They're costly, but various incentives help reduce their price premiums. Here's the biggest money savers.
Though owning an electric vehicle can save a motorist money over time in terms of lower operating and maintenance costs, they’re priced higher than conventionally-powered models. The least expensive EVs for 2018 are priced between around $25,000 and $33,000, and that’s for what would otherwise be considered small economy cars.
While there are equipment differences between the two, the conventionally-powered hatchback version of the compact Ford Focus has a base sticker price of $21,415, while the Ford Focus Electric starts at $29,999. Similarly, the Volkswagen eGolf at $33,145 is considerably costlier than the base version of the standard Golf that starts at $22,095.
But incentives granted to EV buyers can help absorb much, if not all, of the price premium. Automakers’ cash rebates of $1,000 or more are common on many models. For its part, the federal government gives EV buyers a one-time $7,500 tax credit. In addition, a few states grant tax breaks of their own. Colorado offers a $5,000 EV tax credit, and it’s as much as $4,500 in California. On the downside, the federal tax credits phase out after an automaker sells 200,000 EVs. Though most automakers are far from reaching that milestone, Tesla has already done so and its tax credits will dwindle to zero by the end of 2019. General Motors is expected to reach the sales threshold later in 2019.
In the meantime, here are the five least-expensive electric vehicles in the U.S. for the 2018 model year. We’re noting the base price for each model and its effective cost after taking the $7,500 federal tax credit. All prices noted are for base models and include the automaker’s destination charge, but not options.