The most affordable electric cars in 2017

Smart Electric Drive trio

For the last months all the focus was on range, from completely new longer range electric cars to simple battery capacity upgrades, that also provide more range. Now it’s time to take a step back and remember that low range isn’t the only obstacle of electric cars.

While more range or even better efficiency are always important, we shouldn’t forget that lowering the prices is equally – or even more – important if we want more electric cars on the roads.


Let’s see what can we expect from 2017 regarding more affordable electric cars. As usual I’ll use prices in Germany as reference.


Smart ForTwo and ForFour ED (Electric Drive)

Smart ForFour and ForTwo ED


The price of the 2017 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive in Germany starts at 21.940 €, while the gas version starts at 10.485 €. The 11.455 € difference between the two versions seems excessive, especially considering that the electric version has a small 17,6 kWh battery made by Deutsche ACCUmotive with LG Chem battery cells, that certainly costs less than 4.000 €. But, if we look beyond price, this is a great city car that improved a lot in this new generation.

Even if the battery capacity remained the same when compared to the previous generation, in this fourth-generation smart electric drive the NEDC range increased from 145 to 160 km. This is possible thanks to the new powertrain, that is now built by Renault, which in addition to being more efficient is also more powerful. But the best upgrade in this generation is the standard 7,4 kW internal charger, that can be upgraded to 22 kW for a small price – according to some sources it’s only 450 €.

This electric car is perfect for city car sharing services, especially in cities with public 22 kW EVSEs available, that can charge the battery from 0 to 80 % in approximately 40 minutes.

For private buyers, the bigger brother Smart ForFour ED seems a much better choice, since it gets two additional seats and costs 22.600 €, only 660 € more. The NEDC range is 155 km, but in the real world we should be able to make roughly 116 km with one charge. I usually estimate that the real world range is 3/4 of the NEDC figure.

Overall, the small battery capacity is more than enough for city driving and the optional 22 kW charger is very useful and helps to keep it always charged – without the need of expensive DC fast chargers.

Considering the big price difference, only in countries with generous government incentives to buy electric cars, this EV should outsell the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) version.


Before I introduce the next affordable electric cars, it’s important to see what Daimler has to say regarding these new Smart cars.


“These all-new smart and the Renault Twingo were the first vehicles built on a common platform by Daimler and the Alliance. Launched in 2014, the smart two-seater is built at Daimler’s Hambach plant, France, whereas both four-seater vehicles are produced at Renault’s plant in Novo Mesto, Slovenia.”

“The new motors are being built at the Renault plant in Cléon, France. The battery of the new smart electric drive is produced by the Daimler subsidiary, “Deutsche ACCUmotive,” in Kamenz, Germany. This means smart is the first brand to offer its entire portfolio with both a combustion engine and also battery-electric drive.”


Renault Twingo ZE

Renault Twingo ZE


This is by far my favorite… it reminds me a Fiat 500e with the advantage of having two extra doors.

The Renault Twingo ZE launch has been delayed since 2014, but now that Daimler is launching its twin brother, the Smart ForFour ED, it’s the right time to finally release it.

While it’s still too early to say, I don’t think that both electric cars will share the same battery. In my opinion the most probable battery configuration is half the cells we find in the Renault Zoe ZE 40 battery, this means 96 cells instead of 192 and 20,5 kWh usable battery capacity (23,4 kWh total). The same platform with two different battery configurations isn’t a novelty, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV has 16 kWh worth of battery cells, while the French twins, Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero only have 14,5 kWh.


The Renault Twingo ZE is the most probable next affordable electric car from Renault, but it’s not the only. When Renault was testing the new Smart ForTwo, it also had its own two-seater, as we can see in the spy shot below – taken in 2014. On the left the Smart, on the right the Renault.


Renault testing the Smart ForTwo in 2014 spy shot


If Renault decides to build the electric two-seater it might mean the end for the Renault Twizy, unless Renault calls it a second generation Twizy. Norwegians would definitely love it.


Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero

Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero


While the little Mitsubishi i-MiEV was already discontinued in Germany, the French twins will probably survive for a little more time. At least until the PSA Group brings its own electric cars in 2018/2019. Currently the price in Germany starts at 19.800 €, but now the Smart ForFour ED seems a much better choice for 22.600 €, just 2.800 € more.


Volkswagen e-up!

Volkswagen e-up! in white


In 2017 electric cars from the Volkswagen Group will get their batteries upgraded, the 25 Ah Panasonic/Sanyo battery cells will be replaced with similarly sized 37 Ah Samsung SDI cells. This means that the Volkswagen e-up will have its battery capacity increased from 18,7 to 27,68 kWh. With the new battery, a new internal charger usually comes, in this case the VW e-up should get the 7,2 kW charger from its bigger brother the 2017 Volkswagen e-Golf. Unfortunately these upgrades mean that the price is very unlikely to drop, it should remain close to the current price of 27.080 €, which isn’t exactly affordable.



Mitsubishi and Nissan are working on a more affordable electric car model for ages… and by this I mean since 2013! They sure work hard and fast when we’re talking about some minor issues like global warming or our air quality…

Now that Carlos Ghosn is in charge and Mitsubishi is facing tough times with emissions tests fraud in Japan, it’s the right time to launch the new electric car for the masses.


To sum up, in 2017 we’ll not only get electric car models available with more range, but we’ll also get some which are more affordable. Most of them will be powered by LG Chem battery cells.

The upcoming LG Chem battery cell plant in Poland will definitely boost electric car production and decrease prices in Europe.


LG Chem EV battery global production



What about you? Are you interested in any electric car mentioned in this article?


Update: this article was revised because I wrongly assumed that the new 37 Ah battery cells would be made by Volkswagen’s current supplier (Panasonic/Sanyo), but instead, these new cells are made by Samsung SDI.



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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I’m really hopeful for the Twingo Z.E. The Renault Zoe with 41 kWh usable is already pretty cheap in Norway but the Twingo could even be cheaper than the aging triplets I reckon. I think it will attract a lot of urban buyers and 2nd car buyers. Those triplets aren’t for everyone and the e-Up is a little on the pricey side here.

  2. None of these cars available in North America

      1. And Mitsubishi iMiev (mentioned with the PSA twins) is/was availabe in the US, too. However, Mitsubishi had a hard time selling it to US customers.

  3. “The same platform with two different battery configurations isn’t a novelty, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV has 16 kWh worth of battery cells, while the French twins, Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero only have 14,5 kWh.”

    It’s the same battery pack and cells. Just that Mitsubishi puts in 88 cells (LEV50, then LEV50N) of 50Ah each, and PSA (to achieve a lower price) drops 8 cells which means, 80 cells remain. Apart from that (and eventually firmware), the battery packs are equal.

    88 * 50Ah * 3,7V = 16 280 Wh
    80 * 50Ah * 3,7V = 14 800 Wh

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