Falling battery costs will soon help make EVs cheaper than combustion models—not just in overall ownership costs, but in up-front sticker price.
But if you’re looking only for the lowest-priced new EVs on the market, without driving range a top priority, the options are surprisingly limited.
Most of the new EVs being introduced are larger and carry a higher price tag. In California and the ZEV mandate states that follow its rules, many of the compliance cars that teased affordable, incentivized prices—like the Fiat 500e, the Ford Focus Electric, the Chevy Spark EV, the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and the Volkswagen e-Golf—are all long gone. And with the discontinuation of the $34,250 Hyundai Ioniq Electric after the 2021 model year, another one has just dropped out.
What’s left among the most affordable EVs? Here are the five cheapest new 2022 model year EVs, either already on the market or arriving very soon, based simply on sticker price. Four of the five qualify you for the $7,500 EV tax credit, but keep in mind you need a tax liability exceeding that to recoup the full amount.
All five are cars or very carlike crossovers. While we do like electric trucks, we could use some more cheap-EV options, please.
2022 Nissan Leaf
Price (including destination): $28,375
EPA range: 149 miles
Standard tech: DC fast-charging, 240V charging cable
Nissan has applied a price cut to the 2022 Leaf that makes it the lowest-priced EV on the market this year. The Leaf includes a 40-kwh battery pack good for 149 miles, although the Leaf Plus upgrades to a 62-kwh pack and maximum 226-mile range starting at $33,375. All Leafs have a single-motor setup with front-wheel drive and now come with DC fast-charging, which used to be omitted on base models.
2022 Mini Cooper SE
Mini Cooper SE
Price (including destination): $30,750
EPA range: 114 miles
Standard tech: Heated steering wheel, satellite radio
In a first drive of the Cooper SE last year, we found this front-wheel-drive hatchback to be a lot of fun to drive, with a go-kart-like quickness good for city driving, although it’s not tremendously useful or practical. The range from the 32.6-kwh battery pack isn’t enough to consider the Cooper SE as an only car, but with its brand of quirky this two-door hatchback could be a good pick for households with bigger SUVs or sedans staying in the stable.
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Chevrolet Bolt EV
Price (including destination): $31,995
EPA range: 259 miles
Standard tech: Mobile 240V charge cord
The 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV isn’t just improved throughout, with a refreshed interface and better seats and materials; GM dropped the price of the Bolt EV by about $5,000 across the lineup this year while keeping the range rating afforded by its 65-kwh battery pack. There’s a big asterisk to the Bolt EV right now, however: At the time of writing, it’s not on sale, as GM works with battery supplier LG on a recall fix that will remedy a propensity for vehicle fires. Also keep in mind that, with GM one of just two companies that’s hit the 200,000-vehicle phaseout ceiling, the Bolt EV is the only one on this list that doesn’t qualify for the federal EV tax credit.
2022 Mazda MX-30
Price (including destination): $34,645
EPA range: 100 miles
Noteworthy features: Gas models for weekend trips, with a loaner program
Mazda’s products have for decades been strikingly different in design and engineering, and the 2022 MX-30 EV is no exception. The company’s first EV for the U.S. has a small 35.5-kwh battery pack and only a 100-mile range—and it’s only California-bound at first. But it shows it understands the front-wheel-drive EV’s sweet spot for commuters; with it there’s a MX-30 Elite Access Loaner Program, in which owners get 10 days of access to other Mazda models per year, for three years. And if that’s not enough quirky for you, a rotary range extended version is also on the way.
2022 Hyundai Kona Electric
Hyundai Kona Electric
Price (including destination): $35,185
EPA range: 258 miles
Standard tech: Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Hyundai may have dropped the Ioniq Electric from the lineup for 2022, with the arrival of the eagerly anticipated Ioniq 5 SUV, but perhaps to make up for that it’s also dropped the price of the excellent 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric. The 64-kwh battery pack can be charged from 10 to 80 percent in just 47 minutes, according to Hyundai. And Hyundai’s infotainment interfaces are among the best in this bunch, with a quick, simple menu system and standard wireless support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.