The Electric Cars With the Most Range for the Money Under $40K

Have you heard about that affordable Tesla Model 3? Well, the good news is, the car with a base price of $36,000 might come off the company’s Fremont assembly line someday.

The bad news is, that won’t happen anytime in 2018. For the foreseeable future, Tesla’s lowest-priced model starts at $50,000 and runs over $70,000 if you want AutoPilot.  We don’t need to spell this out, but: Tesla is a luxury automaker until further notice.

If you don’t mind spending close to six figures for a car that can’t drive over 310 miles without charging, then a brand-new Model 3 is probably right for you. For every other electric car consumer, matching base price to total electric range makes sense.

To help out with the purchase process, we broke down the price per mile of range for all-electric cars. Then we looked into the state of the federal tax credits (worth $7,500) to see if buyers could get even more value. Here are the three EVs that offer the best value, going by mile per dollar and taking tax credit availability into account.

3. Hyundai Ioniq EV

2017 Hyundai Ioniq
2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric | Hyundai
  • Cost per mile of range: $245

The 2018 Hyundai Ioniq Electric starts at $30,385 (including delivery). Matched against its EPA-estimated 124 miles of range, that comes to $245 per mile. Right now, this model is only on sale in California, but Hyundai has a 50-state strategy for the Ioniq EV.

Overall, Ioniq offers decent value for the plug-in driver. When you add in the $7,500 tax credit, it becomes quite a deal (under $24,000, or $184 per mile).

According to EVAdoption, which tracks sales by automaker, Hyundai has yet to even hit 10,000, so there are several years to go before any buyer should be concerned about the tax credit expiring (at least as long as the law stays on the books).

Tax credit status: Fewer than 10,000 sales. Over 190,000 to go.

2. Nissan Leaf

Nissan has announced U.S. pricing for the 2018 Nissan LEAF, which goes on sale in early 2018 at LEAF Certified Nissan dealers nationwide. The 2018 LEAF S is priced at just $29,990, which is below the current 2017 LEAF’s starting MSRP.
2018 Nissan Leaf | Nissan
  • Cost per mile of range: $204

Matching the 2018 Nissan Leaf price of $30,875 (including destination and handling) against the latest model’s 151 miles of range, that comes to $204 per mile. This value is hard to top on the EV market.

If you throw in the $7,500 tax credit ($23,375 net price), the number dips to $155 per mile. In fact, it’s likely most buyers will be able to take the credit for at least two years. That will come in handy when the 2019 Leaf arrives with more power and range.

Tax credit status: Approximately 122,000 sales. Over 75,000 sales to go before $7,500 begins to phase out (likely around 2021).

1. Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV
2018 Chevrolet Bolt EV | General Motors
  • Cost per mile of range: $157

While the Chevrolet Bolt EV is the closest to the top of our price range ($37,495 including destination), it also features by far the longest range (238 miles). That amounts to $157 per mile.

Throw in the federal tax credit ($29,995 net price) and it comes down to $126 per mile. Clearly, the Bolt EV with federal (and, ideally, state) tax credits makes the most financial sense of any EV on the market (that is, if your budget exceeds $30,000).

However, buyers will have to make their move before mid-2019. GM is already close to 185,000 sales, so the automaker is on track to hit 200,000 by the end of 2018. Once that happens, there will be two quarters to go.

Tax credit status: Nearly 185,000 sales through June 2018. Only 15,000 to go before final two quarters of $7,500 credit (likely to phase out by July 2019).