As petrol prices hit $2 per litre, and inflation weighs heavily on household budgets, the appeal of an electric car has never been stronger. This is demonstrated in sales data, in which electric vehicles (EVs) have already experienced a huge spike in sales throughout the first half of 2023.
It’s hard to deny the Tesla line-up is the gold standard of electric motoring. They often boast class-leading range, features and performance. However, that comes with a price tag. The Model S starts at nearly $150,000, while Tesla’s ‘entry level’ model, the Model 3, starts at around $70,000. So, what’s out there for the everyday motorist - someone who just needs a simpler car that won’t kill the earth and won’t break the bank?
Well, for those looking to upgrade - or shirk the petrol pump - here are some of the more affordable EVs offered new for Australian motorists.
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We’ve gone all-electric here, no hybrids, with a budget of around $60,000 - more expensive than many can afford, but still more affordable than many other electric car models. The list is in no apparent order, and range and prices are per manufacturers' specifications.
- Price in Australia: $38,890 before on-road costs
- Range: 340km
- 0-100km/h time: 12.3sec (claimed)
The BYD Dolphin is a similar size to a Toyota Corolla and includes features such as a panoramic moonroof, wireless phone charging, heated seats, and a 12.8-inch rotating touchscreen.
The battery can be charged at a regular charging point (AC) with 11 kW. It is claimed the battery can charge up from 30% to 80% in 29 minutes using an ultra-fast charging station (DC).
MG 4 EV Excite
- Price in Australia: From $38,990 to $44,990 before on-road costs
- Range: 51kwh up to 350km while the 64kwh is up to 450km
- 0-100km/h time: 7.9sec (claimed)
Standard features on the Excite model include 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a reversing camera, fabric seat upholstery, and safety features such as autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist.
However, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are reserved for the Essence grades, which start from $47,990 plus on-road costs.
- Price in Australia: $44,490 to $47,891 drive away
- Range: Up to 310km
- 0-100km/h time: 8.4sec (claimed)
The Ora range is offered with a 7 year, unlimited kilometre warranty. Size-wise the Ora sits between a Volkswagen Polo and Golf.
Standard safety equipment across the range includes: blind spot monitor and assist, AEB with pedestrian/cyclist/junction assist, lane departure warning, reverse collision warning, and more.
MG ZS EV Essence
- Price in Australia: $48,990 drive away
- Range: Up to 320km
- 0-100km/h time: 8.2sec (claimed)
The Essence comes with a panoramic glass roof, synthetic heated leather seats (front only), electronic folding mirrors, rain sensing wipers, six speaker audio with 3D sound, blind spot detection, roof rails, wireless phone charging, rear cross traffic alert, and an electronically adjustable drivers seat.
A 7kW AC wall box charger will fully charge the battery in around eight hours; a 50kW DC public charger will charge from 0-80% in 54 minutes.
MG has announced it will axe the ZS EV Excite base model later this year.
BYD Atto 3
- Price in Australia: $48,011 to $51,011 drive away
- Range: 345km to 420km depending on the battery size
- 0-100km/h time: 7.3sec (claimed)
The BYD Atto 3 has a five-star ANCAP safety rating (tested in 2022).
The Standard range has a 12.3-inch rotating touchscreen, wireless phone charging, panoramic sunroof, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.
- Price in Australia: $50,990 before on-road costs
- Range: 270km ‘indicative’
- 0-100km/h time: 7.9sec (claimed)
The Nissan Leaf is a regular hatchback that offers excellent cabin space and practicality. There are some interesting and innovative technologies and design elements in this, such as the ePedal that allows you to pull up to a stop without using the brake pedal.
- Price in Australia: $52,500 before on-road costs
- Range: Up to 311km
- 0-100km/h time: 9.0sec (claimed)
The 500e is fitted with features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, a 10.25-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a panoramic glass sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, “eco-leather” seat trim, and heated front seats.
Advanced safety features include autonomous emergency braking, lane centreing assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, and tyre pressure monitoring.
Hyundai Kona Electric
- Price in Australia: $54,500 to $58,000 before on-road costs
- Range: 342km 'indicative'
- 0-100km/h time: 9.9sec (claimed)
The Kona Electric comes with a head-up display, battery preconditioning to improve range performance in cold weather, a charging port door lamp for improved night visibility, and a system that prevents the charging port door from freezing shut.
Owners can also lock, unlock, and start their Kona using their smartphone or smart watch.
Why switch to an electric car?
If you’re on the fence about purchasing an electric car, here are a few compelling reasons that may get you over the line:
1. Environmental impact
Over their lifespan, EVs have a significantly lower carbon footprint compared to conventional petrol/diesel cars. By driving an EV, you can contribute to reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, as they produce zero tailpipe emissions. This shift towards cleaner transportation plays a crucial role in combating climate change and improving overall air quality.
2. Cost savings
EVs have fewer moving parts than a conventional petrol/diesel car - no oil, no internal combustion engine, less brake wear - resulting in lower repair and maintenance costs.
In general, EVs cost substantially less to run (per km) than cars using petrol or diesel. They can be as little as one-third of the running cost per 100km, according to a 2019 Federal Government report.
“An EV will cost around three cents per kilometre compared to around 10 cents per kilometre for an ICE equivalent,” the report said.
3. Government incentives and infrastructure
All Australian states or territories offer some degree of financial incentives to switch to zero emission vehicles, from reduced or abolished stamp duty to rebates and subsidies of up to $3,500.
Furthermore, the infrastructure for charging electric vehicles is rapidly expanding, with more public charging stations being installed in cities and along highways, making it easier to own and operate an electric vehicle.
4. Discounted car loans
If you are in the market for an electric vehicle, some lenders offer discounted loans for environmentally-friendly cars. Vehicles which meet the eligibility requirements above can receive interest rates up to 100 basis points lower, saving you money over the course of the loan.
Savings.com.au’s two cents
You might have thought that electric vehicles were the realm for the rich and powerful. However, that’s not necessarily the case, and you don’t need to feel penalised just because you want to go green on a fairly modest budget.
As seen above, there’s quite a few cars that are subjectively attractive and relatively ‘normal’ that go for around the $60,000 range or thereabouts. However, $60,000 is still nothing to be sneezed at. Even with a fixed new car loan interest rate of 6% p.a., you’re still looking at a monthly repayment of around $1,160 on a five year loan - and that’s if you have a good credit history.
If you’re on a strict budget, it might be worth looking at used cars, that have already borne the brunt of depreciation. They can also be just as ‘green’ when you consider total emissions used to manufacture and ship the car to our shores, because you are not choosing from new stock and you are essentially ‘recycling’.
Article first published 25 May 2020, last updated 10 July 2023.
Photo by Axel Antas-Bergkvist on Unsplash