Electric vehicles have come a long way. From the early days of golf car jokes to prize-winning EVs by Tesla, you might say these green cars are finally having their moment. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Kia are now in the mix along with Nissan, Tesla, and Detroit, so it’s become a competitive affair across the industry. (We can thank regulators in California and other spots around the world for that.)
But concerns about price and anxiety about range understandably exist. To help lower emissions levels and jumpstart the industry, the federal government continues to offer a $7,500 tax credit for buyers of pure electric vehicles. Many state governments are making EV purchases even easier for consumers, in some cases offering another $5,000 in discounts off the original sticker price.
Still, every affordable (sub-$30,ooo) EV is unable to cover 100 miles on a charge, so consumers need to do their homework when planning a work commute and other activities in gas-free cars. Here are the top 10 electric vehicles ranked by total driving range. Included is the price before federal and state tax incentives.
10. Smart Electric Drive
The tiny Smart EV won’t win any beauty contests, but it does deliver up to 68 miles on a full charge as well as 107 combined miles per gallon equivalent, fifth-best on the road. Smart’s Electric Drive ($25,750) is currently the only electric vehicle with a convertible option and remains the most affordable model for drivers who want to go green. At a post-rebate cost of $18,250 and $0.95 in operating costs for every 25 miles, it delivers transportation on any budget.
9. Focus Electric
In the Focus Electric, Ford has a viable EV that is quite affordable after a hefty price slash late in 2014. The electric Focus is capable of 105 combined miles per gallon equivalent and can cover 76 miles on a full charge. Compared to the average new car getting 24 miles per gallon, a Focus Electric ($29,170) can save owners at least $5,500 in fuel costs over a period of five years. It has a post-rebate price under $22,000 before you add in state incentives.
8. BMW i3
BMW has the most sustainable production model for an electric vehicle in its small i3, which has an EPA-estimated range of 81 miles and offers the equivalent of 124 miles per gallon, best of any car on U.S. roads. After the federal tax rebate and fuel savings are considered, the investment in a BMW i3 ($43,350) doesn’t seem extravagant. U.S. consumers have been agreeing and are snatching up the i3 in 2015.
7. Chevy Spark EV
General Motors has the Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR ranking on the low end of the scale at 38 miles of electric range before their motors kick in, but GM delivered more than double that figure (82 miles) in the subcompact Chevy Spark EV ($25,170). In fact, the Spark EV’s 119 miles per gallon equivalent made it the car with the second-best economy in the United States at 119 MPGe. Pricing dips well below $20,000 after the federal EV tax rebate, while its very affordable lease ($139 a month) has made it a sensation on the EV market in 2015.
6. Volkswagen e-Golf
Rated at 116 MPGe, the Volkswagen e-Golf ($35,450) is tied for third as the most efficient car on the U.S. market. Along with that strength, the electric Golf offers 83 miles of range on a full charge. While cars like the i3 and Nissan Leaf are dedicated electric vehicles, the e-Golf is built on the same platform as its gasoline counterpart and handles very much like a standard gas Golf on the road.
5. Nissan Leaf
Many electric cars have come onto the scene since the Nissan Leaf ($29,010) debuted, but there are only a few able to outlast this EV in electric range, while none have surpassed it in sales. After all these years, the Leaf still holds a spot in the top five with 84 miles of range on a full charge. Classified by the EPA as a midsize car, the Leaf boasts an impressive efficiency rating of 114 MPGe.
4. Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive
Even Mercedes-Benz brought an all-electric vehicle to the party. Priced near the BMW i3, it offered a look at how smaller, less luxurious EVs from the big German brands would fare against the Tesla Model S. (So far, advantage Tesla.) Nonetheless, the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive ($41,450) is a strong presence in the segment with 87 miles of electric range. With more power than some of the competitors, the B-Class is not quite in the efficiency elite with 84 combined miles per gallon.
3. Fiat 500e
Fiat’s mini EV offers a dose of Italian style along with third-best electric range of 87 miles on a full charge. Additionally, the Fiat 500e ($32,300) offers drivers the equivalent of 116 combined miles per gallon and an estimated $5,750 in fuel savings (at gas prices in summer 2015) over five years of operation. With that figure and the $7,500 tax credit in mind (not to mention state incentives), its starting price makes plenty of sense.
2. Kia Soul EV
The electric Kia Soul EV may have been the most significant entry to the segment in 2014. Boasting 93 miles of total range and 120 miles per gallon equivalent in city driving, this funky electric ute vaulted to the leaderboard in both economy and practicality. At a base price of $33,700, it will make sense for consumers who want a car around $25,000 after incentives that is cheaper to operate and own than the gas equivalent. That’s a lot of green for the buck.
1. Tesla Model S 85D
Without exaggerating, you could the Tesla Model S effectively revolutionized the auto industry. Without the Elon Musk-designed juggernaut, it is unlikely the world’s top automakers would be scrambling to come up with competitive EVs. Model S range will vary depending on the model, but the 85D model is the king of the roost with a rating of 270 miles. It’s considerably more expensive than the pack at $85,000, but its huge advantage in cost per mile of electric range makes the Model S a value at its lofty price point. Model S 70D offers 240 miles of range and starts at $75,000.