Electric cars are still more expensive than their petrol- or diesel-powered equivalents for the most part, and that’s not going to change any time soon. They’re more expensive to produce, chiefly because of their battery packs and, according to industry estimates, EVs are unlikely to reach price parity with combustion-engined vehicles until sometime in the second half of the decade.
That’s not to say, however, that there aren’t affordable electric vehicles out there. They may be more expensive to buy, but, even with spiralling electricity prices, they’re still a lot cheaper to run and those savings could well offset the cost of higher finance payments over a fairly short space of time.
Though this list is heavy on superminis and smaller cars, there are still a few cars here eminently suitable for medium-sized families, though those in need of a seven-seater may need to spend quite a bit more.
1. Fiat 500e
Starting price: €24,995
The Fiat 500 is the most affordable electric car in Ireland and the new model is a worthy successor to the retro city car that took the world by storm in 2007. The cheapest models get a 21.3kWh battery that provides a range of just 190km of mixed driving. A larger 37.3kWh battery gives an official 312km of range, so if you regularly travel that bit further, the more expensive models are the ones to go for.
2. Nissan Leaf
Starting price: €28,145
The first-gen Nissan Leaf was one of the cars that proved to the world that electric motoring was a viable option, but the second-gen Leaf, currently on sale, is a much better car. It’s not especially engaging to drive and if you want the headline 385km of range, you’ll need to plump for the considerably dearer 62kWh version, but the cheapest 40kWh model still delivers a respectable 270km.
Starting price: €28,730
One big upshot to the good-looking and decent-to-drive Peugeot e-208 is the fact that with just one powertrain to choose from, even the cheapest versions get 340km of range from the same 50kWh battery and 136hp motor as the pricier models. The e-208 is an excellent supermini with one of the best interiors in its class.
4. Honda e
Starting price: €29,995
This or a Fiat 500? The Honda e is an adorable looking car and for the premium over an entry-level Fiat 500, there’s a much roomier, more practical interior and two rear doors. And that interior... it’s just lovely, a blend of old and new with wood-effect trim and screens galore. At 222km, range isn’t amazing, but, like the 500, this is a city car.
5. Renault Zoe
Starting price: €30,295
The Renault Zoe, like the Nissan Leaf, was a pioneer among the early batch of the current generation of electric cars and it’s still a fine all-rounder in the electric supermini class. Range was always a strong point of the Zoe and even the least expensive R110 models get an official range of around 380km. If you want an electric supermini and regularly travel long distances, the Zoe is the pick.
6. MG 5 EV
Starting price: €32,145
At last, something a bit more spacious. The MG 5 is one of the only electric estates on the market and few cars offer this much room in this price bracket. Fit and finish is fine, the infotainment is none too sharp and it’s far from a looker, but the MG 5 is absolutely outstanding value with a useful range of more than 400km. As far as electric estates go, it’s this or a Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo.
Starting price: €32,495
The Kona Electric was one of Hyundai’s earlier EV efforts before the popular and well-received Ioniq 5. The electric Kona is still a good car, and having just received a facelift, it looks up to date too. Is it a hatchback or a crossover? No matter — the spec is decent even on cheaper models and in versions with the smaller, cheaper 39.2kWh battery, there’s an official range of just over 300km. Just because the Kona Electric is one of the older EVs on the market doesn’t mean it’s not still a player.
Starting price: €33,319
We don’t much like van-based MPVs in Ireland, but they’re invariably highly practical, well-thought-out cars, very much suitable for active families. Such is the case with the Opel Combo-e Life. It’s big, it’s boxy, it’s sensible and it’s electric. Powered by the same ubiquitous Stellantis 50kWh battery/136hp motor combination as the Peugeot 2008 and Opel Mokka, the Combo-e Life won’t win any style awards, but there’s tons of room in this off-beat family car.
Starting price: €33,356
Though they don’t seem anything alike, the final three cars on this list, the Opel Combo-e Life, the Peugeot 2008 and Opel Corsa-E are closely related, all using the same modular electric powertrain, the widespread use of which has allowed the Stellantis group (Peugeot, Citroën, Opel, Fiat and others) to offer a wide range of differently-sized electric vehicles at competitive prices. The e-2008 is the electric version of Peugeot’s strong-selling 2008 small crossover and, like its little brother, the e-208, it looks good, has a top-class interior and gets around 345km out of a charge.
10. Opel Corsa-E
Starting price: €33,507
The Opel Corsa (in its Vauxhall guise) was the best-selling car in the UK last year and looks on track to repeat the same feat in 2022. Why? Well, apart from supply-chain issues at competitor Ford, the Corsa is just a really good supermini. It’s a handsome little car, the interior, like in its Peugeot cousin, the 208, is very good, and in its electric form, a range of 337km is very useful too.