The 5 best affordable electric cars of 2022 (2022)

Electric vehicles (EVs) can help your household save $1,000 in fuel per year, on average. They're cheaper to maintain than fossil fuel-powered vehicles, as they don't need oil changes and have single-speed transmissions and regenerative brakes.

See also

The 5 best electric cars: Plus, the cheapest EV available What is the best electric car? The Tesla Model 3 is ZDNet's top pick. We researched the top EV brands and compared their electric car models by factors such as innovation, affordability, energy efficiency, and more. We also found the best cheap electric car and other honorable mentions. Read now

They're also some of the safest cars to drive, with EVs like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 receiving five-star safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If you're concerned about air pollution from cars, EVs are the way to go. While vehicles running on gasoline emit about 11,000 pounds of CO2 equivalent annually, all-electric vehicles emit about 4,000 pounds annually while producing zero direct emissions. Because of all of these benefits to the environment, especially when compared to alternatives, EVs are a popular buy.

Here are some of the most affordable electric cars on the market that combine functionality with safety. Most of these options meet the requirements for the federal tax credit, so they were assembled in North America and are powered by batteries with materials sourced from the US or its free trade partners. I've broken down how much you can save on each of them if you qualify.

Pros & Cons

pros

  • Considerable value
  • myChevrolet app helps you calculate when you need to charge up
  • Built-in 10.2-inch tablet with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Built-in Alexa
  • Chevy Safety Assist

cons

  • Isn't eligible for a tax credit

More Details

Features or specs

  • 120 MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent)
  • Up to 259 miles on a single charge
  • Max speed: 90.1 mph
  • Max power: 200 horsepower
  • Accelerates 0-60 in 6.5 seconds
  • Price: $26,595

The Chevy Bolt took the best affordable EV title on our overall list and it tops this one too. It's a highly efficient EV with some powerful safety features. The standard model includes Chevy Safety Assist, with front pedestrian braking, forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, distance indicator for a vehicle you're following, and auto high beams, which adjust to traffic conditions.

Don't worry about charging: Customers who purchase or lease a 2022 or 2023 Bolt EV or EUV will get a free home charging station. Chevy covers the installation of a Level 2 (240-volt) charging outlet at your home, which means faster and more convenient charging. There are also more than 40,000 public charging stations.

Unfortunately, you can't get a $7,500 EV tax credit with the Bolt because Chevy reached its cap of 200,000 credits on the 2022 and 2023 models of the EV and EUV. Still, the Bolt's sticker price is low for a dependable car.

Pros & Cons

pros

  • Price could be lower after potential federal tax credit
  • Safety features
  • Slightly more horsepower than the Bolt
  • Standard six-speaker audio system
  • Comes with an eight-year/100,000 miles limited lithium-ion battery warranty
(Video) Top 10 Electric Vehicles for ANY Budget in 2022

cons

  • Slightly less miles on a single charge than the Bolt

More Details

Features or specs

  • 121 MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent)
  • Up to 212 miles on a single charge (with 60 kWh battery)
  • Max speed: 106 mph (on the SV Plus)
  • Max power: 214 horsepower
  • Accelerates 0-60 in 7.4 seconds
  • Price: $27,800 ($20,300 after full federal tax credit)

The Nissan Leaf comes in two models: the S and the SV Plus -- and both are eligible for the full federal tax credit. The standard Leaf S has a 40 kWh battery, meaning a range of 149 miles per full charge, and goes from 0 to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds. The SV Plus has a more powerful 60 kWh battery and a higher range per full charge -- up to 212 miles. You're covered for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first, under a warranty that will take care of any defects in the materials or workmanship of your car battery.

Another feature included with both the S and SV Plus is an 8-inch display that can be integrated with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can also remotely start a charge, check on how much your Leaf has charged, and turn on the heat or A/C.

The e-Pedal function allows you to start, accelerate, decelerate, and stop by using the accelerator pedal. For safety, there's automatic emergency braking that detects pedestrians, warnings for lane departures, blind spot warnings based on radar, rear cross traffic alert warnings, high beam assist, rear automatic braking, and more.

The SV Plus comes with Nissan's semi-autonomous driving mode with ProPILOT Assist.

Pros & Cons

pros

  • Eligible for federal tax credit
  • BMW Ultimate Care warranties
  • Active protection system
  • BMW Assist eCall feature
  • 10-speaker sound system
  • Acceleration, speed, and horsepower are impressive

cons

  • Higher price point

More Details

Features or specs

  • Max speed: 130 mph
  • Max power: 288 horsepower
  • Accelerates 0-60 in 5.6 seconds
  • Price: $43,300 ($37,464 after partial federal tax credit)

The BMW 330e sedan maximizes performance and efficiency with a total power output of 288 horsepower. It also prioritizes safety with an active protection system that detects accidents and automatically prepares for them by closing the windows and moonroof, pre-tensioning safety belts, and activating post-crash braking. You can use the BMW Assist eCall feature for any emergency requests.

This vehicle comes with luxury touches, including power-folding, heated side mirrors, and a better-than-the-standard 10-speaker sound system. The windshield wipers are rain-sensing, and the two-way glass moonroof activates with just a touch. The vehicle and key memories are better than your average car's -- they stores your most recently used temperature, lighting, mirror, and other preferences for a seamless ride.

The 330e sedan starts at $43,300 without including a federal tax credit (which is capped at around the $5,800 mark). You're covered under BMW Ultimate Care, which includes an 8-year/80,000-mile high-voltage battery warranty.

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(Video) Best Electric Cars 2022 (Under $50k)

Pros & Cons

pros

  • 7,700 towing capacity
  • 15.5-inch touchscreen
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • Phone as a key
  • Automatic software downloads
  • Hands-free driving

cons

  • Higher price point

More Details

Features or specs

  • Up to 230 miles on a single charge
  • Max speed: 120 mph
  • Max power: 452 horsepower
  • Accelerates 0-60 in 4 seconds
  • Price: $39,974 ($32,474 after full federal tax credit)

This six-seater F-150 is also eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit. It has a towing capacity of 7,700 pounds, a 15.5-inch touchscreen, a B&O sound system, plenty of safety features, and a phone-as-a-key capability.

The FordPass app is central to this experience. You always know how much charge is left on your battery through the app. You can use the app to earn points towards maintenance, and you can even start/stop, lock/unlock, schedule a start, and locate your vehicle from the app.

BlueOval charge network includes more than 75,000 chargers across North America -- so if you're on the road, you can find a charger on the way.

Ford BlueCruise hands-free driving works with a camera that faces the driver: You can take your hands off of the wheel for more than 130,000 miles of highways in North America.

When it comes to safety, pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking, auto high-beam headlamps, and intelligent adaptive cruise control are just a few included features.

Pros & Cons

pros

  • Google built-in
  • Air purifier
  • Bowers & Wilkins audio system

cons

  • More expensive

More Details

Features or specs (for the Recharge)

  • 74 MPGe (miles per gallon of gasoline-equivalent)
  • Max speed: 112 mph
  • Max power: 455 horsepower
  • Accelerates 0-60 in 4.3 seconds
  • Price: $41,300 ($33,800 after full federal tax credit)

This list is all about electric cars, but the Volvo S60 at a price point of $41,300 had to make an appearance. It's on the list of cars eligible for the tax credit, and you don't even have to plug it in. You'll reduce tailpipe emissions (fully electric cars eliminate them altogether) and reduce fuel consumption. The car comes with an air purifier and a Bowers & Wilkins audio system, and it has Google Maps, Google Assistant, and Google Play built-in.

The 2022 Extended Range model is eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit, but if you get an older standard model, then your savings will drop to around $5,400.The S60 Recharge is more expensive at $51,250, but it's fully electric. It has 455 horsepower and similar perks to the S60. It, too, is eligible for the full $7,500 credit.

(Video) The Cheapest Electric Vehicles Available in 2022 - 2023 | Electric Car Geek

What is the best affordable electric car?

The Chevy Bolt offers considerable value for its price point, so it takes the lead for the best cheap EV. It's popular -- its sales cap has been met for the tax credit. The Nissan Leaf is another popular option, and its sales cap hasn't been met yet, so it's still eligible for the full credit. With the credit, it would be a lower price than the Bolt.

Product

Price

Max speed

Max power

Chevrolet Bolt

$26,595

90.1 mph

200 horsepower

Nissan Leaf

$27,800 ($20,300 after full federal tax credit)

106 mph

214 horsepower

BMW 330e

$43,300 ($37,464 after partial federal tax credit)

130 mph

288 horsepower

Ford F-150 LIghtning

$39,974 ($32,474 after full federal tax credit)

120 mph

452 horsepower

Volvo S60

$41,300 ($33,800 after full federal tax credit)

112 mph

455 horsepower

Which is the right affordable electric car for you?

The options below show that you don't have to sacrifice quality for affordability. If you want a rugged electric truck that can seat six people, the Ford F-150 is a dream come true. If you're more about having an air purifier and Bowers & Wilkins audio system as part of the interior, go with the Volvo S60. As of the time of writing, all of these options, except for the Chevy Bolt, qualify for the Clean Vehicle Credit under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

Choose this affordable electric car…

If you want…

Chevrolet Bolt

The best affordable EV overall

Nissan Leaf

The cheapest option with some great features

BMW 330e

A luxurious but still affordable sedan

Ford F-150 Lightning

A 6-seater truck that's fit for adventures

Volvo S60

A powerful sedan with 455 combined horsepower -- plus Google built-in and high-end audio

How did we choose these affordable EVs?

After writing about the changed considerations for the EV tax credit and looking at the manufacturers on that list, I decided to target both affordability and eligibility for the credit. I looked at different types of vehicles, including sedans and trucks, and in the honorable mentions at the end of this article, I even highlight a plug-in hybrid minivan that qualifies for the credit -- the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV. I wanted to ensure that the vehicles on this best list met the standards set by the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 and that they had quality features at an affordable price point.

How much is the federal tax credit and how does it work?

The federal EV tax credit is only available to individuals reporting adjusted gross incomes of $150,000 or less, or $300,000 for joint filers. The amount you qualify for is based on both your income tax and the size of the electric battery in the vehicle, among other factors like whether the battery components come from North America.

Language around the $7,500 credit includes things like "may" and "up to" -- so, you may qualify for up to a $7,500 in federal tax credit for your electric vehicle. If you purchased the Ford F-150 Lightning and owed $3,000 in income tax this year, then you'd receive that as a federal tax credit. If you owed $15,000 in federal income tax, you would qualify for the full $7,500 credit when doing your income taxes.

That's right, you can cut up to $7,500 off your taxes next spring if you buy an EV now.

You cannot simply go out to a dealership and expect it to give you these savings up-front. However, according to theUS Department of Energy, starting in 2024 you should be able to get your credit at the dealer.

Which electric cars qualify for the latest federal tax credit?

(Video) What’s The Best EV To Buy Right Now? Tesla Model Y vs ALL the rivals | Top Gear

Most of the EVs on this guide doqualify for the federal tax credit beginning Jan. 1, 2023. But go tofueleconomy.govto learn more about whether a specific car qualifies and how much you can save.

What are three disadvantages of an electric car?

We've talked about the good side of EVs and how they can save you money and help you lower your carbon footprint. There are disadvantages though:

  1. EV charging stations can be harder to find on the go. Chevy will install a Level 2 charging station in your home if you purchase the 2022 or 2023 Bolt EV or EUV, and other companies also provide charging stations, apps, and planning services so you can chart out where to find a charge on your next road trip.
  2. Charging times. You're not pumping gas into this car and zooming away from the gas station immediately. While the cars on this list charge pretty quickly, they aren't instantly ready to go. Some need an overnight charge. If you're someone who can never remember to charge your phone or dislike waiting in general, an EV might be difficult to get accustomed to at first. On the bright side, you don't always need to charge the car to 100% and the battery lasts for over 200 miles.
  3. Higher upfront costs. While EVs can be more expensive up front, the cost of maintaining them is lower than a car that runs on fossil fuels.

What is the lifespan of an electric car?

The lifespan of an EV depends on the battery pack. Consumer Reports estimates the average EV battery lifespan to be around 200,000 miles or 17 years of use if you drive 12,000 miles every year. The vehicles usually come with a battery warranty of at least eight years. In general, most EV batteries last between 10-20 years and after they wear out, you can choose to replace just the battery or the car itself.

What is the cost of a new battery for an electric car?

You can usually get a replacement battery at no extra cost if you're within the warranty period for your vehicle. If you're out of the warranty period, a new battery can cost up to $20,000.

Are there alternative EVs worth considering?

Of course! The first qualification for consideration on this list is final assembly in North America -- so while these vehicles might not be the cheapest of the cheap vehicles out there, they're under $50k and offer a broad range of features. With the tax credit, they come out to under $40k.

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FAQs

How much is the cheapest electric car 2022? ›

The cheapest electric cars you can buy in 2022 include the Ford F-150 Lightning, Chevy Bolt EV, and Kia EV6. The cheapest model starts at $27,400, before factoring in the federal tax credit for EV purchases.

Is it worth buying an electric car in 2022? ›

If an EV is in your price range, and range isn't going to be a problem based on typical journeys, getting an electric car is a great idea. Not only is it cheaper to run, but it's also eco-friendly, usually nippy – and a way to futureproof your transport solution for years to come.

Which is the most reliable electric car? ›

The 11 most reliable electric cars
  • Hyundai Kona Electric (2018-present) Reliability rating: 89.1% ...
  • Renault Zoe (2013-present) Reliability rating: 89.4% ...
  • BMW i3 (2013-2022) ...
  • Nissan Leaf (2019-present) ...
  • Tesla Model 3 (2019-present) ...
  • Kia e-Niro (2019-2022) ...
  • Volkswagen e-Golf (2013-2020) ...
  • MG ZS EV (2019-present)
12 Oct 2022

Is it worth buying a electric car? ›

But a 2020 Consumer Reports analysis found “owning an electric vehicle will save the typical driver $6,000 to $10,000 over the life of the vehicle, compared to owning a comparable gas-powered vehicle.” That's taking into account fuel, maintenance and repair costs, as well as purchase price, financing and resale value.

How long do electric cars last? ›

Both of the mandated warranty numbers (8 years, 100,000 miles) for EV batteries far exceed the average ICE vehicle drivetrain warranty of 5 years or 60,000 miles. The average lifetime mileage of an ICE vehicle is about 133,000 miles.

What is the number 1 selling electric car? ›

#1 – Tesla Model Y

This compact SUV outsold the Model 3 and the company doubled production on the Model Y in 2022. The sure-footed sibling to the Model 3 is seriously quick, an electric sports car in a crossover body.

How long do EV batteries last? ›

“Today, most EV batteries have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years within the car – and a second life beyond.” It's also worth noting that EV battery technology is still evolving, so as tech develops we expect batteries' lifespan to increase – as well as becoming cheaper, smaller and even lighter.

What is the disadvantages of electric cars? ›

These disadvantages include finding charging stations, charging times, higher initial costs, limited driving range, and battery packs can be expensive to replace.

What stops buying electric cars? ›

“In a recent survey, we found that the upfront cost of buying an EV is the biggest barrier preventing drivers from considering an electric vehicle – and this latest energy price rise could further prevent people from making the switch.”

Are electric cars worth it for low mileage? ›

An electric car makes for a great commuter vehicle. If you only travel a few miles to and from work an EV will suit you down to the ground. You'll save a fortune on fuel, and the lower range won't even matter. In fact, if you commute a total of 30-40 miles a day, you'll probably only have to charge up once a week.

Do electric cars break down less? ›

Electric cars are overall less likely to break down compared to gas-powered cars because they are less mechanically complex. With an electric car you won't need to: Perform fluid changes such as engine oil. Replace brakes as often due to regenerative braking.

How long should a Tesla battery last? ›

According to Elon Musk on Twitter, Tesla car batteries are supposed to technically last for 300,000 to 500,000 miles, which is 1,500 battery cycles. That's between 22 and 37 years for the average car driver, who, according to the Department of Transportation, drives about 13,500 miles per year.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car at home? ›

Using the U.S. household average from June 2022 of about 15 cents per kWh, it would cost about $59 per month to charge an electric car.

Is EV charging cheaper than gas? ›

Charging an EV at home is significantly less expensive than fueling up with gasoline, and it's also drastically cheaper than using a public charging station.

How much cheaper is it to drive an electric car? ›

Overall, as of March 2022, driving an EV is dramatically cheaper per mile than driving a gas-powered vehicle. Nationally, EVs are 3-5 times cheaper to drive per mile than gas-powered vehicles. In Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, some EVs are 5–6 times cheaper to drive.

Are electric cars affected by cold weather? ›

How Much Range is Lost? Cold temperatures do affect electric vehicles and steal some of their range. The amount of range lost depends on many factors such as the car itself, its potential range in normal weather, and whether the heat is on.

What happens if my electric car runs out of battery? ›

Reviewed by Shannon Martin, Licensed Insurance Agent. If you're driving an electric car and it runs out of power, the short and simple answer is this: the car will stop—and you'll need to call roadside assistance to get towed to the nearest charging station.

What is the cost to replace the battery in an electric car? ›

Experts say electric vehicle batteries typically cost between $2,000 and $10,000 to replace, but some are more expensive. Electric vehicles are growing in popularity worldwide, with sales doubling in 2021 to a new record of 6.6 million, the International Energy Agency said in May.

What is the cheapest electric car in the world? ›

Cheapest Electric Cars
  • 2022 Nissan Leaf. Starting price: $27,400 EV Range: 149 miles. ...
  • 2022 Mini Cooper SE. Starting price: $29,900 EV Range: 114 miles. ...
  • 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV. ...
  • 2022 Mazda MX-30. ...
  • 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric. ...
  • 2022 Kia EV6. ...
  • 2022 Volkswagen ID. ...
  • Compare Cheapest Electric Cars.
22 Mar 2022

What is the cheapest Tesla? ›

The 2022 Tesla Model 3 has an official starting price of $46,990 for its base rear-wheel drive (RWD) trim. This makes it the cheapest Tesla car currently offered. The Model 3 is Tesla's cheapest vehicle.

Who can afford an electric car? ›

Clean Vehicle Assistance and most Clean Cars 4 All programs accept applications from residents with incomes at or below 400% of the federal poverty level — equivalent to $54,360 for an individual. (The U.S. Senate also appears poised to enact a $7,500 federal tax credit for individuals with incomes less than $150,000.)

Is it free to charge an electric car? ›

Charging your electric car while out and about is a great way to top up your battery and many locations offer free charging to their customers or visitors. On most modern networks you can use a free-to-download mobile app to find chargepoints and start your charge.

How much is a battery for an electric car? ›

Depending on the vehicle, a battery will cost between $3,000 and $18,000 for an electric car. Here are the costs of a battery replacement for some popular electric vehicles (EVs):

How long do EV batteries last? ›

“Today, most EV batteries have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years within the car – and a second life beyond.” It's also worth noting that EV battery technology is still evolving, so as tech develops we expect batteries' lifespan to increase – as well as becoming cheaper, smaller and even lighter.

Are Teslas expensive to fix? ›

Yes, Tesla vehicles are quite expensive to fix. According to RepairPal, the average yearly Tesla maintenance cost is about $832 per year. The average among all car brands was a much lower $652 per year. Teslas also have the third-worst reliability score among all automakers.

How much is a Tesla battery replacement? ›

Tesla battery replacement cost varies depending on the labor and parts needed. Typically, the most basic battery replacement in tesla costs between $13,000 and $14,000. For the Model S premium sedan, replacing a Tesla battery costs around $13,000-$20,000.

How many years does a Tesla battery last? ›

According to Elon Musk on Twitter, Tesla car batteries are supposed to technically last for 300,000 to 500,000 miles, which is 1,500 battery cycles. That's between 22 and 37 years for the average car driver, who, according to the Department of Transportation, drives about 13,500 miles per year.

What is the average income of an electric car owner? ›

The average EV owner continues to be male, aged 40-55 years old, with an annual household income of more than $100,000 (2019). Mileage driven, however, has increased from 100 miles to 250 miles a week over the years. EV fleet sales are expected to grow in the upcoming years, driven by state mandates.

Why electric cars will never take over? ›

Consumers can't service or repair their EVs

EVs need regular maintenance, maybe not as much as gasoline-powered vehicles, but they also need maintenance and repairs. You can't perform this maintenance in your driveway because of the technology involved, which means taking your EV to the shop every time.

How long does it take to charge an electric car? ›

Summary. The time it takes to charge an electric car can be as little as 30 minutes or more than 12 hours. This depends on the size of the battery and the speed of the charging point. A typical electric car (60kWh battery) takes just under 8 hours to charge from empty-to-full with a 7kW charging point.

Can you plug an electric car into a regular outlet? ›

You can charge your electric car using standard 120 volt(V) home outlets (Level 1), 208-240V outlets like those used by your dryer (Level 2), or dedicated 480V+ public fast chargers (DC Fast Charging). The time it takes to charge using each of these three options depends on your drive and the size of the battery.

How long does it take to charge an electric car at a petrol station? ›

But generally speaking, a fast charger can fill most batteries to 80% in less than an hour, and sometimes in less than half an hour.

Is it cheaper to charge an electric car at home? ›

Although the upfront cost of an electric vehicle is often higher, EVs can be cheaper to run, due to the lower cost of electricity compared to petrol or diesel. Recharging at home (overnight) will normally result in the greatest cost savings.

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