Cheap electric cars in the UK - our top 5 picks

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Electric cars in the UK
The benefits of electric cars
Insuring an electric car
Best cheap electric cars
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Electric cars in the UK

Like it or not, the days of the petrol and diesel car are numbered. By 2030, no more new petrol and diesel vehicles will be sold in the UK, and by 2035, no new hybrid vehicles will be either. The big changes are designed to green the UK’s transport system and help tackle climate change.

It’s good news for the planet but all this change can seem confusing for drivers. Luckily, electric vehicles are no longer just for committed eco-warriors, with the technology more reliable and efficient than ever.

There are also some good, cheap electric car options available in the UK – and with the government’s £2,500 plug-in car grant for electric cars under £35,000, you might want to make the switch now if you’re in the market for a new car.

So - are you ready to take the plunge and go green? 🌍

Helping the planet used to cost a pretty penny but electric cars are becoming more affordable. The Fiat 500 electric costs just £21k, for example.

The benefits of electric cars

Apart from doing your bit for the planet (which is something we really care about at Cuvva), there are loads of reasons to go green.

Cost of fuel

Electricity is generally cheaper than petrol, so you’ll pay less to get from A to B. And if you charge your car overnight at home, you’ll also be saving yourself the regular trips to the petrol station. There are now more electric vehicle charge points in the UK than petrol stations, with 42,000 charge point connectors available across the country. By the way, we've done a whole guide on free charging points here..

Cost of upkeep and travel

Driving older cars is also getting more expensive. The UK government wants to get older, polluting cars off the road and has introduced charges and incentives to help the process along. London’s Ultra-low Emission Zone – known as ULEZ – recently expanded in size by 1,700%, meaning one in five drivers in the capital now face a £12.50 daily charge for driving a vehicle that doesn’t meet the government’s emissions standards.

Free money

Well… sort of! If you drive a vehicle that doesn’t meet ULEZ standards, you might be able to get up to £2,000 from the government for scrapping your old car or motorbike. The Mayor’s scrappage grants are available to small business, charities, and Londoners who are disabled or on low incomes. Grants for scrapping old vans, minibuses and heavy goods vehicles are between £7,000 and £15,000.

Switching to an electric car could save you money
Switching to an electric car could save you money
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Insuring an electric car

Electric cars used to be more expensive to insure than petrol and diesel cars, but that’s changing fast. In fact, many electric cars are now actually cheaper to insure, as they become more common on our roads.

In 2020, the number of electric cars sold in the UK grew by 186% on the previous year – and insurance companies are adjusting their pricing to reflect this popularity.

While a high-performance Tesla might still be out of reach for the average driver (a second-hand Tesla can cost up to £70,000!), most popular car makers now include electric cars in their range. There’s an electric vehicle for most budgets.

Best cheap electric cars

We’ve rounded up our top five cheap electric cars currently on offer in the UK. These are all under £35,000 so they qualify for the government’s £2,500 plug-in grant.

An honourable shoutout to the Renault Twizy, which we left off our list given it’s more of a souped-up quadracycle than a conventional car. But at just under £12,000, it’s one of the cheapest electric vehicles money can buy and a great city runabout.

Anyway, without further ado… 🥁

(Note: these price estimates were correct at time of writing in 2021)

1. Fiat 500 (from £21,000) The Fiat 500 electric is the cheapest car in our top five, setting you back just shy of £21,000 for the entry level spec. The low price does come with a small battery range of only 115 miles, which is the lowest on our list. You can up-spec to the La Prima trim and get 199 miles, but that will cost around £27,495. With the classic retro styling of a regular Fiat 500 and the only electric car in the UK that offers the option of a folding fabric sunroof, this little number will appeal to city drivers that favour flair over performance.

2. VW e-up! (from £23,555) VW’s new e-up! model will set you back around £23,555, making it slightly more expensive than the Fiat 500. It has a similar look to the conventional Up! with the comfortable interior and fun, easy drive you’d expect from a small VW city car. The e-Up! has an improved battery pack with 70% larger capacity than previous models, giving it a range of just under 160 miles off a single charge. It charges from almost flat to 80% in an hour when using the maximum charge point. (A regular home plug point will take more than four hours.)

3. Peugeot e-208 (from £26,000) The Peugeot e-208 is hard to beat in the small electric car category and features on most top electric car lists. It comes in around £26,000 and boasts a great range of 217 miles from a full battery – that’s over 50 miles more than the e-Up! Better yet, it has rapid charging taking it to 80% in just 30 minutes. If slightly longer drives out of the city are a factor in your car choice, this might be a good option to think about.

4. Vauxhall Corsa-e (from £26,600) The ever-popular Vauxhall Corsa is now available in a fully electric version, the Corsa-e. Similar in price to the Peugeot e-208 at just north of £26,600, it has a range of 209 miles and rapid charging up to 80% in 30 minutes. Spec-wise, you’ll be splitting hairs between the two cars, and the deciding factor may simply come down to the look and feel of the drive itself.

5. BMW i3 (from £33,800). For those looking for something a cut above your standard city hatchback, the BMW i3 is a worthy contender. It’s the most expensive car on our list, coming in just under the government’s £35,000 cut-off for the plug-in car grant. Entry level i3 models cost around £33,800. The i3 gets between 150 and 173 miles, which is not the longest range, but the sportier (and more expensive) i3s can get up to 190 miles off a full battery. What you lose in range you make up for in driving experience, with this supermini electric car offering the handling and design features you think of when it comes to a BMW. It’s also one of the quickest charging options in our list, getting to 80% in under 45 minutes when using its maximum voltage charging capacity.

You could save money by switching from fuel to electricity
You could save money by switching from fuel to electricity

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Driving is changing, whether it’s the move from petrol to electric or the changing ways people use their cars - and we're leading the charge.

For example, Cuvva hates deposits, interests, tie-ins and hidden fees… it's why we've scrapped them.

Instead, we offer flexible temporary insurance from 1-hour to 28 days.

It's perfect for borrowing and lending - and experienced or learner drivers alike.

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Updated on 30th March 2023