The best electric cars to buy 2020

  • We reveal the best electric cars to buy today
  • All are easy to recharge and deliver low running costs
  • Could one of these cars tempt you into going electric?

There’s certainly no way around it – electric cars have arrived, and they’re here to stay. In fact, with the government intending to restrict the sale of petrol and diesel cars from as early as 2032, these battery-powered machines may not just be a smart alternative – they’ll be the new normal. Around 80,000 electric vehicles were sold in the UK in 2019, and interest is growing all the time.

It’s worth explaining what an electric car (sometimes called an EV, for ‘electric vehicle’) is – it’s a vehicle powered solely by electricity with no need for petrol or diesel fuel. It’s not to be confused with an electrified vehicle – this term encompasses hybrids, which aren’t the same thing.

>> What is a hybrid car?

Almost every manufacturer either builds or is planning to release an electric vehicle. Leading the charge (ha) are brands like Tesla, but everybody from Audi to Volvo has a finger in this pie. With no need to worry about packaging an engine, electric vehicles can be almost any shape or size they want to be – but, for the most part, you’ll see EVs taking the form of the hatchbacks and SUVs we’re all familiar with.

The best electric cars on sale

Below, we’ve rounded up what we think are the best electric cars on sale. You can click on the links below to jump to the car you’re interested in, or simply scroll down to read the full list.

Tesla Model 3
Kia e-Niro
Volkswagen e-Up (Skoda Citigo-e iV/SEAT Mii Electric)
Jaguar I-Pace

Scroll down further to read some more information as well as detailed pros and cons of electric vehicles.

Is an electric car right for me?

Electric cars have found plenty of resistance from traditional motorists, for a variety of reasons – some rational, some not so much. The two things you need to consider before opting for an EV are your home situation and the length of your regular journeys.

Kia e-Niro charging

Charging up a battery-powered car isn’t like filling a combustion-engined car with petrol. While fast-charging technology is improving all the time, the majority of EVs require a number of hours to fill their batteries completely. It’s for this reason that most users opt to have a home charging station fitted in their garage or driveway, to allow their cars to charge up overnight.

The public charging network is extensive, but gaps need to be filled and reliability can still be an issue. At this stage, we wouldn’t recommend buying an electric car unless you can be sure you have somewhere to charge it either at home or at work.

> Where can I charge my electric car? Hotspots revealed

The other consideration is journey length. Some EVs will struggle to do even 100 miles on a fully charged battery, making them unsuitable for long journeys – your trips will be punctuated by regular and lengthy charging stops. Note also that travelling on the motorway will see your range decrease faster than if you were simply pootling around town.

Pros and cons

Con: Purchase price

Prices are going down but there’s no two ways about it – an electric vehicle is currently more expensive than a comparable petrol or diesel car, whether buying outright or financing via PCP or lease. 

> What is the plug-in car grant?

Pro: Running costs

An electric car costs mere pennies to run – even on public charging networks, the price per mile is far reduced compared to petrol. Taken on the Parkers Miles per pound metric, for example, a typical EV such as the Kia e-Niro will manage 33.1 miles for every pound of electricity you put into it. The most efficient variant of the Ford Fiesta achieves just 10.1 miles for every pound of diesel fuel.

Add in discounts for ownership – such as free road tax and London congestion charge – and an EV can pay for itself pretty quickly.

Con: Range

If you regularly undertake mega-long journeys or simply do a lot of shorter trips, you might find yourself eyeing up the ‘remaining range’ gauge in an EV. This is worse in certain models with smaller batteries and lower ranges.

It’s largely a moot point given the vast majority of journeys are only a few miles long, but if your weekly mileage is a bit more unpredictable you may prefer to stick with petrol until the UK’s charging network is more expansive.

Pro: Driving experience

This firmly goes into the ‘pro’ column. We’ve not yet found an electric vehicle we didn’t enjoy driving – even the cheapest are great fun. Electric motors provide all of their torque immediately, so 100% of the car’s performance is available from a standstill – making them nippy away from the lights.

In the case of more expensive EVs, such as the Tesla line-up, performance is brutally fast, besting supercars in the 0-60mph sprint.

Nissan Leaf charging

Despite this, electric cars are incredibly easy to drive, with their power easy to modulate. Refinement is also a massive plus – with no noise from the electric motors besides a light hum, they’re very relaxing to waft about in.

An electric car still can’t provide the drama of an internal combustion engine in a sports car, and some may prefer the more analogue feel of a petrol engine and manual gearbox. But if you’re able, we implore you to take an EV for a test drive – you might love it.

Con: Resale values

The residual values for electric vehicles are not very strong, so if you buy outright then you'll suffer heavy depreciation. This also affects a fleet manager's decision on whether to introduce EVs on to the fleet. This will change in the coming years as EVs become more accepted.

Pro: Environmental sustainability

There’s plenty of debate surrounding this but in short, electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly than a petrol or diesel car. While there’s plenty of CO2 involved in building them, particularly in mining the rare earth metals in the batteries, this is wiped out in just a few short years. The batteries are almost totally recyclable as well, and we expect to see this to improve in years to come as well.

EVs produce zero local emissions – that is to say, no fumes or exhaust like a combustion-engined car – and even if the electricity that powers them comes from a dirty source, total emissions are reduced compared to even the most efficient petrol or diesel car.

Better yet, an EV is as eco-friendly as the grid that powers it – and as the UK generates more of its electricity from renewable sources, EVs will become greener too. When’s the last time a diesel car became LESS polluting as it aged?

> Get all the latest electric car news and reviews on the Parkers EV hub

The Best Electric Cars 2020

Tesla Model 3 

2020 Tesla Model 3 Awards

There’s a reason we’ve named the Tesla Model 3 our Electric Car of the Year for 2020... as well as Best Company Car, Best Safety, and overall Car of the Year. Put simply, it moves the game on – offering impressive range for a reasonable price, as well as some of the most advanced technology you can get on the roads today.

With up to 335 miles available on a single charge, and access to Tesla’s super-fast Supercharger network, the Model 3 is just about the most compelling option for people who do big mileage or a lot of long journeys.

Tesla loads its cars with technology and the Model 3 doesn’t disappoint, with an infotainment system capable of streaming music, playing games and even hiding so-called ‘Easter Eggs’ deep within the interface. It’s also fitted Autopilot, the firm’s semi-autonomous systems intended to improve safety.

Add in a remarkably low leasing cost and the Model 3 suddenly becomes an affordable route into premium EV ownership. Oh, and did we mention the Performance model will do 0-62mph in less than four seconds?

Price new: From £43,545
Lease this car: From £453 per month
Find a used Tesla Model 3 for sale on Parkers here

Kia e-Niro 

2020 Kia e-Niro

Kia’s affordable e-Niro isn’t as glamorous as the Tesla Model 3, but it’s stonking value and offers a remarkable range of 282 miles on a full charge.

With 201bhp at its disposal, it’s no slouch, and better yet it’s based around a practical SUV body – so there’s space for all the family and their luggage, too.

Plan to keep your car for a long time? Kia’s warranty is seven years and 100,000 miles, one of the best in the business. Don’t want to stand out? The e-Niro hardly looks any different to a standard car, so it flies under the radar perfectly.

Price new: From £36,495
Lease this car: From per month
Find a used Kia e-Niro for sale on Parkers here

Volkswagen e-Up 

2020 Volkswagen e-Up

The Volkswagen Up has been around for a while, and we think the petrol-powered model is one of the best city cars you can buy. Amazingly, though, the all-electric e-Up is even better – despite not being designed as an EV from the ground-up like most rivals, it still feels as though this car is as it was meant to be from the start.

With up to 170 miles of range on a single charge this goes far beyond a simple city car – it’s quick, relaxed even at speed and looks stylish, too. And while this isn’t going to be a hardworking family bus, you might be surprised at how comfortably four adults can sit inside.

The e-Up is the same basic car as the Skoda Citigo-e iV and SEAT Mii Electric – they’re differentiated only by price and trim, so we recommend all three.

Price new: From £23,555
Lease this car: From per month
Find a used Volkswagen e-Up for sale on Parkers here

Jaguar I-Pace 

2020 Jaguar I-Pace

The I-Pace is Jaguar’s first venture into the world of electric cars, yet it’s a true Jag through and through – with space, grace and pace (the company’s three hallmarks) in equal measure.

It’s unusually proportioned for an SUV, with a large passenger compartment and short overhangs front and rear, but it’s still a handsome beast with a good amount of interior space for its size.

Performance is of course important in a Jaguar and the I-Pace doesn’t disappoint. It has 400hp on tap, giving it impressive acceleration, yet will achieve a range of 292 miles on a full charge.

Price new: From £64,495
Lease this car: From per month
Find a used Jaguar I-Pace for sale on Parkers here

Further reading:

>> The best electric SUVs

>> What is a plug-in hybrid?

>> All about the government ban on petrol and diesel cars