Cheapest electric cars 2022: affordable EVs

Published: 13 May 2022

► Electric mobility can get expensive
► Our cheapest electric cars on sale today
► Prices kick off from just £22,335

Due mainly to the expense of batteries, electric cars are usually more expensive than their petrol, diesel or hybrid counterparts. And while the gap’s closing, it’s still there, in many cases putting electric mobility out of reach for many.

If the purchase price is putting you off an EV then this page is for you, as we’ll be listing the cheapest models available to buy as well as some tips on navigating the used market. Don’t go expecting miracles – there’s very little crossover with this list and, say, the fastest electric cars or those with the longest range. Instead, you’ll find pragmatic choices that make an ideal entry into the world of electric cars.

What’s the UK government doing?

The UK government’s 2035 ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars is expected to speed things up too, as manufacturers seek to offer EVs at all price points before internal-combustion is shown the door. The Plug-in Car Grant is still currently offered, albeit as a shadow of its former self – just £1,500 off the cost of a new fully electric car with a list price under £40,000.

Are electric cars getting cheaper?

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.

Nowadays the most affordable viable electric cars start at just over £22,000. Note the word ‘viable’ – while we enjoy quadricycles like the Renault Twizy, they don’t count as cars, and we’ve also ignored vehicles with such a short range as to be unusable.

All vehicles listed here are inclusive of the government’s £1500 Plug-in Car Grant and prices are correct at the time of writing.

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The cheapest electric vehicles (EVs) to buy in 2022

Fiat 500 Electric

Cheapest electric cars - Fiat 500 Electric

Price from: £22,335
Range: 115 miles

Kicking the list off is what we consider the least expensive electric car that’s still viable for daily use. Available only in bargain-basement Action trim, the 500 Electric is a fab little car – our sister site Parkers awarded it their Small Electric Car of the Year gong for 2022. Cute to look at, fun to drive and packed with personality, it ticks a great many boxes.

Sure, 115 miles on a full charge means anything longer than a commute will require forward planning, but it’s ideal for the city and though the back seats are fairly useless there’s plenty of space for two. Spend a bit extra and the long-range model offers up to 199 miles on a charge.

Read the full Fiat 500e review here
Fiat 500e leasing deals
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Volkswagen e-Up

Cheapest electric cars - Volkswagen e-Up

Price from: £22,585
Range: 160 miles

Not a Yorkshireman trying to grab your attention, but VW’s city car converted to electric power – and though the Up has been around since 2012 it doesn’t at all feel past its prime.

Agile handling and a supple ride pair well with the electric motor’s perky performance to make a tiny car that’s really great to drive. The e-Up’s square body makes it really practical, too – there’s five doors as standard, a surprisingly large boot and space for four adults at a pinch. Expect close to 120-130 miles from a full charge.

Read the full VW e-Up review here
VW e-Up leasing deals

Vauxhall Corsa-e

Cheapest electric cars - Vauxhall Corsa-e

Price from: £25,805
Range: 222 miles

The Corsa-e’s a great budget-friendly supermini, not just for buying outright – it’s also available with some very generous finance and leasing packages.

And that doesn’t mean it’s cheap and nasty. Based on the same platform as the Peugeot e-208, this generation of Corsa’s better to drive than any that came before it, and the interior’s taken a huge step forward, too – it’s now reasonably spacious and high-quality, though does lack some stylistic flair compared to its sister car. Experience with this model suggests around 160 miles is a realistic range figure, compared to its WLTP-certified 222 miles.

Read the full Vauxhall Corsa-e review here
Vauxhall Corsa-e leasing deals

Nissan Leaf

Price from: £26,995
Range: 168 miles

The original Nissan Leaf is often credited as the first car to make electric mobility mainstream – and for a long time, it was the best-selling electric car in the world. Now less popular it’s still a decent way to get into a cheap electric family car, with lots of space for the price.

This cheaper model uses a 40kWh battery and 168 miles of WLTP-certified range – a longer-range model with over 200 miles is available for more cash. All models are comfortable to drive and come with lots of equipment for the money, however they are beginning to feel their age. Particularly when it comes to charging – Leafs use a ChaDeMo connector which is increasingly being phased out in favour of Type 2 or CCS sockets.

Read the full Nissan Leaf review here
Nissan Leaf leasing deals

MINI Electric

Cheapest electric cars - MINI Electric

Price from: £27,000
Range: 145 miles

Cheap electric cars are usually still quite fun to drive thanks to the instant performance on offer from their motors – but the MINI Electric takes things a step further with genuinely engaging handling and a more analogue feel than most of its rivals.

We lived with one for six months, finding it to be great fun to drive as a ‘warm’ hatch – but bemoaning the low range, which sits at less than 100 miles in cold weather. Still, if your needs aren’t very demanding, there’s a lot to like – especially the myriad personalisation options which allow you to tailor your MINI Electric to your own tastes.

Read the full MINI Electric review here

Mazda MX-30

Cheapest electric cars - Mazda MX-30

Price from: £27,145
Range: 124 miles

The MX-30 looks the business. It may be a compact SUV but it’s far from identikit with cool touches like those suicide rear doors and cork dashboard. Mazda’s commitment to driver enjoyment shines through and the MX-30 has fun handling, accurate steering, and not too much weight to worry about.

The light weight does mean there’s sod all battery capacity, though – a 124-mile official range is less than 100 miles in most real-world conditions. A range-extender variant with an interesting rotary petrol engine has been promised, though…

Read the full Mazda MX-30 review here
Mazda MX-30 leasing deals

MG ZS EV

Cheapest electric cars - MG ZS EV

Price from: £27,495
Range: 273 miles

The ZS EV is the first car on this list with a significant enough range to be considered as a family’s only car. The official 273-mile WLTP figure is more like 250 miles in the real world, but that’s still on a par with some of the longest-range EVs available – many of which are double the price of the ZS EV.

The cracks do show a little elsewhere – the interior’s rather low-rent, the driving dynamics dull and the prestige factor absolute zero. But if you want a big, practical EV with a long range, there’s very little to challenge it.

Read the full MG ZS EV review here
MG ZS EV leasing deals

Renault Zoe

Cheap electric cars: the Renault Zoe shows you don't have to spend loads on an EV

Price from: £27,595
Range: 245 miles

The Zoe looks a lot like a tall Clio but under the attractive supermini body lies enough battery to cover a real-world 200 miles between charges, an impressive range for such a small car. It’s not a particularly bad place to while away the miles, either – the dashboard is similar to the Renault Clio’s, and though the driving position is very high the rest of the interior strikes a nice balance between quality and value.

Do note the Zoe’s atrocious Euro NCAP crash test score – only the third car to be awarded zero stars. It’s not inherently unsafe, like a zero-star car from ten years ago might be – but rivals offer greater protection in an impact and better active safety equipment.

Read the full Renault Zoe review
Renault Zoe leasing deals

MG 5 EV

Cheapest electric cars - MG 5 EV

Price from: £27,945
Range: 250 miles

If you like the idea of the MG ZS EV’s value and range but prefer an estate car to an SUV, step right this way. It’s little wonder the 5 EV has already proved popular with taxi drivers – with a real-world range in excess of 200 miles, a seven-year warranty and practical interior it’s practically a ready-made minicab.

Like its sibling, you’ll enjoy absolutely no admiring glances – more people are likely to ask you what it is. But if you like flying under the radar, that may be an attractive proposition…

Read the full MG 5 EV review here
MG 5 EV leasing deals

Hyundai Kona Electric

Cheapest electric cars - Hyundai Kona Electric

Price from: £28,950
Range: 189 miles

Challenging looks aside, the Kona makes for a pretty compelling electric car choice. An official range of 189 miles WLTP isn’t particularly stellar compared to the likes of the MG ZS EV, above, but it’s a cut above in terms of interior quality and driving experience.

If you need more range, a larger version with a 64kWh battery is available for more cash. But even the entry-level model drives well, is reasonably practical and comes loaded with equipment.

Read the full Hyundai Kona Electric review here
Hyundai Kona Electric leasing deals

What about a used EV?

Buying any secondhand car can be risky, but EVs are a different kettle of fish. Giving with one hand and taking away with another, you’ll find far fewer components that could go wrong – but as a result, their value hinges on the condition of the battery pack.

Used 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 a full guide to buying a used EV here, plus some of the models you might want to consider.

Any cheap EVs worth waiting for?

Not many. Most examples promised for 2022 and beyond are more of what we’ve come to expect from manufacturers – big, expensive flagships intended to advance the technology rather than democratise it.

There are some bright sparks, notably the Dacia Spring EV which promises a bargain-basement price tag albeit with some cheap car caveats.

Further electric car reading:

** These deals are indicative examples of some packages available, but are subject to change without prior notice. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and the availability of credit is subject to status. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply. CAR Magazine cannot recommend a deal for you specifically.

Terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Bauer Consumer Media Limited is an appointed representative of ZenAuto Limited for the broking of regulated hire agreements. ZenAuto Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. ZenAuto Limited’s registered office is Number One, Great Exhibition Way, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds LS5 3BF. ZenAuto Limited’s company registration number is 10967345. ZenAuto is the trading name of ZenAuto Limited.              

By Tom Wiltshire

Bauer Automotive staff writer; enjoys Peugeots, naturally-aspirated diesels, column shifts and steel wheels

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