The Two Cars Fighting for the Title of Australia’s Cheapest EV

The Two Cars Fighting for the Title of Australia’s Cheapest EV
Image: BYD

The “cheapest electric car” title is set to be disputed over the next two months.

Australia is about to get two new cheap electric vehicles: the BYD Atto 3, a contender brand from China, and the MG ZS EV Excite, an upgrade of the previously available MG ZS EV.

While the BYD Atto 3 has been delayed (it was originally expected to start delivering in July), MG ZS EV Excite deliveries are still slated to arrive this month (though this could change). We reviewed its predecessor last year and we were quite impressed, so we’re keen on a sequel.

But these two cars go head-to-head on price, battling it out for the cheapest EV in Australia title. Of course, this varies from state to state, which we noted in our BYD article, but we think it’s important to consider the pros and cons of both vehicles.

It’s also subject to change over the coming years, with cheaper electric cars including greater batteries coming to the country.

So, for the moment, we’re going to entertain it. Going forward, Australia has two ‘cheapest’ EVs: the BYD Atto 3 and the MG ZS EV Excite, both having advantages and disadvantages.

Let’s duke it out.

What is the cheapest electric car in Australia?

Were you to shop for a new car, the cheapest electric car in Australia at the time of writing is the MG ZS EV, which starts at about $44,990.

At the moment, MG is gearing up to replace the standard MG ZS EV with the upgraded MG ZS EV Excite and the MG ZS EV Essence. These upgrades are more expensive (starting at $46,990 and $49,990 respectively).

Conversely, BYD is set to release a challenger EV in the coming months called the BYD Atto 3. This starts at $44,381 and $47,381 for its extended range model, however this price varies from state to state (it’s set to be the cheapest EV in some states, such as Tasmania, but not in others, such as Victoria and Western Australia).

What is the range of Australia’s cheapest electric car?

When discussing range, we talk about it in terms of World Harmonised Light Vehicle Testing Procedure (WLTP). This is a consumption and emissions test that gives EV owners a range expectation of their vehicle. You’ll tend to see a kilometre value followed by WLTP on EV website listings in Australia.

The cheapest electric car, the MG ZS EV, is capable of up to about 263km (WLTP) before it’ll need a recharge.

The upgraded MG ZS EV Excite and Essence (launching in July) feature an increased range of about 320km (WLTP), a modest upgrade upon the standard MG ZS EV.

Finally, the standard BYD Atto 3 (launching in August or September) features a range of 320km (WLTP) in the standard model and a range of 400km (WLTP) in the extended-range model.

Should I get a BYD Atto 3 or an MG ZS EV Excite?

These cars are very similar on the price front, however, I don’t believe there’s a perfect answer to this question.

They’re both similar SUVs with similar aesthetics and colours, they’re both similarly priced cars and they both have similar ranges, however, perhaps the biggest difference is the brand itself. MG’s typically offer a cheaper product with fairly average in-car experiences, however, BYD is completely new to Australian drivers. Reviews of the car are yet to come out, and all we have to rely on are quite favourable in-car experiences.

Things will become more clear once these cars arrive in Australia.

Ok, but when will electric cars actually be cheap?

I hate to break it to you, but it will likely be some time before we see EVs decrease in cost to a point where most households could buy one. While some research has indicated that price and range parity with petrol vehicles could be achieved within the decade, it’s still going to be a bit of a wait. We’re keen for brands to bring cheaper cars to Australia as the technology becomes more common, but it’ll take some time.

What is the cheapest Tesla in Australia?

Right now, the cheapest Tesla in Australia is the Tesla Model 3, which costs $65,500. This is cheaper than most other electric cars in Australia at the moment, however it’s still pretty expensive.

Believe it or not, it’s actually cheaper to buy a new model Tesla in Australia right now than to buy a secondhand one. That’s due to supply constraints — because of international shipping issues, you’ll be waiting quite sometime before your new Tesla arrives, whereas a secondhand Tesla can be purchased and driven much sooner. Tesla prices have actually gone up recently.

What are some other cheap electric cars in Australia?

Right now, options are still quite limited, but there are a few pretty decent cheap electric vehicles to choose from in Australia.

The Nissan Leaf is an electric car worth considering and is a popular pick at its price point ($53,190). After the Leaf, the Hyundai Kona Electric Elite is the next most affordable electric car at $57,419.

Should I buy a secondhand electric car?

You can expect the price to be a bit lower with a secondhand electric car, however be on guard for depreciated parts of the car (including the lithium battery). Like with petrol cars, the older the vehicle, the lower the cost.

This article has been updated since it was first published.