Barely a decade ago, a perfect storm of limited driving range, spotty public charging infrastructure, and high prices relegated early mass-market battery electric vehicles (BEVs) to the bottom of Canadian new-vehicle sales charts.
Early adopters and drivers keen on zero-emissions transport were quick to jump on the bandwagon, but those first BEVs didn’t get much traction otherwise.
Over the last decade, better batteries, longer driving ranges, more charging facilities, and falling prices have helped broaden the appeal of BEVs. In fact, the 2022 model year marks the first time you can buy a BEV with more than 400 km of driving range for less than $40,000.
If that notable milestone has you thinking it’s time to plug into the electric vehicle lifestyle, let us help steer you towards budget-priced battery power with our list of the five least-expensive BEVs on sale in Canada right now.
All prices quoted here are base MSRPs, and don’t include the federal government’s iZEV rebate program for electrified vehicles or any provincial or local incentives.
2022 Nissan Leaf – $37,498
In 2012, the Nissan Leaf was the first mass-market battery electric vehicle in Canada, and as of late August, it’s now also the least expensive one.
Nissan’s $6,800 price reduction applies across the board, so while the $37,498 MSRP is attached to the car’s entry-level 40 kWh battery and its promised 240 km of driving range, the Leaf Plus and its 62-kWh battery and 363 km of range would also be good enough to make this list at $40,098.
The base model is a modest performer that puts just 147 hp to the front wheels, but the Leaf Plus promises sprightlier acceleration with 214 hp.
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV – $38,198
The second generation of Chevrolet’s Bolt EV compact is new for 2022 with a $38,198 starting price, which is also $6,800 less than the outgoing 2021 model, placing it second on our list of the least expensive BEVs you can buy in Canada right now.
An electric motor is fed by a 65-kWh battery that puts 200 hp to the front wheels, and a well-done regenerative braking system means you’ll rarely need the friction brakes. Chevrolet’s official driving range estimate is 417 km, but a careful driver can go further than that in good weather conditions.
The Bolt EV and EUV’s sales have suffered this year from faulty battery packs that caused fires, forcing Chevrolet to stop production and order a recall. But new battery packs from LG are now being built for both Bolt models, which also come with updated diagnostic software to combat the problem.
2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV – $40,198
Chevrolet also boasts the third most affordable EV in Canada with the Bolt EUV, a crossover-like sibling to the smaller Bolt EV hatchback.
Chevrolet promises a more modest 397 km of driving range from the same battery as the Bolt EV, to which DC fast charging will let you add about 155 km of range in 30 minutes. If you’re not in a rush, a standard dual-voltage charging cable connects to either a conventional 120-volt household outlet or a 240-volt plug.
The Bolt EUV will be the first Chevy model to offer GM’s SuperCruise hands-free driver assist system.
2022 Mini Cooper SE – $40,990
Instantly recognizable as a Mini, the Cooper SE blends this little hatchback’s fantastic handling with zero-emissions electric power. Combined with the car’s subcompact size, those traits make Mini’s sole all-electric vehicle a compelling choice for scooting around town.
That’s partly because the Cooper SE’s 183-km driving range is among the lowest of any BEV on the market today, besting only the 151 km offered by the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range.
But if you’re not willing to settle for boring looks to get battery power, you won’t find a BEV more stylish than this.
2021 Hyundai Ioniq Electric – $41,599
At its 2017 debut, the Ioniq Electric was Hyundai’s first BEV, and it remains one of three versions of the Ioniq that share a dedicated electrified vehicle platform.
For its price, the Ioniq Electric is not leading edge, with 274 km of driving range and a motor making a modest 134 hp. But while it may not go fast or particularly far, it boasts a refined, quiet drive, impressive build quality, and a spacious hatchback cargo area. Standard features include a large infotainment display, automatic A/C, heated seats, and collision avoidance assists.