6 Electric Vehicles That Are Way Cheaper To Buy Than They Look

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Electric vehicles have become a phenomenon, with global sales topping the 10 million mark in 2022, and that number is projected to reach nearly 75 million in 2035. That is the year when many of the United States and the European Union will ban the sale of fossil fuel-powered cars, paving the way for EVs to truly take over the road.  

There are certainly many expensive EVs on the market, including the 2022 Porsche Taycan, which starts at more than $130,000. As part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the United States government began offering a $3,400 tax credit for anyone who purchased a hybrid vehicle. In 2009, the credit was increased to $7,500 and extended to plug-in EVs. That program remained in place until this year, when restrictions on vehicles with Chinese components went into place, cutting the number of models eligible for the full $7,500 credit to just 13. Individual states have stepped up to fill the gap; however, only Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming offer no incentive for EV buyers. Depending on income and the vehicle they buy, Connecticut residents can collect tax credits that approach the $7,500 federal maximum. 

Those savings are enough to make a sizable dent in the cost of a new vehicle. EVs can also appear more expensive than they are, with dramatic styling and an array of high-tech features like paddle shifters, digital infotainment screens, and driver-assist systems. Let’s look at a half dozen EVs that, even if they are not eligible for the federal tax credit, are much less expensive than they seem at first glance. 

Hyundai Ioniq 6

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Hyundai introduced the Ioniq in 2016 in hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fully electric versions and followed that up with the Ioniq 5 in 2021. The Ioniq 6 came along in 2023 and, just like the model it replaced, took the Car and Driver’s EV of the Year award. According to C&D’s Joe Lorio, this was in no small part due to the Ioniq’s styling. “‘Just look at it,’ we said of the Ioniq 5 when it won, and we could do the same for the Ioniq 6,” he wrote.

The 2024 Ioniq starts at $42,450; state tax credits can take that well below $40,000, depending on where you live. You can choose between RWD and dual-motor AWD models in S, SEL, or Unlimited trim. Hyundai offers two different battery options in the Ioniq 6, the larger of which provides up to 361 miles of range in SE models. 

Once inside, you’ll be treated to an interior Car and Driver says it has “a similarly modern and minimalist aesthetic to the Ioniq 5.” High-tech features include a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a separate 12.3-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. 

The Ioniq 6 also comes standard with pedestrian detection with automatic braking, lane keeping, and adaptive cruise control systems. Like all other vehicles Hyundai sells, it is covered by a 10-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the powertrain (which for EVs includes the battery pack).  

Volkswagen ID4

The Volkswagen ID4 compact SUV debuted for the 2021 model year and got slight boosts in range with updates for 2022, 2023, and 2024. The 2024 model starts at about $41,000, meaning you can easily bring the price below 40,000 with some state tax incentives. The ID4 comes in five trim levels, from the base model to the fully loaded Pro S Plus, which adds about $12,000 to the sticker price.

The Pro S comes with 12-way adjustable faux leather seats, and all ID4 models have a standard 12-inch infotainment screen with built-in navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto capability. Like the Ioniq 6, the ID4 comes standard with safety features like pedestrian detection with automatic braking, lane departure and keeping, and adaptive cruise control systems.

Every ID4 also features a driver-customizable digital instrument panel and voice recognition to help keep your attention focused on the road instead of fiddling with buttons and knobs.  

Chevrolet Bolt EUV LT

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The Chevrolet Bolt was General Motors’ first electric car when it debuted in 2016, and the EUV version of the Bolt made its appearance in 2021. More than 70% of Bolt buyers are new to the GM family, and this was likely an important factor in GM’s decision to keep the Bolt in its lineup after announcing the model’s discontinuation last summer. Strong sales in 2023 also contributed to the Bolt’s resurrection; Chevy sold almost 50,000 Bolts and Bolt EUVs through the first three quarters of last year. GM CEO Mary Barra told CNBC that updated manufacturing processes helped keep the Bolt alive. “We’re getting to market at least two years faster,” Barra said, “and our unit costs will be substantially lower.”

The 2023 Bolt EUV comes in LT and Premier trim levels, with the LT carrying a sticker price of just $28,795. The Bolt EUV is one of the 13 vehicles still eligible for the full $7,500 tax credit, bringing the cost down to just a little over $21,000. That’s more than $6,000 less than the average cost of a used car in June of last year. The Bolt EUV has a sleek front end with wedge-shaped headlights and a robust list of features and accessories, including electric coolers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and GM’s SuperCruise driver assistance system.  

Nissan Leaf S

The Nissan Leaf was the world’s first mass-marketed electric vehicle when it debuted in 2010 and has sold more than 500,000 units since then. Over the years, the Leaf’s body has been elongated and smoothed, going from a stubby hatchback to a sleeker, more modern vehicle. The 2024 Leaf S starts at $29,255, and opting for the premium trim SV plus version adds about $8,000. With the tax incentives available in many states, you can have a Leaf for just over $25,000, about half the average cost of all new vehicle purchases. 

Along with the sleek, modern body design, Leaf buyers get features like Android and Apple smartphone connectivity, blind spot warning and pedestrian detection systems, and a heated steering wheel and seats. SV Plus buyers also get an 8-inch infotainment screen, automatic headlights, climate control, and remote start. All Leafs also come with Nissan’s e-pedal system, which allows the driver to choose whether the vehicle simply coasts to a stop or engages regenerative braking when the accelerator is released.  

Tesla Model 3 Performance


Another EV that still qualifies for the full $7,500 tax credit is the Tesla Model 3 Performance, which will start at $40,990 after the credit is applied. The Model 3 Performance package adds $5,000 to the cost of a base Model 3 but drops the 0-60mph time from 5.8 seconds to 3.1 seconds. All versions of the Model 3, including the sub-$40,000 base model, come with heated seats and a panoramic glass roof. The Model 3 got a slight redesign and some interior upgrades for the 2024 model year. Car and Driver’s Drew Dorian pointed out how these updates made Tesla’s most accessible vehicle more appealing to the senses.

“While the changes in the Model 3’s styling are small tweaks they make a big impact,” he wrote, “and the car looks fresher and more upscale than before.” He highlighted higher-quality seat materials, the 8 inch touchscreen infotainment panel for rear seat passengers, and the addition of sound-deadening materials throughout the cabin.

Mini Cooper E Classic

The Mini Cooper was a sensation when the British Motor Corporation debuted it in 1959; BMC later merged with Leyland, and the new company was purchased by the Rover group, which was bought by BMW in 1994. Now that the German luxury automaker owns the Mini brand, it shouldn’t be surprising that the Mini Cooper has become more refined in appearance and manners.

BMW introduced an electric version of the Mini Cooper in 2021, and the 2024 electric model starts at $30,900. While the Mini Cooper E isn’t eligible for the federal tax credit, it qualifies for state tax incentives in at least 10 states, which could mean thousands of dollars in savings.

Mini Cooper electric models scored highest among all battery EVs in JD Power’s 2023 customer survey, which ranked vehicles based on driving enjoyment, styling, reliability, and overall quality. Electric Mini Coopers come standard with an Apple CarPlay-enabled 8.8-inch infotainment screen, along with safety features like lane departure and collision warning systems and adaptive cruise control. 


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