The 5 Most Popular Electric Cars for Sale and How to Buy One for the Cheapest Price

April 19, 2013

As gas inflation creeps faster and the price of a gallon of gas passes the $3 mark, electric cars for saleare becoming more and more popular. So what are the most popular vehicles and how can you purchase one at the lowest price? The top five most popular electric cars for sale (including the world's fastest) are:

  • The Nissan LEAF: Nissan is creating a whole infrastructure to support its electric-only vehicle, the Leaf. Surprisingly affordable, the manufacturer has put a list price on it of $32,780, before any sort of tax credit–which apparently will be continuing past its supposed Dec. 31 expiration date–so the price will ultimately be $25,280. At the same time, the manufacturer is selling an overnight charging station that must be installed by a Nissan technician that will retail for about $2,200 and will require a 120/240 volt service, so you may have to rewire your home if you purchase this all-electric. At the moment, the Leaf looks like it is the best electric car for sale.
  • The Chevrolet Volt: An all-electric with a twist, the $41,000 Volt is a quasi-gas/electric vehicle that is not a hybrid. Before scratching your head, the reason you can call it quasi-gas/electric is that the Volt runs strictly off a 48 kWh Lithium-ion battery pack that is charged solely by a small 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine whose sole task is to keep the battery charged. Unlike the other electric cars for sale, where the engine also helps the electric motor, the Volt's gas motor is strictly a charging motor. It cuts in after the Volt's standard overnight charge has wound down and you are nearing the 40-mile limit.
  • The Tesla Model S: Tesla’s stunning Model S launched with loads of accolade and fanfare, with the initial model year’s run of cars already sold out through pre-orders. The family-size battery-electric car, with optional seating for up to 7 (thanks to a small rear jump seat) sets some lofty standards for the entire EV field, including up to 300 miles in range with the addition of a larger, more robust battery. And then there’s the price. The Tesla Model S starts at a rather reasonable $49,990 (after the full Federal tax credit of $7,500) with its 160-mile-range battery pack. Tesla pioneered long-range electric cars with its $100,000-plus Roadster, and is now primed to bring its considerable knowledge to a much more civil, everyday package and at half the price. Sounds like a recipe for success if we’ve ever heard one.
  • The Mitsubishi i-MiEV: The i-MiEV offers an estimated cruising range of 85 miles from its 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. By contrast, the Nissan LEAF has a range of 100 miles from a 24 kWh battery pack. Although the i-MiEV’s range is slightly less, higher watt-for-watt efficiency means it will cost you less to own. The battery pack takes 22.5 hours to fully charge from a standard home 110-volt outlet, or only 6 hours from the extra-cost 240-volt EVSE charging dock. Moreover, the i-MiEV takes only 30 minutes to charge to 80% capacity using Level 3 public quick-charging stations. Mitsubishi’s new electric seats four adults in relative comfort and offers an outstanding 50.0 cu. ft. of cargo capacity with the rear seat folded down. Though its motor only outputs 49 kW or 66 horsepower, the car’s low weight help it reach an 80 mph top speed. Unlike the LEAF, the i-MiEV is rear-wheel drive with its electric motor mounted in the rear.
  • The Honda Fit EV: Honda has very quietly pulled a fast one on all its major competitors in the quickly expanding EV market. The forward-thinking Japanese company’s new Fit EV has been rated by the EPA as more efficient than any of its competitors and more importantly has the greatest driving range of any production electric car currently at market. The Fit EV is based on Honda’s much-loved Fit subcompact, which in gas-powered form is one of the lightest vehicles on the market. That helps the electric car to 118 MPGe on the highway. A lighter platform means a smaller battery is all that is necessary, which leads to weight savings and an efficiency boost.
  • The Ford Focus Electric : Ford is proud of its new Ford Focus Electric EV, and really wants you to buy one. Ford hasn't exactly been setting the sales charts ablaze with its EV despite a mostly positive reception, with just 685 units sold in 2012. As such, the Focus Electric has received a solid price price drop for the new year, now starting from $37,200 plus destination. But that’s just where the savings begin. Incentives vary from region to region, so be sure to check the most recent pricing here.

How to Get These for a Cheap Price

Barring going out and buying one of the available electric cars for sale, you can convert an existing vehicle. If you have access to an old vehicle you don't care about, you can convert your own vehicle into an EV. You can probably have your own personal EV on the road for less than $5,000 in fairly short order.

  • Nissan LEAF in stock nationwide: The Nissan LEAF is widely available and should be in stock at most Nissan dealerships across the country. Pricing will be less than $25,000 due to the introduction of a more affordable trim.
  • Purchase a Chevy Volt: Widespread production has commenced, and you can probably take advantage of existing tax credits by ordering now.
  • Purchasing a Tesla: Yes, it is expensive, but it is also on the road and if you happen to live near one of the 19 dealers (likely to expand) of these electric cars for sale, you will probably save substantially.
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