Our government is constantly pushing the 'future is electric' rhetoric. As a concept that isn't as far-fetched as it seems; not all EVs are hunks of futuristic unobtanium.
There are a couple of factors that affect EV pricing. There's obviously the cost of the powertrain itself; unlike petrol or diesel engine vehicles, where the cost of R&D has been distributed over the course of five or six decades, EV drive units are still fairly new. With a smaller pool of adopters, the increased cost is borne by less, which drives up the retail price of the car.
Also, for the longest time, EVs tend to cater to the upper-middle-class, being built by brands that focus more on luxury than they do on pure utility alone. They are higher performance, and made of more premium materials, and have more than a whiff of status symbol about them than raw functionality.
But EV prices are coming down, and government rebates are making it more attractive for the layman to buy one. More chargers are currently being installed islandwide too, which would make the transition to electrons less painful.
If you'd like to be an early adopter, but find even the offerings from the Koreans too pricey for you (Hyundai/Kia already makes EVs aimed squarely at the mass market), what other options do you have?
5. Hyundai Ioniq Electric - $143,888, A.D.
The best accolade a car can get isn't awards from automotive publications, but the vote of confidence from private-hire rental firms and the taxi industry. The Ioniq in both the hybrid and pure EV form, has been used for hire for reward, and is testimony to the range and robustness of the powertrain.
The Ioniq Electric comes fitted with a 38.3 kWh battery pack. This, combined with the 132bhp electric motor, means that the car can sprint to 100km/h from a standstill in 10.2 seconds. But the most impressive stat here isn't the car's outright performance.
It's 311km of range is what most people will buy the Ioniq for. This is a car, built by a reputable car company with a healthy range estimate that is designed to ease the first time EV owner into living with one!
4. MG ZS EV - $128,888, A.D.
The MG ZS EV employs a similar strategy as the MINI Electric, and basically every other mainstream-based EV. You take the standard car, ditch it of all of its petrol or diesel componentry, and fill the vacated space with battery packs and charge circuits.
Under the skin of the ZS EV, you'll find a 44.5kWh water-cooled battery pack. This can be charged to 80 per cent from 0 per cent in just 40 minutes if you have access to a 50kW DC Fast Charger. The estimated range is 335km, which is impressive for a non-native EV platform, and overall for an EV at this price point.
The electric motor that sits in place of the petrol engine puts out 141bhp, and 353Nm of torque, all of which can be had the instant you put your foot down. This makes this CUV feel a lot faster and sportier than it has any right to be!
3. BYD e6 Mk2 - $118,888, A.D.
The 2nd generation BYD e6 is the first car in our list designed from the ground up as an EV. This means less compromise and a greater range. It ditches the boxy and feature-less exterior design of the Mk 1 in favour of a svelte and thoroughly modern body shell.
This isn't BYD's first foray into EV manufacturing by any means. The latest iteration of their powertrain has seen further improvements to their battery technology to increase range, whilst shedding weight. Though the amount of weight removed may sound drastic - it's 490 kilograms lighter, the new e6 is still a heavy car, weighing in at just under two tons.
BYD has also made the new car more refined, though it is still lacking in the power department. With just 94bhp and 180Nm to shift almost two tons of car, you'll be disappointed with the acceleration, unless your foot is welded to the throttle.
Where it shines though, is its ride - the well-sorted suspension that soaks up all but the worst bumps in the road. Our tests showed a total estimated range of 458.7 km, which should be enough range for at least a week of driving!
2. BYD e6 Mk1 - $112,000, P.I.
The 2nd most affordable EV on our list is the predecessor to the 2nd Generation BYD e6. The original e6 has an exterior design that can best be described as 'generic', with design cues lifted from both your stereotypical hatchback, as well as from a crossover.
Originally imported en masse to serve as private hire cars, the e6 was eventually made available for sale to private owners. The ride-sharing providers' willingness to use these vehicles is a testament to the quality and the reliability of the drivetrain.
If you can look past the ungainly, but inoffensive, bodyshell, the e6 comes with a 121bhp electric motor. Handily it puts down 450Nm of torque, but alas this is no sports car. As it weighs more than 2 tons, the car feels sluggish when pushed. The 80kWh battery pack can still propel the car to an impressive 400km though, with a 0 - 100 per cent charge in just two hours!
1. BYD M3e - $111,888, A.D.
The van-based BYD M3e is the cheapest brand-new passenger EV you can buy today. Save for the rear windows and back seats, the M3e is identical to the BYD T3, which itself is based on the Nissan NV200. Whilst we haven't had the chance to take the M3e out for a spin, as it shares the mechanicals with its van stablemate, you can expect performance that is similar too.
You'd find a 50.3kWh battery pack and a motor that can output 94bhp. The car has a top speed of 100km/h, which is respectable considering its power output and stature.
But you don't buy a van-based MPV for performance - practicality should be its greatest selling point. With a 300km range, and a battery pack that can be recharged to full in 1.3 hours on a 40kW DC Fast Charger, range anxiety shouldn't be a factor even for power users!
BYD also warranties the battery pack for eight years or 500,000km, which should put your mind at ease if you are concerned with excessive battery degradation!
As more manufacturers jump on the EV bandwagon, and as each of their individual catalogues grow, the R&D costs associated with electrical mobility will continue to fall.
This article was first published in Motorist.