The next generation of affordable electric vehicles

Electric vehicles

Bruce Newton

Posted June 27, 2022

The success of the Tesla Model 3 and Kia EV6 has proven there is an appetite for electric vehicles in Australia… if they are not priced in the stratosphere.

Yes, the Model 3 is not cheap, but when it launched here in 2019, it was priced equivalently to the leaders in the premium sedan segment: the Mercedes-Benz C-class and BMW 3-Series. 

It has not only outsold them, it has single-handedly made the electric car upstart one of Australia’s top-selling luxury brands overall. In 2022, it is not only ahead of small players such as Alfa Romeo and Jaguar, but also heavy-hitters Audi and Lexus.

Right now, a lot of EVs (Electric Vehicles) on sale in Australia are still priced in the upper altitudes of the market beyond $100,000, and are offered by luxury brands. 

Even the electric vehicles sold by mainstream brands such as Kia and Hyundai are north of $65,000 and difficult to get hold of due to supply chain issues affecting us, and most other markets as well.

Kia EV6 review

The growing EV market

But more affordable EVs are coming and with them more choice and more sales.

“Where customers have more choice, they are always more likely to head to a particular part of the market… and while it will take quite a few years to get [EV] sales anywhere near internal combustions levels, we are going to see increases pretty quickly from this year onwards,” predicted Steve Maciver, the marketing and communications chief of GWM Australia, the local arm of one of China’s biggest automotive manufacturers.

Sometime soon, GWM will roll out the Ora electric car brand in Australia. A strong chance to lead the way will be the cute Good Cat, a five-door hatch with a small e-motor driving the front wheels, and a mid-size lithium-ion battery pack providing the juice.

Ora says the Good Cat will deliver a 400-500km range and will likely be priced at somewhere around $50,000, making it one of the most affordable EVs on the market.

That’s not especially cheap compared to a petrol-fuelled car. EVs are expensive to build because of battery costs. 

However, as global supply shortages and rising materials push prices up of all new vehicles, the increased roll-out of EVs in the mainstream market widens their appeal. 

Maciver argues there’s a bigger picture to consider too.

“EVs are more affordable now, maybe not as affordable as an internal combustion vehicle, but as people are looking at the price of fuel (in the vicinity of $2.20 per litre) they are beginning to understand that trade-off in paying a premium [upfront] for an EV,” he said. 

So apart from Ora, which other EVs are arriving in the Australian market that won’t break the bank?


The BYD Atto 3 claims a minimum range of 320km.
The Cupra Born is confirmed for Australia by early 2023.
The Ford E-Transit Custom could be one of the cheapest EVs on sale in Australia.
Increased prices have already been announced for the MG ZS EV.
The Nissan Leaf is one of Australia’s most affordable EVs.

5 cheap EVs in Australia

BYD Atto 3

Due to start its first deliveries in July, the BYD Atto 3 is priced from $47,131.55 (to be precise) drive-away before adding any potential rebates (eg: $3,000 in Victoria).

China’s BYD (Build Your Dreams) is only outsized by Tesla globally when it comes to electrified vehicle success, and this small SUV is among its latest models. It claims a minimum range of 320km and decent performance from its single e-motor powering the front wheels.

The independent Australian BYD importer is promising a smaller and cheaper BYD Atto 2 compact hatch that will launch before the end of 2022, with a target pricing of circa-$35,000.

Cupra Born

Cupra is a performance brand spun off from SEAT, the Spanish subsidiary of Volkswagen. The Born is Cupra’s version of the VW ID.3 small electric hatch.

The Born is confirmed for Australia by early 2023 at the latest, with pricing before on-road costs (and rebates and discounts) between $50,000 and $60,000.

Okay, that’s not bargain basement, but the Born offers performance not far off the VW Golf GTI hot hatch, and a claimed driving range between 420km and 540km depending on the battery choice.

Ford E-Transit Custom

Ford is compiling a whole squadron of enticing and exciting electric vehicles globally. The Mustang Mach-E is on-sale in the USA, and the full-size F-150 Lightning is rolling into American dealerships.

In Australia, the blue oval has been more pragmatic with its initial forays into EVs, confirming the E-Transit van and smaller E-Transit Custom are on the way.

The latter could be one of the cheapest EVs on sale in Australia when it arrives in the second half of 2023, priced under $60,000 (before rebates).

That would also make it the most expensive Transit Custom to buy, but running costs would be much lower than the diesel models. How much lower, we’ll have to wait and calculate, as Ford is yet to release powertrain details.


Not an all-new model, but an update of Australia’s second-most popular battery electric vehicle, the MG ZS EV.

In its current form, the small SUV has an under-sized range and some ergonomic glitches. Those are being addressed in the update, with highlights being a bigger battery with a 320km range, and a smarter and more user-friendly infotainment system.

Deliveries start in Australia in Spring 2022, but increased prices have already been announced, starting at $46,990 for the entry-level Excite.

Nissan Leaf

The original electric vehicle remains one of Australia’s most affordable, even though pricing climbs from $1000 to $50,990 (plus on-road costs) when an update arrives in August.

While the new Leaf doesn’t bring with it any performance improvement from its current single e-motor and 40kWh battery that combine to provide a 270km claimed range, for some drivers, this short-trip city focussed capacity will be sufficient for their needs.

However, Nissan is also bringing out the Leaf e+, which has a bigger battery providing more power, a claimed 380km range, and costs $61,490 (plus on-road costs).


The Tesla Model 3 has been a popular choice for motorists.
The Kia EV6 has been lauded with many awards across the globe.
More functional than fun is the Kia Niro.

Honourable mentions

Hyundai Ioniq 5 

Due: Second half 2022

Yes, it’s actually already here and the order book is gridlocked. But Hyundai will launch a new version in 2022 with a smaller battery that will drop the price below $70,000. 

Kia Niro

Due: Spring 2022

Available as both a plug-in hybrid EV and pure battery EV, the five-door hatch slots in below the EV6 in the line-up. More functional, less dramatic, and both cheaper (but still over $60,000). 

Tesla Model Y

Due: Soon

The car is expected to replace the Model 3 as Australia’s most popular EV is coming to Australia, Tesla just won’t say when.  Expect three models and a price premium over the 3.

Toyota bZ4X

Due: Late 2022 \ early 2023

Australia’s number-one vehicle maker launches into the EV space with the RAV4-sized bZ4X in 2022. Many more EVs will soon follow. Given Toyota’s market dominance here, we’d give this car more prominence, but the prediction is that it’s going to be expensive. 


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