Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular as gas prices skyrocket. In fact, automakers plan to pivot to largely electric lineups in the coming decade, in response to ongoing climate concerns.
For more than a decade, brands like Nissan and Chevrolet have offered affordable electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Spark EV, but their gas-powered subcompact and compact counterparts were always more affordable.
While that’s still true today — especially as brands like Tesla market electric vehicles (EVs) like the Tesla Model S starting in the six-figure range — the price gap between gas cars and electric cars has become much narrower. Federal tax credits can even make an electric car cheaper than a similar gas-powered model.
At the same time, automakers have made tremendous strides to address range anxiety; most of the electric cars featured below can go at least 200 miles on a single charge.
But what’s the most affordable electric vehicle, and how do tax credits affect the price? Check out our list of the cheapest electric cars below.
- 1 10 Cheapest Electric Cars in 2022
- 2 How Electric Car Tax Credits Work
- 3 Military Discounts on Electric Cars
- 4 How Much Does It Cost to Own an Electric Car?
10 Cheapest Electric Cars in 2022
We’ve rounded up the most affordable EVs in the U.S. based solely on their MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price).
Note, however, that General Motors (Chevy, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac) and Tesla vehicles are no longer eligible for the $7,500 tax credit as of publication, and Toyota is on its way to graduating from eligibility.
Once an automaker sells 200,000 electric cars, its vehicles are no longer eligible for federal tax credits under current legislation.
Why is this important? While Chevy models are among the most affordable in terms of MSRP, customers won’t be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit for those models come tax season. In short, you can think of other models as being $7,500 cheaper than the listed MSRP, but with Chevy, what you see is what you pay.
1. 2022 Nissan Leaf
Starting MSRP: $27,400
EPA-estimated range: 149 to 226 miles
The Nissan Leaf was the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle and has been around since 2010. While it hasn’t topped the list of the cheapest electric cars every year, it’s always been among the most affordable electric vehicles. This year, it’s on top.
For the low price of $27,400 (that’s a price cut over the 2021 model), you’ll get a compact hatchback offering 123 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) with a 149-mile range. If you want that max 226-mile range, you’ll need to get the Leaf S Plus with the long-range battery. The Leaf S Plus starts at $32,400.
While you can fit five passengers in the Leaf, the rear seat is a little tight for adults (but it can be done!). Up front, passengers have access to a wide range of amenities, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. And don’t let its status as an economy car fool you; the Leaf comes standard with the Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes active safety tech like Lane Departure Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection.
2. 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Starting MSRP: $31,500
EPA-estimated range: 247 to 259 miles
While the 2022 Bolt EV is the second cheapest EV on the list, remember that Chevy models no longer qualify for the $7,500 federal tax credit. The Nissan Leaf starts at $27,400, but after the tax credit, it’s less than $20K. Once you’ve factored that in, the Chevy Bolt is considerably more expensive.
Tax credits aside, the Bolt EV is reasonably priced and has great range. The entry-level trim (1LT) that starts at $31,500 promises up to 247 miles of range, but if you spring for the 2022 Bolt EV 2LT (starting at $35,695), you’ll get 259 miles on a single charge, plus a 120-volt portable charge cord.
The 2022 Chevy Bolt EV seats five but suffers from the same crowded feeling in the back. That said, the Bolt is a great find: standard safety tech, wireless phone capability and a 0-to-60 sprint in 6.5 seconds. Plus, Chevy foots the bill for your home charging setup.
3. 2022 Mazda MX-30
Starting MSRP: $33,470
EPA-estimated range: 100 miles
At just 100 miles, the 2022 Mazda MX-30 has the lowest range of any EV on our list — by a long shot. With DC fast charging capability, you can get to 80% (80-mile range) in just 36 minutes, but if you’ve got a longer trip ahead of you, the MX-30 is not the most convenient option.
One highlight: On top of the $7,500 tax credit, Mazda throws in a $500 ChargePoint credit, which you can use toward the installation of an at-home ChargePoint charging station or for charging at public ChargePoint stations around the country. Think of it like a $500 gas card.
4. 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV
Starting MSRP: $33,500
EPA-estimated range: 259 miles
The Chevrolet Bolt EUV is new for 2022 and builds upon the work done by the Bolt EV, one of the world’s most popular electric cars. However, like the Bolt EV, the Bolt EUV is not eligible for the federal tax credit, which makes that $33,500 sticker price feel a lot heavier.
What we like about the EUV over the EV is the more spacious cabin — we tall people appreciate every extra inch of legroom an automaker will throw at us. The Chevy EUV is also available with the GM Super Cruise system (the hands-free autonomous driving system that gets us one step closer to the inevitable robot takeover).
5. 2023 Mini Cooper SE Electric Hardtop 2 Door
Starting MSRP: $33,900
EPA-estimated range: 114 miles
Though it’s not out yet, Mini is already taking orders for its 2023 Mini Cooper SE Electric Hardtop 2 Door and is targeting fall 2022 for customers to start taking delivery. Because automakers are running behind on 2022 EV sales due to the chip shortage (Volkswagen is estimating four months for its ID.4), the 2023 Mini Cooper still merits a spot on this list.
If you’re drawn to the iconic styling of Mini Coopers, you won’t be disappointed by the SE Electric. But it also gets just enough personality of its own that differentiates it from other Coopers (look at those wheels). Where you will be disappointed by the new hardtop model is in the range. At 114 miles per charge, the 2023 Mini Cooper SE Electric Hardtop 2 Door only outperforms Mazda’s electric car — and not by much.
6. 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric
Starting MSRP: $34,000
EPA-estimated range: 258 miles
Forget the Mini Cooper. The 2022 Hyundai Kona may have the fiercest styling of any vehicle on our list — that wheel design is especially attractive, and on base-level trim models, you can go with a two-tone paint job. Inside, wireless connectivity and comfy seating make the Kona a standout.
And at 258 miles of range on either trim, the Kona Electric is one of the better options for longer trips; Level 3 quick charging isn’t so quick, however. It’ll take you 47 to 64 minutes, depending on the DC fast charging equipment.
7. 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
Starting MSRP: $39,947
EPA-estimated range: 320 miles
The Ford F-150 is not only America’s best-selling truck; it’s the best-selling vehicle overall — and has been for over four decades. But the last kind of vehicle you’d expect to be electrified is a pickup truck.
Enter the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning. This electrified truck has the most impressive range of any model on our list at 320 miles. But make no mistake: This is still a powerful work truck, with 2,000 pounds of maximum payload and 10,000 pounds of max towing capacity.
Ford is certainly pushing the envelope when it comes to electrification. The automaker has also created the Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV. (Yes, that’s really an electric SUV version of the Mustang pony car.)
But Ford won’t corner the market on electric trucks long. For the 2024 model year, Chevrolet is unleashing a Silverado EV. Who knows: Maybe by then Chevy models will be eligible for tax credits once more.
8. 2022 Kia Niro EV
Starting MSRP: $39,990
EPA-estimated range: 239 miles
Sleek crossovers are a dime a dozen, but add the electrification of the Kia Niro EV and its impressive range of 239 miles, and you’ve got something truly special.
Despite its single electric motor, the Niro EV is no slouch, cranking out 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque. Plus, the electrified crossover offers standard driver-assist safety tech, a premium sound system, and DC fast charging that adds 100 miles of range in just 30 minutes.
Though the 2022 Kia Niro EV is still eligible for the $7,500 credit, its starting price sits on the higher end.
9. 2022 Kia EV6
Starting MSRP: $40,230
EPA-estimated range: 310 miles
Kia likes to keep its electric price tag high, that’s for sure. But at 310 miles of electric range, the 2022 Kia EV6 crossover (with an admittedly unique, though not unattractive shape) may be worth every penny.
Perhaps the most impressive stat for the 2022 Kia EV6: You can get 217 miles of range off a DC fast charge of only 18 minutes.
Oh, and did we mention that it launches from 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds? That’s faster than a Porsche Cayenne, for reference.
10. 2022 Volkswagen ID.4
Starting MSRP: $41,230
EPA-estimated range: 280 miles
Closing out our top 10 list with a pretty steep price tag (though still much more affordable than a Tesla Model S) is the 2022 Volkswagen ID.4. This electric crossover boasts 280 miles on a single charge and, with fast charging, can get 70 miles of range in just 10 minutes.
Its current downfall (besides the price)? The ID.4 is currently taking about four months from reservation to delivery.
How Electric Car Tax Credits Work
Back in 2010, the federal government introduced a program awarding customers $7,500 in tax credits for purchasing electric vehicles. The goal was to incentivize buyers — whose major hesitations were price and range — to give EVs a shot.
So if a new electric vehicle cost $50,000 and came with a $7,500 tax credit, EV buyers could think of it as a $42,500 purchase.
Of course, customers have to pony up (or finance) the whole $50K when making the purchase, but when filing taxes, drivers could add a one-time tax credit to their return.
The current federal tax credit legislation limits automakers to 200,000 EVs before their tax credits go away.
At publication, both General Motors and Tesla have sold more than 200,000 EVs, so drivers who buy an electric model from either carmaker can’t get the credit. Toyota is likely to hit 200,000 within the next month.
Military Discounts on Electric Cars
Many automakers offer military discounts on their entire lineup, including EVs, which makes it easier for active duty members of the military, veterans and their immediate family to find affordable fully electric vehicles.
Though the programs vary, they typically entail a $500 rebate or bonus cash.
If you’re a member of the military exploring electric mobility, check out one of these automotive military discount programs:
How Much Does It Cost to Own an Electric Car?
New electric vehiciles are about $10,000 more than gas cars if you just look at sticker price. But that’s comparing apples to oranges. For a better comparison, factor in the full cost of ownership, from maintenance and insurance costs to federal tax rebates
When calculating how much you’ll spend on — and how much you’ll save with — an electric car, include these considerations:
Federal Tax Credits
Most EVs still come with the $7,500 credit. Many are also eligible for state and local incentives, depending on the model and your location. While you’ll still have to finance the MSRP, you can expect a nice reward come tax season.
EVs are famously less expensive to maintain because they don’t require oil changes or air filter replacements. In a given year, you could save hundreds or thousands on routine car maintenance.
That said, when electric cars need to be repaired (or the battery needs to be replaced), the work is considerably more expensive. Battery replacements can cost several thousand dollars, even more than $20K. That said, most new EVs come with an extended battery warranty that may cover your first replacement, depending on the timing.
Because electric cars are more expensive to repair, car insurance premiums tend to be more expensive. According to ValuePenguin, EV insurance policies typically cost 25% more.
Gas cars require, well, gas — and it isn’t cheap. Electric cars, on the other hand, are powered by, well, an electric motor. And recharging that electric motor at home is much more affordable than buying a tank of gas. Sure, your monthly utility bill will go up, but the cost is negligible compared to what drivers are spending each month on fuel.
You should, however, factor in the installation of a charging station at your home when considering a new or used EV purchase. Depending on your setup, expect to spend $1,000 to $2,000 on your at-home charging station — but some automakers (like Chevy) will pay the cost for you.
Contributor Timothy Moore is a writer and editor in Cincinnati, Ohio. He focuses on banks, loans and insurance for The Penny Hoarder. His work has been featured on Debt.com, Sound Dollar, Glassdoor, WDW Magazine, Angi, HomeAdvisor and The News Wheel.