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The Cheapest (And Costliest) UK Cities For Running An EV

It’s become common knowledge that an electric car could save you a considerable amount of money compared to an equivalent petrol or diesel. But is that the case across the board, or are some cities offering more than others?

We’ve created our own unique index, measuring the UK’s 25 most populous cities on five cost categories associated with electric motoring – from the obvious charging rates to how much of your wage an EV lease requires – and ranked them from cheapest to costliest.

The Cheapest City For Running An EV Is Coventry

With a score of 77.6 out of 100, our research found Coventry to be the UK’s cheapest city for running an electric car. Once known as Motor City, due to its high concentration of car factories, it boasts the UK’s joint-cheapest rate of public EV charging and a palatable £1-per-hour parking charge.

The UK’s Cheapest Cities For Running An Electric Car

A Vanarama index measuring the cost of running an EV across the UK’s 25 most populous cities.

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Rank City Region Population Avg. salary Cost of EV lease as % of salary Cost of at-home EV charging Cost of public EV charging Avg. cost of parking per hour Index score (out of 100)
#1 Coventry West Midlands 369,127 £30,000 14.6 £11.35 £12.20 £1.00 77.6
#2 Stoke-on-Trent West Midlands 277,051 £30,000 14.6 £11.35 £12.20 £1.30 74.4
#3 Portsmouth South East 248,479 £32,810 13.4 £11.90 £15.25 £1.35 70.4
#4 Glasgow Scotland 612,040 £31,672 13.9 £11.47 £17.19 £0.90 66.4
#5 Reading South East 229,274 £32,810 13.4 £11.90 £15.25 £1.55 66.4
#6 Birmingham West Midlands 1,153,717 £30,000 14.6 £11.35 £12.20 £2.05 65.6
#7 Southampton South East 269,231 £32,810 13.4 £11.90 £15.25 £1.63 64
#8 Manchester North West 554,400 £29,529 14.9 £11.22 £13.42 £2.13 61.6
#9 Bradford Yorkshire Humber 361,046 £28,808 15.2 £11.10 £18.91 £0.55 60.8
#10 Leicester East Midlands 470,965 £28,416 15.4 £11.22 £13.42 £1.00 60

Each city scored on five cost categories, with 25 points for the best figures in each category and 1 point for the worst. Where cities have the same figures, we have given a joint score. Initial data from current Vanarama lease prices, British Gas, The Geographist, NimbleFins and Citybase.

Just behind is another of the West Midland’s cities, Stoke-on-Trent, sharing the same cost of public charging.

Making up the rest of the top five cheapest is Portsmouth, Glasgow and Reading, with the former and latter of those having the joint-second-highest average salary (£32,810). This also means they are joint-second for cost of EV leasing (£364 per month by a Vanarama average) as a percentage of earnings.

Although scoring lower on those categories, Glasgow gained more index points with favourable parking and at-home charging rates.

London Too Expensive To Break Into The Top 10 Cheapest Cities

Sitting between the 10 cheapest and costliest cities in the middle of the index are Brighton, London, Sheffield, Hull and Nottingham. But these aren’t poor performers, as each are within only a few points of the average index score of 56.5. EV owners in Sheffield and Hull, for example, pay the lowest rates of at-home charging.

It's perhaps still surprising, however, that London didn’t make the top 10. Despite scoring highest on average salary (£39,716) and cost of EV leasing as a percentage of salary – meaning Londoners are forking out less of their wage on monthly lease costs – the capital’s let down by low scores on EV charging and parking.

That’s not to say those living in the more metropolitan areas are at a disadvantage on costs, however – Birmingham, the UK’s second-largest city, sits in sixth place. It scores well across the board, including the cheapest rate for charging the average EV in public at £12.20 – almost £30 cheaper than the most expensive locations.

The one million-plus population is also more than twice as big as the top 10 average (454,533), offering great savings for a considerable number of drivers.

The South West Is The Costliest Place To Own An Electric Car

Bristol and Plymouth, both in the South West of England, are revealed as the most expensive cities for running an EV. With the highest rates of public EV charging, at almost £40 a time (£38.43), the cities also shared scores on all other areas of our study bar parking.

Rank City Region Population Avg. salary Cost of EV lease as % of salary Cost of at-home EV charging Cost of public EV charging Avg. cost of parking per hour Index score (out of 100)
#11 Brighton South East 241,999 £32,810 13.4 £11.90 £15.25 £2.55 59.2
#12 London London 8,907,918 £39,716 11.0 £11.53 £15.86 £3.90 57.6
#13 Sheffield Yorkshire Humber 544,402 £28,808 15.2 £11.10 £18.91 £1.25 55.2
#14 Hull Yorkshire Humber 288,671 £28,808 15.2 £11.10 £18.91 £1.35 53.6
#15 Nottingham East Midlands 311,823 £28,416 15.4 £11.22 £13.42 £1.50 53.6
#16 Liverpool North West 579,256 £29,529 14.9 £12.32 £13.42 £1.50 52.8
#17 Derby East Midlands 263,933 £28,416 15.4 £11.22 £13.42 £1.55 52
#18 Northampton East Midlands 229,815 £28,416 15.4 £11.22 £13.42 £1.55 52
#19 Edinburgh Scotland 488,050 £31,672 13.9 £11.47 £17.19 £2.20 51.2
#20 Belfast Northern Ireland 328,937 £29,109 15.1 £11.96 £17.19 £0.75 48
#21 Leeds Yorkshire Humber 503,388 £28,808 15.2 £11.10 £18.91 £2.05 45.6
#22 Newcastle upon Tyne North East 281,842 £27,515 15.9 £11.22 £17.08 £0.60 45.6
#23 Cardiff Wales 350,558 £28,506 15.4 £11.90 £14.64 £1.17 44.8
#24 Plymouth South West 241,179 £29,080 15.1 £11.90 £38.43 £1.40 40
#25 Bristol South West 571,922 £29,080 15.1 £11.90 £38.43 £2.00 34.4
- Average - 747,161 £30,222 14.6 £11.51 £17.19 £1.55 56.5

*Each city scored on five cost categories, with 25 points for the best figures in each category and 1 point for the worst. Where cities have the same figures, we have given a joint score. Initial data from current Vanarama lease prices, British Gas, The Geographist, NimbleFins and Citybase

Newcastle is another shock performer – high scores on the cost of at-home charging and public parking weren’t enough to undo costly figures for average salary and cost of EV leasing as a percentage of salary.

Cardiff, the Welsh capital, scored fairly on the cost of public EV charging and parking but sits third bottom due to its lower-than-average salaries, meaning EV owners in Wales’ largest city are losing more than 15% of their monthly earnings to lease payments.

The Index Suggests Cheaper EV Running Rates Aren’t Exclusive To The Bigger Cities

The cost of charging an EV at home is the cheapest in Leeds, sharing the £11.10 cost with Bradford, Sheffield and Hull, but costly figures elsewhere in the index mean it can’t escape the bottom five.

It’s one of only three cities in the bottom ten with a population of more than 500,000, alongside Bristol and Liverpool. With no clear trends linked to population at the top or bottom of our index, it seems a city’s size has little effect on its ability to offer cheaper EV motoring – perhaps suggesting we’re seeing a nationwide shift towards electric transport in the UK.

Methodology

Vanarama compiled the UK’s 25 most populous cities and measured each on five cost categories associated with the running of an electric car. The best figures, e.g. the cheapest charging rates, received a higher score and contributed to an overall index score out of 100 – the higher the score, the cheaper it is to run an EV in that city.

Where regional public EV charging rates weren't available (Scotland and Northern Ireland), averages were used.

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