► Our list of the cheapest electric cars on sale
► Options range from dinky quadricycles to SUVs
► Prices start from less than £8,000
Price is one of the main factors preventing motorists from trading in their petrol or diesel car for an electric one, so we’ve put together a list of the cheapest electric cars for you in 2023. The fact is, the best electric cars cost significantly more than their conventionally powered peers because the materials in their battery packs and electric motors are expensive – and manufacturers aren’t prepared to make a loss on each one they sell.
Car makers are slowly figuring out how to distil their EV technology down to its bare bones and sell cut-price zero-emission motors for those with tighter budgets. The cheapest electric cars on this list might not have the fancy interior technology and safety equipment you’ll find in something like a Tesla Model 3, and they might not have the glamour of the best electric luxury cars, but you can’t argue with the value.
The best cheap electric cars at a glance:
Below, we’ve rounded up the cheapest electric cars on sale in the UK today. Our list includes tiny electric quadricycles, family-sized electric hatchbacks and compact electric SUVs. We’ve also included links to our dedicated review for each car if you need some extra information on how they drive. Scroll down for some inspiration.
The cheapest electric vehicles (EVs) to buy in 2023
Citroen Ami – from £7695
Best for: the city. End of discussion
Pros: Minuscule dimensions, surprisingly peppy motor, hilarious fun
Cons: Unstable at high speeds, chaotically firm ride
Citroen had one goal in mind when it was designing the Ami – to build the ultimate small electric car. And it bashed the nail on the head with a 20lb sledgehammer. The Ami is perfectly suited to city life. It’s small, so it can fit down narrow alleys. Its cabin is surrounded by glass, so you can spot kamikaze moped riders long before you could in a conventional car. Plus, because it’s electric, you don’t need to pay Sadiq Khan a single penny to drive into the centre of London, at least for now.
The only fault with the Ami is that it only works in the city. It has a maximum range of 46 miles and a top speed of just 28mph. That’s more than enough for zipping around Knightsbridge but nowhere enough to venture out of the city and onto an A-road. Stay within the confines of town, and you’ll be king of all you survey, though. The Ami is more than nimble enough to carve up Civics and Golfs on roundabouts, while its 8bhp motor is sprightly enough to surprise them at the lights.
Read our full Citroen Ami review
Smart EQ Fortwo – from £21,870
Best for: those looking for a tiny footprint and a few more creature comforts
Pros: Tight turning circle, fast charge times, quick off the blocks
Cons: Limited range, runs out of steam on faster roads
Like the Ami, the Smart EQ Fortwo is at its best in the town. It’s slightly larger than the Citroen and a bit better equipped, boasting such luxuries as carpets, leather seats and a basic infotainment system. However, it still only has a maximum official range of 80 miles and top speed of 81mph. We wouldn’t recommend you ever pedal the ForTwo that hard, though – it runs out of steam at about 60mph and takes an eon to reach its maximum speed.
It’s fun in the corners, though. Its short wheelbase and square stance mean it tackles bends like it’s Velcroed to the tarmac – and its electric motor is torquey at low speeds, which makes it great at darting between traffic lights. It can sprint from 0–37mph in just 4.8 seconds! Just don’t try to use the Smart for a shopping trip. To make space for the bags, you’d need to leave your passenger behind.
Read our full Smart EQ Fortwo review
BYD Dolphin – from £25,490
Best for: those wanting a ruthlessly affordable electric hatchback
Pros: Fantastic value for money, interesting interior, comfortable ride
Cons: Not as fun as an MG 4, intrusive safety tech
We appreciate the BYD Dolphin’s starting price is quite a jump up from the four-figure price tag of the Citroen Ami. However, we feel it’s justifiable because you get a lot more car for your money, especially when you compare it to the Smart above. The BYD Dolphin has enough space inside for four adults, plus it has a 345-litre boot, a maximum range of 265 miles and an electric motor that’s powerful enough to keep up with traffic on A-roads and motorways. In short, it’s a proper car.
It even drives quite well. Sure, it isn’t as polished as a European electric hatchback, such as a Cupra Born, but it still offers plenty of grip and manageable levels of body roll. And, if you opt for the more expensive 60kWh 201bhp version, you’ll have a car that can dash from 0–62mph in 6.7 seconds. The interior is quirky, too – the infotainment screen is mounted on a motor and can spin through 90 degrees to be either portrait or landscape.
Read our full BYD Dolphin review
MG 4 EV – from £26,995
Best for: an amazing value electric hatchback – but one that’s good to drive
Pros: Great fun to drive, long-range, honest charge indicator
Cons: Cheap materials
Like the Dolphin, the MG 4 EV is another Chinese electric hatchback. But, where the BYD focuses on comfort, the MG majors on driver engagement. It’s arguably the best-driving car in its class, running rings around the likes of the Volkswagen ID.3 and Cupra Born while simultaneously shaving thousands off their asking prices. When you’re pushing really hard, the MG 4’s rear-driven platform will even allow you to slide the back end out, just like a sports car. It’s a riot.
Happily, the MG 4 is more than just a one-trick pony. It’s practical, too. There’s enough space in the back for two adults, and it has a reasonably sized 363-litre boot. Granted, the ID. 3’s rear seats are more comfortable for adults, and its boot is slightly larger at 385 litres, but you should expect to make a few sacrifices when the price gulf between the two cars is more than £10,000. The beauty of the MG 4 is that you make fewer sacrifices than you’d expect.
Read our full MG 4 EV review
Fiat 500 Electric – from £28,195
Best for: those that want cute styling, a chic interior and a fun driving experience
Pros: It’s fast, it’s fun and, if you opt for the big-battery model, it’ll go far
Cons: Range isn’t amazing with standard trim, isn’t particularly practical
We like the Fiat 500 Electric. It’s by no means the fastest, most practical or longest-legged electric hatchback on sale – but it does have the biggest character. Just like its petrol-powered predecessor, it’s ideally suited to the city. However, it’s sophisticated enough to allow you to tackle faster roads. Providing you keep a mental note of all the nearby charging stations, that is. The entry-level model only has a tiny 24kWh battery that offers a maximum official range of 118 miles.
The 42kWh variant has a longer maximum range of around 200 miles, but at £31,195, it’s considerably more expensive. The 500’s driving experience compensates for this, though. It resists body roll well, its steering is pin-sharp, and it offers stellar levels of grip, which means you can fling it at corners with reckless abandon. Just don’t try to use it as a family car. There isn’t much space in the back, and its boot measures a mere 185 litres.
Read our full Fiat 500 Electric review
Nissan Leaf – from £28,495
Best for: those seeking a tried and tested EV with good value
Pros: Relaxed driving experience, quiet cabin, intuitive one-pedal mode
Cons: Newer rivals offer more range, lack latest fast-charging tech
The Nissan Leaf has been around since 2018. When it was launched, it was one of the best electric hatchbacks on sale, but it has since been overtaken by newer rivals with bigger batteries and more equipment. Still, what the Nissan lacks in range and fast-charging tech, it claws back with its affordable price tag. The most basic cars cost less than £30,000 – and even the flagship Tekna variant (with its Bose audio system and clever driver assistance kit) will give you back a fiver’s change from £32,000.
These days, you can only have the Leaf with a 39kWh battery, giving you a maximum range of 168 miles. Its electric motor serves up 148bhp, which is enough for a 0–62mph time of 7.9 seconds and a top speed of 90mph. While these figures look potent enough, the Leaf never encourages you to drive spiritedly. Its suspension is set up for comfort, and its steering is rather light and vague, which means it’s at its happiest bumbling along at 10mph under the speed limit. That’s a good thing, though, because it means you can eke the maximum number of miles from its battery.
Read our full Nissan Leaf review
Renault Zoe – from £29,995
Best for: those not worried about a poor Euro NCAP score
Pros: Practical cabin, good range and 50kW DC rapid charging tech
Cons: Zero-star NCAP score, motorway driving chews battery capacity
When Renault launched the Zoe in 2012, it received a glowing five-star rating from Euro NCAP. However, the safety body retested the car in 2021 and because it doesn’t have any standard active safety technology, it downgraded its score to a shocking zero stars. This is a double-edged sword, though, because the Zoe’s lack of safety equipment has helped to keep its starting price below the £30,000 mark – even if it only squeaks under the threshold these days.
If you can look past the poor NCAP score, the Zoe is still a great EV. It has a generous 52kWh battery pack, a modern and well-equipped interior and comfortable front seats. Even the boot’s a good size at 338 litres – and there’s enough space on the rear bench for taller passengers. There are some issues, though. The Zoe’s unusually high rear restricts rear legroom a little, and if you regularly take it on longer jaunts, your maximum range will tail off. Extended motorway runs will reduce your real-world range to around 150 miles.
Read our full Renault Zoe review
MG ZS EV – from £30,495
Best for: those looking for a sensible family electric SUV at a sensible price
Pros: Up to 273 miles of range, seven-year warranty, practical interior
Cons: Low-rent interior, iffy build quality
The MG ZS EV isn’t anywhere near as good to drive as the MG 4, but it’s far more practical. That makes it a great option for families looking to reduce their carbon footprint. We’ll walk you through some statistics. Maximum range is 273 miles (for the more expensive 68kWh big-battery model), you get 470 litres of boot space (which is four more than you get in the new Hyundai Kona), and there’s enough room in the rear for two child seats or three adults. Plus, the ZS has a five-star Euro NCAP score.
Obviously, with a car this affordable, you need to make sacrifices. So, the interior is a little cheap and plasticky, the infotainment screen isn’t anywhere near as good as the system you’ll find in the Kia Niro EV, and the driving experience leaves much to be desired. The ZS EV’s steering is numb, and its suspension is very much biased towards comfort, which means you get lots of body roll if you try to corner like a racing driver. This isn’t a car for enthusiasts. But as a lean, green family bus? Well, it’s ideal.
Read our full MG ZS EV review
MG 5 EV – from £30,995
Best for: moving stuff on the cheap
Pros: It’s one of the few electric estates on sale, and it has lots of standard kit
Cons: Boot isn’t that practical for an estate
Pay attention to this one. If you need an EV with a long-range, this is the best-value option available. The ZS EV is great, but it only comes with a 51kWh battery pack as standard. That means the standard car has a maximum range of 198 miles. The MG 5 EV, however, is fitted with a 61kWh battery as standard, which boosts its maximum range to 250 miles. However, it only costs another £500 over the SUV.
You don’t make any sacrifices on the practicality front, either. At 479 litres, the MG 5 EV’s boot is nine litres larger than the ZS EV’s, and although that’s not enormous by estate car standards, it’s perfectly reasonable for a family car. There’s also enough room inside for four adults, and you get plenty of storage bins in the cabin to stash any clutter. It gets better when you take the 5 on a B-road, too, because it handles well, and its motor produces a meaty 206lb ft of torque.
Read our full MG 5 EV review
Mazda MX-30 – from £31,250
Best for: those that want a quirky electric SUV that priorities fashion over functionality
Pros: Striking design, fun handling and quality interior
Cons: Minute driving range, cramped rear seats
The MX-30 trades on its styling, which is just as well because it’s absolutely hopeless at covering distance. That’s because it has a tiny 35.5kWh battery pack, whereas most of its rivals have batteries of 50kWh or more. The result? A maximum WLTP range of 124 miles and a best-case real-world range of only 100 miles. Ouch.
Still, you should at least have fun on your distance-restricted outings because, like most Mazdas, the MX-30 is fun to drive. It has direct steering and a particularly well-weighted brake pedal that masks the transition from regenerative to friction braking well. The MX-30 is also loaded with interesting design features, such as reverse-opening rear doors, wooden trim on the centre console and soft door card trims made from recycled plastic bottles. If all you need is a fun EV to get from home to work and back, the MX-30 could serve you well.
Read our Mazda MX-30 review
What is the cheapest electric car to buy today?
That depends on your definition of ‘car.’ The cheapest fully enclosed, road-legal, four-wheeled vehicle you can buy is the Citroen Ami, priced from just £7,695. However, it isn’t legally recognised as a car – it’s a pure-electric quadricycle. The cheapest proper electric car you can buy is the Smart EQ ForTwo, but we’d suggest you ignore it and opt for the more well-rounded BYD Dolphin instead.
Are electric cars getting cheaper?
Gradually, with much of that change being driven by Chinese manufacturers. Falling R&D costs, economies of scale, and the presence of smaller, less upmarket electric cars to sit alongside the big electric SUVs and saloons that kickstarted the whole shift towards electrification mean the market’s becoming ever more friendly to those on a budget.
Is it worth buying a used electric car?
Buying any used car always means you’ll take on a certain amount of risk, but EVs are a different kettle of fish. The positives? There are far fewer parts to go wrong, and most are loaded with technology. But the value of an EV hinges on the condition of its battery pack – and if the cells have been thrashed by the car’s previous owner, you could end up with a lemon that won’t do half of its claimed range.
Nearly new electric cars hold their value very well, which is great for those selling up but not so good if you’re seeking a bargain. We’ve compiled a guide to buying a used EV that includes a list of the best cars you might want to consider. Follow the link above to learn more.
Are there any cheap EV’s worth waiting for?
Not many. Most of the ‘cheap’ electric cars promised for 2023 have been put on the backburner, with most of the launches for the year being big, expensive flagship models intended to advance electric technology rather than democratise it. There are some exceptions, though – most notably the Dacia Spring (read our full review), which promises a rock-bottom starting price of around £20,000 and a maximum range of 137 miles. It’ll hit UK roads during the first half of 2024.
Are electric cars cheap to charge?
That depends on where you charge your electric car. Plug in at a motorway rapid charger at peak times, and you could end up spending more on electricity than you would for a tank of fuel in an equivalent petrol car. However, you could save hundreds of pounds if you charge up at home using a wallbox charger and an intelligent charge scheduler that can reap the benefits of an off-peak electricity tariff.
How much cheaper is EV than petrol?
At the point of purchase, almost every petrol car on sale is cheaper than its equivalent electric car. And, for the time being, at least, it’s almost impossible to make up the difference in fuel savings. We’ll use the Vauxhall Astra as an example. When we wrote this article, the cheapest petrol Astra available cost £26,610, whereas the most affordable electric Astra retailed for a staggering £42,910. That’s a difference of £16,300.
If you set aside that cash as your fuel budget, you’d have enough money for 100,000 miles worth of fuel – and you’d still have around £3,000 left over!
Luke Wilkinson is a Senior Staff Writer for the Bauer Automotive Hub. He spends his time writing news, reviews and features for CAR magazine and its sister site, Parkers.