Affordable Electric Cars That Fit Your Budget
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- Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD
- BMW i3
- Ford Mustang Mach E Select RWD
- Volkswagen ID.4
- Kia Niro EV
- Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus
- Hyundai Kona Electric SEL
- Chevy Bolt
- Nissan Leaf S 40 kW
- Mini Cooper SE Signature
- Range and performance
- Tax credits
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If you’re all charged up (pun very much intended) at the idea of buying an electric car, you’re in luck—here’s a list of the best low budget electric cars on the market today, from Tesla’s revolutionary Model Y SUV, to Ford’s muscular and exciting Mustang Mach E, to the tiny-but-mighty Mini Cooper SE Signature.
The days of electric cars being toys for the uber-rich are over. Improved range, better performance, less maintenance, and handy-dandy federal tax credits make electric vehicles (EVs) much more affordable for the general public.
If you can get your hands on one of these electrified (yet quiet) beasts, car insurance will be the next item on your to-do list. Lucky for you, Jerry will make insuring your environmentally-friendly ride a snap. Just take 45 seconds out of your life to sign up, and then Jerry will dazzle you with competitive quotes from the country’s top insurers, delivered straight to your smartphone screen.
So now that you’re ready to join the next generation of car insurance enthusiasts (you are a car insurance enthusiast, right?)—here’s all you need to know to snag an affordable, futuristic ride.
Tesla Model Y Long Range AWD
A fearsome electric SUV accessible to the public and featuring impressive range
You can't really go wrong with Tesla’s combination of excellent performance, loads of cool technology, and superb range—up to 326 miles on a single charge.
The Model Y features taut acceleration, a huge touchscreen, a glass roof(!), and flexibility to boot. Tesla’s SUV also features a third row of seats in case you need to cram a few extra kids in the back. We say kids because that extra row can be a bit tight, space-wise.
With the Model Y, you get driver-assist features, wireless updates, and access to Tesla’s supercharging stations (free for Tesla customers), where it will take about an hour to charge your Model Y.
The downside? No Apple CarPlay or Android Autio allowed on this ahead-of-its-time SUV.
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A small, unique, and fun electric ride featuring a beautiful interior and an unconventional, slightly offbeat exterior design
BMW’s i3 may not look the part of the Bavarian roadsters we’re used to seeing, but that’s part of its charm. The i3 features a straight-from-the-future look that’s uncommon on today’s roads, combined with the familiar interior luxury that we’ve come to expect from BMW.
The i3 is fun to drive, but lacks the sprightly-ness that BMW’s gas-powered cars are known for. As well, its range of just 153 miles per charge is on the low end of affordable electrics on the market.
BMW’s eco-ride features a ton of cargo space, but its rear seating leaves a bit to be desired in terms of legroom.
Apple CarPlay comes standard, but Android Auto is not compatible with the i3. Advanced features, such as adaptive cruise control, are also available, but you’ll have to pay extra for them.
Key Takeaway BMW’s i3 is fun and unique, but offers just 153 miles per charge, a low figure compared to its electric competitors.
Ford Mustang Mach E Select RWD
The Mustang Mach E rivals Tesla’s Model Y in the electric SUV/crossover category
What can we say? The Ford Motor Company has come a long way from its Model T days with the new Mach E, a quick, post-modern take on the electric SUV. The Mach 3 can reach 30 miles per hour in just 1.9 seconds, just a smidge behind Tesla’s SUV.
Ford’s electric SUV also features precise steering, quick cornering, and solid braking to boot, especially impressive considering the Mach E’s heft—this steed weighs in at just a shade over 4800 pounds. That’s one solid automobile!
The Mach E features rear-wheel drive and gets a not-too-shabby 230 miles per charge. As of now, it is still eligible for the $7500 federal tax credit, but you might want to act fast to get your hands on this stallion.
A twitchy, curve-loving compact SUV with solid range
Volkswagen has bet its future on an all-electric fleet, and if the ID.4 is any indication of what’s to come, the German carmaker is set for a bright, gasoline-free future.
The ID.4 sports a decent 250 miles per charge, and boasts 201 horsepower on a chassis specifically built for electric vehicles. The ID.4 is easily maneuverable, but it's also a bull—it can tow up to 2700 pounds.
Volkswagen’s electric SUV comes with a sparkling 10-inch touch screen, a heated steering wheel, heated seats, automatic rain-detecting wiper blades, and the ability to wirelessly charge your smartphone.
Curiously, the ID.4 does not feature...a volume control knob. If that’s a German design quirk we must accept along with this exciting entry to the electric market, we can live with it.
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Kia Niro EV
Featuring a spacious interior and lots of cargo space, Kia’s Niro is a good-looking SUV deserving of your attention
You’ll get about 240 miles per charge in the Kia Niro EV, along with a slew of electronic assists for the driver. If the weather’s blisteringly hot (or cold), you’ll love the Niro’s remote-start system, which will turn the cabin into a refuge from the cold or the heat. The Niro also features a nifty adaptive cruise control system, as well as standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Niro boasts a solid 64 kWh battery, which places it in line with its competition, such as Nissan’s Leaf and Hyundai’s Kona. On a 240 volt connection, it will take about 9 hours to get the Niro fully charged. However, Kia’s EV also features DC (direct current) quick charge capability—this type of charge will get your Niro to around 80% capacity in just 60 minutes.
Key Takeaway The Kia Niro is similar to Hyundai’s Kona Electric, but you can only buy the Niro in certain states.
Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus
A choice, sporty roadster bringing affordable electric (both in power source and feel) driving to the public
Tesla’s Model 3 arguably changed the public perception of what an electric car could be. In order to help the planet, you don’t need to drive a stodgy metal cube unable to go faster than 60 miles per hour. Instead, you can pilot the Model 3—an environmentally-friendly, absolute animal-on-wheels that the masses can afford.
And who wouldn’t want to drive this stylish monster? It's fast, going from 0-60 in just a hair over 5 seconds, and features easy handling and quick-turn ability. On the standard model, a full charge will get you a range of more than 260 miles, and upgrading to the long-range battery and all-wheel-drive version can get you more than 320 miles on one charge.
By now, you’ve probably heard about the inside of a Tesla, and it doesn’t disappoint. It features a beautiful, 15-inch distraction (did we say that? We meant touch screen), along with plush seats and plenty of cargo space. As with the Model Y, there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but that’s a small price to pay for the privilege of driving this electric machine.
Do note: the federal tax credit of $7500 no longer applies to Teslas.
Hyundai Kona Electric SEL
A stylish, fun-to-drive, and efficient crossover featuring loads of standard features and technology make it a bonafide competitor in the electric SUV segment
Critics love the 200-horsepower Kona Electric, and for good reason—it sports effortless acceleration and responsive handling, yet still has the feel of a luxury SUV. It also gets great range, clocking in at 258 miles on a single charge.
The base SEL model features plenty of tech to keep most drivers happy, including standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, not to mention a heated steering wheel and remote-start ability. Hyundai’s BlueLink smartphone app makes it easy to monitor and control the Kona’s functions from a distance.
The backseat is a bit tight, and if you’re looking for leather upholstery, you’ll have to upgrade to the Limited or Ultimate models. Still, for the money, the Kona SEL packs a punch.
Key Takeaway Ask your dealer about federal and state tax credits that apply to the Kona—depending on your state, you may be able to snag a better deal than previously thought.
A practical, fun, and environmentally-friendly ride made even more affordable with a federal tax credit
Chevy’s Bolt may not have the allure of a Tesla or a BMW, but this older electric still brings plenty to the table, including a peppy, eco-powertrain that brings lively acceleration.
The Bolt works beautifully as a practical, family-friendly car with a comfortable cabin and plenty of storage space. You can go far in a Bolt as well—a full charge will take you 259 miles.
Upgrading the trim level on the Bolt will get you a nicer interior, and the price hike isn’t terrible. With the aforementioned federal tax credit available, it might just be a steal.
The only knock on the Bolt? It’s safety ratings. Rival models feature better safety technology and higher ratings than Chevy’s EV.
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Nissan Leaf S 40 kW
An affordable EV that, with nightly charging, makes a great car for your everyday commute
The Nissan Leaf may look like a typical electric car, but it offers a lot, including a roomy interior, great cargo space, a solid touchscreen and infotainment system, standard driver assists, and it holds its own in traffic.
The Leaf’s range leaves something to be desired—you’ll only get 149 miles on a full charge with a standard battery. You can upgrade to a longer-range battery that will get up to 226 miles on one charge, but you’ll have to pay up to do so.
Despite its shorter range, the Leaf is a great commuter car and a comfortable, stylish ride.
Mini Cooper SE Signature
The most affordable EV available in the U.S., the Mini Cooper offers a quick ride with brisk handling, but also the shortest range of the EVs on the market
The stylish Mini Cooper remains as good-looking as ever, even as an EV—Mr. Bean’s car, this is not.
You’ll get good acceleration, nice handling ability, and lots of pep, as the Mini roars from 0-60 in about 6 seconds. Keep in mind though, the Mini is best suited for city driving, not long road trips—you’ll only go about 110 miles fully charged.
Inside, you’ll get Mini’s unique, mod interior that is more comfortable than it first appears, though sitting in the back for too long isn’t recommended if you’re somewhat tall.
You’ll need about 8 hours to fully charge a Mini with a standard, Level 2 charging station. The Mini does feature DC (direct circuit) charging capability as well, which will get your battery up to 80% after about 40 minutes.
Key Takeaway The Mini Cooper EV remains a great car to get around town with, but it's not suitable for long trips.
Today’s EVs sport better range and excellent performance
Nowadays, EVs are no gimmick—they are more practical and easier to afford than ever before due to better range, federal and state tax incentives, and performance that ranges from good to fantastic.
EVs are no slouches in the looks department, either. For one, they look like real cars, as some EVs are built on the same platforms as gas-powered models. Even the ones with specially designed electric platforms, such as Volkswagen’s ID.4, look like they are straight from another planet—so, in other words, awesome.
Some electrics, such as Nissan’s Leaf and the Mini Cooper, have shorter ranges and are thus best driven in cities. Others, such as Tesla’s Model Y, sport fantastic range abilities and are more than capable of taking you on long-distance drives. Of course, that capability comes with a cost—a Tesla will take a bigger chunk out of your wallet than other affordable electric cars.
Today’s electrics feature much better-charging capabilities than earlier versions, and tend to perform better than gas guzzlers. Also, EVs tend to age better over time—they’re more efficient and will likely require less maintenance than a gas-powered automobile.
Federal tax credits are very helpful
Depending on the state you live in, the car model you're interested in, and if you qualify, a $7500 federal tax credit could knock an EV’s price down significantly.
By using a tax credit, you’ll likely be able to get an EV for less than $50,000. You might even be able to combine the federal tax credit with state incentives as well, depending on where you live and the electric car you’re interested in.
One thing to keep in mind—the federal tax credit is not applicable to all electric cars. Once a car company sells more than 200,000 electric vehicles, federal tax credits are phased out, as is the case for Tesla currently.
Be sure to check with your accountant to make sure you can claim a federal tax benefit on an electric car.
Key Takeaway While laws are subject to change, not all electric cars are eligible for a federal tax benefit, so ask your dealer for more details.
Insure your electric ride with Jerry
Driving an electric car can be thrilling—you’re helping the planet and driving a car on the cutting edge. So, naturally, you’ll need car insurance for your new car, and Jerry can find you a great deal on it!
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What is the cheapest electric you can buy?
The Mini Cooper SE Signature is your best bet as the cheapest electric on the market, coming in at just over $30,000. With federal and state tax credits though, this can be reduced further.
What is the best small electric to buy?
Ultimately, that’s up to you, but for city driving and cost-effective pricing, you’re looking at, from most expensive to least, the Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, or the Mini Cooper.
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