- Renault Zoe
- Nissan Leaf
- Volkswagen e-Golf
- Citroen Ami
- Hyundai Ioniq Electric
- Kia Soul EV
- Smart EQ ForTwo
- BMW i3
- Seat Mii Electric
- Renault Twizy
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.
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
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.