Published on December 6th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


11 Electric Cars With Prices Lower Than The Average New Car

December 6th, 2013 by  

Originally published on EV Obsession.

There’s a somewhat odd meme still going around that claims that electric cars are expensive. A little bit of research quickly debunks that.

The average price for a new car in November 2013 (in the US) was $32,769, according to Kelley Blue Book. After the federal tax rebate of $7,500 (yes, it makes complete sense to include this), almost every plug-in electric car on the market is actually cheaper than that (even the BMW i3 almost makes it on the list).

Let’s run down the list. I’ll go down it in order of November sales (more or less). Prices shown are after the federal tax credit, but before any other credits or rebates available in some states and cities (such as the $2,500 rebate in California). Links on the prices go to the manufacturers’ webpages for the cars.

Black Nissan Leaf at EVS27 in Barcelona, Spain.(This image is available for republishing and even modification under a CC BY-SA license, with the key requirement being that credit be given to Zachary Shahan / EV Obsession / CleanTechnica, and that those links not be removed.)

Black Nissan Leaf at EVS27 in Barcelona, Spain.
(This image is available for republishing and even modification under a CC BY-SA license, with the key requirement being that credit be given to Zachary Shahan / EV Obsession / CleanTechnica, and that those links not be removed.)

  1. Nissan Leaf — $21,300
  2. Chevy Volt — $26,685
  3. Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid — $27,490
  4. Ford C-Max Energi — $28,943
  5. smart electric drive — $12,490
  6. Ford Focus Electric — $27,700
  7. Chevy Spark EV — $19,995
  8. Mitsubishi i — $15,495
  9. Fiat 500e — $24,300
  10. Wheego Whip — $18,995
  11. Wheego LiFe — $25,495

Now, you might contend that the gasmobiles on the higher end of the market are bringing the average price of new cars up, but I would then contend:

  • electric cars don’t pollute your local environment
  • with electric cars, you don’t have to spend countless hours standing at a gas station
  • electric cars have unbeatable acceleration/torque
  • the smooth and quiet drive of electric cars is worth a lot
  • a clean conscience from doing your part to fight global warming and not contribute to oil wars is priceless.

How is all of that not a huge added value that you simply can’t attain with a gasmobile?

h/t to redditor ViperRT10Matt for a comment that sparked the idea for this post.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • The Doctor

    UMMMMM……You really might want to check your facts. If the car has tires, needs lubracation, has plastic, or any number of things you are feeding the oil companies. Oh and you are still poluting when you charge your car, think about where the electricity comes from. Now I am not trying to bring you down or anything, I think green energy is the correct way to go but, if you really think that these little cars will change the world you might need to get your head out of the clouds.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Well, Doc, EVs are one part of how we change the world. EVs are the personal transportation part (along with electrified public transportation).

      The other big part of The Change is the greening of the grid. Every year we’re increasing the percentage of clean electricity on our grids.

      Then there’s the work being done on finding non-petroleum feedstocks for plastics.

      Are our heads in the clouds are might your’s be somewhere where the change happening is not so visible?

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  • the only problem is the lack of charge stations around the city and country side

    • bruce dp

      There are many people that make that statement, as if it is their own words. I will assume you heard that mistaken factoid somewhere rather than making the effort yourself to look at what ‘is’ actually available in and around Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Use
      Each shows there are plenty of public chargers (EVSE) available.

      Sun Country Highway (a Canadian EVSE company) has done a wonderful job of installing public EVSE in a planned way so that it is possible to get from city to city across Canada. They have done a far better job than the EVSE companies in the U.S. where there are too many EVSE, too close together leaving large voids w/o public EVSE in-between cities.

      Kudos SCH!

      • Without wanting come off like Clinton, it depends on what your definition of plenty is.

        When I look out my office window I can count 6 gas stations on THAT side of the building. QUick charge locations? None. 240V locations? 1.

        Until the number of quick charge locations are equal to the number of gas stations (not gas pumps) then we will have “Plenty”.

        The lack of adequate quick charge stations is holding back adoption of many EV’s

        Many gas stations have 10-16 pumps. I charge publically about 14% of the time. So one QC per gas station would be a parity IMHO.In fact if each gas station had just one QC we’d be laughing all the way to the bank.

        • Bob_Wallace

          We don’t need as many rapid charge points as gas stations. Far from that number.

          Most people will slow charge when parked. Rapid chargers will get used only when people drive out their EV range in a single day or have to park where there is no ability to slow charge.

          As we move to ~200 mile range EVs we’ll dive in excess of our range on far less than 5% days (on average).

          The current ~100 mile range EVs available are just not suited for long range driving. That’s the role that PHEVs like the Volt will fill as battery technology develops.

          • Gas cars have ranges of 300-600 miles on a tank with 5-10 minute refill, so I don’t buy the argument things will ‘get better’ when we have 200 mile range EV’s.

            I also don’t buy the argument that most people will slow charge while parked. The opportunity would be welcome but most employers don’t have charging facilities (shame on them) which means most EV drivers don’t charge at work. McDonalds? Slow charging is of little value, Grocery store? little value. Cinema or Hotel? Probably of some value.

            We need quick chargers. Europe at least has relatively fast 3 phase AC charging as well as DC chargers. We need lots of them in the US. A single fast charger on the interstate is great, but what if its busy or even worse broken down? Redundancy on the scale of gas stations is called for IMHO. The current distribution of gas stations didn’t happen by accident.

            The fact that its possible for 2 frenchmen to circumnavigate the world in a Citroen c-zero with nothing more than an extension cord, while amazing, isn’t what the average consumer has in mind when considering a car to meet their daily travel needs. Sure we EV enthusiasts don’t mind the inconvenience in order to get the privilege of driving these wonderful cars, but the average punter won’t want to do so. For large scale adoption, lots and lots of QC units are needed.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s look at the typical driver on one of their infrequent all day drives. 500 miles? That’s more than 8 hours behind the wheel in most circumstances.

            Drive an ICEV. Start with a full tank. Drive 300 – 400 miles (600 mile tank?). Stop for ten minutes to refuel. Stop at least once to get some food (20 minutes?). Stop at least one other time to pee (10 minutes?). That’s roughly 40 minutes of non-driving time out of a 500 mile day.

            Drive an EV. Start with a full charge and 200 mile range. Stop for 20 minutes for a 90% (180 miles) rapid charge and get something to eat while charging. Stop 20 minutes for another 180 mile charge and pee. That’s roughly 40 minutes of non-driving time out of a 500 mile day.

            Even if it took about 30 minutes more on a 500 mile drive day most people would be willing to give up that time for the 365 day savings of driving with electricity over gas.

            “I also don’t buy the argument that most people will slow charge while parked.”

            Cars spend about 90% of their time parked. About half of all drivers already have a place to charge when they park at night. Adding outlets for the other 50% is not a big deal. If there is demand then we will see metered outlets in parking lots.

            “We need quick chargers.”

            Only on the days on which we drive further than the car’s range. With a 200 mile range that is a surprisingly small number of days.

            Yes, we will need enough redundancy to cover charger outages. That’s something we’ll figure out as we build the system.

            You might find it interesting to read about travel by car in the early days of the automobile. How people sometimes shipped barrels of gasoline ahead by horse and wagon. It took a little while to build the liquid fuel infrastructure to make cars into reliable transportation. It will take far less time to do the same for electrics since the grid is already in place.
            Take a look at the Tesla Supercharger map at the bottom of the linked page. Move the slider to see how quickly more stations will appear. And remember that hotels are already installing places for guests to charge at night.


  • desertstraw

    There are obviously two Americas, the one in which auto writers live and the country of the rest of us. A tax credit that requires you to pay over $7500 in income tax is not any help to a majority of Americans. 47% of Americans pay no income tax and many who do pay less than $7500. This article is sophistry.

    • Raymond Ramírez

      You can thank President George Bush for passing such a limited form of incentive. Only the rich can get a $7,500 tax credit. The true incentive would be a rebate for any EV buyer. Ask your Congressperson to change this law.

      • Bob_Wallace

        “Rich” is a bit over the top. People with upper five figure incomes would be able to use all the tax credit.

      • Actually guys for those who do not have a $7500 tax liability, or can’t afford to wait to claim it, the FULL $7,500 is available at point of sale with an EV Lease. In fact the Volt lease deals are so attractive, buying outright isn’t such a great option anyway (unless you do a ton of miles)

    • Jim Diamond

      This is completely mistaken. This is a tax CREDIT. All who file receive it. This is not a deduction. If you had zero income but filed your tx return with the appropriate form showing your purchase of an eligible vehicle,you would receive $7500 from the Feds.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Tax credits reduce the amount of tax owed, not the amount of taxable income on which the amount is calculated.

        But isn’t it the case that if you don’t owe $7,500 in federal tax in the year in which you purchase your EV you can’t use some/all of that $7,500? If you owe only $3,000 I don’t think the government cancels the $3k and sends you a rebate of $4,500.

        (I’d like to be wrong about that.)

        • Jim Diamond

          This is a fundamental and common misconception. Deductions reduce your tax liability. Credits, on the other hand, increase the effective amount of tax payments one has made. Any excess of payment over tax liability is refundable.

          For example, if I had a tax liability of $500, and had made $100 in tax payments, I would owe another $400.

          If I were to receive a $7500 tax deduction (with no carryover) my tax liability would be reduced to zero, and the $100 I had already paid would be refundable.

          If, on the other hand, I were to receive a $7500 tax credit, my tax liability would still be $500, but I now would have $7600 in payments and credits, so $7100 would now be refundable.

          I am not an accountant, but I have had a decade of experience

          • Bob_Wallace

            The question is whether someone who had made no tax prepayments and owed no taxes but bought a qualifying EV would receive a $7,500 check from the government.

            I’ll run it by a CPA.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, got a reply. (This guy has done a lot of work in renewables and drives a LEAF. Installed an outlet at his office to extend his range.)

            He couches it in the usual “this is not advice you should act on, consult with your own tax professional” sort of lingo.

            “the EV
            credit is not a “refundable” credit I.e. where money sent out to those
            who don’t owe at least the $7500 in Federal Income Taxes.

            So you have to apply it to Federal Income Taxes owed (and not other taxes like Self Employment Tax either)

            It gets worse: last time I looked you couldn’t even carry forward any unused EV credit to future years. ”

            This is a badly designed program. It leaves out the people who most need help purchasing an EV.

          • Jim Diamond

            I looked at the details. You are correct, Bob. The $7500 tax credit is limited to federal tax paid or $7500, whichever is smaller.

            I agree this needs to be changed.

      • Incorrect. Totally.

        You have to have a $7500 annual tax liability to realize the full credit.

        Being a credit you get the full $7500 if you have a large enough liability. With deductions you get a prorated amount based on your tax bracket, so a $7500 deduction may only return say $2,500.

        The fact its a tax credit rather than a deduction is awesome, but it isn’t an entitlement to $7500 come what may.

    • Dan Martinez

      Why do people who pay no income tax bitch about oppression, they get free everything.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Working people who pay no income tax still pay other federal taxes.

        Who gets “free everything”?

        • A Real Libertarian

          Who gets “free everything”?

          Those who are unaware that “trust-fund beneficiary” is not a real job?

          • Bob_Wallace

            That’s an excellent point.

            The only people who get everything for free are those who inherited fortunes.

  • bruce dp

    It would been good to sort the list of vehicles by which are electric cars (EVs) and which are not (a plug-in-hybrid is not an EV). Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Then within each of the electrified-vehicle groups, sort by price with the lowest price first.

    Consumers that want a plug-in-hybrid (phev/pih) will be able to see the cheapest one first.

    Consumers that do not want to ever pay at the pump again, would use the EV grouping and decide which price/range/performance works for their driving needs.

    • Raymond Ramírez

      The Volt is an EV because it can run up to 100 MPH on electricity for over 40 miles and only needs the gas engine as a range extender. There is one simple test to distinguish an EV with a range extender from a plug-in hybrid: remove all the spark plugs, then try to run the vehicle. The Chevy Volt (and the defunct Fisker Karma) will run. The others will give you an error code and may not run at all.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Yes, the Volt is a P (plugin) H (hybrid) EV (electric vehicle).

        It is different from a B (battery powered) EV (electric vehicle) which is commonly abbreviated as “EV”.

        If you want to differentiate between the ways manufacturers arrange their battery and ICEs then you are getting very deep into the weeds. Most people are not at all interested.

        Some Volt people think it a differentiation of immense importance.

        • Raymond Ramírez

          According to your form of definition, the volt is a BEEV (Battery-Engine Electric Vehicle). Its battery is 16KWH in size, so it is a real BEV. But it has an onboard generator. So it is a plug in BEV with an engine added. As I posted before it is not a plain hybrid because it doesn’t need the engine as a means of mobility, while the others do need it. Taking out the spark plugs will prove my reason. The Volt will run without the engine!

          BTW, have you taken a test drive? How can you give a valid comment if you haven’t tried it? You remind me of someone who hates turkey, yet has NEVER tasted it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Why do you have your bloomers in such a bunch over the difference in the way Volt puts their version of a PHEV together vs. the other PHEVs?

          • Raymond Ramírez

            It seems that you are the one who has the mental problem here. I am an EE and a technical instructor who educates the public. You are just a whiner who cannot accept a technical truth. Go to a Chevy dealer and get educated.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Come on, Jack. The Volt is a PHEV. Live with it.

            Hardly anyone cares about how GM designed their PHEV or how Toyota designed theirs. All they want to know is how far one can drive on electricity alone, how much they cost, how many cup holders they have.

          • Jim Johns

            One requires oil changes, and one does not. Cost of ownership on a pure EV is lower than a PHEV. EV owners will never have to touch the engine or maintain its moving parts. Big difference.

          • Dan Martinez

            The volts not a pure electric vehicle. Im tired of hearing about the super car Ev’s . Yeah they did the nurb with the GAS ENGINE! A hybrid switches from Gas to electric , but cant run without gas period. A volt can run without gas but from what im aware still uses the engine.

      • 40 Mile range for the Volt is reasonable, but NOT at 100mph. Trust me.

        At highway speeds the Volt’s gas engine engages and drives the car instead of the electric motor. It cannot go at 100 mph in electric only mode.

        • pilotboy

          the engine only kicks in once the battery is depleted, unless the temp outside is below freezing (then the engine is being used for heat cause its more efficient). no matter the speed. I own a volt. so I dont trust you.

  • Marion Meads

    It would be good to publish the calculations that shows California state rebates as a good example because many of the readers are from California, and California is the number one market for plug-in cars. The plug-in hybrids such as the Chevy Volt, IIRC, gets only $1,500 state rebate compared to pure electrics, $2,500 for the Chevy Spark EV or Tesla, and these rebates are available even if you lease the car.

    The maximum Federal tax credit is $7,500. The Toyota and Ford plug-in hybrids do not get that maximum tax credit because of their small capacity battery.

    here’s the reference for various plug-in hybrids:

    The Volt is cheaper than the plug-in Prius, and in real world stats, the average mpg of all the current Volt owners are more than double than that of the plug-in prius. The plug-in prius has a pathetic EV range. Toyota should at least match the EV range of the Volt. But I guess, Toyota can continue to fleece out the brain washed masses. Can’t really see why would anyone prefer the Toyota plug-in Prius over the GM-Volt.

    • CA: I’ve thought about it. May start doing do…

    • allannde

      Marion- I own one of the first Prius Plug is and I can give you a list of reasons why “…any one would prefer to own” one. The bottom line is that a Volt would not meet my needs.

      Both of these are fine cars and are worthy purchases. Both are fantastically economical operate.

      Toyota will consider the Volt competition in their model change which is expected shortly. It will be interesting to see.

      • Why would the Volt not meet your needs? Just Curious.

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