- Affordable electric vehicles include a range of builds, driving ranges, styles and capabilities such as AWD or fast-charging, as well as features such as high-tech dashboards and auto-stop braking.
- Although many electric vehicles are still priced on the high-end, some may qualify for tax credits and grants, such the federal tax credits program for new electric and hybrid vehicles.
- Consider your lifestyle needs and factors such as your home or public charging plan and extreme climates that may affect battery capability.
Manufacturers such as Tesla and Nissan advertise electric vehicles (EVs) as low-emissions alternatives that save on fuel and energy costs compared to gas vehicles. But the Tesla Model 3, which starts at $45,940, is one of the manufacturer’s more affordable options … and that’s still a pretty steep price for many people. While owning an electric vehicle may save money overall, it can also have a high entry point.
However, with EVs growing in popularity and production, some EV models now start at lower MSRPs than gas-powered vehicles. Although they may not have all the features of the high-end EVs, many under-$35,000 EVs come with comparable driving ranges, charging times and other important specs.
How EVs Work
A conventional gas-powered vehicle uses a spark-ignited internal combustion engine, which creates energy, enabling the vehicle and its transmission to operate. Electric vehicles instead use an electric motor powered by a battery. To charge the vehicle’s battery, the vehicle must be plugged into an outlet or charging station.
EVs may come with one or more electric motors that provide energy to the transmission, which then transfers mechanical power to the wheels. EVs with one motor send power to either the front or rear axle, while AWD EVs with two or more motors send power to both axles simultaneously resulting in more efficient energy use.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing an EV
In addition to many of the regular factors to consider when purchasing a vehicle, such as passenger and cargo space, connectivity options and lifestyle needs, EVs come with their own set of things to look for before buying. Consider your lifestyle needs and apply them to EV-specific factors such as:
- Estimated driving range with respect to long work commutes or road trips
- Battery charging options at home or in public
- Tax incentives or credits
- 2WD vs. AWD
- Infotainment systems and extra features
- Extreme climate or weather that may affect battery performance
In 2016, this fully-electric vehicle was introduced as an affordable alternative to gas vehicles. The 2022 Bolt, which has been redesigned to keep up with the growing EV market, features improved interior and exterior styling.
This compact SUV offers a surprisingly spacious interior as well as a competitive 259-mile estimated driving range. While it doesn’t offer the AWD capabilities of other models, the 2022 model has a significantly reduced MSRP from previous years, starting at $31,500.
Chevrolet Bolt EUV
All new to the Chevrolet EV lineup is the 2022 Bolt EUV, largely inspired by the original Chevrolet Bolt. While the Bolt has a compact hatchback-SUV crossover design, the Bolt EUV is a larger and more rugged SUV with roomier cabin space. It features a 247-mile estimated driving range as well as high-tech features such as hands-free driver assistance.
The Bolt EUV is a slightly more capable and expensive re-imagining of the Chevrolet Bolt with an MSRP of $33,500.
Mini Cooper Electric SE Hardtop 2-Door
The compact Mini Cooper Electric Hardtop delivers an exciting driving experience not unlike a go-kart. The 2022 Electric Hardtop’s new features and updates include redesigned front and back grilles and improved interior ambient lighting and dashboard design.
Although it’s not suitable for long drives due to its estimated driving range of just 114 miles, the Electric Hardtop is a fun option for city driving and comes in at the affordable MSRP of $29,900.
The Nissan Leaf has long been one of the most well-known EVs around, rising to popularity even before Tesla. The main difference between the 2022 and 2021 models is the significant MSRP drop, with the 2022 Nissan Leaf starting as low as $27,400. Upgrading to the Nissan Leaf Plus for $32,400 gives you improved battery capacity from 42 kWh to 62 kWh and extends the estimated driving range from 149 to 226 miles.
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Hyundai’s 2022 Ioniq 5 is new to its EV lineup and enters the overall market with competitive features and benefits. It’s available in both 2WD and AWD and provides a smooth and fun ride, thanks to its advanced powertrain technology. This SUV provides ample cabin space and a futuristic exterior design.
The basic Ioniq 5 model comes with ultra-fast charging and a 269-mile estimated driving range. Although it exceeds the $35k mark with a starting MSRP of $39,700, it may qualify for federal tax credits up to $7,500 to offset the purchase price.
Hyundai Kona Electric
An alternative to the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the 2022 Hyundai Kona Electric takes SUV capability and electric motor technology to provide a ride that is both powerful and efficient. With a design based on the gas-powered Hyundai Kona, the Kona Electric is an affordable SUV choice with a starting MSRP of $34,000.
The 2022 Kona Electric has redesigned front and rear exterior styling. Its estimated driving range of 258 miles makes it a competitive option among affordable and entry-level EVs.
Mazda MX-30 EV
The 2022 Mazda MX-30 EV is the manufacturer’s first entry into the EV market. Its battery is intended more for regular errands and short drives to work rather than long commutes or road trips, with an estimated driving range of only 100 miles. Even so, it can charge from 20% to 80% in 36 minutes on a Level 3 charger, and its stylish design boasts clean and simple lines.
The Mazda MX-30 EV starts at $33,470, but you can upgrade to the Premium Plus model for $36,480 for extra features such as a premium sound system and 360-degree view monitor.
Volkswagen’s 2022 ID.4, which is a bright and smooth ride in the EV market, is available in both 2WD and AWD. The exterior features the perky lines classic to Volkswagen vehicles, while the interior provides spacious cabin and cargo room. The dashboard and infotainment are entirely digital.
The 2022 model features auto-hold braking, faster charging speeds and an improved estimated driving range of 260 miles. Although its base MSRP exceeds $35k at $40,760, that price may be as low as $33,260 if eligible for federal tax credits.
Used EVs for Under $35k
In previous years, other EVs were also available for under $35k. This includes discontinued models such as:
- Kia Soul EV
- Ford Focus Electric
- Honda Clarity Electric
- Fiat 500e
While these past models aren’t currently available to purchase new in the United States, you may be able to find used models at dealerships or from private sellers. If purchasing a used EV, be sure to have it professionally inspected and consider factors such as warranties and battery health.
Affordable Hybrid Options
If you’re not prepared to go fully-electric just yet, a few hybrid options are similarly affordable and still provide long-term fuel savings. Hybrids used a combination of combustion engine and electric motors, with the battery charged through regenerative braking and the engine.
Consider these 2022 hybrid models: