Episode 230 - The Return of Inexpensive EVs

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For the average car buyer, EVs have two major sticking points: a lack of charging infrastructure and a hefty price tag. Fortunately, both of those issues will be addressed with the move to the North American Charging System (NACS) – standardized as SAE J3400 – and the necessary return of less expensive EVs.

Listen in as Roberto Baldwin, Sustainability Editor, SAE Sustainable Mobility Solutions, discusses the inexpensive EV options hitting the market over the next few years.

For more information on the evolution of sustainability, head on over to sustainablecareers.sae.org. If you're not quite ready to add an EV to your household, watch our plug-in hybrid explainer video to get up to speed.

Meet Our Host

Sustainability Editor
SAE Sustainable Mobility Solutions

Roberto Baldwin has been covering technology and automobiles with a focus on sustainability for nearly two decades. He’s currently the sustainability editor for SAE. Spends his free time performing music with his bands and walking his dogs.

Roberto Baldwin:

Hello, I'm Roberto Baldwin, and this is Tomorrow Today's Sustainable Mobility Brief.

The transportation world is evolving at a rate not seen in decades. The transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy has brought with it some truly exciting opportunities, but also some confusion. I'll sift through the noise and share quick updates on the latest news, trends, and advancements that will impact our world for years to come.

The inexpensive EVs are returning. Every poll about EVs points to two major sticking points for the average car buyer. The concern about the charging network and the high price of electric vehicles. Fortunately, both of those issues are being addressed. The charging network is getting a much-needed update, and the move to NACS J3400, also known as the Tesla port, will reduce some of the pain points that many EV owners have experienced, especially when it comes to reliability.

As for the price of EVs, we're looking at the return and introduction of less expensive electric vehicles landing over the next few years. Now, when we talk about inexpensive, we're talking about vehicles below $30,000. The transition to electric vehicles cannot be relegated only to people that can afford a vehicle that costs $50,000 and up.

It has to be more equitable. And while it's easy to point at EVs and say that they're expensive, the reality is the average cost of a vehicle in the United States right now is about $48,000. Yet when you compound that with the current interest rates, buying a vehicle, especially one over $30,000 is a huge endeavor for families that just need transportation.

So it's been imperative that automakers offer vehicles that allow everyone to transition to an EV. The good news is that not only do we currently have an inexpensive electric vehicle on the market, it will soon be joined by others. So let's talk about the Nissan LEAF. It was once the best-selling electric vehicle in the world.

And while that crown has been handed off to Tesla, the LEAF is still available and starts at about $28,000. The Chevy Bolt was the king of inexpensive EVs until GM discontinued it, but there was a bunch of uproar from the market about this decision and GM has announced that the Bolt will return to the market using the automaker's latest EV technology.

For fans of Jeep, the Jeep Renegade will return to the automaker's lineup in 2027 with a price tag of under $25,000 and it will be an EV now. We don't have too many details about the vehicle, but at that price tag, it'll likely be a big seller. And Ford for its part has an internal team working to bring an inexpensive EV in 2026 that also starts under $25,000. So far, all we know is that it will be a small crossover because that's really all the details the automaker has shared. Kia, for its part, recently unveiled the EV3 that's expected to start at $35,000. But with that news, it was announced that the EV2 would be coming to the U.S. Now there's no word on pricing or dates, but it will be likely that that EV will cost $30,000 or less. 

So yes, right now the pickings are indeed slim, but over the next few years, inexpensive EV options will be available. And as those vehicles get sold at scale, automakers and suppliers will need to hire more people to build those vehicles, which of course gives people money to buy the EVs they're building.

For more information about the evolution of sustainability, head on over to sustainablecareers.sae.org. And if you're not quite ready to add an EV to your household, you can check out our other videos. The plug-in hybrid explainer video to help bring you up to speed on the hybrid technology and the vehicles.

Be sure to subscribe and listen every week on your favorite podcast platform. SAE International makes no representations as to the accuracy of the information presented in this podcast. 

The information and opinions are for general information only. SAE International does not endorse, approve, recommend, or certify any information, product, process, service, or organization presented or mentioned in this podcast.


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