The world is catching on to the electric car being a genuine alternative to the conventional vehicle. All thanks to the massive improvements being made to the cruising range and the charging experience. But the price is still a hindrance, with some of the most affordable EVs costing twice as much as the equivalent ICE car.
The most popular, modern electric car; the 2010 Nissan Leaf averaged 73 miles only. But times have changed, and electric cars are now more capable than ever. With automakers doing more than wetting their feet, prices have become competitive.
You can snag an electric vehicle for as low as $19,999. And that’s before federal tax credit, which brings the price tag down to $12,299.
We are talking about the new Kandi K27, one of the cheapest electric vehicles in the US. But it’s not the only affordable offering. This car will be facing off against the 2020 Mini Cooper SE, which is in the $30,000 range. If you can stretch your budget further, the Hyundai Loniq EV, 2020 Nissan Leaf, and the Chevy Volt are some affordable options where Tesla is still out of many people’s reach.
Cheapest Electric Vehicle in the US
1. Kandi K27
Even though we are used to electric vehicles’ flat designs, this one has taken a stretch. Some say it resembles a golf cart with a body and doors, but the more accurate description would be a Mini Cooper and Smart combo.
But the K27 makes up for the weird looks with an attractive price tag. Give it to China to deliver the competitive punch that EV manufacturers need in the US. This car retails for $19,999 and $12,299 after Federal tax credit.
At the center of the drive system is a 17.69kWh battery boasting a range of 100 miles on a single charge. That’s assuming you won’t be hitting the fast lane on the highway. A top speed of 63mph is among the first impressions of the Kandi K27. And, it only requires seven hours to recharge on a level 2, 16-amp charger.
Being a no-frills car, the cockpit features a 9-inch central touchscreen, mode selector, gear selector, dual-front airbags, a rearview camera, and Bluetooth connectivity. And no worries about tight parking spaces because this vehicle is 57.87 inches wide and 136.22 inches in length, leaving just enough room to seat four adults.
Alongside the K27 is the Kandi K23 which is a subcompact EV. This one looks more like a small Mini Cooper hatchback. Kandi K23 features a 41.4kWh ternary lithium-ion battery. It boasts a 28hp electric motor that can manage 70mph top speed and 188miles of range. Its price tag begins at $29,999 before Federal tax credits, which bring the price down to $22,499.
Charging a K23 will take 7.5 hours on a fast level 2 charger. We like that the interior looks fancier than the K27 with a 10-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth audio, antilock brakes, dual front airbags, and a backup camera.
Both cars launched in late 2020 in Texas. And more of these cars will be available in 2021. We see this as a vehicle that will enter most US neighborhoods, not just the bottom market. College kids will appreciate a brand-new car that does not eat up all their savings. And so will city commuters looking for an EV with affordable monthly payments.
2.2020 Mini Cooper SE
If you are looking for a better-looking EV that won’t bruise your pockets, the 2020 Mini Cooper SE offers a genuine entry into electric motoring. The Mini Electric Hardtop starts at $30,750. It also qualifies for Federal EV credit and state incentives.
This vehicle can sum up to $12,000 in California’s incentives and tax credit, bringing the price down to $18,750. You can expect to drive the 2020 Mini Cooper SE in 2021 as deliveries are rolling out. The looks of this car offer a combination of sport and style.
It is a two-door hatch body with folding rear seats. This gives you maximum cargo space as could be expected in a Mini.
Typical of EVs is the quick acceleration, and the Mini Cooper SE does not disappoint. It can reach 60mph in 7 seconds. Not as fast as Tesla Model S that reaches 60mph in 2.3 seconds. But then it’s not an over-the-top model.
The user-friendly 8.8-inch infotainment system, power-folding side mirrors, and parking sensors are some of the features that you get on this Mini. Not to mention regenerative braking that improves efficiency in the city.
Its 32.6kWh battery provides 110 miles of range and a highway top speed of 70mph. The range may be enough for city drives but not impressive in a marketplace where EVs average 200 miles per charge. Luckily, it can recharge in only four hours with a level 2 public station charger.
The distance combined with the ease of handling and small parking size makes the 2020 Mini Cooper SE attractive to most city dwellers.
3. 2020 Nissan Leaf
The 2020 Nissan Leaf represents the second generation of the electric Nissan Leaf. It comes refined with standard Nissan’s active safety features and driver assistance, at just a slight bump up in price. The base version has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, previously a reserve of the SV Trim.
Nissan sells the 2020 model as the S and SV Trim levels and Leaf Plus in S, SV, and SL Trim. The standard Leaf starts at $32,525 and boasts a range of 150 miles. The bigger battery counterparts can reach 226 miles.
The cockpit has also received upgrades with more airbags and an 8-inch infotainment system. 16-inch wheels are standard in the base models, while the higher trims feature 17s. The SL Plus comes with LED headlights with distinct LED daytime running lights, while the other models have auto-on/off halogen headlights.
The Leaf also features a unique pedal system that toggles between two braking modes, all regenerative. In the first mode, you can coast without resistance when your foot is off the throttle. In the other mode, the car uses the motor’s resistance to slow down efficiently.
Nissan Leaf 2020 includes a portable 120v trickle charger on the S and SV models. The SV Plus gets a 120/240-volt charger and a quick charge port.
On top of handling like a sports car, the Leaf’s standard safety features give users better bang for their buck than other models in the $30,000 range.
4. 2020 Hyundai Ioniq Electric
The 2020 Hyundai Ioniq Electric comes when we need cheap EVs that can go a reasonable distance. This model is also an upgrade from when it debuted, featuring a larger battery and more horsepower. The 2020 Ioniq is up134hp from 118hp and can reach 170 miles from 124 miles in previous versions.
As the Nissan Leaf’s direct rival, Hyundai Ioniq has a 38.3kWh battery putting it in the same space as competitive entry-level electric vehicles. Its aero teardrop styling doesn’t make it beefy or sporty. It’s the same Ioniq from 2017 with some slight changes. These include reshaped bumpers, LED lights, plastic dummy’ grille,’ and more color options.
The base trim now has an 8.0-inch infotainment display along with standard adaptive cruise control. Apart from the adaptive cruise, the limited trim gets driver assistance features, a 10.3-inch infotainment system, and ambient interior lighting.
The 2020 Ioniq can go from 0-60mph in 8.3 seconds. It also uses a regenerative braking system complemented by four settings which you control via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
Another upgrade comes with the onboard charger as it is also up from 6.6kW to 7.2kW. On a 240v connection, the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq can recharge in only six hours. Thanks to its standard DC fast-charging, this EV can recharge from 0-80% in 45 minutes on a 100kW connection.
Hyundai also offers standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Hyundai’s very own Bluelink System that is straightforward to use.
The only thing that could keep users from enjoying a very pleasant ride is driving on uneven pavement. Hyundai could put a little more work into the suspension to ease bumpy rides. Apart from that nifty pick, you can pack lots of stuff on its 23 cubic ft of space when you get the rear seats down.
Overall, the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq is an excellent fit for those looking for the most features in an affordable EV. It covers more than just the basics, including a 10-year/100,000 -mile powertrain warranty.
Other Cheap Electric Cars to Consider
1.2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV -$37,495 Starting Price
- 259 miles EPA range
- Accelerates 0-60mph in 6.3 seconds
- High-definition rearview camera
- 66kWh battery
- 2-inch central touch display
- Rear, digital mirror
- Optional high-def rear cameras
- 9 cubic ft cargo space
2. 2021 Tesla Model 3 Standard – $38 190 Starting Price
- Fresh exterior styling
- Redesigned center console
- 263 miles range
- 75mph highway
- Accelerates 0-60mph in 5.1 seconds
- Standard Navigation, USB & Bluetooth Connectivity
- Driver-assist system
- 19-inch wheels
- Power-operated trunk
- 15-inch touchscreen
The cost of electric vehicles varies widely due to technology, the quality of materials, safety features, etc. As you can see, electric cars with large batteries are more expensive than small-capacity vehicles. But the good thing is that there is something for everyone at every price range. As we move on to a future of electric cars, you can expect better range and lower prices to meet the needs of more than the average commuter.
Sam is Automole’s editor-in-chief and classic car enthusiast. Sam is studying mechanical engineering at Cockrell School of Engineering, Austin. He also writes for many top automotive publications and appears on the Collecting Cars Podcast.