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Blog Post 3 June 2021 Updated 4 May 2023

Buying a new car? Making the case for electric vehicles

Last year saw a large drop in the UK’s transport emissions, as people were asked to stay at home during national lockdowns. According to government figures, emissions from transport fell by almost 20% in 2020.

As we come out of lockdown, electric vehicles will have an important part to play in reducing emissions from transport and helping the UK reach its net zero targets. Battery electric vehicles are 100% electric vehicles that don’t produce any tailpipe emissions.

Here, we take a closer look at the benefits of electric vehicles – from their lower running costs, expanding model ranges and environmental credentials.

Good for the environment

Choosing an electric car can help you save money and reduce your carbon footprint. Pure electric vehicles emit zero tailpipe carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions; a 2019 report found that on average, petrol cars emit 127.6g of CO2 emissions per kilometre, with diesel vehicles close behind at 127.0g/km.

The lower or zero emissions of battery and plug-in hybrid vehicles means they will attract lower (or zero) charges from clean air zones and low emission zones being implemented around the UK from 2021, as well as London’s ultra low emission zone (ULEZ). The Scottish Government, for example, is introducing low emission zones (LEZs) in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen to improve air quality and limit carbon emissions in city centres.

Lower running costs

While the upfront cost of an electric vehicle can be higher than a petrol or diesel car, this is usually offset by lower running costs over the lifetime of the vehicle. Pure EVs are also exempt from vehicle excise duty, while some towns and cities offer free parking for electric vehicles. You can find out more about EV incentives in your area.

Most new pure electric vehicles now have ranges of well over 150 miles. If you were to charge at home and drive 150 miles, it would cost you around £7.50. Driving that same distance in a petrol or diesel car would cost between £19-£22.

Financial support for EVs

The Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) offers grants to help reduce the upfront cost of eligible plug-in vehicles, as well the installation of charging points. The plug-in vehicle grant provides up to £2,500 for eligible vehicles such as:

  • wheelchair accessible vehicles
  • motorcycles
  • mopeds
  • small vans
  • large vans
  • taxis
  • small trucks
  • large trucks

If you live in Scotland, you can access an interest-free electric vehicle loan, funded by Transport Scotland, to help you purchase a new electric car or van. The loan is available up to a maximum of £28,000 and has a repayment term of up to six years. There’s also a used EV loan for Scottish drivers, which offers up to £20,000 to cover the cost of purchasing a second hand electric car.

Thinking of going electric?

More electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are becoming available on the used car market each year as EVs continue to grow in popularity. New electric cars and vans are often more expensive than petrol or diesel vehicles, but buying a used vehicle helps narrow the price gap. You’ll still get all the benefits of cheaper refuelling, lower tax and maintenance costs.

Use our used electric vehicle calculator to find out how much you could save on fuel by buying an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle, compared to the petrol or diesel equivalent.

Calculate savings

Last updated: 4 May 2023