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Top low-emission cars for city driving in the UK

July 30, 2023

Top low-emission cars for city driving in the UK

Why low-emission cars are important for city driving. LEZ (low emission zones) and ULEZ (ultra-low emission zones) are now common in large UK cities.

The understanding that air pollution, especially prevalent in urban areas, can have many negative impacts on both the environment and public health. These schemes were implemented to offset the increasing levels of emissions. Air pollution is the cause of a multitude of respiratory problems - such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

People that experience long-term exposure to air pollution can be susceptible to chronic respiratory diseases - namely, bronchitis, asthma, and even lung cancer. Taking steps to reduce the harmful levels of nitrogen dioxide and air particulate matter is a crucial public health matter.

Low-emission vehicles have a big impact on our environment, especially in cities. They use cleaner technologies and fuels that produce fewer harmful pollutants, making them a great choice for reducing air pollution and improving air quality.

One of the key benefits of low-emission vehicles is their use of alternative fuels like electricity, hydrogen, and biofuels. By shifting away from traditional fossil fuels, we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Choosing to drive a low-emission car helps us all move towards a more sustainable and greener future.

To encourage the adoption of low-emissions cars, Governments provide incentives, including rebates, tax credits, and reduced congestion charges and toll fees. Such incentives can offset the often higher upfront cost of buying an electric or hybrid vehicle.

Savings on driving low-emission cars can be significant over time when you consider how fuel-efficient they can be.  

Drivers that predominantly travel in cities are one of the key targets for low-emission cars. By making the switch to low-emission cars in urban areas, drivers can contribute to a healthier, cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable future for themselves and their communities.

Types of low-emission cars

Let’s look at your choices of UK low-emissions cars:

Electric vehicles (EVs): Electric vehicles are revolutionising the way we drive and help protect the environment. Instead of using petrol, they run on an electric motor powered by a battery. This means they produce zero tailpipe emissions, reducing air pollution and combating climate change.

Benefits of EVs include:

● Incredibly energy-efficient

● Low running costs (no refuelling with petrol or diesel)

● Typically lower operating costs

● Inexpensive servicing

● Government incentives and discounts

● No emissions, and no road tax

● Quiet and enjoyable driving experience

Disadvantages of EVs:

● Expensive initial outlay

● Restrictions of a maximum range of miles

● Limited range - so not always ideal for long journeys

● You need a charging infrastructure and a plan in place

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs): PHEVs combine an internal combustion engine with an electric motor and battery. They offer improved energy efficiency and reduced emissions compared to traditional petrol vehicles. PHEVs can run on electric power alone for shorter distances and switch to the petrol engine for longer trips.

PHEVs have a larger battery, resulting in fewer emissions and better fuel efficiency. When the battery charge is low, the fuel-powered engine automatically engages. Short journeys using the electric battery are cost-effective. In addition, regenerative braking technology helps to reduce energy waste.

Benefits of PHEVs include:

● Larger battery for fewer emissions and better fuel efficiency

● Fuel-powered engine automatically engages when the battery is low

● Low-cost electric-only travel for short journeys

● Regenerative braking reduces energy waste

Disadvantages of PHEVs:

● Likely to be more expensive to buy than self-charging hybrids

● You need electric charging facilities available at home

● Longer electric-only range compared to hybrid cars

● Fuel economy isn’t optimal due to the extra weight of the large battery

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs): HEVs use both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, allowing them to recharge the battery through regenerative braking and rely on the gasoline engine for longer trips. They offer better fuel efficiency and lower emissions compared to traditional petrol vehicles.

HEVs typically achieve a range of around 40-60 miles per gallon of petrol, with the electric motor providing additional power. However, they do not have a significant all-electric range like plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) or fully electric vehicles (EVs).

Hybrid car benefits include:

● It’s cheaper than plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars

● It’s much more efficient for shorter trips such as a daily commute

● There’s no need for a plug in point

● This also means no recharge time

● There’s no need to worry about a dying battery on longer trips

● It’s also cheaper to run as there is less reliance on fuel

Disadvantages of hybrid cars:

● It isn’t as green as its plug-in and electric counterparts

● The electric range is very limited

● The less common and more advanced technology leads to higher costs

● Hybrids are not subject to the same grants or tax exemptions as fully electric

● Not as powerful as fully fueled or fully electric vehicles

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCVs): FCVs sound exactly like they’re named; they use hydrogen fuel cells to power the car. These can be much more expensive and rarer than other green cars though due to a lack of infrastructure for refuelling.

However, the standard FCEV has a range of about 300-400 miles on a single tank of hydrogen, which is an impressive distance.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicle benefits include:

● Zero emissions

● Highly efficient

● Versatility

● Fast refuelling

● Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have a longer range than battery electric vehicles

● Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of sources - including natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar power - providing a more diverse and secure energy supply.

Downsides of FCVs:

● More expensive than comparable petrol and diesel vehicles

● Limited infrastructure for producing, transporting, and dispensing hydrogen

● Energy-intensive hydrogen production

● Safety concerns surrounding flammable hydrogen

● Limited driving range

Top low-emission cars for city driving

With a UK target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, low-emission vehicles are becoming more crucial for city driving.

Coming right up are some of the top choices for low-emission cars for city driving in the UK. All available at Drive Fuze, with more options added all the time:

Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 is a stylish and compact low-emission vehicle that is well-suited for city driving. It incorporates eco-friendly features and an electric powertrain, providing a range of up to 199 miles on a full charge. Charging the Fiat 500 at home takes approximately 4 hours, making it convenient for daily use. Affordable and stylish, the Fiat 500 is a popular choice.

MG Motor MG3

The MG Motor MG3’s compact size and agile handling make it a great choice for urban drivers or those with a city commute. This hybrid is very fuel efficient as well as eco-friendly. With its practicality and affordability, the MG3 is a compelling option for those looking for a city car.

MG Motor MG4

Building on the success of the MG3, the MG Motor MG4 is another low-emission vehicle perfect for city driving. Like the MG3, you get a compact and agile drive with a smooth and enjoyable driving experience. With its stylish design, comfortable interior, and advanced technology, the MG4 is another solution for reducing your emissions.

Kia Niro EV

The perfect eco-friendly city car, the Kia Niro boasts an impressive range of up to 282 miles on a single charge, making it perfect for that daily office commute or a city break.

It can also reach 80% charge in roughly 54 minutes, making it very practical - not to mention it's surprisingly ample luggage space. With modern features and conveniences, this makes an excellent family car.

Volvo XC90

This luxurious and environmentally friendly SUV combines elegance with sustainability by delivering exceptional fuel efficiency and reduced emissions thanks to its hybrid design. Despite its size, you’ll get 18 miles on pure electricity alone, making for a great city vehicle. Along with very modern safety features, spacious interiors, and cutting-edge technology, this is a premium choice for eco-conscious drivers who prioritise comfort and style.

How to finance and purchase a low-emission car

Deciding to pursue a low-emission car for your city driving adventures may also mean exploring your different finance options to see what fits:

Getting a grant: The UK government provides a Plug-in Car Grant. This involves up to £2,500 off the purchase price of an eligible low-emission vehicle. These grants can help to make the initial expense of buying an electric car more affordable.

Qualifying for a loan: Some banks and financial institutions may offer loans tailored for the purchase of low-emission cars. Often featuring lower interest rates or longer repayment periods than traditional car loans, they can be a cost-effective option. Ensure you compare different loan options to find the best deal on the market.

Getting a lease agreement: Lease agreements offer drivers the opportunity to use a low-emission car for a set time by making regular payments. This option can be more cost-effective for driving an electric car as the driver doesn't have to pay the full purchase price upfront. And most importantly, don’t forget to read the terms and conditions so you can avoid any unexpected surprises or extra charges.

Before heading to the dealership, ensure that you’ve done your research and looked up exactly what mileage and car type you’re looking for. This way, you come armed with the knowledge of exactly what you need, and can avoid making a big purchase that doesn’t suit you.

Low-emission cars, like any other vehicle, require regular maintenance and support to keep them running efficiently and to extend their lifespan. As low-emission cars have fewer moving parts, they typically require less maintenance than traditional cars - no oil changes to worry about!

However, you still must factor in regular maintenance to keep the car running smoothly. This may include tyre rotations, brake pad replacements, and checking the battery and electrical systems.

Getting the best low-emission car for you

Choosing a low-emission car is a wise decision for taking responsibility for reducing emissions and improving overall public health in your city.

Doing so means you’ll benefit from lower running costs due to lower fuel consumption and tax incentives. In addition, you get access to low-emission zones and congestion charge exemptions - plus a quiet and smooth driving experience.

Make your choice from BEVs (fully electric), PHEVs (electric motor/petrol or diesel engine), HEVs (electric motor/internal combustion engine), and FCVs (fuel cell vehicles).

Drive Fuze offers a car subscription service for a range of low-emission vehicles - your solution for sustainable and convenient transport. Including electric, PHEVs, and hybrid vehicles that meet strict emissions standards - these cars are an ideal option for drivers seeking to reduce their environmental impact.

By subscribing to Drive Fuze, you can feel the freedom to focus on easy access to a low-emissions car without the headaches of ownership. An all-inclusive Drive Fuze subscription takes care of all the maintenance and insurance, tyres, and even breakdown cover - and you can switch to a different car or cancel your subscription at any time.

This freedom and flexibility makes Drive Fuze a convenient option if you want to try a low-emissions vehicle, or if you only need a car for a while. Feel the freedom to enjoy life without emission zone charges and reduce city emissions.