The push for new, attractive electric vehicles has gained considerable momentum lately. The next few years will see a rollout of EVs in every popular automotive segment, increasing competition and driving down prices. For now, however, all-electric vehicle development costs remain high and most new additions are priced higher than equivalent gas-powered models.
That means the list of economical EVs isn’t extensive, but it does include some cars that start under $40,000. Edmunds has assembled a roster of five affordable options for 2023 in order of price. Some of these models may even qualify for federal tax credits that now require American assembly and parts sourcing.
CHEVY BOLT EV Helping pioneer the mass-production EV scene in 2017, the Chevy Bolt EV tackles a variety of concerns and affordability in one practical package. The updated version introduced last year adds a more attractive interior ambiance while maintaining its competitive range and zippy performance.
The Bolt EV isn’t perfect, with a firm ride and little cargo space, but it’s now the cheapest electric car for 2023 thanks to a big price cut. We’ve also proven that the Bolt EV can travel 278 miles on a single charge, surpassing its EPA estimate of 19 miles. If the hatchback body isn’t appealing, Chevy also offers an SUV-like version, the Bolt EUV, with more interior space. Bolt models purchased before March should be eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Starting price: $27,495
NISSAN LEAF The first-generation Nissan Leaf was a unique car with a short range that attracted early adopters and those hoping to cash in on incentives, but the current model is much easier on the eyes and expresses a respectable driving range.
We like the Leaf for its quiet, comfortable ride and many standard features. Fast charging isn’t always possible thanks to the Leaf’s less popular port design. The entry-level S trim is limited to 149 miles of range as well. But Edmunds’ real-world testing of the SV Plus model with the larger battery resulted in a useful 237 miles. Nissan Leaf models purchased before March should qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Starting price: $29,135
MINI COOPER SE The Mini Cooper SE is an all-electric version of the regular Cooper Hardtop 2 Door. The base of a regular Mini provides some benefits. It’s fun to drive and fits into tight parking spaces a cinch. It’s also chic in a way that only a Mini can be. But there are failures, too. Most importantly, the Cooper SE has a small trunk and back seat, making it the least practical EV on our list.
Buyers should also be aware that the Cooper SE is somewhat limited in range. The EPA-quoted 114-mile range is a bit less than some competitors, though Edmunds managed to get 150 miles out of it in real-world driving. If space and range aren’t major constraints, the everyday fun of driving the Cooper SE might make it all worth it. Starting price: $35,220
HYUNDAI KONA ELECTRIC The Kona Electric is one of Edmunds’ favorite small EVs. Boasting a well-equipped cabin, agile dynamics and a composed ride, the Kona Electric makes a great value play for under $35K. We were also pleasantly surprised by the Kona EV’s real-world range of 308 miles, which bests its EPA rating by about 50 miles.
Disadvantages include a tight back seat and lack of availability in all 50 states. But bolstered by a long warranty period and excellent build quality, Hyundai’s electric crossover is a quicker sell than some of its competitors. Starting price: $34,885
The VOLKSWAGEN ID.4 Volkswagen’s first all-electric vehicle enters its third model year for 2023. Regardless of trim or battery size, the ID.4 offers impressive cargo and passenger space , useful standard driver assist features and a smooth ride. Buyers, however, may find the ID.4’s cabin controls disappointing and many plastics feel cheap.
The new entry-level S trim is rated at 209 miles of range and the range-topping rear-wheel-drive variant is rated at 275 miles. Our real-world test of the rear-drive model returned 287 miles on a single charge. Thanks to new US-based production, 2023 ID.4 models purchased before March should qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit. Starting price: $40,290
EDMUNDS SAYS: The coming years should bring a decline in EV prices as parts and development costs begin to decline. This will lead to greater competition and increased adoption of this emerging technology.
This story was provided by The Associated Press to the automotive website Edmunds. Miles Branman is an Edmunds contributor and is on Twitter