Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular as gas prices skyrocket. In fact, automakers plan to pivot to largely electric lineups in the coming decade, in response to ongoing climate concerns.
For more than a decade, brands like Nissan and Chevrolet have offered affordable electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Spark EV, but their gas-powered subcompact and compact counterparts were always more affordable.
While that’s still true today — especially as brands like Tesla market electric vehicles (EVs) like the Tesla Model S starting in the six-figure range — the price gap between gas cars and electric cars has become much narrower. Federal tax credits can even make an electric car cheaper than a similar gas-powered model.
At the same time, automakers have made tremendous strides to address range anxiety; most of the electric cars featured below can go at least 200 miles on a single charge.
But what’s the most affordable electric vehicle, and how do tax credits affect the price? Check out our list of the cheapest electric cars below.
10 Cheapest Electric Cars in 2023
We’ve rounded up the most affordable EVs in the U.S. based solely on their MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price).
Some new electric vehicles are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit, but the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 changed the guidelines. As we approached the end of 2022, the IRS revised guidance (temporarily) because it was simply not ready to roll out some of the new provisions.
The short version? Some new EVs may qualify for the full electric car tax credit, some may qualify for a partial credit and some may not qualify at all — and this may change later in 2023 (and again in future years). Once you’ve narrowed down your list of affordable EVs, do some research to determine if each vehicle you’re considering qualifies (and if you qualify) for the tax credit.
Without further ado, here are the 10 most affordable electric cars of 2023:
1. 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV
Starting MSRP: $26,595
EPA-estimated range: 259 miles
With changes to the federal EV tax credit law, the Chevrolet Bolt EV may be eligible for a rebate once again. (Chevy had previously been eliminated for consideration because its EV sales had surpassed the now-removed 200,000 sale threshold).
That means the 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EV, which is the cheapest electric vehicle for 2023, may be even more affordable after tax credits. And it’s cheaper than the outgoing 2022 model by several thousands of dollars.
Tax credits aside, the Bolt EV is reasonably priced and has great range. The entry-level trim (1LT) that starts at $26,595 promises up to 259 miles of range, wireless smartphone integration and advanced Chevy Safety Assist features. If you spring for the 2023 Bolt EV 2LT (starting at $29,795), you’ll get leather-appointed seats and additional safety tech.
The 2023 Chevy Bolt EV seats five but suffers from the same crowded feeling in the back. That said, the Bolt is a great find: standard safety tech, wireless phone capability and a 0-to-60 sprint in 6.5 seconds. Plus, Chevy foots the bill for your home charging setup.
2. 2023 Nissan Leaf
Starting MSRP: $28,040
EPA-estimated range: 149 to 226 miles
The Nissan Leaf was the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle and has been around since 2010. While it hasn’t topped the list of the cheapest electric cars every year, it’s always been among the most affordable electric vehicles. This year, it yields first place to Chevrolet, but it still comes in under $30K before any potential tax credits.
For the low price of $28,040 (a slight increase over the 2022 model), you’ll get a compact hatchback offering 123 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) with a 149-mile range. If you want that max 212-mile range (a decrease from 2022), you’ll need to get the Leaf S Plus with the long-range battery. The Leaf S Plus starts at $36,040 before tax credits.
While you can fit five passengers in the Leaf, the rear seat is a little tight for adults (but it can be done!). Up front, passengers have access to a wide range of amenities, like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. And don’t let its status as an economy car fool you; the Leaf comes standard with the Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes active safety tech like Lane Departure Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection.
3. 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV
Starting MSRP: $28,195
EPA-estimated range: 247 miles
The Chevrolet Bolt EUV is in its second year and builds upon the work done by the Bolt EV, one of the world’s most popular electric cars. You’ve got more options with the Bolt EUV — four trims instead of two, from the standard LT to the premium Premier Redline with sporty red accents and luxury features.
What we like about the EUV over the EV is the more spacious cabin — we tall people appreciate every extra inch of legroom an automaker will throw at us. The Chevy EUV is also available with the GM Super Cruise system (the hands-free autonomous driving system that gets us one step closer to the inevitable robot takeover).
4. 2023 Hyundai Kona Electric
Starting MSRP: $33,550
EPA-estimated range: 258 miles
The 2023 Hyundai Kona may have the fiercest styling of any vehicle on our list — that wheel design is especially attractive, and on base-level trim models, you can go with a two-tone paint job. Inside, wireless connectivity and comfy seating make the Kona a standout.
And at 258 miles of range on all three trims, the Kona Electric is one of the better options for longer trips; Level 3 quick charging isn’t so quick, however. It’ll take you 47 to 64 minutes, depending on the DC fast charging equipment.
For those keeping score, the price of the Kona Electric actually went down for 2023 by $450.
5. 2023 Mini Cooper SE Electric Hardtop 2 Door
Starting MSRP: $34,225
EPA-estimated range: 114 miles
If you’re drawn to the iconic styling of Mini Coopers, you won’t be disappointed by the SE Electric. But it also gets just enough personality of its own that differentiates it from other Coopers (look at those wheels).
Where you will be disappointed by the new hardtop model is in the range. At 114 miles per charge, the 2023 Mini Cooper SE Electric Hardtop 2 Door has the one of the lowest ranges of any of the 10 most affordable electric cars on our list.
6. 2023 Volkswagen ID.4
Starting MSRP: $38,995
EPA-estimated range: 275 miles
In 2022, the Volkswagen ID.4 claimed the 10th spot on our most affordable EVs list. This year, a considerable price drop (from more than $41,000) has bumped it up.
But that’s not all that dropped: Range for the 2023 model is 275 miles — not bad at all, but the 2022 model managed 280. Even so, with fast charging, you can get 220 miles of range in roughly 30 minutes.
Last year, waiting lists abounded for new cars, especially electric vehicles. And while many EVs on this list took a while to get, the Volkswagen ID.4 was a standout, at times commanding more than four-month waits from order to delivery.
7. 2023 Kia Niro EV
Starting MSRP: $39,450
EPA-estimated range: 253 miles
Sleek crossovers are a dime a dozen, but add the electrification of the Kia Niro EV and its impressive range of 253 miles, and you’ve got something truly special. For 2023, its range climbed 14 miles per charge, yet its price dropped by roughly $500.
Despite its single electric motor, the Niro EV is no slouch, cranking out 201 horsepower and 188 lb-ft of torque and launching from 0 to 60 in 7.1 seconds. Plus, the electrified crossover offers standard driver-assist safety tech, a premium sound system, and DC fast charging that adds more than 200 miles of range in just 45 minutes.
8. 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 5
Starting MSRP: $41,450
EPA-estimated range: 220 to 303 miles
A new entry on our list this year, the 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 5 is an EV to watch. MotorTrend named it the 2023 SUV of the Year, and its premium trim level earns up to 303 miles of driving range — but costs $52,600.
For the $41,450 price point, you’ll get the base IONIQ 5 model, which still offers an impressive 220 miles of range. The base model sits on sporty 19-inch alloy wheels and offers ultra-fast charging.
On the other end of the trim spectrum are features like the Blind-Spot View Monitor, vision roof, and Premium Head-Up Display with Augmented Reality.
9. 2023 Toyota bZ4X
Starting MSRP: $42,000
EPA-estimated range: 242 to 252 miles
Another new entrant on our list of the 10 cheapest EVs this year is the 2023 Toyota bZ4X — as uniquely named as it is styled. But this electric SUV offers more than funky styling.
For starters, the sporty engine promises 201 horsepower and 196 lb-ft of torque. If you opt for the available all-wheel drive, those numbers jump to 214 and 248, respectively.
Toyota has also outfitted its bZ4X with a plethora of safety technologies (under the Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 umbrella), including the Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection, Full-Speed Range Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist.
10. 2023 Subaru Solterra
Starting MSRP: $44,995
EPA-estimated range: 111 to 114 miles
Subaru has entered the world of full electrification with its 2023 Solterra. Despite this being its first fully electric model, Subaru has already joined the ranks of the most affordable EVs — even with its legendary symmetrical all-wheel drive system.
That doesn’t mean the Solterra is cheap. You’ll still have to spend, at a minimum, $44,995, though the top trim (Touring) starts at $51,995.
While there’s a lot to like about this new EV, Subaru has a long way to go in perfecting its electrified lineup. The 111-mile range is the lowest on our list, and its potential 114-mile range (for the base trim) only ties with Mini Cooper, which has the second-lowest range.
And it’s roughly just a third of the range you can get from the (more affordable) Hyundai IONIQ 5.
A Note on the Most Affordable EVs of 2023
Our list of the 10 cheapest electric cars for 2023 only includes the 2023 model year. In the first half of 2023, you may be able to find cheaper EVs on dealer lots by looking for remaining 2022 inventory.
Finally, note that some models on our list have limited availability, meaning you may only be able to purchase them in select states.
How Electric Car Tax Credits Work
Back in 2010, the federal government introduced a program awarding customers $7,500 in tax credits for purchasing electric vehicles. The goal was to incentivize buyers — whose major hesitations were price and range — to give EVs a shot.
So if a new electric vehicle cost $50,000 and came with a $7,500 tax credit, EV buyers could think of it as a $42,500 purchase.
Of course, customers had to pony up (or finance) the whole $50K when making the purchase, but when filing taxes, drivers could add a one-time tax credit to their return.
Previous federal tax credit legislation limited automakers to 200,000 EVs before their tax credits went away. The Inflation Reduction Act eliminated that threshold — but added a lot more (confusing) eligibility requirements, some of which were implemented at the start of 2023.
To be eligible, you’ll need to fall below certain adjusted gross income thresholds (based on your filing status). Vehicles have even more hoops to jump through to qualify, including having critical battery materials sourced in specific locations (i.e., the U.S. or countries with which we have free trade agreements).
The IRS was not able to implement all the revisions to the tax credit on Jan. 1, 2023, as originally anticipated, so you’ll need to keep up with tax credit updates as you plan to purchase a new electric vehicle.
Military Discounts on Electric Cars
Many automakers offer military discounts on their entire lineup, including EVs, which makes it easier for active duty members of the military, veterans and their immediate family to find affordable fully electric vehicles.
Though the programs vary, they typically entail a $500 rebate or bonus cash.
If you’re a member of the military exploring electric mobility, check out one of these automotive military discount programs:
GM Military Discount
Ford Military Appreciation Program
Toyota Military Rebate
Nissan Military Program
Mazda Military Appreciation Bonus Cash
Hyundai Military Program
BMW Military Incentive
Mercedes-Benz Military Program
Volkswagen Military Bonus
How Much Does It Cost to Own an Electric Car?
New electric vehicles are about $10,000 more than gas cars if you just look at sticker price. But that’s comparing apples to oranges. For a better comparison, factor in the full cost of ownership, from maintenance and insurance costs to federal tax rebates
When calculating how much you’ll spend on — and how much you’ll save with — an electric car, include these considerations:
Federal Tax Credits
Some EVs are eligible for up to $7,500 in tax credits, though new restrictions imposed as part of the Inflation Reduction Act may actually make it more challenging for EVs to qualify.
EVs are famously less expensive to maintain because they don’t require oil changes or air filter replacements. In a given year, you could save hundreds or thousands on routine car maintenance.
That said, when electric cars need to be repaired (or the battery needs to be replaced), the work is considerably more expensive. Battery replacements can cost several thousand dollars, even more than $20K. That said, most new EVs come with an extended battery warranty that may cover your first replacement, depending on the timing.
Because electric cars are more expensive to repair, car insurance premiums tend to be more expensive. According to ValuePenguin, EV insurance policies typically cost 25% more.
Gas cars require, well, gas — and it isn’t cheap. Electric cars, on the other hand, are powered by, well, an electric motor. And recharging that electric motor at home is much more affordable than buying a tank of gas. Sure, your monthly utility bill will go up, but the cost is negligible compared to what drivers are spending each month on fuel.
You should, however, factor in the installation of a charging station at your home when considering a new or used EV purchase. Depending on your setup, expect to spend $1,000 to $2,000 on your at-home charging station — but some automakers (like Chevy) will pay the cost for you.
Contributor Timothy Moore is a writer and editor in Cincinnati, Ohio. He focuses on banks, loans and insurance for The Penny Hoarder. His work has been featured INSIDER, Sound Dollar, Forbes, HomeAdvisor, WDW Magazine, Chime and SoFi.
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.