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May 2019

Driving Eco-Friendly on a Budget: Top 5 Wallet Friendly EVs

Buying an eco-friendly car can seem like a seriously daunting prospect when you look at some of the prices out there – electric vehicle finance only goes so far when you don’t want to put yourself under a massive amount of debt pressure. To shake that assumption, today we’re going to take a look at what we deem as the top five wallet-friendly options in the industry.

Choosing between a PHEV and an EV

PHEVs (Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicles) are cars that combine an electric engine with a fossil fuel engine, and charge their electric engine using a wall socket, usually installed at your home. Most models can operate either in “all-electric” mode where they don’t utilise the ICE (internal combustion engine) at all, and “hybrid” mode.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are exclusively electric, so they don’t combine with a fossil fuel engine. They run on a battery without the option of a fossil fuel engine, so they can only get power by being plugged in with no supplementation by a combustion engine. These cars are ideal for urban living, as they aren’t as suitable for long distances compared to their PHEV counterparts (although this does depend on the model you have chosen).

For either of these options, you are able to install a charging station at your home in order to refill your car’s battery. There is also a network of charging stations throughout New Zealand that is constantly growing.

Our Top 5 Wallet-Friendly Picks

2016 Renault Zoe

At a price range of $30,000 - $40,000 used, this is by far the most expensive model on the list. However, in comparison to many newer models (of which this is one), the price is great for the payoff.

This pure-electric car functions on a 65kW engine powered by a 22kW lithium-ion traction battery, and carries a 22kW onboard charger. Charging time varies depending on the amount of power available. Installing a Wallbox in your home will give a full charge in 6-9 hours, which means you can leave your Zoe to charge overnight and come back to a full charge in the morning.

In temperate conditions, the range is 200km for a new model, and 160km in the cold; even though we’d recommend knocking 30km off of your estimate for a used model, it’s still plenty of range to get you through the day.

This car is on our list because it functions beautifully with absolutely zero-emissions, but still produces enough torque (220Nm) to call it a fun drive.

2013 Toyota Prius PHV

Next, we have the only plug-in hybrid car on our list. This hybrid car comes down in price significantly from the last option, usually going for between $18,000 and $24,000 when buying second-hand.

This Prius combines a 60kW electric motor with a 4.4kWh battery pack and a 1.8L petrol engine for maximum range. The electric motor lasts in “pure-electric” mode for up to 25km, then switches to traditional “hybrid” mode where it utilises the ICE engine after that. While this is not ideal for long distances, if you live in an urban area, the Prius is a great way to reduce on your emissions for large chunks of your journey.

With plug-in charging capability, this sedan fully charges within 3 hours from a 120-V power supply, and 1.5 hours from a 240-V supply. We recommend this car for the urban eco-warrior who’s looking to reduce their emissions.

2014 Smart ForTwo

This little one is a two-door hatchback manufactured by an off-shoot of Mercedes Benz, and it goes for around $19,000 - $21,000 second-hand.

A 35kW electric motor powered by a 17.6kWh lithium-ion battery provides some good zip on this vehicle due to its light weight, and the size of the car means it’s excellent for weaving through city traffic.

The ForTwo has an exclusively electric drivetrain supplemented by regenerative braking, and on a full charge, the hatchback can travel between 100km and 140km. Charge it overnight with a 240V standard 3-pin socket, which takes it from empty to completely charged in 7 hours.

We’ve got this one as number three on our list because, despite its excellent efficiency and great price, it’s a very small car from Europe. Two-seaters aren’t ideal for everyone, so if you have a family this won’t be the car for you. Not only that, parts for this particular European car may be hard to come by, which means it could cost you in the long run.

2009 Mitsubishi i-Miev

If you’re hunting for a small electric car, you can’t look past the i-Miev. The 2009 model is a great balance of price and economic functionality at between $12,000 and $15,000.

The electric drivetrain functions around a 47kW engine powered by a 330V lithium-ion battery, which puts some real torque (180Nm) behind the unassuming exterior. Bought new, the range extends to about 160km on a full charge.

The car comes with 2 charging sockets, AC and DC. The AC charger brings you to a full charge in 7 hours for the ideal home charging setup, and the DC cable takes that time down to 30 minutes for an 80% charge out on the road.

We would have put this one at the top of the list, but you’re going to find less consistency when second-hand shopping through older models. If you find a 2009 model in excellent condition, then we recommend you grab it quickly.

2013 Nissan Leaf 24S

If you’re looking to invest in an electric vehicle, there can be no option more synonymous with the idea of economy than the Nissan Leaf. Buying second-hand, you’ll be able to fetch this well-known model for between $15,000 and $22,000.

The 2kW lithium-ion battery charges in 4 hours from a standard 220-V power supply, and if you want a pay a little more for the SL-trim you’re also treated to the fast charge feature. This has your engine to 80% in 30 minutes.

The car itself is a 4-door hatchback, meaning you don’t have to give up on space in the name of economy. The regenerative braking on this model was upgraded from previous incarnations to give the pure-electric engine more juice, so it has a 130km range before it needs a charge. Essentially, this car is the ideal for the urban-living eco-enthusiast.

Made your choice?

Give us a call and visit either our Auckland or Wellington dealership. Chat to our specialist EV buyers today to find the best option for your budget!

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