Cheapest electric cars

Cut-price recharging, free road tax - and the cars start at just over £100 per month: these are the cheapest electric cars

BuyaCar team
Oct 22, 2018

They might be cheap to run, but electric cars have a reputation of being expensive to buy, which isn't helped by the most desirable models.

The Jaguar I-Pace, for example, costs from more than £60,000, to say nothing of the Tesla Model X, which can easily exceed £100,000 with a few additional options.

But below the flashier end of the market sit plenty of far cheaper alternatives. These won't break the bank to buy or to finance, and will also come with the cheap recharging costs, zero road tax, and low company car tax associated with electric cars.

At the moment, the cheapest electric cars from BuyaCar start at £5,400 or from £103 per month on finance. You'll usually find that the very cheapest cars require you to lease the battery, adding an additional amount to your monthly payments.

New electric cars typically start from under £300 a month on finance and benefit from a £3,500 government grant, as well as additional savings. The cheapest used electric cars are below, followed by the cheapest new electric cars.

                

Cheapest used electric cars

Cheapest new electric cars

Cheapest used electric cars

1. Renault Zoe

Latest Renault Zoe deals from £6,000
Finance from £115 per month

If you like the idea of electric motoring but don't want to shout about it, the Renault Zoe could be for you. It looks just like any petrol or diesel-powered small car, the only giveaway being the large blue bonnet badge concealing its charging point.

It’s a roomy car that can easily seat five people, although rear passengers do sit higher than normal because the batteries are tucked away under the back seat. The 338-litre boot is bigger than a Renault Clio's, so it’s quite practical. The Zoe is good to drive, with brisk acceleration from a standing start. It leans a little in corners and will thump harshly over some potholes but on the whole, it’s perfectly comfortable.

Older cars have a 22kWh battery with a real-world range of around about 100 miles. More recent ones have a bigger 41kWh battery for 180 miles of driving between charges. Most Zoes require you to lease the battery separately, from £49 per month (£59 for 41kWh batteries). Versions badged ‘i’ include the battery but are more expensive.
Renault Zoe buying guide

 

2. Nissan Leaf

Latest Nissan Leaf deals from £9,990
Finance from £167 per month

The car that started the electric revolution has a loyal following. People like its roomy, practical interior, comfortable driving experience and decent 100-mile range between charges that you can realistically expect.

At 370 litres the boot is around the same size as a VW Golf’s and will comfortably swallow a week’s family shopping. If you need more load space, it’s possible to fold down the rear seats.

The only real downside to Leaf ownership is the model’s ungainly looks. It can’t be a coincidence that the all-new version launched in early 2017 looks more conventional.
Nissan Leaf buying guide

 

3. BMW i3

Latest BMW i3 deals from £15,689
Finance from £247 per month

Even though the car first went on sale four years ago, the BMW i3 still looks futuristic, thanks to its oddly-shaped windows, rear-opening back doors and squat bonnet that doesn’t need to accommodate an engine.

The interior is up to he quality standards of any other BMW and it drives fairly nimbly too, with that fast electric acceleration and good grip in corners, which allow you to drive confidently.

The range of the original car is around 100 miles but that was extended to 125 miles from early 2017 with the 94Ah model. For more range, there's the more expensive range-extender version (current BuyaCar prices start at £16,689). This has a small supplementary petrol engine that powers the electric motor should the batteries run out of charge.

 

4. Hyundai Ioniq

Latest Hyundai Ioniq Electric deals from £21,300
Finance from £339 per month

The Ioniq is full-size family car that comes in three versions: a hybrid, combining a petrol engine with an electric motor; the plug-in hybrid which can be charged to provide pure electric motoring for around 30 miles. Finally, there’s the full-electric Ioniq. This has a real-world range of around 130 miles on a full charge. It’s quiet around town and on the open road, and accelerates quickly, too.

Although it costs more than an equivalent Nissan Leaf, the Ioniq feels more upmarket, with a high level of standard equipment and more conventional interior, which helps to justify the cost. Being a Hyundai, it comes with a five-year warranty from new which means a 2017-registered model still has four years’ cover remaining.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric buying guide

 

5. VW e-Golf

Latest VW e-Golf deals from £27,500
Finance from £446 per month

For the ultimate in understated electric motoring, you’ll want the VW e-Golf. You’d be hard pushed to tell it apart from its petrol and diesel equivalents, which is  a large part of its appeal.

It feels like a traditional Golf to drive, too: solid, composed and steady in corners. Being an electric car, it zooms away from a standstill and can cruise at 70mph on the motorway without difficulty.

Saying that, high speeds will reduce the battery’s range. In average motoring, the e-Golf’s range is around 125 miles, compared with VW’s official claim of 186 miles.
Volkswagen e-Golf buying guide

 

Cheapest new electric cars

1. Citroen C-Zero

Our pick Citroen C-Zero (£17,020 including grant, before discounts)
Battery Included in car’s price

The Citroen C-Zero was an electric car pioneer: on sale eight years ago at the same time as the Nissan Leaf, it was one of the first mainstream battery-powered cars that you could buy.

Unfortunately, it’s still on sale now when the Nissan Leaf has been replaced by an all-new model, and many more modern rivals have been launched. It means the C-Zero's gawky design looks old, and it feels it too. The small interior makes life uncomfortable for passengers and its real-world range of around 60 miles between recharging is woeful compared with competitors.

Those disadvantages do mean that there are large discounts available, and at a low price, the C-Zero makes more sense as a little city runaround. Peugeot makes a version of the same car, called the iOn and it’s available for the same price.

2. Smart EQ FourTwo

Our pick Smart EQ prime (£17,915 including grant, before discounts)
Battery Included in car’s price

The Smart FourTwo is a city car that is actually better in electric form than in petrol. The battery-powered version is much nippier, so you lose less time dawdling in traffic, and it’s more enjoyable to drive.

The FourTwo has a very tight 6.95m turning circle, which is perfect for U-turns and wrong turns. Its official 100-mile range is acceptable, but does limit the car’s use for long journeys, where you’ll need to recharge after around 80 miles.

3. Renault Zoe

Our pick Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav R110 Z.E. 40 (£18,420 including grant, before discounts)
Battery Buy for approx. £6,600 or lease from £59 to £110 per month

Updated for 2018, the latest Renault Zoe is now available in purple and also gets a more powerful 110hp motor, bringing faster acceleration particularly at motorway speeds. However, long journeys can take a while because it takes 1hr 40min to charge the batteries from empty to 80 per cent from a fast charger. A less-powerful 90hp model takes 65min. 

The Zoe is the only new car that gives you the choice of buying or leasing the battery. Which is best for you depends on how you use the car. If you’re buying car, intend on keeping it for at least five years and cover more than 10,000 miles a year, it’s best to buy the battery too, as it’ll cost the same overall as leasing - and you get to keep it, so the car should be worth more.
Renault Zoe buying guide

4. VW e-up!

Our pick VW e-up! (£22,140, including grant, before discounts)
Battery Included in car’s price

Adding electric components to the little VW up! has doubled the car’s price to more than £21,000 - even after the government’s £3,500 plug-in grant has been deducted.

The e-up! has an official range of 99 miles, which is fine if you’re using it in the city. The fact that the batteries are spread around the car under the floor means that it doesn’t feel much heavier than the petrol-powered versions, and also retains the car’s spacious interior and boot (compared with city car rivals).

5.Nissan Leaf

Our pick Nissan Leaf Acenta (£22,690 incl. grant)
Battery Included in car’s price

The latest version of the Nissan Leaf may cost around £4,000 more than the Renault Zoe when brand new but your money buys more space, more technology, more power and more range.The battery is also included in the price.

One of the Leaf’s most interesting features is the ePedal, a single pedal that doubles as an accelerator and a brake. You accelerate by pressing the pedal and release it for mild braking, which charges the battery at the same time. If you need to stop in a hurry, then you’ll need to use the conventional brake pedal, which the car still has.

The Leaf has a real-world range of around 150 miles. It takes 7.5 hours to charge from empty using a 7.5kW home charger or 40 minutes from 0-80% using a 50kW fast charger.

Combined with the car’s design, which is more conventional than the first Nissan Leaf, the car is likely to convert more people to buying an electric car.
Nissan Leaf buying guide

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