Top 10 cheapest electric cars 2022
The cheapest electric cars aren’t just about the purchase price – they’re cheap to run, too
Electric cars are expensive - there’s no getting around it. The technology is still quite new and in order to recoup costs, car makers need to sell their electric cars at a higher price than they are able to with petrol or diesel models. However, as even budget makers are launching electric cars – such as the MG ZS EV or Citroen e-C4 – electric cars are becoming more affordable.
Unfortunately supply problems and global issues are pushing up car prices by more than normal, plus the UK government has recently scrapped the plug-in car grant that took off a bit of money from electric cars priced under £32,000. These factors mean that electric cars aren’t getting cheaper as quickly as we’d hoped, but there are still a handful of more affordable models that you should be able to afford with a normal new-car-buying budget.
The floor of the electric car market is higher than that of the petrol car market - so the cheapest electric car is quite a bit more expensive than the cheapest petrol car. There are some outliers, such as the Citroen Ami (see below) that you’d struggle to really say is a proper car. No matter which you choose, though, road tax (VED) is free, company car tax is ultra-low and charging up at home only costs a few pounds, even with today’s inflated energy prices.
The higher prices of electric cars mean that you get less for your money – you might only be able to afford a supermini with a budget that would normally get you into a larger family car, for example. If you want to get some of the benefits of an electric car without dropping into a smaller car, consider a hybrid or plug-in hybrid car.
Hybrids usually bring lower running costs than petrol or diesel equivalents, and plug-in models can still use electric power for 20 to 40 miles in most models. Even if you can’t charge up at home, a normal hybrid will be more efficient than a plain petrol car.
Read on to find out more about the top 10 cheapest electric cars on sale.
While the Citroen Ami is technically a quadricycle, this small electric ‘car’ offers unrivalled value for money. Unlike the now-discontinued Renault Twizy, the Ami offers a surprising amount of interior space for its size. Its boxy shape allows for plenty of headroom for you and one passenger, as well as plenty of floor space and ingenious cubbies to store a handful of items from an impromptu shopping trip.
Don’t expect to get anywhere particularly quickly, however. The Ami has a top speed of 28mph and the ride is unsettled enough that you may be glad it doesn’t go any faster. Furthermore, a rather short range of up to 46 miles means it’s even behind the Twizy’s, which was officially capable of 50.
The range and performance is intentional, as the Ami was designed solely for short bursts around cities. With a tiny turning circle of 7.2m and compact dimensions, it’s perfect for darting in and out of traffic; the Ami is a great solution for those living in cities.
Smart now only sells the EQ ForTwo, in coupe and convertible guises. It offers around 80 miles of range but is flexible in terms of charging; it’ll charge from a domestic socket in six hours, use a 22kW fast-charger to top up to 80% in 40 minutes, and can be charged in two-and-a-half hours from a Smart wallbox. Inside, the Smart features a modern design and infotainment system, and the boot is a usable size.
The main downside of this model is its two seats, although you might also see its price as a stumbling point – it’s about £6,000 more than the previously available petrol-powered Smart ForTwo. The recently withdrawn Smart EQ ForFour offers two extra seats but a smaller boot.
There’s now a brand-new, all-electric version of the 500. Although it has undergone a major technological update, the little 500 still retains the retro charm and great ability as a city car. Its 117bhp gives it quick acceleration, making the electric 500 effortless to drive around town, while a range of up to 199 miles (depending on trim level and battery) means that the occasional longer trip is manageable, too.
Prices for the new 500 make it one of the very cheapest electric cars but if you opt for the highest-spec trim, you’ll pay a few thousand pounds more. As with the old model, the new 500 is also available with a folding fabric sunroof, meaning it’s one of the few electric convertibles currently available on the UK market.
The Nissan Leaf may not be the newest electric car on the block, but it shouldn’t be overlooked if you’re after zero-emission family transport. It’s spacious, more stylish than its predecessor and well-equipped. Even the base model features a rear-view camera, smartphone mirroring, alloy wheels and a suite of safety technology including lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise control.
Cheaper Leaf models come with a 39kWh battery, which is good for 168 miles of driving - or even more if you stay around town. That means that most commuters will only need to plug in once every few days, and a full charge is done in 7.5 hours from a home wallbox. Nissan also sells the e-NV200 Combi, an electric seven-seat MPV, which undercuts its closest rivals but feels quite outdated now.
The Vauxhall Corsa-e is one of the cheapest electric cars but also one of the best-value, since it’s also really well equipped. If you need more space, there’s also the Vauxhall Mokka-e, which is an SUV so it’s a bit more spacious (but a little more expensive to buy). All versions get LED headlights, air-conditioning, rear parking sensors and a touchscreen.
Recently, Vauxhall also announced upgrades to the electric powertrain that underpins its ‘e’ badged models. A more efficient heat pump and new tyres are among the updates that now mean the Corsa-e can travel up to 222 miles on a charge; before, it offered a maximum of 209 miles.
Mazda’s first electric car is one of the quirkier options on this list. Its striking looks are made more unusual by its back doors that open rearwards, and the inside uses recycled cork trim to recognise Mazda’s origins in the cork business. Rather than chasing a long range with a big battery, the Mazda MX-30 packs quite a small 35.5kWh cell.
Fitting a small battery was a conscious decision. Its 124-mile range is disappointing, but Mazda’s research suggests that’s fine for the majority of its customers. And a smaller battery brings plus points elsewhere; the MX-30 is light, agile and relatively cheap because of it. A slightly claustrophobic rear seat area means the MX-30 isn’t the best family car around, although many of the cars on this list are similarly small.
Few people expected MG to create an electric car, and some eyebrows were raised when the ZS EV launched. Although it’s expensive compared to the petrol ZS, it’s one of the cheapest electric cars currently on sale - and one of the biggest cars on this list. It’s a good sized, practical SUV, and the electric powertrain has transformed the driving experience.
The ZS EV is a whole four seconds quicker going from 0-62mph than the turbocharged petrol, and it can manage up to 163 miles of range (or 231 if you stick within city limits). You’re not going to mistake the interior for that of a luxury car, but it’s still reasonably well equipped with sat nav, DAB radio and smartphone mirroring all present on the entry-level model. The ZS’ 448-litre boot is big for the class and is unaffected by the switch to electric power.
Continuing the low-cost, no-frills legacy of the ZS EV, the MG 5 EV isn’t particularly exciting but it is a highly practical and affordable estate car. It’s priced like a much smaller car but with a huge 578 litres of boot space, it will take just about anything and everything you could need to carry with ease, and it’ll seat five passengers in reasonable comfort.
It’s not like MG has sacrificed range to bring down the price either, because the MG 5 EV Long Range can achieve around 250 miles on a single charge. Plus, even with the car’s no-frills nature, standard equipment includes an eight-inch touchscreen media system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control and air-conditioning. The MG 5 was refreshed in 2022, with fresher looks and updated technology.
The Citroen e-C4 is great value for an electric car. It’s bigger inside than many of the models on this list – there’s plenty of room for family life as well as a big 380-litre boot and a good amount of tech. It has a smart exterior look and a nicely designed interior, plus it’s comfortable and easy to drive. Only the entry-level version is priced low enough to appear on this list.
It’s closely related to the Peugeot e-208 and Vauxhall Corsa-e, models that are also affordable, but it’s bigger than those cars and is much more suitable for families. It has a 217-mile range on a single charge and can be topped up to 80 per cent at a public rapid charger in about half an hour.
For Peugeot’s first crack at an electric car, the company decided it wouldn’t give the e-208 outlandish styling to mark it out as something different. It looks almost identical to petrol and diesel 208s, although it’s striking and sporty-looking nevertheless. You could argue it has the performance to back up those racy looks, as it’s the quickest model in the 208 range.
The 0-62mph sprint takes a smidge over eight seconds, while its maximum range is quoted as 225 miles. With 100kW fast-charging available, you can top up the e-208’s batteries by 100 miles in just 20 minutes. Peugeot is now a by-word for eye-catching, well-equipped interiors, and the e-208 is no different. Not having somewhere to store the charging cable is an annoying, if minor, oversight.
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