Car buying is the second biggest expense most consumers will ever make, and more drivers are getting squeezed into $1,000/month car payments. With an EV, you can save hundreds of dollars per month in fuel costs, but the upfront cost of getting into an electric car is substantial. Here’s the average price of an electric car today, and how much prices have increased over the past three years.
Wondering when EVs will get cheaper? We’ll dive into that too.
The Average Price of an Electric Car Is 37% Higher, But Details Matter
In August of 2022, the average transaction price for a new car (of any powertrain) was $48,301, according to Kelley Blue Book. At the same time, the average electric car price was $66,524. Although the average EV sells for 37% more than gas-powered models, here’s a breakdown of the starting MSRP for the top 10 electric car models on sale right now. As you can see, not all EVs are quite this expensive:
- Tesla Model Y ($65,990)
- Tesla Model 3 ($46,990)
- Ford Mustang Mach-E ($46,895)
- Tesla Model X ($120,990)
- Hyundai IONIQ 5 ($39,950)
- Kia EV6 ($41,400)
- Tesla Model S ($104,990)
- Nissan LEAF ($27,800)
- Kia Niro Electric ($39,990)
- Audi e-tron ($70,800)
The average starting price for the top 10 best-selling electric cars in America is $60,500, but all except the Tesla models are subject to dealer markups.
This information could be interpreted in at least two different ways. You could either conclude that the most popular EVs are more affordable than the market average, or you could see these numbers through the eyes of someone who’s browsed EV listings for years. These prices DO NOT include the all-to-common dealer markups. The Hyundai IONIQ 5 starts at $40k for the base trim, but there’s not a single one available for under $45,000 in my region. The story is the same for the Kia EV6 and Ford Mustang Mach-E. Good luck finding a used Tesla for anything less than the original sticker price.
EV Price Trends
In January 2020, the average electric car price was $54,668, or 42% higher than the overall market average. In 2022, the average cost of an EV is nearly $67,000, or about 37% higher than the overall auto market. Would you call that an improvement? Certainly not. All new cars are getting more expensive, whether electric or not. Here’s how the average cost of an electric car has changed monthly since January 2020.
|1-2020||2-2020||3-2020||4-2020||5-2020||6-2020||7-2020||8-2020||9-2020||10-2020||11-2020||12-2020||1-2021||2-2021||3-2021||4-2021||5-2021||6-2021||7-2021||8-2021||9-2021||10-2021||11-2021||12-2021||1-2022||2-2022||3-2022||4-2022||5-2022||June 2022||July 2022||August 2022|
|Average EV Price||$54,669||$56,326||$56,059||$57,757||$58,863||$57,480||$57,346||$57,346||$54,381||$52,947||$53,117||$53,811||$57,750||$57,491||$56,503||$56,059||$56,140||$58,914||$56,110||$57,540||$56,312||$55,625||$56,437||$63,821||$62,876||$64,807||$66,386||$65,094||$64,553||$66,997||$66,645||$66,524|
|New Car Average||$38,747||$38,550||$38,812||$39,904||$39,138||$39,731||$39,512||$39,571||$40,159||$40,770||$40,937||$41,335||$41,248||$41,366||$40,680||$41,172||$41,534||$42,633||$43,056||$43,418||$45,031||$46,026||$46,329||$47,243||$46,404||$46,082||$46,223||$46,676||$47,275||$48,043||$48,182||$48,301|
When Will Electric Car Prices Go Down?
Sadly, right now price increases are here to stay. Why are EVs so expensive? Batteries aren’t cheap. The average price of a lithium-ion battery pack dropped 90% from 2010 to 2020. One kilowatt-hour of lithium-ion battery storage cost $1,200 in 2010, but prices had fallen to $384 per kWh in 2015, and down to $137 per kWh in 2020. The long-awaited $100/kWh milestone that would bring affordable EVs to all was just around the corner when the pandemic hit.
2021 and 2022 have seen a sharp reversal in battery prices. Industrial grade lithium carbonate sourced from global mines has seen a 400% increase since mid-2021. All of the EV price increases we’ve seen in 2022 hadn’t factored in the most recent lithium price spike. In 2020, the average EV contained just under $4,000 worth of raw materials.
By early 2022, that number had climbed to $8,300, and the next update will surely see that figure surpass $10,000 considering the runaway lithium markets. Could this be the final nail in the coffin for cheap electric cars? It’s possible.
Smaller Battery Packs, More Affordability
However, I think there’s another possibility that I suspect we’ll be hearing more about. Automakers and their supply chain partners (not to mention governments) have invested nearly $1 trillion dollars in electrifying global transportation. It’s been called the second industrial revolution, and one that will largely determine the world’s ability to combat man-made climate change. Automakers don’t want the EV revolution to fail.
But with rising production costs forcing EV prices higher, what could they do to return affordability to the consumer? I expect automakers to begin announcing lower range, more affordable electric vehicles. Less range might leave you skeptical, but remember that $7.5 billion was allocated to creating a national charging network in America.
Aside from federal money, Tesla, Electrify America, EVgo and even automakers themselves are also quickly installing fast chargers throughout the country. In 5 years’ time, range won’t matter nearly as much because chargers will be commonplace.
How might this play out? We’re already starting to see it happen. Volkswagen announced a new version of the ID.4 electric crossover that starts at just $37,495 with 208 miles of range. Plus, it’s made in America and qualifies for the new EV tax credits! That’s well below the longer-range option with 275 miles of range, but it costs at least $4,000 less. Hyundai says it will soon offer a standard range version of the IONIQ 5 with less range at a lower price. I expect General Motors and Ford will soon do the same, especially with future electric crossovers like the impressive Equinox EV.
Thinking of Buying?
Regardless of whether you think an EV might be in your future, YAA Car Search is the best way to shop online with more transparent pricing, and auto industry insights dealers don’t want you to see. Check it out today!