Owning an electric vehicle has never been more obtainable. Today, many models cost as much (or even far less) than the average price of a new vehicle in the United States. As an added bonus, some of these models will qualify for federal EV tax credits.
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While news reports on EVs tend to focus on Teslas that are priced in the upper five figures, the reality is that emission-free cars are becoming more affordable every year.
Over the last few years, many automakers have committed to launching electric vehicles that are competitive to gas-powered models in both performance and price. Add in the government tax incentives that reward you for making an ecologically sound choice, and buying an EV becomes a smart financial decision.
The newly passed Inflation Reduction Act incentivizes residential solar and affordable EVs priced below $55,000 that have a battery with at least 50% of its components made, or assembled in, North America. For each of our top picks below, we will note whether we expect the model to qualify for the $7,500 EV tax credit.
If you’re looking to buy an electric vehicle in 2022, here are some of the best models on the market for under $40,000.
Highlights: Long a classic, the Chevy Bolt makes a stellar choice for an electric vehicle. It boasts a long run time and quick charging capabilities to keep you on the road. Likely qualifies for EV tax credit.
- EV Range: 120 MPGe, 259-mile range
- Battery Type: 65 kWh 350 V lithium-ion
- Rated Power: 200 horsepower
- Price: Starts at $31,500
Likely qualifies for the EV tax credit. The Chevy Bolt likely qualifies for the EV tax credit. The MSRP is below the required threshold of $55,000 for standard EVs, and the Bolt’s batteries are assembled in Michigan.
As one of the most popular (and affordable) EVs on the market, the Chevy Bolt is well worth your consideration. It’s a small yet feature-packed all-electric hatchback with an impressive EPA range of 259 miles. Running out of juice shouldn’t be a concern, as the car’s fast-charging abilities let you add up to 100 miles in a 30-minute charging session.
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Inside the car, you’ll enjoy comfortable seats and safety features like lane departure and forward-collision warnings. Opt for a premium package, and you can also enjoy adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and a 360-degree camera.
Highlights: Available with multiple power options, the Nissan LEAF is budget-friendly but heavy on the features that matter, including a solid drive range. Likely qualifies for EV tax credit.
- EV Range: 114 MPGe, 226-mile range
- Battery Type: 40 kWh lithium-ion battery
- Rated Power: 147 to 214 hp (based on engine size)
- Price: Starts at $27,400
Likely qualifies for the EV tax credit. Nissan Leaf’s are made in Tennessee and have a starting price well below the $55,000 threshold. We expect the Leaf to qualify for the EV tax credit.
This compact hatchback is all-electric and travels up to 226 miles on a single charge. It’s a relatively basic car with a low purchase price, meaning it should suit the needs of a broad demographic of drivers. The LEAF is a five-seater car that’s available in two models: the Leaf and Leaf Plus. You’ll get a 40-kWh electric motor in the standard model (good for 150 miles), and 62-kWh motor in the Plus pushes the range to 226 miles with 250 lb of torque.
Each model comes with a push-button start, automatic temperature control, and a NissanConnect infotainment touchscreen that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You’ll also get a full range of modern safety features like blind-spot detection, rearview monitoring, lane departure warnings, and forward-collision warnings.
While the car can charge from empty to full in 11.5 hours with a Level 2 240-volt charger, it’s possible to speed up the process to under an hour with DC quick charging.
Highlights: As an electric hatchback, the Kona Electric has all the necessary features for long road trips and short city drives.
- EV Range: 120 MPGe, 258-mile range
- Battery Type: 64-kWh lithium-ion battery pack
- Rated Power: 201 horsepower
- Price: Starts at $34,000
Likely does not qualify for EV tax credit. The current Kona models likely won’t qualify for the EV tax credit, however, with Hyundai’s announcement of a 5.5 billion battery plant to be built in Georgia, future models will very likely qualify.
This fully-electric subcompact SUV has a roomy interior and hatchback design that makes it appealing as an everyday car. Even better, it runs up to 258 miles on a single charge to ensure you can get (almost) anywhere you need to go. The infotainment system (compatible with Apple and Android services) earns praise from owners for its responsive touchscreen and prominent volume and tuning knobs, making it easy to adjust settings without taking your eyes off the road.
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As the winner of the 2019 North American Utility Vehicle of the Year award, this car comes with a 64 kWh lithium-ion battery that provides up to 201 horsepower and 291 lb-ft of torque. With a DC fast charger, you can recharge it to 80 percent in under 60 minutes.
Also included are all standard safety amenities like blind-spot collision warning, forward collision avoidance, and more, as well as an adaptive cruise system that continues working in stop-and-go traffic.
As a company, Hyundai is working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 through innovations in greener transportation systems like hydrogen energy.
Highlights: While less of a budget-friendly option, the Kia Niro is a standout electric vehicle known for its performance and reliability.
- EV Range: 112 MPGe, 239-mile range
- Battery Type: 64 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery
- Rated Power: 201 horsepower
- Price: starts at $39,990
Will not qualify for EV tax credit. Kia representatives have announced that they do not believe any of their EVs will qualify for the new EV tax credit.
Coming in at $39,990, the Kia Niro EV barely makes this list. But even with the higher price tag, this EV belongs on your shortlist. The 64 kWh battery generates 201 horsepower for a 239-mile driving range. This allows it to hit 60-mph in just 6.2 seconds, a quicker acceleration than competitors like the Chevy Bolt and Hyundai Kona Electric.
For your money, you get a 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen with built-in navigation and SiriusXM satellite road, as well as roomy seating, if with a decidedly plasticky interior. The car’s climate system even shuts off automatically when it detects the passenger seat is empty, consequently saving the battery.
Highlights: Get the best of electric vehicles with sports utility with the Chevy Bolt EUV- an affordable car with premium touches.
- EV Range: 115 MPGe, 247-mile range
- Battery Type: 65 kWh battery pack
- Rated Power: 200 horsepower
- Price: Starts at $33,500
Likely will qualify for EV tax credit. The Chevy Bolt EUV likely qualifies for the EV tax credit. The MSRP is below the required threshold of $80,000 for SUVs, and the Bolt’s batteries are assembled in Michigan.
This all-electric small SUV offers almost 250 miles in electric drive range. It’s a step up from the standard Chevy Bolt with its hatchback design and extra space for cargo and passengers. It also comes with a 10.2-inch touchscreen and an optional Super Cruise system for seamless driving. Just note it only comes with front-wheel drive, not all-wheel drive.
Performance-wise, this car will reach 0-60 in 7.0 seconds, putting it on par with its gas-powered counterparts.
Highlights: Ultra cheap but light on speed and a long run time, the Kandi K27 can work for short drives in the city but may seem lacking for everything else.
- EV Range: 114 MPGe, 116-mile range
- Battery Type: 17.69 kWh Lithium
- Rated Power: 27 horsepower
- Price: $11,999
Likely does not qualify for EV tax credit. This Chinese built EV utilizes Chinese batteries and is unlikely to qualify for the EV tax credit. However, if the Kandi batteries are assembled in North America, it is possible this model would qualify for the tax credit,.
Kandi Technologies Group, Inc is a Chinese auto manufacturer that recently set up headquarters in Garland, Texas, to manufacture this commuter-friendly car. That price is not a misprint—the Kandi K27 really costs less than $12,000. Factor in your state-specific tax rebates, and some owners can drive away with this fully functional electric vehicle for under $8,000.
This electric car is far from powerful, as it maxes out around 60 mph. Even so, it boasts a roomy interior and makes it well over 100 miles between charges. The car offers other surprising luxury features like an anti-theft system, speed-sensing door lock, over-speed and seat belt warning, and even a backup camera.
While it’s not the car you want with you on long or challenging drives, it’s well suited for quick city trips and may make for an ideal second car if you’re going to explore the world of electric vehicles without paying a premium price.
Highlights: Suburu’s electric Crosstrek gives you range and speed at a fair price point, so long as you’re comfortable going with a hybrid instead of a fully electric vehicle.
- EV Range: 90 MPGe, 480-mile range
- Battery Type: 8.8 kWh battery
- Rated Power: 148 horsepower
- Price: Starts at $35,645
Likely does not qualify for EV tax credit. The Subaru battery system is a Toyota sourced hybrid system and is unlikely to qualify for the EV tax credit.
Good luck finding an electric vehicle that can beat the Crosstrek Hybrid’s 480 miles. It achieves this range thanks to a hybrid power system that combines a battery with a gas engine so you can refuel however is most convenient. Driving with the gas engine charges the electric motor as you travel, so there’s less need to stop and recharge. But even so, you can get it to full capacity within two hours with a 240V outlet. That makes it our pick for a vehicle to take on long road trips.
Like the standard Crosstrek, this hybrid model has ample safety features and luxury add-ons like a heated steering wheel. It boasts a 90 MPGe range and is capable of off-road driving in all-wheel-drive mode. And unlike most electric vehicles, the Crosstrek Hybrid has a roomy interior that beats out competitors like Hyundai, Toyota, and Mazda for space.
Highlights: Fans of Mini Coopers will find a lot to like about this electric offering. But those who aren’t brand aficionados can find better stats and features elsewhere.
- EV Range: 108 MPGe, 114-mile range
- Battery Type: 35 kWh lithium-ion battery
- Rated Power: 181 horsepower
- Price: Starts at $29,900
Likely does not qualify for EV tax credit. The Mini Electric isn’t manufactured in the USA, and is unlikely to qualify for the EV tax credit.
Small but mighty, the Mini Cooper Electric is a fun car to drive. This two-door car packs in a 181 horsepower engine, along with luxury features like heated front seats, wireless charging, dual-zone climate control, and a large infotainment screen that supports integration with Apple CarPlay.
However, the Cooper’s small size means it sacrifices on the battery, as this car can only drive about 110 miles between charges. This makes it ideal for quick trips in an urban environment but less suited to a longer drive time. But rest assured, for days when the drive is longer, it’s possible to charge the Mini Electric up to 80% in 36 minutes with a fast DC charging station.