MG hailed the recent return of its ZS EV as ‘Australia’s most affordable EV’ – but even at $44,990 drive-away, the small Chinese SUV can hardly be called a ‘cheap’ car.
But there’s reason to hope we could be on the cusp of a turning point for the auto industry, with a new wave of even more affordable electric cars heading into the near future that could finally bring them under a starting price of $40,000.
The reason is simple, automakers are finally starting to achieve the economies of scale needed to produce batteries, while at the same time consumers’ shift towards electric vehicles means they need a range wider options.
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Specifically, automakers need smaller, more affordable electric cars that can grow audiences.
Below, we’ve outlined the most affordable electric models right now and take a look at what may be coming soon.
MG ZS VE
The current price leader starts at $44,990 drive-through for the Excite grade and $48,990 for the better-equipped Petrol variant. The ZS EV was previously Australia’s most affordable electric model before it was temporarily pulled from the market while this updated version prepared to arrive.
As the old adage goes, ‘you get what you pay for’, so the ZS EV isn’t a market leader in terms of performance, range or charging times, but it’s a solid offering.
Importantly, the Chinese brand has increased the range to a claimed 322km, which is a major improvement over the older model which only offered 263km of travel.
BYD Atto 3
MG’s very overt relaunch of the ZS EV with its eye-catching price tag was apparently prompted by the recent arrival of another Chinese brand with big aspirations for the Australian market, BYD.
The new Atto 3 Standard Range model is priced at $44,381, but that price doesn’t include on-road costs, which pushes it just above the MG (depending on what state you live in). BYD also offers the Atto 3 with extended range starting at $47,381 – giving it a pair of rivals to the ZS.
BYD also has big plans for the Australian market, with several other models heading for local sale. These include the Seal sedan and Dolphin hatch (likely name changes), which could cut the price of the Atto 3 and MG ZS EV and potentially enter the $30,000 range.
The race to come up with an electric car starting with a three could heat up between BYD and MG, with the latter set to introduce its all-new MG4 to the Australian market in early 2023.
The crossover hatchback is powered by a single rear-mounted electric motor that produces 125 kW from a 51 kWh battery for a range of 350 km. There’s also a 64kWh battery available which boosts range to 450km and power to 150kW.
It’s important to note that, using UK pricing as a guide, there is evidence to suggest that the MG4 could fall below the ZS EV in price, perhaps below $40,000. It would be a breakthrough for an electric car in Australia that hasn’t been seen since the early days of the Nissan Leaf; which quickly topped $50,000.
Another possible contender to be the next sub-$40,000 electric car comes not from China, but rather from Italy.
Fiat Australia has finally confirmed the pint-sized, retro-styled electric city car is heading our way, but pricing and specs remain under wraps.
What we do know is that in the UK it starts at the equivalent of AU$35,000, leaving at least the possibility that it will soon become Australia’s most affordable electric car.
It will, however, be a challenge for the Italian brand to compete with the larger and more aggressive MGs and BYDs, but at the very least the 500e will be a new twist on the EV for buyers looking for something different.
Hyundai Ioniq 2
The South Korean brand has become a mainstream player in the Australian market in recent years, with a focus on more premium and stylish models. But it’s built its reputation in this country on the back of affordable cars like the Excel and Accent, and it could dominate the market again with the rumored Ioniq 2.
The “e-GMP” platform that underpins the Ioniq 5 and the Kia EV6 would be scalable and produce several other models. Earlier this year, Hyundai’s European marketing director revealed that the company was working on a “low-end battery-powered pure electric mini-vehicle” for launch in Europe in “the next few years” to compete with the Fiat 500e and others.
Given Hyundai’s size and the possibility that it could use the ‘e-GMP’ platform for greater economies of scale with a small model, the potential for an Ioniq 2 to become an electric option affordable in the future is obvious.