5 Affordable EVs the U.S. Desperately Needs

With prices starting at $10,200, EVs in China and Europe are offering electrification at a price that’s hard to believe for us Americans.

The Volkswagen ID.2 EV concept

The U.S. may have a storied automotive past, but there’s a new era in cars and it’s got nothing to do with the gas guzzlers of yore.

This is the era of EVs, and with it, there’s a whole host of opportunities for new and existing car brands. Yes, recent American titans like Tesla and Rivian are important parts of the EV ecosystem, but upstarts in China like BYD and NIO are making their own battery-powered cars that are cheaper, feature-rich, and... did we mention a lot cheaper?

North America might be saturated with $45,000 full-sized SUVs, but there are actually plenty of options abroad that put the power of battery-electric vehicles in your hands without having to refinance your house (if you’re lucky enough to own one of those).

Below are five affordable EVs in Europe and China that U.S. motorists desperately need.

BYD Seagull (Starting at $10,200)

BYD’s Seagull is a hot commodity in China.


The word “affordable” gets tossed around a lot when it comes to electric vehicles, but China’s BYD — a staunch challenger to Telsa — is bringing that definition to an entirely new place.

The recently announced Seagull EV starts at 73,000 yuan, or about $10,200. That’s about as much as you might pay for a premium electric motorcycle from BMW, or a gaudy iPhone covered in gold. It goes without saying that EVs at this price point come with some compromises — an 80 mph top speed for one — but all things considered, a price like this for an EV with around 250 miles of range is nothing short of mindblowing.

Drivers seem to agree — BYD sold more than 23,000 Seagulls in June alone. Don’t get me wrong, the Bolt is great, but this is truly an EV for the masses.

Dacia Spring (Starting at $22,700)

The Spring slots in among the cheapest EVs you can buy in Europe.


While EVs in Europe don’t hit quite the same level of affordability as those in China, recent entrants like the Dacia Spring are raising (or lowering, I guess) the bar.

The Spring — a tiny SUV that’s available in the Netherlands and Germany — is made in China and has a starting price of just $22,700 or about to €20,690. Like other small, affordable SUVs the Spring doesn't pack a lot of power (just 44 horsepower from one electric motor in the base version), but the price is nearly bordering on unbeatable. It’s worth noting the range also reflects the discount price — expect about 140 miles per full charge on average.

When you factor in incentives for buying EVs in some countries, the Spring’s price drops even more — almost to the same level as shockingly cheap counterparts like BYD’s Seagull. A serviceable EV for around $13,000? That makes Chevy’s Bolt look luxurious.

Volkswagen ID.2 (Starting at $26,400)

Volkswagen is making a play for the best deal of any EV in Europe with the ID.2.


It’s not all upstarts in the world of EVs. Volkswagen recently announced its ID.2 concept, a compact EV that’s aiming for a $26,400 starting price.

The Europe-only EV would use VW’s MEB platform and is targeting a range of around 300 miles on a charge. Considering the average range of an EV is currently about 200 miles, that’s a damn good offer for such an affordable car. And if you’re a fan of the design language of VW’s Golf, well you’re in luck — renders suggest the ID.2 will sport a similar look.

The ID.2 is, unfortunately, still a concept for now, but VW said it plans to make a production version that will make it to the European market by 2025.

2024 Citroen E-C3 (Starting at $27,500)

We don’t know what the E-C3 will look like yet, but it should be similar to the Oli concept seen here.


Citroen will join VW in its efforts to crack open the affordable EV market in Europe with a supermini called the E-C3.

With a starting price of $27,500 (about €25,000) the E-C3 should rival VW’s upcoming ID.2 and is expected to borrow its look from the automaker’s quirky Oli concept. Like other small affordable EVs, the E-C3 isn’t expected to be at the top of the range totem poll — potentially somewhere around 180 miles on a charge — but, again, batteries are often the most expensive part of an EV, and cost-cutting has to happen somewhere.

Like Citroen’s other EVs, the E-C3 won’t be making its way to North America, but the car is expected to debut in October this year and launch across Europe in the first quarter of 2024.

Project Firefly (Starting at $14,467)

Nio is ready to push into Europe with a new, affordable sub-brand called Firefly.

VCG/Visual China Group/Getty Images

This list entrant might not be a specific EV, but it is a semi-secretive upcoming brand from the increasingly popular Chinese automaker, Nio.

According to Nio’s chairman, William Li, who spoke to Der Spiegel earlier this year, the automaker plans to release a sub-$30,000 EV in Europe, with models starting at as low as $14,467. In Europe, where ultra-affordable options are limited, Nio plans to challenge mainstays like Volkswagen.

What shape the budget EVs will take is unclear, but what is clear is that European motorists can expect a new range of affordable EVs once Nio’s dedicated factory in Chuzhou, China is operational.

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