An Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) is a low emission car or van that emits 75g/km CO2 or less, based on the NEDC test. ULEVs include pure electric vehicles, electric range-extender vehicles, and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).
This section includes everything you need to know about ULEVs, including independent reviews.
Benefits of ULEVs
ULEVs have lower running costs (fuel and maintenance/total cost of ownership) than petrol or diesel vehicles
ULEVs have zero tailpipe CO2, NOx and particulates emissions at all times in the case of pure EVs, or have the ability for zero-emission running in the case of range-extenders or PHEVs
ULEVs are seen as a key solution to improve air quality
ULEVs are typically seen as a better driving experience than petrol or diesel vehicles
Financial incentives for ULEVs
ULEVs can benefit from a range of financial incentives including:
A UK government plug-in car grant: up to £4,500 for an eligible new electric car (with a zero emission range of over 70 miles); up to £2,500 for an eligible new plug-in hybrid (CO₂ emissions of less than 50g/km and a zero emission range of between 10 and 69 miles, with an ‘on the road’ price of £60,000 or less – or CO₂ emissions of 50 to 75g/km and a zero emission range of at least 20 miles, with an ‘on the road’ price of £60,000 or less); and up to £8,000 for an eligible new electric van
An OLEV home charge point grant: up to £500
The Workplace Charging Scheme also enables any business, charity or public authority to claim a grant of up to £300 per charging socket towards the cost of installing EV charge points
Reduced Benefit in Kind (BIK) rates for company car drivers; for 2018/2019, vehicles with 0-50g/km Co2 emissions have a BIK rate of 13%, vehicles with 51-75g/km Co2 emissions have a BIK rate of 16%
Reduced rates of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). Pure electric low emission cars (with 0g/km CO2 emissions) pay zero VED; vehicles with 1-50g/km Co2 emissions have a first year VED rate of just £10, and vehicles with 51-75g/km Co2 emissions have a first year VED rate of just £25
ULEVs include pure electric vehicles, electric range-extender vehicles, and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).
Pure electric vehicles operate using an electric motor powered by a battery 100% of the time
Electric range-extender vehicles operate as electric vehicles all the time, but a small engine can act as a generator for the battery if it becomes depleted
Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) feature an electric motor powered by a small battery, and a petrol or diesel engine. PHEVs typically only have a short electric driving range, possibly between 20-30 miles (depending on make and model); the vehicle will operate on its petrol or diesel engine for longer journeys.
Charging a ULEV
Most people charge their electric cars at home overnight using a home charge point. Grants are available for home charge points (see above). There is also an ever-increasing public charging infrastructure around the UK (there are more than 13,000 public charge points across the UK), with around 1,000 rapid chargers – many of them at motorway service stations (96% of motorway services have rapid chargers).
Some public charging points are ‘open access’ (free). But most belong to one of the main network providers. You may need either their contactless RFID card or mobile app, depending upon the provider.
There’s an agreed standard for the sockets found on the latest charging points – all now using the universal ‘Type Two’ socket.
Myths and facts about ULEVs
There’s only a small variety of electric vehicles
The range of electric vehicles is increasing month by month, and this trend is set to accelerate over the coming years. Already there is an electric vehicle in most car body styles, there is an increasing number of electric vans coming to market, and their are even electric trucks and buses.
Electric vehicles are expensive
Some electric vehicles are more expensive to buy than similar petrol vehicles, but electric vehicles have much lower running costs – typically around one-fifth of the running costs of petrol vehicles – so electric vehicles are typically cheaper to run on a whole life cost basis than a petrol or diesel vehicles.
Electric vehicles have limited driving ranges
Many electric vehicles had real-world ranges of around 80-100 miles over recent years, but real-world ranges are now typically over 200 miles in the case of many pure electric vehicles, subject to individual make and model.
Electric vehicles are difficult to charge
Most electric vehicle owners charge their vehicles at home overnight using a home charge point. There is an ever-expanding public charging infrastructure, with rapid chargers at virtually all motorway service stations.
Electric vehicles aren’t good to drive
This is a common statement from people who haven’t driven electric vehicles. People who have driven electric vehicles have a very different view. Electric vehicles have instant responses when accelerating due to 100% of torque being available at all times, they’re extremely quiet, and very refined. Most EVs have their batteries in the floor, resulting in a low centre of gravity, and therefore excellent handling.
All the above vehicles have electric, electric range-extender, or plug-in hybrid powertrains. However the following vehicle also currently emits less than 75g/km CO2 based on the NEDC test and therefore meets the current UK government criteria for a ULEV.