There’s a new cheapest electric car in the US, and it could cost half the Tesla Model 3 thanks to a hefty tax credit

2022 Nissan Leaf electric hatchback
2022 Leaf electric hatchback Nissan
  • The Nissan Leaf is now the cheapest electric car in the US.
  • Nissan dropped the price for the 2022 model to $US27,400 ($AU37,006) this week.
  • Some other low-cost EVs are the Mini Electric and Chevrolet Bolt EV.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Once playthings for the environmentally-conscious and well-to-do, electric cars are finally getting cheap.

The Nissan Leaf, a stalwart electric vehicle that’s been on the market since 2010, just got a major price cut. The base 2022 Leaf S now starts at $US27,400 ($AU37,006), making it the lowest-cost option for those interested in an electron-powered commute.

With an EPA rating of 149 miles (240km), the Leaf S could be appealing to people who don’t need to travel all that far in one go. The longer-range Leaf S Plus, which can go 226 miles (364km) between charges, also got a price reduction. It now retails for $US32,400 ($AU43,759), down from $US38,270 ($AU51,687).

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The Leaf still qualifies for the full $US7,500 ($AU10,129) federal tax credit for new-EV purchases, meaning the effective price of a Leaf S could be just shy of $US20,000 ($AU27,012) for some (before fees and dealer markups). To take full advantage of the refund, though, buyers need to have a tax bill that exceeds $US7,500 ($AU10,129) – so the policy isn’t exactly an incentive for the masses.

For comparison, Tesla’s cheapest vehicle, the Model 3 sedan, will run you $US39,990 ($AU54,010) for a base model that delivers 263 miles (423km) of range. The company leads the industry by far in range, and the $US49,990 ($AU67,516) Long Range Model 3 promises to travel 353 miles (568km) on a full battery.

Similarly, Chevrolet cut the price of the Bolt EV hatchback to $US31,995 ($AU43,212) for the 2022 model year. But General Motors stopped qualifying for the tax credit once it surpassed 200,000 EV sales in the states, per the incentive’s guidelines.

Before the Leaf’s price reduction, the Mini Electric was the lowest-cost EV in the US, retailing for $US29,900 ($AU40,383).