With petrol prices at record highs, more new-car buyers are adding electric vehicles to their consideration lists. Here are the most affordable electric cars now on sale in Australia – and the ones coming soon.
The price of petrol has burst well beyond the $2 per litre mark in many parts of Australia, hitting record highs as overseas conflicts and other factors bring long-term averages of about $1.50/litre to an end.
While expensive fuel won’t make Australia ditch petrol and diesel cars overnight, it’s likely to make increasing numbers of consumers consider, or be open to pure-electric power for their next new car.
Despite government incentives in some Australian states and territories, electric vehicles (EVs) remain a few years away from achieving ‘price parity’ with petrol and diesel cars.
However, there’s a selection of relatively “affordable” electric cars on sale in Australia, including some below $50,000 – a list that’s only set to grow over the next 12 months, and beyond.
Here’s Drive’s list of the most affordable electric vehicles available to order in Australia (before government incentives).
1. MG ZS EV (from $46,990 drive-away nationwide)
- Price: $46,990 to $49,990 drive-away
- Driving range: 320km (WLTP)
- Fast charge time: 36 minutes (zero to 80 per cent)
Since it launched in November 2020, the MG ZS EV has been Australia’s most affordable series-production electric vehicle – though an upcoming facelift will see base prices rise from $44,990 drive-away in late 2021, to $46,990 drive-away (nationally).
Whereas the pre-facelift model made do with a 44.5kWh battery and 263km of WLTP driving range, the facelifted ZS EV will gain a 51kWh battery offering up to 320km of range. The larger 72kWh battery available overseas won’t be offered in Australia.
A more expensive Essence variant is available, priced from $49,990 drive-away – adding many features which were previously standard on the sole ZS EV variant available in 2021, priced from $44,990 drive-away (but missing from the $46,990 Excite in 2022).
Like the outgoing model, the updated MG ZS EV will carry a seven-year/unlimited-kilometre vehicle warranty, and a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
2. BYD Atto 3 (from $44,990 drive-away… with a catch)
- Price: $44,381 to $47,381 before on-road costs
- Driving range: 320km to 420km (WLTP)
- Fast charge time: 45 minutes (unspecified start/end states of charge, 80kW DC)
At first glance, the “from $44,990 drive-away” price tag advertised for the BYD Atto 3 – an upcoming small SUV from Chinese car giant Build Your Dreams (BYD), and soon to be imported by local company EVDirect – would make it Australia’s cheapest EV.
However, this $44,990 drive-away is only applicable in Tasmania, where government-imposed costs are lower – and is a careful extrapolation of a $44,381.85 before on-road costs list price claimed nationwide.
While the drive-away prices in Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia and ACT also fall below the MG’s $46,990 sticker, they do not in New South Wales, Victoria or Western Australia – where two thirds of all local non-Tesla electric cars were sold last year.
As a result, the BYD Atto 3 will not be Australia’s most affordable electric car for the majority of Australians, bumping it into second place on this list. It’s also worth noting not a single right-hand-drive example has docked on local shores.
Its specifications are impressive, however, offering a 150kW/310Nm outputs, 50.1kWh battery and a 320km estimated WLTP range in Standard Range trim, with a 60.1kWh Extended Range extending range to 420km (estimated). A seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty is claimed – but there’s no ANCAP rating yet.
3. Hyundai Ioniq Electric (from $49,970 plus on-road costs)
- Price: $49,970 to $54,010 plus on-road costs
- Driving range: 311km (WLTP)
- Fast charge time: 54 minutes (zero to 80 per cent, 100kW DC)
Both model grades on offer (Elite and Premium) are equipped with the same 38.3kWh lithium-ion battery, paired with a 100kW/295Nm electric motor and front-wheel drive for 311km of claimed WLTP driving range.
For the additional spend, buyers of the Premium variant get leather upholstery, heated and ventilated front seats, an electric driver’s seat, larger digital instrument display, LED headlights, wireless phone charging, a sunroof, and more.
Five-year/unlimited-kilometre vehicle and eight-year/160,000km battery warranties are standard. The Ioniq currently wears a five-star safety rating, but this is due to expire at the end of next year.
4. Nissan Leaf (from $49,990 plus on-road costs)
- Price: $49,990 to $60,490 plus on-road costs
- Driving range: 270km to 385km (WLTP)
- Fast charge time: 40-60 minutes, depending on battery (20 to 80 per cent, 50-100kW DC)
A pioneer in the mainstream electric car market a decade ago, and now in its second generation, the Nissan Leaf hatchback was once the country’s most affordable electric vehicle.
The entry-level model ($49,990 before on-road costs, or about $54,000 drive-away) features a 40kWh battery pack, 110kW electric motor and 270km claimed range, while the Leaf e+ ($60,490 plus on-roads, or $65,000 drive-away) upgrades to a 62kWh battery, 160kW motor and 385km WLTP range.
Fast charging is available at up to 100kW DC, though unlike other electric cars the Leaf uses the Japanese-market CHAdeMO plug – compared to the CCS socket used on most other electric cars, and more popular in Europe.
A five-year/unlimited-kilometre vehicle warranty is standard, along with a five-star safety rating.
5. Hyundai Kona Electric (from $54,500 plus on-road costs)
- Price: $54,500 to $64,000 plus on-road costs
- Driving range: 305km to 484km (WLTP)
- Fast charge time: 47 minutes (10 to 80 per cent, 100kW DC)
The Hyundai Kona Electric small SUV rounds out the top five – and offers the most choice of any sub-$60,000 EV, with four variants from $54,500 to $64,000 before on-road costs, or about $59,000 to $69,000 drive-away.
Entry-level ‘Standard Range’ variants use a 39.2kWh battery and 100kW/395Nm electric motor for 305km of WLTP range, while ‘Extended Range’ models score a 150kW/395Nm motor and 64kWh battery for 484km of claimed range.
Despite the Standard Range battery being considerably smaller than the Extended Range pack, both are capable of a 10 to 80 per cent charge in “approximately” 47 minutes on a 100kW DC fast charger.
Like other cars on the list, there’s a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty and five-star safety rating.
6. Mini Cooper SE (from $55,650 plus on-road costs)
- Price: $55,650 to $62,825 plus on-road costs
- Driving range: 233km (WLTP)
- Fast charge time: 36 minutes (zero to 80 per cent)
Australia’s smallest electric car is the electric version of the three-door Mini hatch, the Mini Cooper SE (Mini Electric) – priced from $55,650 to $62,825 before on-road costs, or about $61,500 to $69,000 drive-away.
Both model grades (Classic and Mini Yours) share a 32.6kWh battery pack and electric motor good for 233km of claimed WLTP driving range, and a peppy 7.3-second 0-100km/h time.
However, the electric Mini’s 211-litre boot is the smallest on this list, and its three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty is the shortest. The petrol-powered Mini three-door received a five-star safety rating in 2014 (which will expire at the end of 2022).
7. Polestar 2 (from $59,900 plus on-road costs)
- Price: $59,900 to $69,900 plus on-road costs
- Driving range: 440km to 542km (WLTP)
- Fast charge time: 35 minutes (10 to 80 per cent, 116kW or 155kW DC)
One of the first true rivals for the top-selling Tesla Model 3, the new Polestar 2 will arrive in Australia later this month priced from $59,900 to $69,900 plus on-road costs, or about $64,500 to $75,000 drive-away (before incentives in NSW).
Three variants are available, ranging from the entry-level Standard Range Single Motor (165kW/330Nm outputs, 69kWh battery, 440-474km range), Long Range Single Motor (170kW/330Nm, 78kWh battery, 510-542km range), and Long Range Dual Motor (300kW/660Nm, 78kWh, 455-482km).
Rather than traditional dealers, Polestar cars will be sold online at fixed prices, with Polestar Centres and Destinations available to view and collect cars. Servicing will occur through Volvo dealers, however, with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty.
While a range of active safety technologies are forced into an option pack – despite 49.5 per cent of Polestar being owned by car safety champions Volvo – a five-star ANCAP safety rating is offered.
8. Tesla Model 3 (from $60,900 plus on-road costs)
- Price: $60,900 to $86,472 plus on-road costs
- Driving range: 491km to 602km (WLTP)
- Fast charge time: 300km of claimed range in 15 minutes
It’d be remiss not to mention Australia’s best-selling electric car, the Tesla Model 3 – which due to a recent price rise technically slides just outside this list’s circa-$60,000 cut-off, at $60,900 plus on-road costs (or about $66,000 drive-away in NSW).
Entry-level ‘Rear-Wheel Drive’ versions use a circa-62kWh battery pack and a circa-200kW electric motor good for 491km of range, a 6.1-second 0-100km/h time, and access to Tesla’s ultra-fast Supercharger network.
All-wheel-drive Long Range and Performance versions up the ante with up to 602km of range, or a 0-100km/h time as low as 3.3 seconds (with one-foot drag strip rollout subtracted) – but command additional cost.
Tesla’s four-year/80,000km vehicle warranty sits behind much of the rest of the industry.