Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV)

MINI Countryman S E charging

MINI Countryman S E charging

An Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) is a 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 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

ULEV technologies

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 vehicles 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.

Independent ULEV reviews

audi a3 e-tron

Audi A3 e-tron

Audi Q7 e-tron

Audi Q7 e-tron

BMW 330e

BMW 330e

BMW 530e

BMW 530e

BMW i3s

BMW i3s


BMW i3 94Ah Range Extender

bmw i3

BMW i3

bmw i3

BMW i3 Launch

bmw i8

BMW i8


BMW X5 xDrive40e


Chevrolet Volt


Hyundai IONIQ Electric – Launch

Hyundai IONIQ Electric

Hyundai IONIQ Electric – Living with

Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in Hybrid

Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in Hybrid

Kia Optima PHEV

Kia Optima Plug-in Hybrid

Kia Soul EV

Kia Soul EV

kia soul ev

Kia Soul EV Launch

Mercedes-Benz C 350 e Sport Estate

Mercedes-Benz C 350 e

Mercedes-Benz E 350e

Mercedes-Benz E 350 e

MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

MINI Cooper S E Countryman

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV long-term test

Nissan e-NV200 Combi

Nissan e-NV200

Nissan e-NV200

Nissan e-NV200 7 Seater

Nissan LEAF 2018

New 2018 Nissan LEAF 40kWh

nissan leaf 2014

Nissan LEAF


Nissan LEAF 30kWh


Peugeot iOn

Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid

Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid

porsche panamera hybrid

Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid


Renault Fluence ZE


Renault Kangoo ZE


Renault Twizy


Renault Twizy Launch

Renault ZOE ZE40

Renault ZOE Z.E.40

Renault ZOE

Renault ZOE


Renault ZOE Launch

smart fortwo cabriolet electric drive

smart fortwo cabrio Electric Drive

Tesla Model S P85D

Tesla Model S P85D

tesla model s

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X 90D

Tesla Model X 100D

Tesla Model X 100D

Toyota Prius Plug-in

Toyota Prius Plug-in

vauxhall ampera

Vauxhall Ampera

Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-Golf

Volkswagen e-up!

Volkswagen e-up!

Volkswagen Golf GTE

Volkswagen Golf GTE


Volkswagen Passat GTE


Volvo V60 D5 Twin Engine

Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine

Volvo V90 T8 Twin Engine

Volvo XC60 Twin Engine T8

Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine


Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine

Volvo XC90 T8

Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Launch

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.

Toyota Prius

Toyota Prius

Further ULEV resources:

Which Car is Most Suitable for You? Energy Saving Trust video

Electric Car Guide – Energy Saving Trust video

Go Ultra Low website