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The UK government wants you to ditch petrol and diesel

Figures have been released on how much going for an ultra-low emissions vehicle could save you as part of an initiative designed to wean consumers off petrol and diesel.

The average British driver currently spends 12p per mile on fuel, which could be cut to 2p per mile by going for a hybrid or all-electric car. Apply that saving to the 31.6 million cars in the UK, factor in road tax and that’s £24.5 billion motorists are squandering away every year.

The figures come from a consortium of car manufacturers including BMW, Nissan, Renault, Toyota, Vauxhall and the government as part of an initiative called Go Ultra Low, which was setup to dispel myths surrounding electric and hybrid car ownership.

Go Ultra Low campaign head Hetal Shah said: “After buying a house, a car is the second most expensive purchase that most of us will ever make.

“With fuel costs from just 2p-per-mile, no road tax, no congestion charge and free parking in many locations, electric cars certainly present a compelling proposition. Put simply: the more you drive, the more you save.”

The report says you would only need to drive 7.500 miles a year or 140 miles a week to see the costs mitigated, but there’s just one problem. Even with the government grant of £5,000 given to vehicles that meet a certain emissions target, they are far pricier than diesel or petrol equivalents.

So although it may reduce your fuel bills and save the planet, you could use the money you would have spent on a pricier electric car on petrol and diesel. The payback time for an average driver is going to be measured in years, unfortunately ─ and that’s before you even consider the residuals on a car filled with expensive to replace batteries.

Go Ultra Low pointed out that most manufacturers have cracked range anxiety or at least made it less of a problem, thanks to electric cars routinely having a range of up to 124 miles. Tesla’s Model S, for instance, can offer 300 miles on a single charge.

Electric and hybrid cars that have CO2 emissions of 75g/km or less are exempt from vehicle excise duty (aka road tax) and are exempt from London’s congestion charge.

The government will end the £5,000 when 50,000 grants have been awarded. After that a new scheme will be introduced, but it is unclear what it will entail and if it will offer the same level of financial incentive. 2,000 grants were claimed in January 2015 alone and estimates suggest it could dry up before 2017 based on the current and expected rate of adoption.

As the technologies for electric cars drop it may well make sense to leave traditional fuels behind and charge our cars at home, but right now that initial lump sum is a luxury for most. It seems, then, the government should make the incentive bigger if it really wants to see a change.

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