric cars you can buy right now, all with starting prices under $40,000.

 Chevy Bolt — from $26,500 ($19,000 with tax credits)

chevy bolt electric car

(Image credit: Chevy)

The Chevy Bolt is currently the cheapest electric car on the market, even before you take the federal EV tax credit into consideration. Now that the sales cap has been lifted, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bolt can be purchased for even less than ever before.

The Bolt already offers some pretty spectacular value at its current price. All thanks to 259 miles of EPA-rated range, a 6.5 second 0-60 time and 57 cubic feet of cargo space when you fold the seats down. None of it is record-breaking but as far as cheap electric cars go Chevy is offering a heck of a lot for a pretty low price tag.

There are downsides, of course. The Bolt doesn’t have SuperCruise, General Motors’ hands-free autonomous driver assistance system, and the rapid charging isn’t the best. In fact, it taps out at 54kW, and recoups 100 miles in 30 minutes and 160 miles in an hour. That’s not particularly fast, and shows some of the caveats of buying a cheaper EV.

But that shouldn’t put you off. The Chevy Bolt has a heck of a lot to love, and while it won’t be competing with the Teslas of the world, the price point makes that more than palatable.

Chevy Bolt EUV — from $27,800 ($20,300 with tax credits)

Chevy Bolt EUV 2022 review

(Image credit: Chevrolet)

It’s a little more expensive than the Bolt, but the Chevy Bolt EUV still offers plenty of bang for your buck. Especially now the tax credit gives drivers the opportunity to save $7,500 on the list price. Essentially a small SUV, this is an electric car with plenty of tech, solid performance and a pretty stellar range for its price.

You’ll be able to get up to 247 miles out of the Bolt EUV, which is a little less than the standard Bolt, but there’s plenty more to make up for it. Like the fact that this electric car offers SuperCruise, the hands-free autonomous driving assistance system, more interior space for passengers and 56.9 cubic feet of cargo space when the seats are folded down. 

Of course, some of the Bolt EV’s main flaws carry over to the Bolt EUV. For one, the 0-60 time is worse, clocking in at 6.8 seconds, and the charging speed could be better. 95 miles in 30 minutes is pretty weak, when the likes of the Tesla Model 3 can get almost twice that in half the time. The Bolt EUV also suffered as a result of last year’s battery recall, which threw some large cracks into the Bolt brand — but things seem to be all good these days.

As we noted in our Chevy Bolt EUV review, this is a very capable commuter car that’s a joy to drive. It doesn’t matter what kind of roads you’re on, the Bolt EUV can handle them all. Especially with the range that should hold up fairly well against high-speed highway driving.

Nissan Leaf — from $27,800 ($20,300 with tax credit) 

nissan leaf

(Image credit: Nissan)

While not as appealing as the cheaper Chevy Bolt or even the Bolt EUV, the Nissan Leaf’s low price and tax credit eligibility means it’s worth your attention. But if money is tight, you better be ok with some incredibly mediocre range estimates. Because the cheapest Leaf models are rated for only 149 miles. 

If you’d rather boost that figure to 212 miles you’ll need to part with at least $35,800. Again, not very impressive, and in both instances you’ll need to contend with the fact the car uses a CHAdeMO rapid charger instead of the CCS used by all other cars. The Leaf certainly doesn’t do a great job of selling itself these days.

Still the Nissan Leaf does have a lot going for it, provided you stick to local journeys. As we noted in our Nissan Leaf review, it’s surprisingly feature-rich for an entry-level electric car, and it’s one of the few cheap cars that’s consistently been eligible for the federal EV tax credit. On top of that, it manages to squeeze in 41.5 cubic feet of cargo space, and certain models have Level 2 autonomous driving with ProPilot. 

The Nissan Leaf's short range and the CHAdeMO charger aren’t ideal, but there’s still plenty to love — especially if you only need a compact around-town car.

Mini SE — from $29,990 

Side view of Mini SE

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you like the design of the modern Mini, but want to drive around on electricity, this might be the EV for you. Though the iconic design is the main selling point, especially since its range estimate is a measly 114 miles. 

This is the price you pay for something cheap and visually memorable. But, range aside, the Mini SE has plenty going for it. There’s a reason our Mini SE review called it the “king of compliance cars.”

The Mini SE is small and capable, albeit limited to urban travel rather than long-distance road trips. It’s also extremely fun to drive, which is part of what makes a Mini a Mini. While the 0-60 time is a pretty weak 6.9 seconds, it’s got a great go-kart feel to the drive — which is perfect for winding back roads with a lot of corners. The small stature also makes is much easier to park.

If you have a short commute, or you don’t plan on driving very far, the Mini SE could prove to be an excellent addition to your garage. Just make sure you have some sort of back-up plan, should those pesky long-distance journeys become a necessity. 

Mazda MX-30 — from $33,470 

Mazda MX-30

(Image credit: Mazda)

When it comes to cheap cars, there’s usually a reason why the price is what it is. In the case of the Mazda MX-30, it’s all pretty obvious — and mostly down to the car’s horrendous 100-mile range. It’s also not particularly powerful, with a 0-60 time of more than nine seconds, and can only be purchased in California.

In fact, just about the only major benefit the MX-30 does have to offer is its design. The MX-30 certainly looks futuristic, and the crossover SUV configuration comes with many of the usual benefits that kind of car affords — namely a high driving position and a safety bonus. 

However, despite being pillarless the MX-30 still lacks the roomy interior, with minimal space for rear passengers and just 41.3 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s slightly less than the much smaller (and cheaper) Nissan Leaf.

If you can get beyond the poor range and limited interior space, it’s been noted that the MX-30 can be fun to drive. It won’t be driving very far, or particularly quickly, but if you want to make an electric car the designated “second car” of the household, this Mazda is worth a look.

Hyundai Kona Electric — from $34,000 

hyundai kona electric on a test track at sunset

(Image credit: Hyundai)

The mid-range Hyundai Kona is one of those cars that’s available in almost every kind of drivetrain: gasoline, plug-in hybrid and electric. But the electric model is definitely noteworthy, with 258 miles of range and a bunch of other cool stuff. 

The Kona doesn’t look like much, can’t charge as fast as the flagship IONIQ 5 (10-80% charge in 47 minutes at 100kW speeds), and it lacks autonomous features like auto-steer and adaptive cruise control. Then again, it’s cheap for a reason, and its dollar-to-range ratio is a lot better than the cheapest IONIQ 5 model on sale.

Plus, you have all the basics you need to get out on the road. The Kona has an 8-inch touchscreen display, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a spacious interior, reversing cameras, 45.8 cubic feet or cargo space (with the seats down) and optional extras like heated seats. So if you want an electric car on the cheap, this is definitely one to consider.

2023 Kia Niro EV — from $39,450 

kia niro ev 2023 in front of garage

(Image credit: Kia)

There was a lot to like about the 2022 Kia Niro EV, but the 2023 model pushes things up a notch — starting with knocking $500 off the price tag. That means prices for the car start at $39,450. Sadly, though, it's not eligible for the federal tax credit.

The 2023 Niro EV comes with the same 64.8 kWh battery pack as last year's model, which translates to 253 miles of range. Charging from 10-80% takes around 43 minutes at an 85 kW charger, and the onboard 11 kW AC charger should easily handle an overnight recharging session. It takes 6.7 seconds to go from 0-60 mph.

The interior has enjoyed a complete redesign, and you'll find a 10.3-inch central touchscreen display, wireless Android Auto and CarPlay, Google Assistant and Alexa support, Harman/Kardon audio, and the new Digital Key 2.0 — which offers remote access to certain car functions. It may not be as luxurious as the Kia EV6 or Hyundai IONIQ 5, but it's not that far off.

Hyundai IONIQ 5 — $39,950 

Side view of Hyundai IONIQ 5

(Image credit: Hyuandai)

The Hyundai IONIQ 5 is a fairly premium electric car with a starting price under $40,000. Though, naturally, the more expensive models do get a few more of the perks — range in particular.

While the IONIQ 5 offers up to 303 miles of EPA-rated range, the cheapest model offers only 220. That’s roughly comparable with the 60 kWh Nissan Leaf, but still miles below Chevy’s low-cost offerings. That said, there’s still plenty to enjoy here, including super fast 350kW charging (10-80% in 18 minutes), 59.3 cubic feet of cargo space with the back seats folded down, a 0.85 cubic foot frunk and a spacious interior for driver and passengers alike. 

There’s also adaptive cruise control and lane centering tech as standard, alongside other safety features. Though some things, like 360-degree cameras, are exclusive to more expensive models. As we noted in our Hyundai IONIQ 5 review, all that tech is one of the car’s major selling points — alongside a great design and fantastic performance.

So if you want the taste of a more luxurious electric car, without necessarily spending Tesla money, the IONIQ 5 is well worth checking out.

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.