At a glance

  • Electric cars have a reputation for being more expensive than petrol or diesel-powered alternatives
  • But there’s a growing number of EVs which are starting to compete on price
  • Find out why EVs are currently more expensive, and how that’s changing
  • Learn about 10 of the best electric cars for those on a budget, hand-picked by our experts


If you’re looking to buy an electric vehicle, one of the first things you’ll notice is that they cost more than equivalent petrol or diesel cars. Prices from NimbleFins, show that when bought new, even the cheapest EVs cost over £22k in today’s market. By comparison, a new petrol or diesel car can start from as little as £12,000. That’s a huge difference, so it’s no surprise that the cost of EVs is one of the biggest obstacles to ownership.

So, should you give up on the idea of owning an EV? Not necessarily. On the used car market, it’s much easier to find some of the best budget electric cars at more affordable prices. It’s also important to remember that the fuel, tax and running costs are all lower on EVs, so in the long term, the cost of ownership isn’t too different to a conventional car. 

To help you narrow down your options, our Motors experts have listed their top picks for the best electric cars on a budget

Why are electric cars more expensive?

Although EVs have existed for over a century, they’ve only really started to be mass-produced in the last 15 years or so. Like any new technology, it costs manufacturers more money to design and build electric vehicles compared to producing petrol or diesel cars they’ve been making for decades. However, as more and more car brands start releasing electric cars, the costs will inevitably come down, thanks to ‘economies of scale’ (the more of a thing you make, the cheaper it becomes to make). 

Besides being a new technology, there are a couple of other factors that explain why EVs are currently pricier:

  • The global pandemic: COVID-19 restricted the world’s supply chains, closing down mines and the factories that produce car parts. 
  • Lithium supply: Today’s EVs almost all use lithium-ion batteries. This is a metal that needs to be mined from the earth’s surface. There’s lots of it available, but there’s currently way more demand than there are companies able to extract and refine it. 
  • Competition: Modern electric cars have only been around for about 15 years. To begin with, only a handful of companies were producing EVs, so they could charge more for their cars because there was less competition. 

What is the lowest price electric car?

EVs are getting ever more cost-competitive with petrol and diesel-powered cars. With that in mind, what is the least expensive electric car in 2023?

New: The SmartEQ forTwo, starting from £22,225, is currently the cheapest budget EV. The Citroen AMI, starting from £7,695 is technically not a car, but a quadricycle, with the two-seater bubble being much cheaper than full EVs. 

Used: The least expensive budget electric car on our website at the time of writing is the Renault Fluence, priced at £4,995

The 10 best budget electric cars in 2023

Here’s our selection of the best electric cars for budget buyers who still want a great EV, but don’t want to break the bank.

1. Renault Zoe - Used options from £6,500

The Zoe is easily one of the best budget electric cars available today, and Renault have been regularly updating the car for over a decade, meaning they’ve learnt a lot about what works. What’s particularly impressive about this little hatchback is its range – it can do up to 238 miles on a single charge, meaning it competes well with bigger, pricier competitors. 

The Zoe is a pleasure to drive and handles city streets particularly well. All models come with a parking camera and sensors to help you squeeze into narrow parking spots, and offer a generous amount of equipment as standard. 

Despite being a budget car, it doesn’t feel ‘cheap’ inside. You get a good quality 9.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system, plus a display behind the steering wheel. The Zoe is also fairly spacious, with a decent amount of legroom for rear passengers too. 

Best Features

  • Range – Up to 238 miles
  • Battery size – Up to 52kWh
  • Doors – 5
  • Type of electric car – Small hatchback
  • Charge time – 70 mins for 0-80% (rapid), 9 hrs 30 minutes for 0-100% (home wallbox)
  • Footprint – similar to a Renault Clio

2. Nissan Leaf - Used options from £5,000

This five-door hatchback was first introduced in 2009, and has gone from strength to strength since then. As one of the world’s best-selling EVs, the Nissan Leaf is an incredibly practical electric car which offers fantastic ease of use. Another positive is that the Leaf is built in the UK, so getting spare parts might be easier than with other brands. 

As with the Zoe, being a ‘budget’ car doesn’t mean the Leaf scrimps on range. Nissan reports that recent models such as the E+ can do up to 239 miles on a single charge, which is more than enough for most trips. The car comes with generous equipment and plenty of safety features, receiving a 5-star rating from testing organisation Euro NCAP. It also gives you quite a bit of storage space – with 435 litres of boot space.

Best Features

  • Range – Up to 239 miles
  • Battery size – Up to 62kWh
  • Doors – 5
  • Type of electric car – Hatchback
  • Charge time – 60 mins for 20-80% (rapid), 7 hrs 30 minutes for 0-100% (home wallbox)
  • Footprint – Similar to a VW Golf

3. Volkswagen e-Golf - Used options from £14,000

The electric version of Volkswagen’s popular Golf is a familiar way into owning your first EV. This familiarity is part of what makes this one of the best electric budget cars. Other than the fact it doesn’t have a petrol-powered engine, it feels very similar to a traditional Golf. It’s really nice to drive, handles corners well and is pretty nippy – offering one of the better driving experiences among lower-priced EVs today. 

Inside, you’ll find a 9.2-inch touchscreen infotainment system you can connect your phone to. The interior generally feels high quality, refined and comfortable. You also get a decent amount of space in the boot (341 litres) – enough for a couple of suitcases. 

Recent editions of the e-Golf offer 144 miles of range. Not the best range on this list, but perfectly sufficient for commutes, getting around town and shorter journeys. 

Best Features

  • Range – Up to 144 miles
  • Battery size – Up to 35.8kWh
  • Doors: 5
  • Style/body – Family hatchback
  • Charge time – 45 mins for 0-80% (rapid), 5 hrs 20 minutes for 0-100% (home wallbox)
  • Footprint – very close to a petrol VW Golf

4. Citroen Ami - Used options from £7,500

Did you know, the average car in the UK only travels 20 miles per day? This is where the Citroen Ami fits in. Although it has a limited range of 46.6 miles on a single charge, it’s more than enough for most city-dwellers who just want something to nip around town in. And coming in at just £7,965 for a new model, this 2022 vehicle is clearly one of the best electric cars on a budget. We really like the bubble design of this car, with plenty of personalisation options available too. 

This is a dinky little vehicle, coming in at just 2.42 metres – which makes parking easy. It technically isn’t actually a car either (you don’t need a driving licence to own one) – rather, it’s a quadricycle. With a maximum speed of 28mph, you won’t be getting anywhere fast. But for short commutes, trips to the shops or on the school run, it’s a great option.  

Best Features

  • Range – Up to 46.6 miles
  • Battery size – Up to 5.4kWh
  • Doors – 2
  • Type of electric car – Tiny EV
  • Charge time – Four hours (0-100 per cent) with three-pin plug
  • Footprint – smaller than a Smart ForTwo

5. Hyundai Ioniq Electric - Used options from £15,000

The Hyundai Ioniq Electric is up there among the best electric cars on a budget. With used models starting from around £15,000, you get a practical, well-built EV that is especially suited to families. Although it’s a hatchback, it feels like a saloon and has a generous boot space of 357 litres – one of the biggest on this list. 

The range is good (up to 193 miles), and some of the more recent editions have higher-quality interiors and technology. There’s a big 10.25-inch display for connecting apps and your Apple/Android devices, plus Hyundai’s clever Bluelink connectivity tech – allowing you to check on the car remotely, get live traffic updates, use voice commands and more.

Best Features

  • Range – Up to 193 miles
  • Battery size – Up to 38.3kWh
  • Doors – 5
  • Style/body – Hatchback with saloon-like styling
  • Charge time – 57 minutes for 10-80% (rapid), 6hrs five minutes for 0-100% (home wallbox)
  • Footprint – similar to a Peugeot 308

6. Kia Soul EV - Used options from £11,000

The Kia Soul EV is undoubtedly one of the best budget electric cars around, with used models starting from as little as £11,000. It’s an SUV, but its funky shape and bold design mean it doesn’t look quite like anything else on the road. Inside, you get a lot of great tech – including an easy-to-use touchscreen infotainment system, adjustable seats (on some editions), DAB radio and compatibility with Apple and Android phones. It’s also very comfortable, offering a high-quality trim. 

The range of the Kia Soul EV is impressive – more recent versions can deliver up to 280 miles on a single charge. Since it’s an SUV, you get a decent amount of boot space of 314 litres, with even more if you put the seats flat – making it a very practical vehicle. 

It’s also one of the more enjoyable to drive affordable EVs, with decent acceleration, traction control (essentially, it doesn’t swing so much when turning corners) and brakes that feel less sharp than other EVs. 

Best Features

  • Range – Up to 280 miles
  • Battery size – Up to 64kWh
  • Doors – 5
  • Type of electric car- compact SUV
  • Charge time – 54 mins for 0-80% (rapid), 9 hrs 35 minutes for 0-100% (home wallbox)
  • Footprint – similar size to a Nissan Juke

7. Smart EQ ForTwo - Used options from £11,500

This compact electric car is fantastic for urban adventures, and its combination of competitive price and practicality makes it one of the best electric cars on a budget. Just like the Citroen Ami, this is a small car designed specifically for short trips around cities. Its range of 81 miles means it’s best suited to commutes, shopping trips and similar journeys – and it does this exceptionally well. The car is also only 2.7m in length – perfect for parking in tight spots. 

Inside it’s as comfortable as you could reasonably expect from such a small vehicle, with adjustable seats allowing you to find the right height. The car has an 8-inch touchscreen that you can connect with your Android or Smartphone for GPS, music and other apps. 

Best Features

  • Range – Up to 81 miles
  • Battery size – Up to 17.2kWh
  • Doors – 2
  • Style/body – Compact to-seater
  • Charge time – 40 mins for 10-80% (rapid), 3hrs 18 minutes for 0-100% (home wallbox)
  • Footprint – similar to the classic Smart ForTwo

8. BMW i3 - Used options from £11,000

The BMW i3 is easily one of the best electric budget cars, arguably being one of the best EVs ever produced. Sadly, BMW stopped production in 2022, but there are still many models available on the used market, meaning you can own a seriously innovative car with premium touches for a very reasonable price. 

Outside, it’s got a very futuristic look, including rear doors which open ‘backwards’ (with a hinge to the rear). Inside there’s loads of space for what is a fairly small car, partially thanks to its thin, yet comfortable seats. You get really good equipment – a modern infotainment system, heated front seats and BMW’s ConnectedDrive technology which provides traffic information, navigation and other handy stuff. 

The i3’s range tops out at 190 miles, best thought of as a city car you mainly use for commuting – though it can handle longer trips too. It’s nice to drive overall, handles as well as you’d expect from a BMW, and has impressive acceleration. There are sportier versions available too, including a range-extender hybrid. The compact size and shape of the i3 make parking a doddle, and its snub nose means you have a really clear view of the road.

Best Features

  • Range – Up to 190 miles
  • Battery size – Up to 42.2kWh
  • Doors – 5
  • Style/body – Five-door hatchback
  • Charge time – 40 mins, 20-80% (rapid), 6hrs, 0-100% (home wallbox)
  • Footprint – similar to Volkswagen T-Cross

9. Seat Mii Electric - Used options from £15,500

The Mii Electric is easily one of the best budget electric cars. This solid all-rounder is easy to drive, offers a reasonable amount of space inside, and gives you all the essentials you need at a competitive price. 

The Mii Electric is primarily a city car but handles b-roads and even motorways pretty well too. The range is also decent, giving you up to 161 miles on a full charge. Given its size, it still offers enough space inside for passengers – at least for shorter journeys. Up front, you get a simple analogue dial (rather than the big touch screens found in most modern cars), but if you’re happy navigating with your phone’s GPS, it’s more than enough. 

Best Features

  • Range – Up to 161 miles
  • Battery size – Up to 36.8kWh
  • Doors – 5
  • Style/body – Compact city car
  • Charge time – 40 mins for 0-80% (rapid), 4hrs for 0-100% (home wallbox)
  • Footprint – similar to a Fiat 500

10. Renault Twizy - Used options from £6,000

This funky two-seater vehicle will turn heads wherever it goes. First released in 2012, it’s stayed in production ever since and is a great example of futuristic thinking for urban mobility. Starting from £6,000 used, it’s definitely one of the best electric cars on a budget

Like the Citroen Ami, the Renault Twizy is technically a quadricycle, meaning it’s not allowed on motorways and it has a top speed of 45 miles per hour. With its 56-mile range, the Twizy is definitely designed as a city car, with some models not even coming with full doors or windows. Still, it does what it’s intended to very well – letting you zip around town and park practically anywhere. This is intentionally a compact car, so don’t expect loads of legroom or comfort. But it’ll take you to the shops, the station or the office with ease while keeping you sheltered from the elements.  

Best Features

  • Range – Up to 56 miles
  • Battery size – up to 6.1kWh
  • Doors – 2
  • Style/body – Tiny city car
  • Charge time – 3.5 hours (0-100 per cent) on three-pin plug
  • Footprint – smaller than a Smart ForTwo

The best budget electric cars

Although electric cars still have a higher upfront cost than petrol, diesel or even hybrid competitors, prices are coming down, and they’re increasingly competitive. Add in all the other savings on road tax and fuel, and that price difference gets even smaller. So, which of the best electric budget cars on this list catches your eye? 

Related articles and advice