A green driving machine can be huge cost-cutter

Lure of electric or hybrid cars stronger than ever – City drivers fed up of fuel prices can save thousands

Families are now spending more money on petrol than the weekly food shop. The AA reported this week that pump prices hit a record high of 142.48p a litre for petrol, while diesel hovers around a peak of 147.88p a litre.

The figures mean filling up a 50-litre family car now costs around £71.24, the AA said. That tops the average weekly food bill of £70.10. Meanwhile families with two cars have to stump up £22 more to fill them both up than they did at the beginning of the year.

With petrol costs soaring, the search for ways to cut motoring costs is becoming crucial. So there was heartening news in the Society of MotorManufacturers and Traders annual New Car CO2 report published this week.

The statistics revealed that new cars are more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly than ever before. But crucially for the cost-conscious, that means that they are also more cost-effective than older vehicles.

The Society's survey revealed that new vehicles are actually 18 per cent more fuel-efficient than the average car being run in Britain today. And that means major fuel savings can be made.

The report also confirmed the green credentials of new motors over older vehicles, which is crucial to the planet's long-term well-being. It showed that the average carbon dioxide emissions of cars registered last year were 23 per cent lower than in 2000.

Interestingly, diesel-fuelled vehicles now account for more than half of all new cars registered in the UK. But while the cheapest wheels to run – electric cars – achieved record market share in the UK last year, at 1.3 per cent of the market, it's still a negligible amount.

The reduction in running costs of an electric car are astounding. An SMMT report on electric cars published in the autumn, calculated that the average cost of fuel for a medium-sized diesel car travelling 30,000 miles in three years would total £3,374. The cost of electricity for a similarly-sized electric car covering the same distance over the same time period? Just £881.

Free or subsidised parking also increases the savings made by driving an electric car, while Londoners would benefit from not having to pay the Capital's Congestion Charge, which could amount to a saving of £2,278 a year.

There are other financial inducements such as the 25 per cent subsidy towards the cost of an eligible electric car, up to a value of £5,000, through the Plug-In Car Grant. But, of course, there remain several drawbacks to electric vehicles.

Not least is the problem of having to charge up the car and the fact that the charge will only last up to a certain number of miles, up to 100, depending on the vehicle. It limits their practical use for many motorists.

The Government-backed Plugged-In Places scheme will see around 9,000 charge points in place across the country by March next year. That network will increase the prospects of being able to travel greater distances in an electric car.

But that doesn't get over the problem of battery charging time. Typically, electric cars take between six and eight hours to charge fully. However some electric vehicles can use rapid charge points, where they can be charged in half an hour.

But rather than the cheap-to-run pure electric cars, hybrids are more likely to make an impact for drivers in the short term. Plug-in hybrids revert to using diesel when the battery range is reached. But with the range topping 10 miles, they can be perfect for environmentally and cash-conscious City drivers.

In fact the average individual journey length in the UK is currently 8.6 miles, well within the range of a plug-in hybrid.

With electric cars and hybrids currently more expensive than traditional petrol or diesel vehicles, the initial cost of buying a greener vehicle can also put people off. But with the cars using expensive lithium batteries which typically account for 25 per cent of the cost of a vehicle, there has been little that motor manufacturers can do to cut prices.

But there was positive news this week in the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Report. It revealed that battery prices fell 14 per cent in the first three months of this year. Further price falls, and the greenest and cheapest-to-run cars may yet prove a good buy.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £32,000+

    £18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

    Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

    £50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

    War with Isis

    Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
    Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

    A spring in your step?

    Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

    Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

    Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
    Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

    Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

    For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
    Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

    Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

    As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
    The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

    UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

    Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

    Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

    Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
    Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

    Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

    If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
    10 best compact cameras

    A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

    If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
    Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

    Paul Scholes column

    Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
    Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

    Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
    Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

    The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?