How Soon Can We Expect Cheap Electric Cars Under $20,000?

Cars like the Chevy Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage are dirt cheap cars. But their simple, gasoline engines are soon to go electric, and it’s no mystery that electric powertrains are more expensive. It leaves many cheapskates (like myself) wondering when cheap, sub $20,000 electric cars will become available. The answer? They already are.

2022 Nissan Leaf S Cheap Electric Car
2022 Nissan Leaf S | Nissan

The Nissan Leaf S will cost under $20,000 after tax credits

Tax credits are a clever incentive to get people to buy electric cars. The government essentially pays you to go green, and most electric cars offer these rebates. But the 2022 Nissan Leaf, one of the longest-running EV names in America, is poised to get a price slash. Starting at just $27,400, down from the $31,000 starting price for the 2021 model year, the tax credits get the car down to $19,900.

Sure, it’s barely below the $20,000 mark, but the features and range of the Leaf have only been getting better. The Leaf S gets 149 miles per charge, plenty for city driving, thanks to a 147 hp and 236 lb-ft from the electric motor. That’s almost one horsepower per mile! Not only that, the Leaf will now come standard with a CHAdeMO quick-charging port, making long stops a thing of the past.

But let’s say you don’t have more than $20,000, which means you can’t get the Nissan Leaf without those tax credits. Lucky for you, there’s an electric car out there for under $20k. Though whether it’s all that good is up for debate.

The Kandi K27 is the cheapest electric car in America

Kandi K27
The Kandi K27 | Kandi

It’s small, cute looking, and all-electric. And you can get this upgraded golf car for $17,499 before tax incentives. Put it all together, and the dirt-cheap Kandi K27 electric car will cost just $10,000. That sounds very exciting, and it is, but there are a few things you’ll have to sacrifice.

The main reason the K27 is so cheap is that it’s basically a Kei car. The amount of horsepower and size of a Kei car is regulated by the Japanese government, but if automakers follow those guidelines, they’re significantly cheaper to build. Because of this, the Kandi K27 has just 60 horsepower (and a top speed of 68 mph), while only being capable of seating four.

You also don’t get many amenities, though there is a 9-inch touchscreen with a built-in rearview camera and Bluetooth connectivity. But you know a car is skimping on features when anti-lock brakes, power steering, and seatbelt warnings are some of the main features advertised. The range of this little EV is also dainty, at just 59 miles per 7 hours of charge.

It’s a large sacrifice to make. Though if you can’t afford a mainstream electric car, or simply don’t drive much, it’s not a terrible option. Will good EVs ever be cheap?

When will it become cheaper to own an EV?

A Nissan Leaf EV plugged into an electric charging station in a parking garage
A Nissan Leaf plugged into an electric charging station | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

There are many factors that play into the price of electric cars. How long will it take for parts to be cheaper? When will charging electric cars cost about as much as filling up with gas? But truth be told, we’re already heading in the right direction.

Industry Week projects that, by the year 2025, it’ll be cheaper to buy an electric car than a gasoline one. Part of that estimate has to do with advancements in electric car technologies, making electric car batteries cheaper and easier to build. But there are two sides to every coin because as more regulations are imposed on gasoline cars, they’re going to get more expensive.

Most electric cars aren’t going to cost under $20,000 dollars for a long time, but in the next few years, as more companies and countries pledge to get rid of petroleum-power, it’ll certainly be harder to own a gas car.

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