Electric cars are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. As battery technology improves and charging stations continue to pop up all over the country, owning an electric vehicle (EV) is more accessible than ever before.
But just how much do you need to invest to get your hands on a quality EV? Below we discuss the top three electric cars that not only have a price tag under $40k, but also have at least a 200 mile range or more between charges. It is important to note that the federal government and a number of states offer EV tax credits, making these cars potentially even less expensive than the actual sticker price. The federal tax credit falls between $2,500 to $7,500 per new EV purchased for use in the U.S., while state credits vary.
2019 Chevrolet Bolt
First up, we take a look at the 2019 Chevy Bolt, the brand’s first fully electric car. Many people get the Bolt and much more famous Volt confused, but the main difference is, the Bolt has no range extending gas engine and is 100% electric. The Volt, on the other hand, does have a generator which can power the battery once it’s been depleted and it thus, is not a pure EV. The Volt can only go 53 miles on a charge. The Bolt, introduced in 2017, has since been a leading EV with an estimated 228 miles of electric range.
The Bolt comes in two trim levels, LT and Premier, which only affect the aesthetics of the car. The LT package begins at $37,495, while the Premier is a bit pricier at $41,895. The Bolt uses a single, high-capacity electric motor for propulsion and is capable of producing up to 266 lb-ft of torque and 200 hp. This results in a very respectable 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds. All of this electricity is drawn from a 60-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, made up of 288 individual cells. There is also an additional DC Fast Charging system available, which enables the battery to be charged up to 90 miles of range in just 30 minutes.
Overall the Bolt is a great option, as it offers a lot of range for a reasonable price tag. It’s also nice that all of the models have the long-range battery as standard, in contrast to the other manufacturers we mentioned.
2019 Tesla Model 3
Tesla is all the rage in the electric vehicle community, and for a good reason. The company makes the fastest production EV’s available, and boasts the longest range of any consumer models. However, the adage “you get what you pay for” certainly applies, and a new Tesla can be one of the most expensive EV’s on the market today.
The Model 3 was introduced in 2017, and was marketed as the affordable Tesla. Positioned to take market share away from the Chevy Bolt and Nissan LEAF, it has a starting price of $39,900 and an estimated range of 240 miles, making it the longest range model in our group. It also manages to be the quickest, with a 0-60 mph time of only 5.3 seconds.
There are a number of different configurations offered, including Standard Range Plus, and Long Range battery options. If you want the long-range model, that will cost $49,900 for 310 miles of range, a steep price to pay for only 70 additional miles.
Tesla does have one giant trick up its sleeve, and that’s the vast network of Tesla SuperChargers. These electric “gas stations” can give the Model 3 up to 180 miles of range in just 15 minutes, a truly stunning number, with more and more locations being available to consumers across the country.
If you’re willing to pay more for your EV in exchange for top-of-the-line specs, then the Model 3 could be a great way to go. Offering an extended network of superchargers and more range than the competition, the Model 3 is a compelling option for the consumer who doesn’t want to worry about finding more power on the go as well.
2019 Nissan LEAF
The Nissan LEAF was one of the first mass-marketed EV’s, hitting dealers all the way back in 2010. Additionally, in March of 2019, the LEAF surpassed 400,000 units sold, making it far and away the most purchased of any EV, ever.
Over the years, the LEAF has made great strides in range. The new Nissan LEAF PLUS powertrain adds to the old model’s range by approximately 50 percent, with an EPA range of up to 226 miles versus the 150 mile range of the standard 2019 Nissan LEAF model. It boasts a 62 kWh battery pack and 214-horsepower engine, and it starts at just $36,550. However, before you decide to pass over the base LEAF model, it is worth noting those 150 miles of range are offered at mere $29,990 price point, making it the most practical inexpensive electric car on the market. The LEAF is also easy to charge via a DC fast charging system, getting to 80% in just 45 minutes.
Each of these vehicles are a good choice, and in the end it all comes down to what you need out of your electric vehicle. The Tesla Model 3 offers the longest range but it’s also the most expensive, while at the other end, the base LEAF model is the most inexpensive, falling in just under $30,000 before EV subsidies. The Bolt offers a nice balance of price and range, as well as a unique interior which is of higher build quality than the LEAF.
As the electric vehicle continues to develop and become more popular, we expect to continue seeing ranges extended longer than ever before, with quicker and quicker charging times, and all at more affordable prices. However, a consumer seeking to buy an EV today still has several great options to choose from.