Electric cars are the future, whether you like it or not. We are living in the era of the diesel ban, and emissions are only going to be more tightly controlled in the future. Investing in a green car can be frighteningly expensive, though. Here are our top six electric cars that won’t cost you your life savings.
I am purposely refraining using the word ‘cheap’ or ‘affordable’ - those are relative terms, but this list is comprised of electric cars that represent the best value for money compared to the current competition. It’s also worth remembering that electric cars, much like solar panels, are an investment. The high startup costs are negated over time by savings elsewhere. For the sake of comparison and context, a new Tesla Model 3 will run you about $50,000.
1. Smart Fortwo Electric Drive: the tiny one
For city dwellers who need something small to nip about town, the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is the one to go for. Sure, it’s not the most practical, largely thanks to the fact it only has two seats and almost no luggage space, but its tiny size provides parking advantages. The Coupe version uses about 15.1 kWh per 100 km and has a range of up to 160 km - although recent tests have found the range to be more like 124 km. The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive.
The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive starts at $23,800 MSRP, although you’ll have to pay an additional $750 charge to get the manufacturer to deliver it to your dealer. You can buy find your local dealer at smartusa.com.
2. Volkswagen e-Golf: the solid one
Ok, so if we ignore the obvious historical reason not to buy a ‘green’ car from Volkswagen, and just look at the overall package and price, the VW e-Golf will be a tempting option for those looking to make the switch to an electric car. It looks much the same as a regular Golf, which is nothing short of an iconic VW model. It features a 134-horsepower engine and can reach up to 200 km in range. An optional DC fast charge system allows you to charge the battery to 80 percent in just an hour.
The Volkswagen e-Golf SE starts at $30,495. There is also a limited edition version for $33,795 or the SEL Premium starting at $36,995. You can get a quote at vw.com.
3. Fiat 500e: the stylish one
The Fiat 500 is probably the best-looking electric car you can buy today. It’s another city compact but with bags of style and Italian flair. The range is significantly shorter than the VW at 135 km on a full charge, but it's easy to park and fun to drive. This zero emissions vehicle also features some cool navigation tech in the shape of UCONNECT 3. The motor is 83-kWh or 111-horsepower, whichever way you want to look at it.
Prices in the US starts at $32,995 but you can only buy the Fiat 500e in California and Oregon at the moment. You can order yours at fiatusa.com.
4. Hyundai Kona EV: the smart one
If it is range you are looking for, look no further than the Hyundai Kona EV. The South Korean manufacturer has put together well-rounded SUV with a range of more than 400 km. The official range from Hyundai is 415 km, but tests have found that this thing can go as far as 435 km before you need to recharge it. That is Tesla range, for anyone who is interested. It features a 64-kWh lithium-ion battery that puts out 201 horsepower. It also supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth.
The price? Well, the Kona EV isn’t out until 2019 but we do know that, when you factor in the $7,500 federal credits it will qualify for, you can get the new Hyundai electric for $30,000. Not bad at all. You can sign up for updates in the 2019 via this link.
5. Chevrolet Bolt EV: the American(ish) one
If you want an American-made electric car, the Chevrolet Bolt EV may be the way to go. Before we get all #makeamericagreatagain, it is worth pointing out that the Bolt was originally developed by General Motors Korea, and is actually manufactured in partnership with LG. However, the first assembly takes place in Orion Township, Michigan. The range comes in at around 380 km, which is more than decent for a 200 horsepower motor. DC fast charging is also on board for 140 km worth of juice in a quite ridiculous 30 minutes. It also supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Prices for the 2019 model Chevrolet Bolt EV start at $36,620, which comes down under 30 grand when you factor in the federal tax credit. Find your local dealer at chevrolet.com.
6. BMW i3: the luxurious one
The BMW i3 may be the most expensive electric car on our list but it still comes in a lot cheaper than the Tesla. If you have a little more cash to spare and want the extra luxury, you are in safe hands with BMW. The 170-horsepower electric motor (an optional upgrade to the i3s boost the power to 181 horsepower) means that range is limited to just over 180 km on a single charge. That can’t compete with the Chevrolet or the Hyundai, of course, but the BMW comes with a certain German luxury that you just won't find anywhere else. DC 50kw fast charging will get you from 0 to 80 percent battery in 42 minutes, according to the manufacturer.
Prices for the BMW i3 start at $44,450 in the US. Sure, it’s a little more premium than the others on our list, but with a beemer, you pay for the badge as well as the car. Find out more at bmwusa.com.
What do you think of our list of ‘affordable’ electric cars for 2018 - 2019? Do you have a recommendation that was not on our list? Let us know in the comments below.