The Cheapest Electric Cars You Can Buy in 2022

The Cheapest Electric Cars You Can Buy in 2022

man charging a chevrolet bolt ev car

Chevrolet

Electric cars have become a byword for expensive vehicles. There’s some merit to that. Battery technology isn’t cheap. Electric cars — not building on a century of combustion engine development — require more research and development. An electric car will likely be significantly more expensive than its combustion counterpart. But that’s not the whole story.

The average price Americans pay for a new car is around $47,000. And you can buy several electric vehicles for much less than that. Not all of them will offer spectacular range or the amenities one would find in a similarly priced ICE vehicle. But all of them allow you to avoid paying crazy high prices at the pump.

What to watch out for when buying a cheap electric car

Range: Lower-range EVs are workable in theory. Most drivers — even in the suburbs — don’t drive 100 miles daily. But you typically only charge an EV to 80-90% except in rare circumstances. Cold weather can sharply reduce the range.

Tax Credits: Some (but not all) EVs are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. That tax credit is non-refundable† So, you must owe $7,500 on your taxes to get back the total credit. On the other side, some states offer additional tax credits on top of the federal incentives that can make the price even cheaper.

What State You Live In: Not all EVs are sold in every state. Manufacturers may prioritize California and states that follow the California Air Resources Board (CARB) that require manufacturers to sell them over other states

The Cheapest Electric Cars You Can Buy in 2022

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The Nissan Leaf was the first mass-market EV to hit the market back in 2010. It set a paradigm for what people thought they would be dealing with when they bought an electric vehicle — small size, dorky looks, underwhelming performance and low range. Fast forward to 2022, and you can score a Leaf with more than double the horsepower and triple the range of the original.

Starting MSRP: $27,000
EPA Range: Up to 226 miles
Federal Tax Credit: Yes — $7,500

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Chevy markets the Bolt subcompact hatchback as “electric for everyone.” It provides the range buyers want at a price point that — even without eligibility for the federal tax credit — most buyers can afford. It’s refreshed for 2022 with a sleeker exterior, more standard features and an even more affordable price point.

Starting MSRP: $31,500
EPA Range: 259 miles
Federal Tax Credit: no

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Like the Bolt but don’t think it has enough space? Meet the all-new Bolt EUV. It’s about six inches longer than the Bolt, with some added leg room. The looks are a tad more SUV-like. However, it’s also more expensive and offers a bit less range. The Bolt EUV was the first Chevy vehicle to receive Super Cruise hands-free driving.

Starting MSRP: $33,500
EPA Range: 247 miles
Federal Tax Credit: no

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Mazda won’t explicitly call the MX-30 a compliance car to meet CARB requirements. But California is currently the only state where you can buy one. Like other Mazda’s, the MX-30 is tuned very well for driving and has an excellent interior. But it’s distinctly lacking in Zoom Zoomand only 100 miles of range is a killer.

Starting MSRP: $33,470
EPA Range: 100 miles
Federal Tax Credit: Yes — $7,500

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2022 Hyundai Kona Electric

The Kona Electric is a battery-electric version of Hyundai’s Kona subcompact crossover. It was a reviewer favorite when it came out, with excellent balance and nearly 300 lb-ft of torque. However, most buyers will level up to the latest generation of more polished, powerful and spacious EVs like the Ioniq 5.

Starting MSRP: $34,000
EPA Range: 258 miles
Federal Tax Credit: Yes — $7,500

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The Mini Electric — aka the Mini Cooper SE — is a battery-electric version of the third-gen Mini Hardtop. It borrows some components from the BMW i3. It delivers the style the brand has become known for. But its range limits it to being a city car — and probably a warm weather one.

Starting MSRP: $34,225
EPA Range: 110 miles
Federal Tax Credit: Yes — $7,500

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2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

The F-150 Lightning is the battery-electric version of Ford’s iconic F-150 pickup. The base Pro version, at least nominally, starts under $40,000. Interior amenities are basic. And you’re limited to the 230-mile Standard Range battery pack. But it still comes standard with dual-motor AWD, a 12-inch touchscreen and Ford’s Pro Power Onboard.

Starting MSRP: $39,947
EPA Range: up to 320 miles
Federal Tax Credit: Yes — $7,500

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Hyundai released the Ioniq 5, which is striking to look at, lovely to drive and more spacious than you would presume by looking at it. And it swept awards for World Car, World Electric Car and World Car Design of the year. The SE Standard Range base model starts under $40,000 and offers 168 horsepower and 220 miles of range. Most buyers will pay an extra $4,000 to level up to the SE trim with 225 hp and 303 miles of range.

Starting MSRP: $39,950
EPA Range: up to 303 miles
Federal Tax Credit: Yes — $7,500

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The Kia Niro EV is the battery-electric version of Kia’s Niro compact crossover. It shares powertrain components with the Hyundai Kona Electric. The Niro is bigger and offers more cargo and passenger space than the Kona. But it also delivers about 20 miles less range. Kia does have an updated Niro EV coming for the 2023 model year.

Starting MSRP: $39,990
EPA Range: 239 miles
Federal Tax Credit: Yes — $7,500

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Kia calls the EV6 a sport crossover. It’s technically classified as a wagon. But whatever the genre, the EV6 is brilliant and was an easy choice for our Best Cars You Can Buy in 2022 list. Like the Ioniq 5 it shares powertrain components with, the base model Light RWD EV6 has a detuned 168 hp motor with 232 miles of range.

Starting MSRP: $40,900
EPA Range: up to 310 mi
Federal Tax Credit: Yes — $7,500

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Other manufacturers looked to the future with their first EVs. VW kept it rather conventional with the ID.4 crossover, which looks like a VW crossover that happens to be electric. The ID.4 is not the flashiest EV, but it handles well with a low center of gravity and — unlike a lot of EVs — offers about 64 cubic feet of cargo space. The base model is the long-range model with 275 miles of range.

Starting MSRP: $41,230
EPA Range: up to 275 miles
Federal Tax Credit: Yes — $7,500

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The 34 Electric Cars We’re Most Excited to Drive in the Future

The next few years will be packed with new EVs. These are the ones that have us jazzed the most.

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