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How switching to a low-emission car can save you money in the long run

April 30, 2023

How switching to a low-emission car can save you money in the long run

Car ownership can quickly add up. 

The price of fuel is steadily increasing and ongoing vehicle maintenance can be costly over time.

With this in mind - what about switching to a low-emission car?

Low-emission cars are vehicles that produce fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. These emissions mainly arise from burning fossil fuels such as gas or diesel during the combustion process.

Choosing a low-emission car means deciding between the different types:

  • Electric vehicles (EVs): Powered by electricity stored in onboard batteries, these vehicles don’t produce tailpipe emissions.

  • Hybrid vehicles: These cars use a combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor to reduce emissions.

  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs): These are hybrids that can be charged from an external source - such as a wall outlet - in addition to their internal combustion engine. PHEVs can operate in all-electric mode for certain distances.

  • Fuel cell vehicles: These cars use hydrogen to generate electricity through a chemical reaction in a fuel cell, producing only water as a byproduct. Fuel cell vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions. 

Powered by electricity, low-emission cars can significantly reduce drivers’ fuel bills. Not only that, but maintenance costs tend to be lower for these types of cars, due to fewer mechanical components. 

You can also enjoy incentives and tax credits from the Government as part of schemes to reduce emissions. 

Switching to low-emission cars can have positive impacts on public health by reducing air pollution - so making the move to a low-emission vehicle helps improve air quality where you live - creating a healthier environment for communities.

If you’ve ever wondered exactly how much money you can save when switching to an electric car - let’s find out. 

Reduced fuel costs

There’s several reasons why low-emission cars are more fuel efficient than their ICE counterparts:

  • Regenerative braking: EVs and hybrid vehicles use regenerative braking, which can help to recover energy that would otherwise be lost during braking. Regenerative braking uses the electric motor to reverse its operation and act as a generator, converting the energy generated during braking back into electricity and storing it in the battery for later use.
  • Advanced powertrain technologies: Low-emission cars often employ advanced powertrain technologies - such as continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) or power electronics, which can optimise the efficiency of the vehicle's propulsion system. 

  • Electric propulsion: EVs and hybrid vehicles use electric motors for propulsion, which are inherently more efficient compared to internal combustion engines. Electric motors have fewer moving parts, no transmission, and operate at higher efficiency levels, typically above 90%, compared to the average efficiency of around 20% for internal combustion engines. 

EVs are powered by electricity stored in a battery, and their fuel costs are typically lower compared to petrol or diesel-powered vehicles.

Studies show that it can cost less than 2p per mile to drive an electric car. Compared to the cost of running an average internal combustion engine vehicle (around 12p per mile), this can add up to significant savings for electric car owners.

Let’s take an example of a driver saving fuel costs by switching to a low-emissions car:

A commuter drives 40 miles per day for his work commute. He used to drive a traditional petrol-powered car that averaged 25 mph and had an average local petrol price of £2 per litre. 

A switch to a mid-sized EV with an estimated range of 250 miles per full charge involved installing a charging station at home to charge the EV overnight - though there may be an extra cost for this.

The EV consumed approximately 0.3 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per mile. With an average electricity rate of £0.15 per kWh, the daily electricity cost for the 40-mile commute was £1.80. Saving money on petrol by using electricity reduced petrol costs by £4.80. 

That’s a total saving of £3 per day for the daily commute - an amount that’ll quickly add up to some substantial savings. 

Tax incentives 

The UK offers tax incentives to promote the adoption of low-emission cars. 

Designed to encourage drivers to purchase low-emission cars as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, improve energy efficiency, and promote sustainable transportation - here are some common ways low-emission cars may qualify for tax incentives:

  • Plug-In Car Grant: Providing financial support towards the purchase of qualifying low-emission cars - including EVs and certain PHEVs. The amount varies depending on the type of vehicle.
  • Zero Vehicle Excise Duty (VED): Low-emission cars with zero tailpipe emissions, such as EVs, are eligible for zero VED (road tax).

  • Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS): Providing financial support for the installation of home charging points for eligible EV owners to help reduce the upfront cost of installing a home charging point.

Let’s take an example of a driver saving money on taxes by switching to a low-emissions car:

Say a driver purchased a new EV that was eligible for the Plug-In Car Grant - this grant provided a £2,500 discount on the purchase price of the EV, thus reducing the upfront cost.

As the driver uses the EV for the daily work commute, and the EV has zero tailpipe emissions, this qualifies for Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax. This resulted in significantly lower BIK tax liability - saving a considerable amount in taxes compared to using a petrol car. 

Add to this the fact that the EV is eligible for zero VED, meaning there’s no annual road tax to pay. 

Because this driver is also self-employed and uses the EV for business purposes, Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECAs) on the cost of the EV is claimable. This resulted in the driver being able to deduct the full cost of the EV from the business profits - reducing the overall taxable income and lower tax liability.

Maintenance and repair costs 

Less moving parts on a low-emission car means less regular maintenance and servicing. Just one example is not requiring oil or filter changes. 

Here are some more:

  • More durable engines: Typically more durable than traditional cars, low-emission vehicles benefit from engines that last.
  • Longer service intervals: Traditional cars need servicing around every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. A low-emissions car only requires a service approximately every 10,000 to 15,000 miles.
  • Reduced fuel system maintenance: As low-emission cars don’t have a traditional fuel system with fuel pumps, fuel lines, and fuel filters - there’s no need for maintenance. 
  • Reduced wear and tear: No traditional transmission systems, clutch, or exhaust systems, means no costly maintenance on these parts. Regenerative braking in low-emission vehicles also reduces wear on brake pads - resulting in less frequent brake pad replacements.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example of a driver that that saved money on repair costs and maintenance by switching to a low-emissions car.

This driver purchased an EV for a daily round commute trip of 30 miles. The EV had significantly fewer maintenance tasks compared to the previous petrol-powered car. For instance, the EV didn’t need the routine maintenance tasks the previous car did - such as oil changes, spark plug replacements or timing belt replacements.

Maintenance requirements for the EV were also simpler - routine maintenance tasks included checking and maintaining the battery health, coolant levels, and tyre rotations. 

Environmental benefits 

One of the primary benefits of low-emission cars is that they have zero tailpipe emissions. 

Unlike traditional petrol and diesel cars, which emit pollutants like carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and other harmful pollutants, low-emission cars emit little to no tailpipe emissions. This helps to reduce air pollution - which has detrimental impacts on human health, the environment, and climate change.

Because low-emissions cars are powered by electricity that can be generated from renewable sources such as solar, hydro, and wind - there’s less GHG emissions compared to petrol or diesel vehicles. By driving a low-emission car, you can contribute to reducing overall GHG emissions and mitigating climate change.

Low-emission cars, especially EVs, are generally more energy-efficient compared to traditional cars. EVs convert more energy from the battery to the wheels, resulting in higher energy efficiency and lower energy wastage. This means that more of the energy from the battery is used to propel the vehicle, resulting in less energy required to travel the same distance compared to a petrol car. 

This process works to conserve natural resources and reduce environmental impacts associated with energy production and consumption. In addition, because low-emission cars require no fuel, there’s no need for the extraction, refining, transportation, and distribution of fossil fuels. These processes can have significant environmental impacts - including air and water pollution, habitat destruction, and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Save with a low-emission car subscription

Choosing to switch to a low-emission car can benefit you and others around you in so many ways.

The financial impact of driving an EV or similar is incredibly positive, and when combined with the environmental consequences makes driving a less polluting car a solid choice. 

Using cleaner transportation options whenever possible is something we can all do to improve public health and create a cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.

Drive Fuze offers a car subscription service for a range of low-emissions vehicles as a sustainable and convenient option. Offering electric and hybrid vehicles that meet emissions standards in some UK cities, they’re a great choice for drivers seeking to reduce their environmental impact and avoid low-emission zone charges. 

By subscribing to Drive Fuze, you can feel the freedom of access to a low-emissions car without the hassle of ownership. All you need to do is pay a simple monthly cost, and all of the maintenance, insurance, tyres, and even breakdown cover are taken care of for you. You’re free to switch to a different car or cancel your subscription at any time. 

So if you want to trial a low-emissions vehicle and do your bit for the environment, why not explore a Drive Fuze all-inclusive car subscription?