9 Cheapest electric car models in the U.S. as we enter 2023 [Update]

Update: ‘Nissan Leaf,’ ‘Hyundai Kona Electric,’ ‘Hyundai Ioniq 5,’ and ‘Kia Niro EV’ updated and ‘Toyota bZ4X’ added.

The price of zero-emission vehicles is bound to fall as their adoption expands this decade. But there are some good options out there already. If you’re in the American market for an EV in 2023, we explore some of your choices in this story. The prices mentioned here are not inclusive of government or federal subsidies. Here are the 10 cheapest electric car models in the U.S. car market as we break into 2023.

Chevrolet Bolt ($25,600)

Chevrolet Bolt EV
It could be the end of the road for the Chevrolet Bolt EV in a few years if sales don’t improve considerably. Image: Chevrolet

Chevrolet had removed the Bolt EV models from the market in the second half of 2021 due to a fire risk-related recall. Production and dealer dispatches resumed in early April 2022, and since then the model has shown promise.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV uses a 65 kWh Li-Ion battery pack that has an EPA-estimated range of 259 miles. The permanent magnetic motor outputs 200 hp and 266 lb-ft enabling the electric hatch from 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds. With a Level 2 charger, 39 miles could be added to the range in just 1 hour. With a Level 3 charger, it takes 30 minutes to add a range of 100 miles.

The Chevy Bolt EV boasts a decent list of features like an 8-inch instrument display, 10.2-inch Chevrolet Infotainment 3 System with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto 10 Airbags, rear camera, TPMS with tire fill alert, cruise control, brake energy regeneration, electronic stability control, and traction control system among others. This is Chevrolet’s cheapest electric car model.

The Bolt EV is America’s cheapest electric car in 2022. It is available in a 1LT trim for a price of USD USD 25,600 (plus USD 995 destination fee) and a 2LT trim for a price of USD 28,800 (plus USD 995 destination fee).

Chevrolet Bolt EUV ($27,200)

2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV Redline Edition front three quarter
The Chevrolet Equinox EV, arriving in 2023, could be a worthy alternative to the Bolt EUV. Image: Chevrolet

Chevrolet resumed manufacturing the Bolt EUV in Orion, Michigan in April 2022. It is currently shipping to dealers after GM took it off the market as part of a recall in 2021 to fix the issue of battery fires.

The Chevrolet Bolt EUV uses the same battery pack as the Bolt, a 65 kWh unit with an EPA-estimated range of 247 miles. With a Level 2 charger, 37 miles of range can be added in 1 hour. With a Level 3 charger, 95 miles of range can be added in 30 minutes. The electric motor produces 200 hp and 266 lb-ft output. A 0-60 mph sprint takes 7 seconds.

The Chevy Bolt EUV features a 10.2-inch infotainment screen, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, 8-inch driver’s display, and more. The safety package includes 10 Airbags, a rear camera, LATCH system, automatic emergency braking, a rear park assist, and all-around collision prevention assists with warnings.

The 2023 Chevrolet Bolt EUV costs USD 27,200 (plus USD 995 destination fee) in the 1LT trim and USD 31,700 (plus USD 995 destination fee) in the 2LT trim. The 2023 Bolt EUV LT costs USD 28,195 (incl. destination charge) and the 2023 Bolt EUV Premier costs USD 32,695 (incl. destination charge).

A new Redline Edition package is available optionally to give the electric SUV a sportier styling. Priced at USD 495, it adds a red accent decal on the ORVMs, 17-inch black alloy wheels with red accents, and Jet black leather upholstery with red stitching.

Nissan Leaf ($28,040)

2023 Nissan Leaf facelift front three quarter
Though sales have fallen in recent years, the Nissan Leaf is amongst the most popular EVs in the world. Image: Nissan

While its future is in question, the Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular EVs in the world and its second-generation model has received a facelift for MY2023. The 2023 Nissan Leaf features a new grille, new alloy wheels, an illuminated Nissan logo, and other minor cosmetic changes.

The new Nissan Leaf is available in two grades: S and SV. The S grade has a 40 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that delivers an EPA-est. range of 149 miles and an electric motor that propels the front wheels with 147 hp of power and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. It supports DC fast-charging, most likely at up to 50 kW.

The SV grade uses a 60 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that allows a longer EPA-est. range of 212 miles and a higher-output front motor that generates 214 hp of power and 250 lb.-ft. of torque. It supports higher-capacity DC fast-charging at up to 100 kW.

Basic features like an 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system, Nissan Safety Shield 360, automatic headlights, etc. are standard in the 2023 Leaf. For LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, 8-way electrically adjustable driver’s seat with 2-way lumbar support, ProPILOT Assist, 360-degree camera system, and other additional or better features, customers need to opt for the SV grade.

The new 2023 Nissan Leaf is now on sale in the U.S. and its prices start at USD 28,040 (excluding USD 1,095 destination and handling). With the potential federal tax credit on Nissan LEAF EVs, the starting MSRP would come down to $20,540 (excluding USD 1,095 destination and handling).

Hyundai Kona Electric ($33,550)

2023 Hyundai Kona Electric front three quarter
The Hyundai Kona EV offers an adequate range of 258 miles of range on a single charge. Image: Hyundai

At times it’s hard to tell the difference between a gas-powered Kona and an electric Kona. Fortunately, there’s a simple hack—Just look for the blanked-out grille! With that sorted, we can reveal that it is among the cheapest electric car offerings from the South Korean brand.

The Hyundai Kona Electric comes powered by a 64 kWh Li-Ion polymer battery pack with an EPA-estimated 258-mile range. The e-motor churns out 150 kW (201 hp) and 291 lb-ft (395 Nm). The standard 7.2 kW onboard charger tops up the battery in 9 hours 15 minutes. Fast-charging from 10-80% SoC takes 64 minutes with a 50 kW Level 3 charger and 47 minutes with a 100 kW Level 3 charger.

On the features front, the Kona Electric comes with an 8-inch touchscreen, 6 speakers, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, wireless Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, Bluelink remote charging access, automatic climate control, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with audio controls, rearview monitor with guidelines among others.

The 2023 Hyundai Kona Electric begins at USD 33,550 (excl. USD 1,295 destination fee). The second-gen Hyundai Kona Electric model is likely to arrive as an MY2024 product in the second half of 2023.

MINI Electric ($34,225)

Mini Electric
The Mini Electric is the third most affordable electric hatchback in the U.S. Image: BMW

The next car on this list is British-made. The 2023 Mini Electric SE Hardtop 2 Door is the second cheapest electric car in the U.S. Prices start at USD 34,225 (excluding USD 850 destination and handling).

The electric hatch has a 32.6 kWh battery pack that offers an EPA-estimated range of 114 miles. The fast charging can top up the battery to 80% in 36 minutes at 50 kW. The AC home charging can fill the battery in 4 hours. The electric motor powers the front wheels and produces 135 kW (181 hp) and 199 lb.-ft. (270 Nm). A 0-60 mph sprint is achieved in just 6.9 seconds. 

The base Signature Trim comes equipped with features like heated front seats and steering wheel, touchscreen navigation, carbon black leatherette upholstery, 8.8-inch infotainment system, LED headlights with cornering function, rearview camera and park distance control, comfort access with keyless entry, forward collision, and pedestrian warning and advanced braking technology.

As we write this, MINI is developing an all-new three door hatch. Expect the 2024 MINI Cooper electric, with all-round improvements, at American dealers by the first half of 2024.

VW ID.4 ($37,495)

2023 VW ID.4 front three quarter
Looks are a matter of personal preference, but the VW ID.4 certainly ranks among the more attractive EVs on this list. Image: VW

The 2023 VW ID.4 costs USD 37,495 (excl. USD 1,295 destination charge) in its base configuration, which makes it the most affordable electric SUV in its segment. Unlike the MY2021 and MY2022 units, future units will come from Volkswagen Group of America’s Chattanooga (Tennessee) plant. The U.S.-built units of the compact electric SUV will start arriving at dealers in a few weeks.

Volkswagen offers the 2023 ID.4 with 62 kWh and 82 kWh battery pack options and 201 hp single-motor and 295 hp dual-motor powertrain options. The single-motor powertrain consists of a rear motor, while the dual-motor powertrain uses an additional, front motor, effectively converting the EV’s drivetrain layout from RWD to AWD. The 62 kWh battery pack delivers an EPA-est. range of 209 miles and the 82 kWh battery pack provides an EPA-est. range of 275 miles (RWD)/255 miles (AWD).

The 2023 VW ID.4 features an updated interior, one of the main highlights of which is a revised center console designed as per the needs of American consumers. There are various equipment changes in the 2023 model, one of which is that the 12-inch Discover Pro Max touchscreen infotainment system is a standard feature. As for the exterior, Volkswagen offers new wheel and color options.

Also new on the 2023 ID.4 is Plug&Charge functionality, which is part of the standard equipment. Moreover, the new model allows DC fast-charging at 170 kW, which is a significant upgrade from the previous model’s 135 kW.

For an electrified vehicle to be eligible for the new Clean Vehicle Credit incentive, the final assembly must take place in North America. The 2023 VW ID.4 checks this requirement, but it doesn’t yet qualify for the new incentive, as per the list issued by the U.S. Department of Energy. Perhaps as U.S. production has just begun, work is in progress to get it listed among the qualifying models.

Kia Niro Electric ($39,450)

2023 Kia Niro EV front three quarter static
The 2023 Kia Niro EV is available in all 50 states. Image: Kia

The 2023 Kia Niro EV is a second-generation model with a completely new platform and design. Moreover, it’s bigger and more tech-infused than the previous model. It has a HabaNiro concept-inspired exterior that includes split headlights with upswept ‘heartbeat’ DRLs, an Aero Blade underneath the D-pillar, and boomerang-shaped LED taillights.

On the inside, the 2023 Niro EV flaunts a parametric design with cues borrowed from the EV6. Animal-free textiles, BTX-free paint, dual 10.25-inch screens for the instrument cluster and infotainment system, etc. are some of the highlights of the interior. The biggest talking point of the cabin is that it’s of a vehicle one size larger. We’re talking about 99.7 cu. ft. of passenger volume, which is the highest in the segment.

The 2023 Kia Niro EV uses a 201 hp/188 lb.-ft. motor mounted at the front for propulsion. This motor gets its energy from a 64.8 kWh battery pack that delivers an EPA-est. range of 253 miles. Customers can charge the battery pack at up to 11 kW (AC)/85 kW (DC). Prices start at USD 39,450 (excl. USD 1,295 destination).

Hyundai Ioniq 5 ($41,450)

Hyundai Ioniq USA
The neo-retro Ioniq 5 borrows design cues from the Hyundai Pony classic car. Availability of the Ioniq 5 in the U.S. is limited at this time, according to the official website. Image: Hyundai

The Ioniq 5 is a symbol of a new era for Hyundai Motor Group, the Ioniq 5 is the company’s first electric car developed from scratch.

Hyundai offers the U.S.-spec Ioniq 5 in three variants, but it is the Standard Range RWD (SE Standard Range) which is the cheapest model at an MSRP of USD 41,450 (excl. USD 1,295 freight). It comes with a 58 kWh battery pack and a rear electric motor generating 125 kW (168 hp) and 258 lb.-ft. The car offers an EPA-est. driving range of 220 miles. More configurations that deliver an EPA-est. driving range of up to 303 miles are available.

Toyota bZ4X ($42,000)

2023 Toyota bZ4X Limited AWD front three quarter dynamic
The 2023 Toyota bZ4X is cheaper than the 2023 Subaru Solterra, which costs USD 44,995 (excl. USD 1,225 destination & delivery charge) onwards. Image Source: Toyota

The Toyota bZ4X is the Japanese automaker’s first bespoke EV designed for the masses. It features a futuristic exterior with a hammerhead shark-like front, a sleek side profile, and trapezoidal-themed rear elements, including combination lamps with a light strip connecting them.

The “lagom (just right in Swedish)- “themed interior is more driver-focused than that of a regular Toyota. It has a slim dashboard positioned low, a 7-inch digital instrument cluster placed directly in the driver’s forward eyeline, and a large, easy-to-operate 12.3-inch Toyota Audio Multimedia touchscreen infotainment system developed in the U.S.

Based on the e-TNGA platform, the bZ4X comes in a 201 hp/196 lb.-ft. FWD variant and a 214 hp/248 lb.-ft. AWD variants. The FWD variant uses a 71.4 kWh battery pack and has an EPA-est. range of up to 252 miles. The AWD variant employs a slightly bigger, 72.8 kWh battery pack and has an EPA-est. range of up to 228 miles. The maximum charging input the bZ4X supports is 6.6 kW on alternating current and 150 kW (FWD)/100 kW (AWD) on direct current.

Prices of the 2023 Toyota bZ4X start at USD 42,000 (excl. USD 1,335 DPH fee).

Featured image source: VW