2020 looks set to be the year that electric cars go fully mainstream.
Recent years have seen a rising number of new electric models from major manufacturers but this year there are at least 23 EVs set to hit the market.
Some, such as the Porsche Taycan remain out of the reach of most drivers and there’s no doubt EVs are more expensive than a petrol or diesel equivalent but a growing number are within reach of the average motorists.
Here we run down the cheapest new electric cars available to buy or order right now. We’ve discounted the £10,000 Renault Twizy on the grounds that it’s actually a quadricycle and unlikely to be anyone’s main means of transport.
Smart EQ fortwo
£20,350Smart’s unique two-seater city car has been reinvented for the electric age. The shape is instantly recognisable but the tiny petrol motor has been replaced by a single 80bhp electric motor. A 17kWh battery offers between 75 and 80 miles of range, and charging at a domestic 7kW wallbox takes just under three and a half hours. If the tiny two-door isn’t big enough, there’s always its big brother (see below).
Skoda Citigoe iV
£20,495The cheapest of three related all-electric city cars from the VW Group, the Citigo iV is Skoda’s first all-electric model. Sharing its body with the regular Citigo, the iV is powered by a single 82bhp electric motor that’s good for an 81mph top speed. Power comes from a 36.8kWh battery that can rapid charge from zero to 80 per cent in an hour and will provide up to 170 miles of zero-emissions driving.
Smart EQ forfour
£20,785A four-door, four-seat alternative to the diminutive fortwo. The forfour uses the same electric drivetrain as the fortwo with the same power, battery capacity and charging time. The added weight of the larger car means it’s a second slower to 62mph (hardly a concern in city driving) and will only do between 71 and 81 miles on a charge.
£22,800This is the first of Seat’s electrified range, available to order now with first customer deliveries imminent. An all-electric version of Seat’s existing compact five-door city car, the Mii offers 82bhp and a massive 156lb/ft from its single electric motor, meaning it can reach 31mph from a standstill in only 3.9 seconds. The car’s 36.8kWh battery provides up to 160 miles of range from a single charge, based on the WLTP test cycle and allows for rapid charging to 80 per cent capacity in an hour.
£23,195This should be familiar by now. The same basic body and same EV running gear as the Mii Electric and Citigo iV, the Up carries the usual small premium that comes with its more prestigious badge. Like the Seat but unlike the Skoda, the VW gets alloys, heated seats and rear parking sensors. Despite using the same battery and motor, the Up’s range is 159 miles, compared to the Seat’s 160 and Skoda’s 170.
MG ZS EV
£25,965 Another pure EV based on an existing model, the ZS EV is the first all-electric car from budget brand MG. It’s also one of the first all-electric models in the C-SUV segment. What it lacks in glamour, it makes up for with high equipment levels, a decently spacious interior and a 44.5kWh battery that’s good for 163 miles of zero-emissions motoring.
£27,900Getting in ahead of its natural rivals the electric Fiat 500 and Honda e, the Mini Electric is on sale now. It keeps the three-door hatch’s familiar looks but with subtle clues to its drivetrain. That drivetrain uses a 32.6kWh battery and a 182bhp motor driving the front wheels. Acceleration is a Cooper-beating 7.3 seconds but too much of that will eat into the official 145-mile range. Your £24,400 after PICG gets you the basic Level 1 car, with prices rising to £30,400 for the top-spec Level 3 model.
£29,170The bigger, more sensible choice if you’re looking for a French EV (rather than the bonkers Twizy). The Zoe was one of the first “affordable” EVs and the second generation was launched in 2019 offering more power, more range and refreshed looks. Its new 52kWh battery offers up to 242 miles on the WLTP test and now features 50kW rapid charging to add 90 miles of range in around 30 minutes. There are also two motor choices – a 108bhp R110 and a 133bhp R135 – to suit different drivers’ needs.
£29,845 The Leaf is the granddaddy of mainstream EVs and remains one of the default choices for buyers looking to switch from conventional engines to electric. Apart from the slightly gawky looks it’s a fairly standard family hatchback but with an all-electric drivetrain. Since mid-2019 it’s been available in two versions – the less powerful standard car has a 148bhp motor and 40kWh battery while the E+ gets a beefier 212bhp motor and a 62kWh battery. The standard car’s range is stated at 168 miles, while e+ stretches that to 239 miles. Both accept DC rapid charging of up to 50kW and feature Nissan’s neat e-pedal which allows for single-pedal driving.
£30,665Based on the same new platform as the Peugeot e-208, the Corsa-e is Vauxhall’s first all-electric version of its best-selling supermini. Powered by a single electric motor with 134bhp and 192lb/ft of torque, the Corsa-e can hit 31mph in 2.8 seconds and 62mph in 8.1 seconds. A 50kWh battery offers up to 209 miles of range and two trim levels keep options simple for buyers.
£32,050Peugeot’s declared business model is “choose your Peugeot, choose your powertrain” and to that end you can have your new 208 in petrol, diesel or electric format with the usual choice of trim levels. The e-208, due in showrooms any day now, uses a 134bhp electric motor to drive the front wheels, with energy from a 50kWh battery. That will charge in as little as 30 minutes and offer up to 217 miles on a single charge.
Nissan E-NV200 Combi
£32,755An EV with practicality to the fore. This is a passenger version of Nissan’s E-NV200 cargo van and is available in five or seven-seat configurations, features sliding doors and between 70 and 2,940 litres of load space. It uses the same drivetrain as the standard Leaf but its boxier shape means the 40kWh battery only stretches to 124 miles of range and entry-level models miss out on rapid charging capabilities.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
£32,950The Ioniq was the first car to offer three different electrification options, with the choice of mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid and full electric. This all electric model, like the Leaf, is fairly conventional family hatchback with a 38kWh battery and single 134bhp motor. Fully charged, it offers 194 miles of range.
Hyundai Kona Electric
£36,100 Hyundai’s second entry on this list has been winning plaudits around the world for bringing huge real-world range at an affordable price. The all-electric version of the firm’s crossover features a 64kWh battery that powers a 201bhp motor. Its range is a Tesla-troubling 279 miles from a single charge and rapid charging will add 80 per cent of capacity in 75 minutes.
Kia Soul EV
£37,295The e-Niro is currently stealing headlines but the Soul was actually the Korean brand’s first EV, back in 2014. An all-new version has just hit the roads in a single, high-spec First Edition trim. Under the boxy love-it-or-hate-it body is the same drivetrain as the e-Niro and Kona – a 64kWh battery feeding a 201bhp motor that drives the front wheels. Quoted WLTP range is 280 miles and rapid DC charging is standard.
£37,995The first supply of Kia’s electric crossover sold out within three months of going on sale last year. This year, Kia is committed to bringing 6,000 examples to the UK to clear the waiting list and offer the model to more buyers. Using the same motor and battery combination as the Soul EV, it offers the same power output, a charging time of 1 hour 15 minutes (at 50kW) and a slightly better range of 282 miles. Plus, it doesn’t have the Soul’s divisive styling.