►Electric mobility can get expensive
►Our cheapest electric cars on sale in 2023
►Prices kick off from just £22,335
Price is often cited as one of the main barriers to motorists trading in their petrol, diesel or hybrid cars and going for a fully electric model. And it’s true – EVs do tend to command a premium. The expense of batteries, the early-adopter ‘tax’ and the trend for offering EVs only as high-specification range-toppers all contribute to this gap.
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 in 2023 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’s2035 ban on the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid carsis 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 was however scrapped in summer 2022 –meaning Brits no longer receive subsidies to sweeten the pill of going electric.
Read more about the electric car grants here. They had been whittled down from the original £5k discount – by the end they were worth just £1500 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.
- Best electric SUVs
- The best used electric cars
- The best electric cars
- Learning to drive in an electric car: will our kids ever drive a fossil-fuel car?
The cheapest electric vehicles (EVs) to buy in 2023
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.
fiat 500e review
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Price from: £25,995
Range: 218 miles
The MG 4 is perhaps the best value car on this list. It’s a similar size to the Volkswagen ID.3, but has a starting price around £10,000 below its German rival. And you don’t have to sacrifice much for that price cut.
The 4 EV is good to drive, with a rear-mounted motor giving plenty of performance. The basic model has a more-than-acceptable 218-mile range, but for just an extra £2,500 you can step up to the Long Range car with 281 miles of range. All models are well-equipped, and it’s only a few areas on the interior that give away the model’s budget price tag.
MG 5 EV
Price from: £26,695
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…
MG 5 review
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Price from: £28,995
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.
Nissan Leaf review
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Price from: £29,305
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.
Vauxhall Corsa-e review
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MG ZS EV
Price from: £29,945
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.
MG ZS EV review
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Price from: £29,995
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.
Renault Zoe review
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Price from: £30,050
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…
Mazda mx-30 review
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Price from: £31,000
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.
Mini Electric review
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Hyundai Kona Electric
Price from: £31,325
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.
Hyundai Kona electric review
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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 2023 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:
- Where to charge in the UK? An EV guide
- Electric car tax: how it works
- A guide to VW’s electric cars