These are the most affordable ways to go electric.
After a series of teasers, the 2022 Chevrolet Bolt just made its official debut alongside the new Bolt EUV variant that's meant to look more like an SUV. Both models carry over the existing Bolt EV drivetrain, which features a 65-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery mated to a permanent magnetic drive electric motor. Total output is 200 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, all going to the front wheels only.
This may not be enough power to frighten Tesla, but Chevy has managed to decrease the Bolt's price by more than $5,000. With a starting price of $31,995, the 2022 Bolt is one of the least-expensive new electric vehicles on the market, second only to the 2021 Mini Cooper SE. But what if someone wants an even cheaper EV experience? Since this technology advances so quicker, used EVs tend to be hilariously cheap. We've found six used EVs (and one gasoline range extender) that are far cheaper than a new Bolt.
While the new Bolt offers many upgrades over the outgoing model, including revised styling, a cushier interior, and available Super Cruise, the outgoing model is now a tremendous used bargain. We found used 2017 examples starting for less than $12,000 with under 60,000 miles on the odometer. The output is the same at 200 hp, but the early examples' driving range is limited to 238 miles. Starting with the 2019 model, Chevy updated the Bolt's battery to achieve 259 miles, which is the same as the new 2022 model.
Not everyone is ready to make the jump to an EV, which is why we've included the Chevrolet Volt on this list. We think General Motors pulled the plug on the Volt prematurely, considering it is the perfect middle ground for buyers that aren't sold on EVs yet. The second-generation used Volt is already very affordable, with prices starting under $9,000. First-generation models are even cheaper, starting under $5,000.
The second-generation Volt features a 1.5-liter engine under the hood, which acts as a range extender for the 18.4-kWh battery pack. It can travel 53 miles on electric power only, relying on the gasoline engine when the battery runs out. The Volt achieves up to 42 mpg with the motor running and can travel around 420 miles total. If your commute is shorter than 53 miles, you can also charge the Volt at home and rarely use the gas engine.
The Fiat 500e was built purely as a compliance car to satisfy US CAFE regulations. Fiat lost money on each one it sold, but the company's loss is now your gain because used 500e models are available for under $5,000. It's easy to see why this car depreciated so much. It carried a pretty high $33,990 MSRP when it was new, but Fiat dealerships leased them for under $100 per month, thanks to heavy incentives.
The car can only travel up to 84 miles on a charge, which would be perfect for someone commuting short distances into a city or to a college or high school. With just 111 hp on tap, the 500e is no Tesla fighter, but it is still fun to drive like most Fiat models.
Much like the 500e, the Volkswagen e-Golf was built purely as a compliance car rather than a moneymaker. The battery range was more impressive, though, with around 125 miles on a charge. With only 134 hp, the e-Golf wasn't swift, but 214 lb-ft of torque ensured it was actually quicker than a Golf GTI from 0-30 mph. Used e-Golf prices are among the most affordable on this list, starting at around $8,000.
Since the first-generation Nissan Leaf is pretty goofy looking and only includes a lackluster 73-mile driving range, we decided to add the much-improved second-generation model on this list. Before the introduction of the longer-range Plus model, the second-generation Leaf boasted a 151-mile driving range. It's less potent than the Bolt with just 141 hp, but the torque is more comparable. We found used Leaf models starting around $12,000.
While this is the only model on this list to wear a luxury badge, the BMW i3 isn't much more expensive than the other EVs featured here. The original i3 could only travel around 81 miles on a charge, while the models fitted with a two-cylinder range extender could do about 150 miles. This was later upped to around 114 and 180 miles, respectively, in the 2017 update. Few people want to settle for the pitiful range of the early i3, which is why prices start under $10,000.
The Hyundai Ioniq EV isn't one of the best-remembered models on this list, but it boasts a respectable 124-mile driving range and 118-hp electric motor. The range was increased substantially in the 2020 model to 170 miles, though those later examples are much pricier. We found early examples starting under $10,000, but the 2020 models start around $25,000.
We also want to mention the Hyundai Kona EV. This model hasn't had as much time to depreciate but we found used Ioniq EV models for less than $25,000. The Kona EV is the most practical vehicle on this list, and it boasts the most impressive range at 258 miles. In another year or two, these will be a tremendous value to keep an eye on, as will its corporate counterpart, the Kia Niro EV.