Best cheap electric cars: 2021’s most affordable EVs

  • Regularly updated list of the best cheap electric cars on sale
  • Could one of these tempt you into an affordable EV?
  • All are eligible for the UK's Plug in Car Grant

Sales of electric vehicles (EVs) are really starting to take off in Britain and this guide is designed to showcase our pick of the best cheap electric cars on sale today. Environmental concerns, social pressure and the government announcement that sales of new petrol- and diesel-powered cars will be banned from 2030 mean that many drivers are now considering plugging in.

The good news is that EVs are getting better and prices are gradually falling. Developments in battery technology have rapidly extended the distance they can travel between recharges – for many people, cheap electric cars are becoming viable alternatives to petrol- and diesel-engined cars. Even more so when one considers the potentially lower running costs.

Not only do electric cars produce no CO2 emissions while they're driving (so there’s no VED car tax or London Congestion Charge to pay), but the government will also give buyers up to £2,500 towards the cost of EVs that cost less than £35,000 through the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG). It's a win-win if an EV is right for your needs. 

These subsidies help make electric cars even cheaper - but remember, they won't last forever...

The best cheap electric cars on sale in 2021

Smart EQ Fortwo
Smart EQ Forfour
Fiat 500 Electric
VW e-Up
MG 5 EV
MINI Electric Hatch
MG ZS EV
Peugeot e-208
Renault Zoe
Honda e
Vauxhall Corsa-e
Nissan Leaf
Citroen e-C4
Kia e-Niro
Hyundai Kona Electric

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These are the cheapest PiCG-attracting sub-£35,000 electric cars on sale today. Parkers has driven every single one and our roster of testers has more than a century's experience of reviewing cars between them - so you can trust the judgment of our writers. We've lived with many of them, suffered range anxiety and discovered the hassle of plugging in to the UK's fledgling charging infrastructure.

Stay tuned as we update this list – and remember that all cash prices quoted below are excluding the government Plug-in Car Grant, if the lease deal isn't showing that's because it's not yet available, and the real-world electric range we've quoted are official WLTP combined figures. The cars are likely to go a little less far in real-world driving conditions. You have been warned...

Read next: The Parkers electric car guide
Read next: The best electric cars to lease
The best small EVs on sale today

1: Smart EQ Fortwo

Smart EQ Fortwo (2020) front view

Price: £20,350 - £24,425
Range:
Up to 83 miles (official WLTP Combined)
View lease deals: From £232 per month, or browse for sale 

The cheapest small electric car is the Smart EQ Fortwo. The popular two-seater city car is back in EQ form with a freshened-up new look and a completely electric line-up of cars. It's packed with up-to-the-minute safety equipment and driver tech, represents a lot of fun for the money and is a great introduction to electric motoring. But a maximum range of 70 miles and that tiny, two-seater cabin means it's best reserved for urban duties.

2: Smart EQ Forfour

2020 Smart EQ Forfour side view, driving

Price: £20,785 - £25,565
Range:
Up to 68 miles (official WLTP Combined)
View lease deals:
From £250 per month or browse for sale 

Like its two-seater sister car above, the Smart EQ Fortwo, the Forfour is perfectly suited to city driving thanks to its compact dimensions and tiny turning circle. Its appeal is limited by its short range (not a problem if you're city-bound, though), and the strong competition offered by the more expensive electric hatchbacks listed elsewhere in our guide.

3: Fiat 500 Electric

Fiat 500 Electric (2020) driving

Price: £22,995 - £29,995
Range:
Up to 199 miles (official WLTP Combined)
View lease deals: From £244 per month or browse for sale 

The Fiat 500 Electric is a new arrival on the UK electric car market for 2021, but could well be something of a gamechanger, given its sub-£20k cash price (after government Plug-in Car Grant) for the entry-level model. It's impossibly cute to look at, perfect for the city and manages to bring the Fiat 500 kicking and screaming into the electric car era. Expect to see many coming to a city near you.

4: Volkswagen e-Up

Volkswagen e-Up (2020) front view

Price: £23,555
Range:
Up to 162 miles (official WLTP Combined)
View lease deals:
From £230 per month or browse for sale 

The Volkswagen e-Up is set to remain around for a little while yet, following its 2020 facelift which incorporated a larger battery and more efficient motor. The e-Up is good to drive, has a decent range, and is an excellent introduction to EV ownership that comes highly recommended as one of the best cheap electric cars. We can't wait to see how the new Fiat 500 Electric (above) compares with it.

5: MG 5 EV

MG5 EV (2020) front view

Price: £27,495 - £29,995
Range:
Up to 214 miles (official WLTP Combined)
View lease deals:
From £212 per month or browse for sale 

The MG5 was launched in the UK in 2020 after being on sale in China since 2018 - and is being sold on a value-for-money ticket, like its sister car the MG ZS EV. It's a roomy five-door estate and as such currently has no rivals in the UK's electric car market at this price point. You get bags of equipment for your money and it's backed up with a seven-year warranty that puts it alongside Kia and SsangYong as the longest in the business. Finally, the claimed 214-mile range is the longest you'll get for the money. A shrewd buy, if you don't mind the badge.

6: MINI Electric Hatch

MINI Electric Hatch (2020) driving

Price: £27,900 - £33,900
Range:
Up to 145 miles (official WLTP Combined)
View lease deals:
From £308 per month or browse for sale 

It might not be blessed with the greatest range, but the MINI Electric Hatch is well priced in comparison with other cars in this list, great to drive, and has a cool image. The MINI manages to retain the best bits of its petrol-engined cousins and is very quick, but is city-friendly and comes packed with battery-saving tech shared with the more expensive BMW i3.

7: MG ZS EV

MG ZS EV (2020) front view

Price: £28,495 - £30,495
Range: 163 miles
View lease deals: From £240 per month or browse for sale 

The MG ZS EV is proving very popular as the UK's cheapest electric SUV. It's basically a Nissan Qashqai-sized car that in EV form has a five-star Euro NCAP rating and is priced similarly to its petrol-powered rivals. It’s accessible, unintimidating and very cheap – and comes with a seven-year warranty. Pick of the range is the top-spec Exclusive model, which gains additional safety tech. Even at £2,000 more than the basic version, this is still usefully cheaper than all of its EV-powered opposition.

8: Peugeot e-208

Peugeot e-208 (2020) front view

Price: £28,550 - £32,750
View for sale

We're really impressed with the Peugeot e-208. It combines all of the appeal of Peugeot's new supermini hatchback – great handling and an interesting interior – and wraps it up in a refined and efficient EV package that delivers a potential electric range of 217 miles. It looks good, feels solid and drives almost as well as its lighter petrol-powered siblings. We suspect this is going to be a lot of people's first EV – and what a great introduction it would be. This is one of the best electric cars of 2021.

9: Renault Zoe

Renault Zoe (2020) being charged up

Price: £29,179 - £32,870
View lease deals: From £292 per month or browse for sale 

Thanks to no longer being offered on Renault's battery leasing scheme, the Zoe can no longer claim to be the UK's cheapest four-seater EV. But its appeal remains undented thanks to recent improvements in design and efficiency. It now comes with 50kW fast charging for those who want to more easily venture beyond the 200-plus miles of single-charge range. It's practical, fun, good looking and simple to drive – no wonder it's even more popular now than when it was launched.

10: Honda e

Honda e (2020) front view

Price: £30,160 - £32,660
Range: Up to 137 miles (official WLTP Combined)
View lease deals: From £374 per month or browse for sale 

The Honda e is an exciting addition to the electric car market, combining a tech-laden, but highly-usable, dashboard with some interesting trims and colours inside, and an impossibly cute body. If you think this beauty is skin deep, though, think again – the Honda e is great to drive and works fabulously well in the city. Sadly, it's hampered with a very short usable battery range, which might make this car a non-starter for those who need to undertake longer journeys.

11: Vauxhall Corsa-e

Vauxhall Corsa-e (2020) front view

Price: £30,610 - £34,160
Range: Up to 209 miles (official WLTP Combined)
View lease deals: From £346 per month or browse for sale 

Although it's closely related to the Peugeot e-208, the Vauxhall Corsa-e looks and feels quite different. It boasts smart styling, wide choice of exterior colour combinations and a decent range and on-road driving experience. Like the Peugeot e-208, the Corsa-e looks almost identical to its petrol-powered cousins, which is a positive for those who want their electric car experience to be as 'normal' as possible.

12: Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf (2020) driving

Price: £31,145 - £39,525
Range: 180 miles
View lease deals: From £278 per month or browse for sale 

What's left to be said about the Nissan Leaf? It's been around since 2011, and more than 500,000 have now been built. Available with a large 62kWh battery pack, it's competitive with its newest rivals – and comes with the advantage of being a tried-and-tested product that's known and trusted. The e-Pedal set-up makes it a doddle to drive (like a bumper car, you just go and stop with the accelerator). It might look visually challenged compared with newer rivals, but if you want to make an EV statement, here's where to begin.

More electric cars from less than £35,000

13: Citroen e-C4

Citroen e-C4 (2020) rear view

Price: £32,180 - £34,330
Range: 217 miles
View leasing deals: From £250 per month or browse for sale 

The Citroen e-C4 is a new entrant to the electric car market, and misses out on our Top 12 by the skin of its teeth. It's a funky-looking thing that combines hatchback, fastback and SUV styling, and promises great comfort thanks to large, squidgy seats and the fitment of Citroen's Progressive Hydraulic Cushions. It looks pretty much the same as its petrol and diesel cousins, which makes it ideal for anyone who wants to go electric without shouting about it.

14: Kia e-Niro

Kia e-Niro (2021) front view

Price: £32,845 - £39,395
Range: 282 miles
View leasing deals: From £361 per month or browse for sale 

The Kia e-Niro is one of the UK's bestselling electric cars, and it's easy to see why, and we really rate it. With a long-range battery pack that gives an easy 250-miles on a full recharge combined with a practical five-door SUV bodystyle that buyers love, it's winning lots of friends. Kia's seven-year warranty is a winning deal-clincher for many buyers, too. The popular e-Niro '2' trim level with the long-range battery pack has had its price tweaked, too, so it now squeaks in under £35,000.

15: Hyundai Kona Electric

Hyundai Kona Electric (2020) front view

Price: £33,150 - £41,500
Range: Up to 279 miles (official WLTP Combined)
View lease deals: From £336 per month or browse for sale 

We really like the Hyundai Kona Electric. This one shifted the goalposts on battery range when it was first launched in 2018, being capable of achieving more than 280 miles when driven gently - that's up there with the more expensive Tesla Model 3. That's the top 64kWh model, but even the entry-level 39kWh model is on the pace, with 180 miles returned in the official WLTP Combined test. But there's more to the Kona than a long range – it's easy to drive and practical, and like all Hyundais, comes with a solid five-year warranty and one of the best brand reliability records.

Verdict

This concludes our guide to the most affordable electric cars on sale in the UK. Prices are steadily falling and we reckon there's likely to be a car in here that will suit your needs. Just remember that EVs won't suit everyone - they're great for people doing shorter journeys with an urban focus, and for those who can easily charge up at home. If you do longer journeys, erratic distances and don't have off-street charging, you may be better off sticking with a petrol, diesel or hybrid car for a while longer.

Read on for popular questions about affordable electric cars.

FAQ: cheapest electric car UK popular questions

How long 'til EVs come as cheap as conventional cars?
Most observers reckon it'll happen before the middle of the decade - so stay tuned as we update this guide in the coming months. The direction of travel is clear to see: prices of batteries are falling, production is rising and demand is soaring... EVs are inexorably getting cheaper!

How can I check electric car prices in the UK?
The Parkers specs pages list the recommended retail prices for every make and model of car sold today - and it's updated automatically, so you can browse different EVs and see how much they cost.

Will EVs hold on to their value?
All the signs are that you shouldn't worry too much about the residual value (RV) of electric cars. We've driven 100,000-mile-old Teslas and they still work just fine - in fact the batteries are likely to outlast the cars themselves. Even the cheapest EVs typically have an eight-year warranty on the battery packs, so we recommend you can buy in confidence.

Which cheap electric cars should I avoid?
We'd steer clear of electric quadricycles like the Renault Twizy, which is really a glorified e-bike. It's fine if you want an urban runaround but is pretty impractical and a little bit daunting on the open road...

Where can I read more about the cheapest electric car choices?
Check out the guide by our sister website Carmagazine.co.uk for further advice.

What to read next: 

>> Best family electric cars

>> Best electric SUVs

>> The Parkers electric van guide

>> When’s the best time to buy a car? 

>> The best small, economical 4x4s

>> Want your own wallbox? Check our guide to home chargers

>> Cheap convertible cars

External links

Government Plug-in Car Grant