Are There Any Cheap Electric Cars?


On the cusp of needing to own a car for the first time in 10 years, I set out to learn everything I could about affordable electric cars.

I haven’t owned a car for 10 years. In NYC, they are expensive, noisy and generally a pain to own, so not surprisingly I had about a hundred other better uses of my money than owning a depreciating asset.

Recently, however, we decided to purchase a vehicle and so naturally I wanted to learn everything possible about the car market. In particular, I wondered if the electric car market had sufficiently advanced that I could purchase a cheap electric vehicle. Here is the results of my research.

The concept of electric cars is not new, and their history goes way back to the 19th century. A Scottish chemist, William Morrison, developed the first electric car in 1890-91, capable of reaching 23km/hour. But electric cars are still emerging, and their use is not very common. The technology used in modern electric cars is relatively new, and they’re more expensive than diesel or petrol cars. That’s why the very first thing that comes to most people’s minds is the extra upfront cost whenever they hear anything about electric cars. 

Ten years ago, only a handful of electric cars were available in the market, such as Nissan Leaf, Reva G-Wiz. The mile range of these electric cars was very low. Over the course of the past ten years, electric car technology has developed substantially, and now there are many affordable and efficient options. According to one study, there are about 600,000 all-electric cars in California alone and the state is moving to all electric vehicles in the next 15 years.

It suggests that more people are now opting for electric cars because of their environmental and financial benefits. In this article, we’ll discuss the cheapest electric vehicles available in the market with their features and other important information.

So, without any further ado, let’s get into it.

Nissan Leaf

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The electric vehicles market is filling with new electric cars, which are splashy and expensive such as Porsche Taycan, Tesla Model 3, Audi e-Tron, Jaguar I-Pace (there’s actually one of these down the street from me), etc. Additionally, the other big players of the automobile industry, such as Toyota and Ford, are also planning to join the electric vehicles industry with their new cars. 

It makes it very easy to forget that the most affordable EVs, and one of the most compelling and smart options for affordable electric cars, is Nissan Leaf. Nissan has been providing all-electric cars since 2010, and the Nissan Leaf 2020 has emerged well, and it’s now relatively affordable, roomy, and equipped with modern technology. If you compare it with its rivals such as KIA Niro EV and Chevrolet Bolt, the Nissan Leaf matches up head to head.

Astonishingly, it offers the autopilot feature just like Tesla all-electric motors but at a significantly low price.

Nissan has also added many new driver assistance features in its 2020 model. Some of the common features such as emergency braking on pedestrian detection, automatic warnings, automatic blind-spot monitoring, etc. were optional last year. Now the users get all of these features in the standard model. The 2020 model also offers apple CarPlay, 8.0 inches infotainment display, and Android auto integration.

Nissan Leaf features

  • Vehicle Type: Front-wheel-drive, Front-motor, Four-door, Five-passenger hatchback
  • Motor Type: Synchronous AC motor with permanent magnet
  • Torque: 251lb-ft
  • Displacement Power: 215 hp
  • Battery: Lithium-Ion 62.0 kWh battery pack (can be charged with 120- or 240-volt standard power outlet)
  • Transmission: 1-Speed Direct Drive 
  • Tires: P205/55R16 All-season tires, P215/50R17 All-season, and tires Tire repair kit
  • Brakes F/R: Rear and front vented disc brakes, 4-wheel ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brakeforce Distribution)
  • Suspension F/R: Independent strut front suspension, front and rear stabilizer bars, Torsion beam rear suspension
  • Fuel Economy (EPA): City-114, Combined-104, Highway-94 MPGe
  • Range: 215 miles with a single charge

Price

Nissan Leaf 2020 starting price is $31,600.

Driver assistance, tech, and safety features

Nissan Leaf performs well in the side-impact and moderate-overlap crash tests administered by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for High Safety). At the same time, the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has not yet tested the safety of Nissan Leaf 2020. The key safety, tech, and driver assistance features of Nissan Leaf 2020 are as followed:

  • 8.0 inches touchscreen, Bose audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • One USB-C port and three standard USB ports
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Camera system to provide surround-view
  • Automatic forward collision alert, pedestrian detection, emergency front braking, emergency rear braking, blind-spot monitoring, warning for lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist, rear-cross traffic alert and high beam assist.
  • Nissan Safety Shield 360 suite for driver assistance
  • Semi-autonomous driving mode
  • DC fast-charging capability.

Maintenance and warranty support

The maintenance and warranty coverage of Nissan is pretty much the same for all the Nissan vehicles. The most significant warranty and maintenance features that Nissan Leaf offers are as followed:

  • Eight years of battery warranty or up to 100,000 miles
  • Three years of limited warranty or up to 36,000 miles
  • Five years of powertrain warranty or up to 60,000 miles
  • No complimentary maintenance supports

Federal and state tax credit for Nissan Leaf

The qualified Nissan Leaf 2020 gets the federal tax credit up to $7,500 (which is a big deal). There are also various state tax credits available depending upon the programs available in your state, meaning you can get a Nissan Leaf for ~$20,000.

The Nissan Leaf undoubtedly is one of the most suitable and affordable EVs that are successfully facilitating the adoption of electric cars for thousands of people. Any person who is looking for an all-electric family car can opt for Nissan Leaf without having any second thoughts.

Hyundai Kona Electric

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Hyundai has some very sophisticated cars and to compete with the electric vehicles market, Hyundai Kona Electric was first launched in 2019. It’s exactly the same Hyundai Kona SUV model with a battery and electric motor. The latest model, Hyundai Kona Electric 2020, is even more compelling as they improved on the 2019 model. This is the car that I almost purchased (but ultimately decided to wait on purchasing an electric vehicle as our second vehicle purchase if and when that happens).

Hyundai Kona Electric 2020: What’s New?

Pretty much all the specs and features of Hyundai Kona Electric 2020 are the same, with the exception of some minor changes. Ultimate and limited models of this electric car now offer a battery warmer system. Not only does it preserve the long-range (especially in cold weather), which is 258 miles with a single charge, but it also improves the battery charging time. Additionally, the ultimate model of Hyundai Kona Electric 2020 is now equipped with an infotainment touchscreen of 10.3 inches.

Hyundai Kona Electric Features

  • Vehicle Type: Front-wheel-drive, Front-motor, Four-door, Five-passenger hatchback
  • Motor Type: Synchronous AC motor with permanent magnet
  • Torque: 290lb-ft
  • Displacement Power: 201 hp
  • Battery: Lithium-Ion 64.0 kWh battery pack (can be charged with 120 or 240-volt standard power outlet)
  • Transmission: Single-Speed Direct Drive 
  • Tires: Nexen N’Priz AH8, 215/55R-17 94V M+S
  • Brakes F/R: 12.0-in vented disc/11.8-in disc
  • Suspension F/R: Struts/Multilink
  • Fuel Economy (EPA): City-132, Combined-120, Highway-108 MPGe
  • Range: 258 miles with a single charge

Price

The Hyundai Kona Electric 2020 starting price is $37,190.

Driver assistance, tech, and safety features

The Hyundai Kona Electric 2020 has the same body as the Hyundai Kona SUV. The simple SUV model performed very well in the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), and NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) administered crash tests. That’s why the electric model has not been tested again, but it’s likely to perform the same. There are three different models of Hyundai Kona Electric 2020, and some of the most significant tech, safety, and driver assistance features are as followed:

  • 7.0/10.25 inch-standard/ultimate touch screen 
  • Apple car play and Android auto
  • Two additional USB ports
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • Forward collision alert
  • Automatic emergency front braking, lane departure warning, Lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, and driver attention warning.
  • DC fast-charging capability
  • Automatic Adaptive cruise control (Only in the ultimate model)
  • Automatic Pedestrian-detection technology (Only in the ultimate model)

Maintenance and warranty support

Hyundai recently added a three year up to 36,000 miles maintenance service for free that includes air-filter change, tire rotation, and some common system inspections. It makes Hyundai one of the only companies to provide the maintenance services that other rival EVs such as KIA Niro EV, Fiat 500e can’t beat. The warranty coverage has the following features:

  • Five years of limited warranty or up to 60,000 miles
  • Ten years of powertrain warranty or up to 100,000 miles
  • Ten years of battery warranty or up to 100,000 miles
  • Three years of complimentary maintenance support or up to 36,000 miles

Federal Tax Credit for Hyundai Kona Electric

The qualified Hyundai Kona Electric 2020 gets the federal tax credit up to $7,500. There are also various state tax credits available depending upon the programs available in your state, meaning you can get a Hyundai Kona Electric for less than $30,000.

The starting price is also very affordable as compared to the many of the electric vehicles that are currently available in the market, such as Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model X, or Jaguar I-pace, although it’s still a lot of money to drop on a new car. Will be much better when you can buy these on the used market in 3-5 years.

Chevrolet Bolt EV 2020

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Chevrolet Bolt, also known as Chevy Bolt, is one of the first long-range, affordable electric cars that came into the market back in 2016. The standard driving range of this car (259 miles) is at the top of the list, and it’s also one of the cheapest electric vehicles. There is a very vast array of tech features that the Chevy Bolt comes with. 

Chevy Bolt EV 2020: What’s New?

The latest 2020 Chevy Bolt EV model has a number of advanced features that the company has included, and the most significant one is the increased mile range. The earlier Chevy Bolt model had 239 miles range, which has now increased to 259 miles. The exact number is, of course, an estimation from the EPA (Electric Power Generation) experts. It puts Chevy Bolt ahead of its electric car rivals such as Kia Soul EV, Hyundai Ioniq Electric, BMW i3, Mini Cooper SE, and Mini Electric hatchback.

Chevy Bolt EV Features

  • Vehicle Type: Front-wheel drive, Front-motor, Four-door hatchback, five-passenger
  • Motor Type: Synchronous AC motor with permanent magnet
  • Torque: 266lb-ft at 0 rpm
  • Displacement Power: 200 hpa at 4750 rpm 
  • Battery: Lithium-Ion Liquid-cooled 66.0 kWh (Its charger can be used with 120 or 240-volt standard range plugs)
  • Transmission: 1-Speed Direct Drive
  • Tires: Michelin Energy Saver A/S Self-seal, 215/50R-17 91H TPC M+S
  • Brakes F/R: 10.9-in vented disc/10.4-in disc 
  • Suspension F/R: Struts/Multilink
  • Fuel Economy (EPA): City-127, Combined-118, Highway-108 MPGe
  • Range: 259 miles of range with a single charge

Price

The Chevrolet Bolt EV starting price is $37,495.

Driver assistance, tech, and safety features

The Chevy Bolt 2020 EV performance is up to the mark, and the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has rewarded it with a five-star rating. But bear in mind that the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) did not reward the Chevy Bolt 2020 as the top safety electric motor. The Chevy Bolt offers an all-electric hatchback along with driver assistance technology. The key tech and safety features of this electric car are as followed:

  • Bose audio system
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Two USB ports
  • Camera system to provide surround-view
  • DC fast-charging 
  • Automatic high-beam headlights, rear parking sensors, forward-collision warning, emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance and lane changing warning, rear traffic alert and blind-spot monitoring

Maintenance and warranty support

Like other electric vehicles, Chevrolet Bolt comes with some of Bolt’s electric powertrain components. Moreover, the first visit for maintenance is completely free. The main warranty and maintenance support features that the Chevy bolt’s customers get are as followed:

  • Three years of limited warranty or up to 36,000 miles
  • Five years of powertrain warranty or up to 60,000 miles
  • Eight years of hybrid components warranty or up to 100,000 miles
  • One complimentary maintenance visit

Federal Tax Credit for Chevrolet Bolt EV

At the beginning of 2019, the federal tax credit for Chevy Bolt dropped to $3,750. Later in October 2019, it further dropped to $1,875 and remained the same till March 2020. From March 2020 to up till now, there is no federal tax credit for any qualified Chevy Bolt vehicle from the GM. People can research their state rules to find out if their country/state is offering any incentives on Chevy Bolt 2020.

Chevy Bolt is undoubtedly one of the cheapest and efficient options for EVs. People who are looking for a comfortable family electric car then Chevy Bolt can undoubtedly fulfill their requirements.

KIA Niro EV 2020

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For all the people who are looking for an affordable and environmentally-friendly electric car, Kia Niro EV 2020 is a smart choice. It is the same model as Niro Hybrid with electric motor and battery as a replacement to a gasoline engine. It comes with extensive maintenance and warranty support, and its looks are very attractive as well.

KIA Niro EV 2020: What’s New?

The most noticeable change in KIA Niro EV 2020 is the front and taillight styling, and it is also equipped with 8.0/10.3- Niro Ex Trim/Niro Premium EX Trim inches screen display. 

KIA Niro EV Features

  • Vehicle Type: Front-wheel-drive, Front-motor, Four-door, Five-passenger hatchback
  • Motor Type: Synchronous AC motor with permanent magnet
  • Torque: 291lb-ft at 0 rpm
  • Displacement Power: 201 hp 8000 rpm
  • Battery: Lithium-Ion 64.0 kWh battery pack (can be charged with 120- or 240-volt standard power outlet)
  • Transmission: 1-Speed Direct Drive 
  • Tires: Michelin Primacy MXV4, 215/55R-17 94V M+S
  • Brakes F/R: 11.8-in disc/12.0-in, vented disc
  • Suspension F/R: Strut/Multilink
  • Fuel Economy (EPA): City-123, Combined-112, Highway-102 MPGe
  • Range: 239 miles with a single charge

Price

The starting price of KIA Niro EV 2020 is $39,090

Driver assistance, tech, and safety features

The IIHS crash-tested the Niro Hybrid, and they rewarded it as one of the top safety picks. But the NHTSA has neither tested the Niro plug-in Hybrid nor the KIA Niro EV, but the scores will be the same as IIHS’s tests. The main drive assistance, tech and safety features of KIA Niro EV 2020 are as followed:

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
  • 8.0/10.3 inches touchscreen
  • SiriusXM satellite radio
  • Two standard USB ports
  • Harman Kardon audio system
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Wireless phone charger
  • Adaptive cruise control, 
  • Automatic forward collision alert, pedestrian detection, emergency front braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross traffic alert, and driver attention warning.
  • DC fast-charging capability

Maintenance and warranty Support

The KIA Niro EV 2020 comes with very compelling warranty coverage. Some of the key warranty features are as followed:

  • Five years of limited warranty or up to 60,000 miles
  • Ten years of powertrain warranty or up to 100,000 miles
  • Ten years of hybrid components warranty or up to 100,000 miles
  • No complimentary maintenance supports

Federal Tax Credit for Kia Niro EV

The qualified Kia Niro EV 2020 gets the federal tax credit up to $7,500. 

KIA Niro EV 2020 can be a very good companion for the people looking for a family electric car. Although it is not the cheapest option available, its standard model comes with more functionalities and equipment as compared to many other similar EVs.

Tesla Model 3 2020

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Tesla, under the umbrella of Elon Musk’s vision, has single-handedly changed the landscape of electric cars. The electric vehicles that Tesla offers are comparatively at the top of the list when it comes to pricing. Tesla Model 3 is the least expensive one, and it is actually a surprisingly affordable way to experience the tech and functionality wonders of the world’s most advanced electric motor manufacturer if you’ve paid off your student loans, saved up six figures and feel like splurging on an electric vehicle.

Tesla Model 3, 2020: What’s New?

One of the unique and most impactful factors about Tesla that it constantly updates its electric cars by cloud-based software tweaks. The installation of a new mechanical component happens occasionally, and Tesla does not add new features and components on the basis of its new models. That’s why other than the additional charging capability by using V3 supercharger, there are no significant new upgrades that can be mentioned specifically to Tesla model 3.

Tesla Model 3 Features

  • Vehicle Type: All-wheel (RWD) or dual-motor (RWD) drive
  • Motor Type: Synchronous reluctance motor with Permanent magnet 
  • Torque: 330lb-ft/471lb-ft-RWD/AWD
  • Displacement Power: 283hp/450hp-RWD/AWD
  • Battery: Lithium-Ion 50 kWh/75kWh battery pack (can be charged with 120- or 240-volt standard power outlet)
  • Transmission: 1-speed fixed gear with 9:1 ratio
  • Tires: Michelin Pilot Sport 4 235/45 ZR18 98Y XL
  • Brakes: Regenerative Front And Rear Vented Discs, 4-Wheel Disc Brakes w/4-Wheel ABS, Brake Assist
  • Suspension F/R: Multi-Link Rear Suspension with w/Coil Springs, Double Wishbone Front Suspension with w/Coil Springs 
  • Fuel Economy (EPA): City-148, Combined-141, Highway-132 MPGe
  • Range: 250/322-Standard Range plus Version/Long-Range Versions with a single charge

Price

The starting price of Tesla Model 3 is $39,190.

Driver Assistance, Tech, and Safety Features

The electric cars from Tesla cover all the boxes, and the NHTSA has provided Tesla model 3 with the perfect five-star rating for its crash-testing. The IIHS ratings are also impressive. Which makes it a perfect all-electric car. Some of the tech, driver assistance, and safety features of this great car are listed below:

  • 100 percent self-driving capability
  • The best driver-assist system in the whole industry
  • Automatic lane changing
  • 15.4 inches touchscreen
  • Four standard USB port
  • Bluetooth media streaming
  • Two smartphone docks
  • Automated Emergency Braking
  • Adaptive cruise control
  • Autopilot (collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, automatic braking)
  • Satellite maps featuring live traffic
  • Karaoke
  • Video streaming
  • Stop sign and traffic light reading 
  • Auto park capability

Maintenance and warranty support

Tesla’s warranty and maintenance coverage are one of the longest ones in the whole EVs industry. The most significant warranty and maintenance features are listed below: 

  • Four years of limited warranty or up to 50,000 miles
  • Eight years of powertrain warranty or up to 100,000 miles
  • No complimentary maintenance supports

Federal Tax Credit for Tesla Model 3

As 2020 started, the federal tax credit for the Tesla Model 3 model dropped to zero, which is a bummer.

Tesla undoubtedly is the number one player in the EVs industry. The main intention to launch Tesla Model 3 was to make Tesla’s electric cars accessible to as many people as possible.

These are the cheapest options I could find for electric cars. As mentioned the article, electric cars are cheaper and easier to maintain and so can be a good play for saving money in the long-term. Ultimately, we did not purchase an electric vehicle this time around as I wanted to buy something used and the used market for electric vehicles didn’t have anything that I felt would provide us with the range and comfort we’d need. If we purchase a second vehicle, I think it might be something like a used Nissan Leaf so we can get used to owning an electric vehicle and use it for small trips around the city.

Joshua Holt

Joshua Holt A practicing private equity M&A lawyer and the creator of Biglaw Investor, Josh couldn’t find a place where lawyers were talking about money, so he created it himself. He convinces the student loan refinancing companies to give you cashback bonuses for refinancing your student loans and looks forward to you discovering how easy it is to track your net worth with a free tool like Personal Capital.

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