The Cheapest Electric Vehicles You Can Buy in Australia Right Now

cheapest evs australia 2022

If you’re sick of being beholden to the whims of the oil cartels and done with feeling guilty about how your car may be impacting the planet, making your next vehicle an electric one is a logical choice.

Last year, when petrol prices soared to historical all-time highs in Australia, interest in EVs subsequently rose, a trend that has only increased in 2023. EVs currently make up 8% of all new cars sold in Australia, their sales figures having risen three-fold in the past 12 months.

Granted, EVs are not without their own set of problems that new buyers should be aware of. For starters, they aren’t the cheapest vehicles out there, with upfront costs being significantly higher than traditional combustion-engine autos. In addition, the infrastructure to support them is lacking. However, in the long run, EVs are likely to work out much cheaper in both fuel and maintenance costs.

State, territory, and federal governments are currently investing record amounts in bolstering EV infrastructure while there are a number of pretty sweet rebates currently on offer that will bring down some of those initial costs.

So, if you’re wondering how you can get in on the ride of the future for the smallest down payment, here’s our guide to going green on the cheap.

Electric Car Costs

First off, an electric car is not just an electric car. You’ll need a way to charge it up and keep it ready to roll.

While you can simply plug your car straight into the wall, this may not cut it for most users. It will charge your car, but it can take anywhere from 4 to 48 hours to do so fully, depending on the battery you have.

Most EV owners opt for a dedicated ‘fast charger’. These are devices that amp up the output from your mains and decrease charging time dramatically. They come in a range of power options, from 7.2 kilowatts to 22 kilowatts.

At the lower end of that scale, a fast charger will set you back between $900 and $1500, plus installation. At the upper end, you could be looking at anywhere from $1000 to $3000 plus labour.

The good news is that many manufacturers will offer free installation when you purchase an EV, but the cost of a charger is still something you’ll need to factor in.

In terms of ongoing running costs, EVs will typically run you sub $10 for a full battery when you charge it at home, depending on the battery you have and the price you pay for electricity.

One Brisbane family has managed to run their Tesla for around $550 a year by partially using solar panels to charge it. They estimate that it costs them about $1 for every 100km they drive, which is pretty damn good.

Because EVs have fewer moving parts to deal with, they also have much lower maintenance costs. Sure, you’ll still have to get new tires and wiper blades every so often, but there are simply far fewer mechanical parts, meaning fewer trips to the mechanic. This has huge potential to offset running costs compared to petrol or diesel vehicles.

Cheapest EVs in Australia

EVs are, as a rule, more expensive than fossil fuel runners, particularly if you’re buying the latter second-hand. While the price of EVs is slowly coming down, it’s not expected to be within rivalling range of low-end combustion cars for a while.

EV consultant Bryce Gaton has said that it will still take six to seven years before the cars start getting into what could reasonably be considered “cheap” territory for a vehicle.

Build Your Dreams (BYD) broke new ground in June by announcing the release of their new model, the Dolphin. The Chinese car manufacturer has a cult following and their sales globally make them one of the biggest rivals to Tesla.

An image showing the BYD Dolphin, Australia's cheapest EV.
Image: BYD / Getty

The Dolphin is the first EV in Australia to be sold under the $40K mark, opening up new territory in the market. It’s similar in size to a Toyota Corolla and comes in at $38,890 plus on-road costs. The Dolphin, which has already started taking orders, is currently the cheapest EV it’s possible to buy new in Australia.

Second in line is the MG 4 Excite, which comes in at just $100 more than the Dolphin (you see what BYD have done here). The 2023 model uses a 51kWh battery with an advertised range of 350 km. For a 64kWh battery Excite, expect to pay $44,990 before on-road costs. Don’t worry, they come in other colours.

An image showing the 2023 MG 4 Excite in orange.
Image: MG

Going up the price scale we have the GWM Ora. The small car recently debuted in Australia and can be bought for as little as $43,990 in the standard model, before on-road costs.

An image showing the GWM Ora, the cheapest electric vehicle elecrtic car in australia
Image: GWM

The Ora is made by Chinese manufacturer Great Wall Motors and comes with a 45.4 kWh battery with a 310 km range in the standard model. GWM claims the car can be charged from 10% battery up to 80% in 41 minutes from a public charger in Australia.

Rivalling the Ora is the MG ZS EV Excite. It also retails from $43,990 and is classed as a small SUV. The MG ZS is consistently one of the cheapest EVs out there, and the 2023 model packs an updated look and a larger, 49 kWh battery. This will get you around 320 kms of driving on a single charge. Controversially, MG are discontinuing the line after this year to make room for the MG 4 Excite. If you’re after one, you’d better get in quick.

An image showing the MG ZS Ev, one of the hceapest electric vehicles electric cars in Australia.
Image: MG

Next, you have the Chinese BYD Atto 3 which is similarly priced to the above two. It’s also a small SUV vehicle with a 49.9 kWh battery that goes up to 60.5kWh for the Extended model. They retail from between $43,990 to $48,990 depending on your state of purchase. The car was first released in Australia last year and has quickly become one of the fastest-selling EVs in the country.

An image showing the BYD Atto 3, one of the cheapest electric cars electric vehicles in Australia
Image: BYD

Breaking the 50K mark is the 2023 Nissan Leaf. The Japanese hatchback starts at $50,990 but comes with a smaller, 39 kWh battery and a more limited, 270 km range than the above vehicles. The Leaf used to be the country’s most affordable EV but hasn’t been able to keep up with the market and retails for not much less than it did a decade ago.

An image showing the 2023 Nissan Leaf, one of the cheapest electric vehicles electric cars in Australia
Image: Nissan

Finally, you’ve got the Hyundai Kona EV. The 2023 model starts at $54,500 with a 39.2 kWh battery and a 302 km driving range in the standard model.

An image showing the Hyundai Kona EV, one of the cheapest EVs electric vehicles electric cars in Australia
Image: Hyundai

EVs certainly aren’t cheap although they are coming down each year. Volvo recently said that it expects to see “cost parity between electric vehicles and combustion-powered vehicles by 2025.”

At the same time, many states offer EV rebates, with NSW, QLD, VIC, and SA offering $3,000 back off the cost of a new EV. There are also registration and tax incentives so it’s worth looking into what you could save in your local jurisdiction.

Given that the above vehicles are the cheapest EVs on the domestic market, they’re also particularly hard to track down from dealers at the moment. So, if you’re serious about getting an EV, it’s worth doing your research, making some inquiries, and seeing what you can get at the moment.

Related: Everything You Need to Know Before Buying an Electric Vehicle

Related: Second-Hand Electric Vehicles: Should You Do It?

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