Although the EV market in Australia currently represents only a small percentage of overall car sales (2%), its share of the market is increasing rapidly (up from 0.6% of overall sales in 2019).
A key consideration for motorists is the price. Like most relatively new technologies, EVs currently cost several thousand dollars more than petrol or diesel vehicles. To help drivers find an EV that won't break the bank, we've put together a list of the cheapest new EVs on the market. If you've got a particularly modest budget, take a look at our used EV recommendations, or save up for an economical EV in 2023.
1. Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf has been available in Australia for a decade. Powered by a lithium-ion battery, it delivers 110kw/220Nm. This is a compact, family car that has been built with sustainability in mind. Features such as the power-saving eco-mode and regenerative braking optimise the car's range between charges.
Nissan's suite of autonomous features, Nissan Intelligent Mobility, enhances safety and provides responsive, proactive assistance to drivers. The Advanced Drive-Assist and Intelligent Around View Monitor are two innovative details that add value. The Leaf was a pioneering EV and continues to perform well against competitors.
2022 prices start from $50,990 on the road.
2. MG ZS EV
A compact SUV that's already showing solid sales here, the MG ZS EV has been recently updated, with a fresh, 10.1" infotainment system and a choice of batteries. Drivers can choose from the 51kWh unit (280Nm of torque, 320km range) or the 76.6kWh battery (280Nm of torque, 440km range).
The MG ZS benefits from keyless entry, a panoramic sunroof, LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors and sat nav. A good mix of autonomous and static safety features means the ZS has achieved a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.
Reviewers rate this SUV highly, praising everything from the handling to the technology, space and comfort. It's also currently the cheapest EV on the market. If you're considering purchasing an MG ZS EV, 2022 prices for the revamped model start from $46,990 (on-road costs).
3. BYD Atto 3
Introduced to Australia in 2020, the BYD Atto 3 is based on the BYD Yuan Plus. The battery used in the Atto 3 is a Blade battery. Made from lithium ferro-phosphate (LFP), this type of battery is significantly cheaper than a traditional lithium-ion battery. It also doesn't require nickel or cobalt - two non-renewable elements that are in short supply due to their use in lithium-ion batteries. The Blade consists of multiple layers that encourage heat dissipation. This is an important safety advantage. Drivers can select from a 50kWh or a 60kWh battery, giving a range of 320km and 420km respectively.
Features of note in this EV include a 12.3" touchscreen, alloys, a sunroof, keyless entry and a powered tailgate. The overall opinion from reviewers is that the Atto 3 offers greater value than the MG ZS. Initial research suggesting that the degradation rate of the Blade battery is much slower than that of a lithium-ion choice is another benefit.
2022 prices start from $44,990 in Tasmania but are higher in other states and territories due to differing tax regimes.
4. Hyundai Kona Electric
Hyundai has a solid commitment to creating high-grade electric vehicles. The electric Kona is a small SUV that's powered by a 39.2kWh lithium-ion battery. It has a respectable 305km range. Drivers benefit from a great selection of features, including Hyundai's Smartsense autonomous safety package, keyless entry, 10.25" instrument cluster and infotainment screens, LED daytime running lights and heated/folding side mirrors.
Prices start at $54,550 before on-road costs.
5. Mini Cooper SE
A contemporary repackaging of the iconic Cooper, the electric version of this classic car features a 32.6kWh battery and has a range of 233km. It's a 3-door hatch that looks and performs almost exactly like its petrol counterpart. If you love Minis, you'll probably love the SE. It may not stack up particularly well against other EVs in terms of value and performance but is probably unbeatable in terms of nostalgic charm. Reviewers love the good choice of customised options and brand authenticity but are less impressed with the interior space and comfort and the tech standard.
2022 prices start from $55,650.
Upcoming electric car releases with low prices
If 2023 is the year that you intend to invest in an EV, one of the vehicles listed below could provide an economical option.
- The MG4 hatch. Commentators expect the starting price to be around $40,000.
- Fiat 500e city car. The 2023 price is expected to be around $34,000.
- BYD Atto 3. The expected price for 2023 is somewhere between $40,000 - $45,000.
- Ora Good Cat. Created by GWM, there is considerable speculation about its entry price. Somewhere around $40,000 (possibly less) is the current estimate.
- Cupra Born. This is a stunning little hot-hatch from a subsidiary of SEAT. Although not the cheapest EV, with an expected 2023 price tag of between $50,000 and $60,000, it's likely to offer excellent value.
Low price used electric cars
As EVs haven't been on the market for that many years, it's inevitable that the used car selection is fairly limited. That said, good-quality, used EVs are out there! Check out our recommendations for the best used EVs, detailed below.
- Nissan Leaf. A perennial favourite, drivers can expect to find a Nissan Leaf in good condition for as little as $14,000.
- Hyundai Ioniq. A used Ioniq is available for anything from around $32,000 for a 2017 model, upwards to around $50,000 for last year's model. Note that Hyundai ceased production of the Ioniq hatchback earlier this year and order books are full. If you want to buy an Ioniq hatchback now, rather than the new Ioniq 5, secondhand is probably your only option.
- Tesla Model 3. A bestseller both here and abroad, prices for a used Tesla Model 3 start from around $70,000, up to over $100,000 for more recent models.
- Mini Cooper EV. Prices for a used electric Cooper start from $57,000.
Electric Car FAQ's
What is the cheapest Tesla?
The cheapest Tesla is the Model 3. Prices for 2022 start at $59,900 for the basic Model 3 standard range plus RWD. If you opt for the long-range Model 3, prices start at around $80,000.
What are the disadvantages of electric cars?
A lack of charging points, high initial purchase cost, use of finite resources in the car's electric battery, environmentally unfriendly manufacturing processes and limited range are all cited as disadvantages of electric cars.
How much does it cost to charge an electric car?
Public charging points are still free in many places. At home, charging costs vary depending on the size of the battery and local electricity prices. Homes utilising electricity from solar panels will likely pay less.
How long does it take to charge an electric car?
Most electric cars take around eight hours to fully charge if the battery is completely drained. A partial charge, which can increase the range between 130km (80 miles) and 160km (100miles), will take between 20 and 35 minutes, depending on the vehicle.
Can you finance an electric car in Australia?
Yes, just like regular vehicles, you can finance an electric car if you meet the lending conditions. Some lenders even offer special rates for buyers of EV's. You can get a free quote on EV finance from Credit One.