Skip to main content

Is a small electric vehicle right for you?

Is a small electric vehicle right for you?

mini electric car flourish

Tesla, VW, Nissan, Citroen electric cars.

As UK electric car sales grow, so does the range of choice. From the ultra-compact Citroen Ami electric quadricycle to luxury SUVs and sports cars.

As major manufacturers such as Citroen, Tesla, Volkswagen, Ford, Kia and Nissan increase investment to widen their electric car ranges, even more models are now available as plug-ins. But with more choice than ever, we look at why small electric cars remain so popular and how they come with big benefits.

What’s driving the popularity of small electric cars?

In August 2023, fully electric cars took their highest monthly market share for the year, accounting for 20.1% of all new car registrations – second only to sales of petrol.

Driving the change are compact electric vehicles, making up three of the UK’s top five best-selling models in 2022. From the nation’s favourite Tesla Model Y – a small, compact SUV to the ever-popular Nissan Leaf.

In June 2023, there were 15 active Clean Air Zones in cities around the UK, including Portsmouth, London, Birmingham and Bristol to Bradford, York, Newcastle and Aberdeen. As more towns and cities place the schemes under consultation, small electric vehicles are capturing drivers’ imaginations.

All electric vehicles emit zero tailpipe emissions and are exempt from taxation and clean air charges. Making them the perfect choice for commuting. While some take urban driving even further. Like the innovative, ultra-compact Citroen electric Ami quadricycle. At just 2.41 metres long and 1.39 metres wide, it’s capable of fitting into even the tightest parking spaces. The Citroen Ami is more accessible in other ways too. That’s because the Citroen Ami UK licence requirement is a Category AM that covers a moped, which is limited to 28mph.

Small in size, big on benefits.

Some say the best things come in small packages. Which certainly explains the benefits of compact electric cars. Starting with affordability.

Lower lease fees and insurance costs make small electric cars the perfect choice for many. From company car drivers looking to save money on tax to younger drivers leasing their first car and families wanting an environmentally-friendly second car. As the UK used electric car market continues to grow, compact electric vehicles generally have slower depreciation rates too.

Small electric cars have smaller batteries. Meaning they need shorter charging times and less electricity. Take this example below:

Model: Mini Electric

Battery: 32 kWh

Range: Up to 145 miles

Home charge fast: 5 hrs 30 mins (based on PodPoint home charger)

Home charge socket: 12 hrs 10 mins (based on home power socket)

Rapid charge: 1 hr 20 mins (based on public rapid charger)

And while these small batteries used to mean limited range, many models now advertise the ability to travel over 200 miles on a full charge.

It’s not just affordability that puts a smile on drivers’ faces. Small electric cars are great fun to drive, with amazing agility and responsive handling. Their lighter weight and compact size creating a nimble driving experience. While their effortless manoeuvrability and tight turning circle make them perfect for driving in towns and cities, where they navigate tight streets and busy car parks with ease.

Small and mighty.

There’s no shortage of choice in the compact electric cars market, with great offerings from all the manufacturers. Small cars are set to get an even bigger boost with as many as 25 Chinese electric car brands coming to the UK market in the next few years.

China is the world’s leading electric car market and accounts for an incredible 60% of global sales. With charging technology and infrastructure already in place, one in four cars sold in China is an EV. This investment is powering new and exciting start-ups, as around 200 manufacturers now drive the market. Sitting on top as the best-selling model is the compact Wuling Hongguan Mini EV.

In the UK, MG has been owned by parent company Shanghai Automotive (SAIC) for 16 years and now accounts for 9.4% of all cars sold in the UK. New arrivals in 2023 will include Ora, a sub-brand of Great Wall Motors, and BYD. While XPeng has already been established in Scandinavia, and is expected to be popular.

Lease with ease.

Powered by LV= General Insurance, we work with lease specialists CBVC to offer a wide range of the latest electric cars, with over 100 models from more than 30 leading manufacturers – including Citroen, Tesla, VW, Kia and Nissan. With many available from stock within just 30 days. We partner with Indra to provide convenient home chargers to energise every journey. And we provide bespoke insurance through Allianz, our digital sister company.

Want to find out more about leasing an electric car from us? Start by clicking here to see our range.

Discover electric cars today

Discover electric cars that are available through our partner CBVC today.

Discover cars available

Understanding clean air zones

Understanding clean air zones

In this article we share everything you need to know about the UK’s clean air zones, from what they are and where they can be found to what the different charges are.

Clean Air Zones

Are you ready to go electric?

Want to know if an electric car is the right choice for you?

Join in with our simple online quiz to find out more.

Start the quiz

Air Pollution in the UK

The main source of air pollution in the UK comes from transport – mostly from cars and trucks burning petrol and diesel to get about. That’s why some cities around the country have introduced clean air zones: to reduce pollution and improve quality of life for the people who live there. It’s all part of the national ambition to reach net zero by 2050. 

Today there are charges for driving older, more polluting cars in Birmingham and London – and we expect the charges to spread to other cities too.

What are clean air zones and low emission zones?

A clean air zone (or CAZ) is part of a city that charges fees to highly polluting vehicles, based on their emissions. That means you might have to pay a set daily charge for driving there. The charge covers a period from midnight to midnight, no matter how many times you drive in and out.

They don’t apply to all cars: a lot concentrate on more heavily polluting cars and trucks. But they apply to all traffic, no matter if you live in the zone or need to drive there for work. 

They’re designed to improve the quality of local air and make it safer to breathe by reducing nasties like carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. And they’re already popping up around Britain.

ULEZ sign post

How are clean air zones different from low emission zones?

A clean air zone (CAZ) is the essentially the same as a low emission zone (LEZ), London also has the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ).

Where are CAZ’s in the UK?

There are currently five cities with clean air zones or low emission zones: London, Bath, Birmingham, Bradford and Portsmouth. Only London and Birmingham charge for driving polluting cars – the others only charge for larger or commercial vehicles.

Do you need to pay to drive an electric car in clean air zones?

No, you don’t. This is because electric cars don’t emit CO2 or NOx from the tailpipe, while an average small petrol car emits 120 g/km of CO2. 

Which other cities will get them?

There are plenty of other cities phasing in clean air zones. Bristol, Sheffield, Greater Manchester, and Tyneside look to be next on the list but other cities including Edinburgh, Oxford and Glasgow are planning how to introduce them.

How does it work in Birmingham?

Birmingham’s scheme is Class D, which means it includes cars. If your car isn’t up to scratch, you’ll need to pay an £8 charge (November 2023) if you’re driving inside the A4540 Middleway ring road. Electric cars are, of course, free.

You can check whether your petrol or diesel car is up to scratch and pay online at the drive in a clean air zone page. Diesels need to meet the Euro 6 standard and petrols should be Euro 4 standard. 

It also applies to non-compliant buses, coaches, taxis, trucks, vans, minibuses and others – and it can cost up to £50 a day to drive in the zone.

electric car charging

How do London’s low emission zones work? 

There are three different charges you might need to pay if you’re driving in London.

London low emission zone (LEZ)

This was London’s first low emission zone. It was set up across most of Greater London to encourage the most polluting heavy diesel vehicles in London to become cleaner.

The good news is that for most of us it’s simple: you don’t need to pay if you drive a car. If you’re driving a lorry, van or vehicle over 3.5 tonnes you might, though – anywhere between £100 and £300 a day. You can find out the details on the Transport for London low emission zone page

London ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ)

This was introduced in 2020 across central London and in August 2023 was expanded to cover all London Boroughs (excluding M25). It applies to cars as well as heavier vehicles and costs £12.50 a day (November 2023). 

How do you tell if you need to pay? You can check your car’s registration on the Transport for London (TfL) website

As a rule, you shouldn’t need to pay for petrol cars first registered with the DVLA after 2005 or diesel cars registered after September 2015. And, of course, if you’re driving an electric car you won’t have to pay.

London congestion charge

This covers central London during peak times: 7am-6pm Mon-Fri and 12pm-6pm Sat-Sun. It aims to discourage people from driving in the centre of the city.

It’s £15 a day (November 2023) and it applies to all cars – and you’ll need to pay it on top of any ULEZ charges too. There’s good news for electric car drivers, though: you can register for the ‘cleaner vehicle discount’ which gives you a 100% discount until Christmas 2025. Please note there is a £10/year application fee to get the exemption.

How do you pay to drive in a clean air zone? 

You check if you’re exempt and pay online at the drive in a clean air zone page – or you can pay by phone if you can’t use the online service. You can pay six days before your visit, on the day of your visit or up to six days after. And a ‘day’ is midnight to midnight – not 24 hours from when you enter the zone. So if you drive into the zone at 11pm and out at 1am, you’ll need to pay for two days.

In London, you can pay at the TfL website.

How do you know when you’re in a clean air zone? 

You’ll normally see big unmissable signs that start miles away from the edge of the zone. They give you plenty of warning and often explain how to pay.

Navigation apps sometimes tell you when your route includes a clean air zone too, which can help with planning.

If you drove in and out of a clean air zone, would you pay again?

No, they don’t. This is because electric cars don’t emit CO2 or NOx from the tailpipe, while an average small petrol car emits 120 g/km of CO2.

What are car emission standards?

All cars have an minimum emission standard, which you can find in your logbook (or check with the manufacturer). They classifications are based on how much they pollute, and they’ve been introduced over time. The first was Euro 1 in 1992 and the most recent was Euro 6 in 2015.

Different clean air zones have different standards so you’ll want to check online at the drive in a clean air zone page to make certain. Unless you’re driving an electric car, of course…

What are car emissions standards? How can you avoid charges?

Just don’t drive in the area in a polluting vehicle. For car drivers that might mean changing your route or catching a bus, train or tram. Or if you still want to drive, why not consider switching to an electric car?

How are councils encouraging electric cars in CAZ areas?

As well as not charging for electric cars, councils like Bristol are installing more charging bays to encourage people to go electric.

Do London’s low emission zones work?

Claire Harding, Research Director at think tank Centre for London, recently told Air Quality News that the zones have delivered good results: “I think it would be impossible to argue [the zones] haven’t made a difference,” she revealed. “It’s early days for ULEZ, but it seems to be working in the sense of less polluting vehicles driving through central London.”  

According to a new study by Move Electric, 39.8% of Londoners would be likely to switch to an electric car if plans to expand the city’s ULEZ are brought in in 2023. 

James Attwood, Move Electric editor, commented: “The intent of ULEZ to deter drivers from using old, polluting vehicles and to decrease air pollution in the capital is clearly working. Alongside expanding the ULEZ, it is important London’s boroughs, and the whole of the UK, is ready to meet widespread EV adoption, with sufficient electric vehicle public charging infrastructure.” 

Drivers in London might end up paying more than £4,500 per year if they have a non-compliant car and drive in the expanded ULEZ every day – so it’s absolutely going to encourage drivers to make the change to cleaner vehicles.

What are the types of clean air zones?

There are four types of clean air zones – Class A to D. Cars are only included in Class D.

Class Vehicle type
ABuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles 
BBuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles 
CBuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses 
DBuses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses, cars and the local authority has the option to include motorcycles

How does it work in Bath?

Bath’s clean air zone is a Class C, so it doesn’t apply to cars. Non-compliant vans, taxis and minibuses pay £9 a day, and it’s £100 a day for trucks, lorries, buses and coaches. It covers roads in Bath City Centre and areas including Kingsmead, Bathwick and Walcot.

How does Bradford’s clean air zone work?

Bradford’s clean air zone is a Class C, so again it doesn’t apply to cars. Non-compliant taxis pay £7 a day, vans and minibuses pay £9 a day, and it’s £50 a day for trucks, lorries, buses and coaches. The zone covers the area inside, and including, the Bradford outer ring road and extends along the Aire valley corridor.

How does Portsmouth’s clean air zone work?

Portsmouth’s clean air zone is a Class B, so it doesn’t apply to cars. Non-compliant taxis need to pay £10 a day, and if you’re driving a non-compliant truck, bus or coach you’ll pay £50. The zone is approximately 3 square kilometres and it’s to the south west of Portsmouth.

All charges correct November 2023.

This article contains links to other sites. ElectriX are not responsible for the contents of any of these websites.

Discover your perfect electric car today

Discover electric cars that are available through our partner CBVC today.

Discover cars available

Is leasing right for me ?

Is leasing right for me?

Electric car questions graphic

Is leasing an electric car your best option?

There’s no right answer. It’s all about you, your circumstances and what you want from your new set of wheels. 

But leasing is a popular choice, with more than 1.6 million leased cars on the road in the UK (as of May 2023). It’s a great fit for electric cars. 

Leasing an electric car means:

Fixed monthly payments

No need to worry about depreciation and resale value

Easy to change to a car with newer tech at the end of your contract

Lease a car

How does leasing work?  

It’s straightforward, and you can do everything online with us and leasing experts CBVC.

See FAQ’s

Get a quote

Apply for finance

Get a decision

Take your delivery

How do different lease types work?

There are three main ways you can lease an electric car:

Personal contract hire (or PCH) is a long-term rental. It’s a good choice if you don’t want to buy the car at the end of your contract.

Business contract hire (or BCH) is very popular with businesses. It works just like personal contract hire but it’s only available for companies.

Personal contract purchase (or PCP) is a type of lease that gives you the option to give the car back at the end of your contract or buy it outright. 

QuestionPersonal contract Hire
Personal Contract
Purchase (PCP)
Business Contract Hire
Will I need a deposit? Yes Sometimes Yes
Is there a balloon payment
at the end?
You return the car
If you buy the car
You return the car
Will I own the car at the end ? No
The car’s collected
If you buy the car
The car’s collected
Who’s contracting the lease? You You Your business
Available through ElectriX ? Yes No Yes

Is leasing right for you? Check the details below and read our leasing FAQs.

Got a electric car question?

Find answers to the common questions people ask about choosing, leasing and driving an electric car.

See FAQ’s
graphic of electric car camping

What’s the difference between electric and other cars?

What’s the difference between electric and other cars?

For years, most of us have driven petrol or diesel-powered cars, also known as ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles. But in the UK alone, there are now more than 1.9 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road, whether battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). If you are thinking of upgrading or switching to an electric vehicle, it’s important to understand the differences between the types, so you can pick the car that’s right for you. 

Are you ready to go electric?

Want to know if an electric car is the right choice for you?

Join in with our simple online quiz to find out more.

Start the quiz


A battery electric car uses one or more electric motors to drive the wheels; all the power comes from a battery. You charge your car by plugging it in, at home or at one of over 53,906 (Dec 2023) public charge points across the UK. Electric cars are quieter and have no gears, resulting in a more relaxing driving experience. Another benefit is that they are more responsive, the power being instantly available to drive the electric motor.

There’s no need to fill up with petrol or diesel. This type of car, with no nasty exhaust emissions, is your best option if you want to go green. If you are able to charge at home and have an EV-friendly tariff, you should be able to fully charge an electric car with a 64kWh battery (for example) for about £7.70, based on 12p/kWh from 12:30am to 4:30am (November 2022). And if you can’t charge at home, don’t worry: there are public charge points all over the UK. To find chargers near you, have a look at our charge point map.

The cost of a brand-new electric car can be higher than an equivalent petrol or diesel vehicle, but as manufacturers launch new models, the budget-conscious driver has more cars to choose from than ever before. It also pays to look at all the costs involved – check out our total cost of ownership tool here, where you can compare the cost of an electric car with its petrol equivalent. 

There are financial benefits of driving an electric car if the organisation you work for offers a salary sacrifice scheme (whereby an employee pays for the vehicle from their gross salary), or you can arrange a lease through your business. What’s more, electric car drivers don’t pay vehicle tax (as at November 2022), while the cars have fewer moving parts so there’s less to go wrong. This brings the price of maintenance down compared with ICE vehicles. 

Just like petrol or diesel vehicles, electric cars can be leased on personal contract or business contract schemes. Find your perfect car to lease with ElectriX

Traffic on motorway journey

Plug-in hybrids 

A plug-in hybrid vehicle, or PHEV, can be powered by petrol or diesel with an additional input of electricity, with the option of plugging it in to charge the battery.

The battery is much smaller than in a “proper” electric car – and only able to go about 20 to 30 miles on each charge. So, if you do a lot of short journeys you’ll benefit from the cost savings of using the battery. However, as soon as it runs out of charge, you’ll be back to burning diesel or petrol.

PHEVs are charged by connecting the vehicle to a charge point at your home, or at one of the many public charge points across the country.

A plug-in hybrid – or any other type of hybrid – won’t be as green as a battery electric car, as it has a conventional engine under the bonnet. And the long-term cost savings are unlikely to be as good as those of an EV, as you’ll need to maintain the engine as well as the electric motor.


A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) is refuelled with petrol or diesel only, but uses some of that fuel to charge a small battery that lets you drive a few miles using electricity. It can’t be charged with an exterior power supply. 

The battery grabs energy from what’s known as regenerative braking – a clever system that sends power back to the battery when you brake, as it does in a battery electric car. 

Petrol and diesel

Most of us drive a petrol or diesel car. We’re comfortable with them, we understand the technology and it’s familiar. What’s more, they are generally cheaper to buy new than their electric equivalents. There’s also a well-established used car market if you decide to replace your existing vehicle with a newer one.

However, petrol and diesel engines are bad for the environment. They consume huge amounts of fossil fuels that can’t be replaced, and pump harmful emissions into the atmosphere. In addition, they usually have higher running and maintenance costs than electric cars, and forecourt petrol and diesel prices continue to fluctuate. For more information, see our article that looks at how much it costs to run an electric car.

You won’t be able to buy a new petrol or diesel car from 2035, thanks to government legislation. So, if you’re in the market for a new car, now is the time to look at other options, such as leasing an electric vehicle.

This article contains links to other sites. ElectriX is not responsible for the contents of any of these websites. 

Is an electric car
right for me?

Discover electric cars that are available through our partner CBVC today.

Discover cars available
Tesla model Y in Red