words Al Woods
Image by Rutger van der Maar
Electric cars are here to stay, but there’s no getting past the fact that compared to petrol or diesel models they are still rather pricey. And this could be a problem for those who find themselves on the cheaper end of the motoring spectrum, as from 2030 in the UK the sale of new cars that aren’t electric will be banned.
But as with any form of motoring, there are ways to reduce costs and a great way to do this is to simply buy a cheaper electric car in the first place.
Of course, you could take to the used market. Browse the thousands of used cars for sale in the UK and you’ll find a growing selection of electric vehicles, some with prices starting as low as a few thousand pounds.
However, used models invite compromise. They’re not necessarily in poorer condition than a petrol or a diesel car would be, but the rapid pace of development means that an electric car that’s only a few years old may well suffer with a really poor range and lack the latest technology.
A better solution for most people will be to buy or to finance one of the cheaper new electric cars on offer, as this guarantees the batteries will be in good shape and that you have a warranty backing you up.
We’ve rounded up some of the better examples below.
Fiat 500 Electric
The iconic small car is back, and this time it’s battery-powered. Though Fiat does still sell the petrol-powered 500 for now, the 500 Electric is a much more modern car and far better for it.
It drives really well, perfect for pootling round the city, but it’s not out of its depth on motorways or A-roads. You can opt for two battery packs – the smaller and cheaper model starts at around £20,000 and will go for 118 miles on a full charge, whereas the larger model can do up to 199 miles – a really respectable range for such a small car.
Of course, this isn’t the model to buy if you’ve a large family to transport around, but as a compact electric runabout for one or two people it’s absolutely perfect.
Another brilliant small electric car, the e-Up was great when it was the standard petrol-powered Up! – but making it electric has improved it even further, making for a fun small car that’s great to drive and pretty spacious.
The e-Up will cover around 162 miles on a full charge, which is about at the lower limit we’d consider acceptable. You’ll have a great time covering those 162 miles, though.
The e-Up’s age does mean you don’t get much of the latest tech, though, and its safety equipment in particular is quite poor, lacking the latest active driver assistance aids.
MG 5 EV
It’s not exactly pretty, but the MG 5 is proving to be a highly popular electric car – for good reason. It’s a rare example of an electric estate car, giving it the low body and easy-to-drive character of a hatchback but with a large, wide boot.
Despite its low price and being packed with tech, including the assisted driving package named MG Pilot, the 5 EV offers a really long range of up to 250 miles. That’s seriously impressive, and it’s perhaps no wonder that this MG is proving popular especially with professions like minicabbing.
Want a classy, cute electric car that’s packed with character and great to drive? The MINI Electric could be the perfect option. It’s the latest evolution of the iconic small car, but updated for 2022 with an electric powertrain.
Despite the futuristic looks, the MINI Electric doesn’t have the most advanced battery or motor tech, and can only manage a range of around 145 miles on a full charge. It’s great to drive while it lasts, though, with the brand’s characteristic ‘go-kart’ handling present and correct.
You’re also able to personalise the MINI Electric to suit you perfectly, really helping drivers show off their individuality.
MG ZS EV
The second MG on this list is very similar to the first, but this time the powertrain’s installed into a fashionable SUV. Ideal for those who like the raised ride height of an off-roader or simply want something that’s a bit easier to get into and out of, the ZS EV looks surprisingly premium given its low price.
It’s also not half bad to drive, especially if you keep in and around town. But it doesn’t lack performance, and motorway cruises are easily accomplished.
Best of all, the ZS EV achieves a WLTP range of up to 273 miles. That’s on par with the very best premium electric cars costing twice as much, and a very impressive figure.