Electric vehicles (EVs) are cheaper to own and run over a four-year period, compared to petrol or diesel alternatives, recent research shows. This is due to lower taxes, reduced fuel costs and government subsidies. The EV is shaping up to be an excellent choice when it comes to buying a new vehicle.
Join us on a journey across the UK, as we visit landmark cities on our interactive map and discover more about their green initiatives.
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Bordered to the west by the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan and to the north by the south Wales Valleys, Cardiff is situated on the banks of the Severn Estuary and surrounded by Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Together with more green public spaces per person than any other core UK city, Cardiff boasts 30.4mw of renewable energy capacity1 and our data shows it has experienced the largest increase in EV ownership over the past three years. As a result, CO2 levels have been slowly decreasing year-on-year.
Wales’ busy capital has also been considering a Clean Air Zone to improve its air quality levels, but recently decided on different actions to combat air pollution2. Major changes are proposed as part of a £32m plan, which include increasing 20mph areas, replacing old buses with new electric buses and improving active travel and public transport throughout the city3.
Pure electric cars*
Increase in electric vehicles (since 2016)
Charging points within a 5-mile radius
#1 Renewable source
CO2 emmisions per capita (tons)
Scotland’s fourth-largest city, Dundee, is situated upon the north bank of the River Tay on the east coast of Scotland. The city has many green spaces, including two local nature reserves Broughty Ferry and Trottick Ponds, and 400-acre Camperdown Country Park, the largest public park in Dundee1.
Since becoming a Go Ultra Low City in 2016, and launching a campaign to encourage more drivers to switch to electric, the number of EVs has doubled over the past three years. The city has led the way in the UK for their commitment to supporting electrical travel and improving infrastructure for EVs.
Their efforts are recognised too, earning them a global E-Visionary Award from the World Electric Vehicle Organisation (WEVA), for being Europe’s most visionary electric vehicle city2. Dundee has over 60 public charging points, with a maximum drivetime of 20 minutes between outlets, and offers a free parking scheme for EVs while charging3.
CO2 emissions reduction per capita (tons)
Glasgow, the biggest city in Scotland, is situated on the River Clyde in the western Lowlands. The city boasts over 90 beautiful gardens and parks within its boundaries1. This includes Green Flag holders, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, with its architectural glasshouses and 203-acre local nature reserve Linn Park2.
As Scotland’s greenest city3 and arguably its EV capital, Glasgow has embraced the technology and has doubled its number of EVs over the past three years. The city further promotes EV usage by providing free vehicle charging across its network of outlets4 - presenting itself as an electric vehicle-friendly destination5.
Together, these positive changes are having a major effect in continuing to drive down fuel emissions. A new Low Emission Zone is also now in place in the city centre6, which means their cumulative efforts are helping the city to stay on target to cut emissions by 56% by 20207.
The tourist town of Blackpool is a busy seaside resort on the Irish Sea, with a seven-mile long sandy beach and flat coastline1. It has some picturesque green spaces to enjoy, including Marton Mere, a local nature reserve recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its bird population.
This heavily built-up area unfortunately has the lowest number of EVs per capita, with a very slow uptake in EV registrations and has seen very little change to CO2 emissions over the past few years. The environmental and health advantages of choosing low-emission vehicles over petrol and diesel alternatives could benefit the city by helping to reduce carbon emissions.
For now, the current environmental plan includes a focus on improving public transport and active travel. This will proceed alongside measures to install more electric vehicle charging points in town centre car parks over the next four years2.
The city of Bradford is situated at the foothills of the Pennines, within a Green Belt area designed to reduce urban sprawl and preserve nearby countryside. It’s a built-up city, but boasts an impressive 36 parks totalling over 667 acres.
Of these, 10 are listed on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England, and five have Green Flag Awards1. Despite this, there was only a slight reduction in CO2 emissions last year and Bradford has also seen the lowest increase in EV owners per year.
On a brighter note, Bradford’s renewable energy capacity stands at 31.4mw, with 52% coming from solar electricity2. It’s also part of West Yorkshire’s larger plan to reduce road transport emissions and improve air quality for all. The county’s Electric Vehicle Strategy plans to promote the uptake of EVs through improved charging infrastructure, among other measures3.
Kingston upon Hull is situated on the northern bank of the Humber Estuary in East Riding in Yorkshire and is home to a large number of green spaces. These include the Queen’s Gardens at its centre and Grade II listed East Park, the largest park in the city at 120 acres1.
Though a busy city, Hull has the lowest number of pure electric cars and the least number of charging points within a five-mile radius. The local council is looking to improve things though, as Hull will be one of the first places to have an electric forecourt installed by Gridserve. This is part of a five-year project, offering convenient ultra-fast and low-cost charging for EVs, powered by solar farms and multi-megawatt batteries2.
Hull will also receive 8,500 new trees, as part of a new Northern Forest initiative that plans to plant 50 million trees between Hull and Liverpool to help tackle climate change3.
While bordered by the Pennines to the north and east, Manchester is considered the world’s first industrial city1 and is very much an urban environment. Green spaces are sparse, and Manchester’s built-up areas don’t help efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.
However, the city is stepping up its game, with over a 100% increase in EV ownership over the last three years, and the most charging points within a five-mile radius of the centre. Manchester’s renewable energy capabilities are already respectable at 36.0mw2. This means a £15m Low Carbon Fund launched in 2018, promoting the production and distribution of renewable energy resources3, should significantly increase this capacity.
With recent support for EVs and new plans to improve green infrastructure4, Manchester hopes to have a Clean Air Zone in place by 20215. Local authorities are working towards an ambitious goal to achieve zero emissions by 2035 and become a carbon neutral city by 20386.
Renowned for its academia, the university city of Cambridge is situated on level and low-lying terrain to the south of The Fens. It’s fortunate to have many large green spaces in its centre, including three Sites of Special Scientific Interest and 10 local nature reserves1.
The flat landscape of the city is perfect for cycling and Cambridge comes top of the league for residential cyclists, with 58% of locals using a bike on a regular basis2. The city has also doubled its number of EVs over the last three years, ranking third among UK cities for the number of owners.
Despite this, there has been little reduction in CO2 emissions, and Cambridge is about to embark on a plan to improve air quality by introducing a Clean Air Zone 3. New measures will include the provision of new EV charge points and support low-emission vehicles to meet National Air Quality Objectives by 20314.
The historical town of Ipswich offers access to an impressive 1,280 acres of green public space1, including Chantry Park on the western edge of town, with 124 acres of parkland and flourishing areas of wildlife to enjoy2.
Ipswich has a broad range of different habitats, including a wetland, three Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 20 county wildlife sites, nine nature reserves, and more park space per head than most UK cities3. It’s therefore unsurprising that Ipswich had the lowest CO2 emissions last year.
Coupled with a respectable increase of EVs over the last few years, Ipswich ranks an admirable second overall in our list of cities. With recent policies targeting air pollution issues, the town has declared its commitment to improving air quality in a bid to better public health. The city seeks to actively promote low-emission transport by adding extra charging points4.
Enclosed by the Oxford Green Belt, which regulates the surrounding countryside to prevent urban sprawl, Oxford has 28 nature reserves within its boundaries. This includes the Oxford University Parks and South Park.
The city is known widely as being cycle-friendly1. Locals have clearly embraced this, as Oxford has the second-most cyclists of all UK cities, with four in 102 regularly hopping on a bicycle.
Oxford tops the list for the most pure electric vehicles, and with a 155% increase in EVs over the past three years, it ranks second across UK cities for the greatest number of EV owners per capita. The local council has encouraged the uptake of EVs in the city and recently outlined several strategies to reduce carbon emissions, including improving the current charging infrastructure and giving more support for active commuting and public transport3.
Sitting close to the Welsh border, between the mixed woodlands of the Forest of Dean and the protected landscape of the Cotswolds countryside, Gloucester enjoys a rural location on the banks of the Severn Estuary.
This setting may well have contributed to a decrease in CO2> emissions over recent years, and renewable energy resources with a capacity of 17.4mw1 may have played their part too. Gloucester has played a pivotal role in the progression of EVs across the UK with a 130% increase in ownership over three years and boasting the most EVs per head in the whole of Britain.
While residents choosing EVs as their next car is a significant step towards improving their environment, the town of Gloucester has been a little slower to support the change among private owners. This is because recent policies have concentrated on improving public transport and non-vehicular travel2.
Reported to be the greenest city in Europe, London has an impressive 35,000 acres of public gardens, woodlands and parks within its boundaries1. Despite its green spaces, the capital is unfortunately notorious for toxic levels of air pollution2.
The city has taken measures to correct this by charging polluting vehicles for driving in the centre. The introduction of the Congestion Charging Zone in 20033 and the new Ultra Low Emission Zone, have helped the capital move positively towards its goal of becoming a zero-carbon city by 20504. The capital’ss business district, the City of London, plans to set a precedent later this year when it’s set to run entirely on 100% renewable energy5.
London is leading the way on electric vehicles too, ranking number one for the number of EVs owned across UK cities. The 100% increase over the last three years may well be contributing towards the city’s decreasing CO2 emissions.
A major commercial and retail town in Berkshire, Reading is located on a low ridge, where the River Thames and River Kennet meet. There are many green spaces to enjoy, with over 100 parks, including five miles of riverside paths and five local nature reserves1.
Reading is a commuter hub as it’s so close to London. This means, regardless of its green infrastructure, it has experienced only a slow decrease in CO2 emissions year-on-year. The town had the highest number of new EV registrations last year (outside of London), and ranks second for the total number of EV owners.
Like many British cities, Reading’s aiming to become a zero-carbon town by 2030 and has several strategies in place to achieve this goal2. The Go Electric Reading Scheme is the most notable, which looks to give electric car charging points to residents with no off-street parking3.
With the hills of Dartmoor behind it, the port city of Plymouth looks out across a natural harbour called the Plymouth Sound, a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest. Other green spaces include the vast 186-acre Central Park1, with its fine views over the city and towards nearby Cornwall.
Plymouth holds a strong position among our UK cities as having consistently produced very low emissions, per capita, between 2016 - 20182. The town also has an impressive 27.9mw of renewable energy capacity, with solar electricity standing out as the best performer at 84%3.
There has been a slow increase in EVs year-on-year. But, the long-term plan to transform the city mentions incentives to support low-emission vehicles, such as free car parking in the city centre. With a focus on low-carbon and green improvements, Plymouth is looking ahead to more sustainable modes of travel4.
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