ULTRA Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs) is a catch-all term for those vehicles that emit 75g/km CO2 or less.
Typical vehicles include EVs, plug-in hybrids, range-extenders and hydrogen vehicles. ULEVs can qualify for the government plug-in car and van grant worth up to £8000.
What grants are available for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles?
- 35% of the cost of a car, up to a maximum of either £2,500 or £4,500 depending on the model
- 20% off the cost of a van up to a maximum of £8,000
What vehicles qualify for the grant?
The grant is available to plug in cars. The government lists these as:
- Electric Vehicles (EVs) that can be recharged from the mains
- Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that have a mains rechargeable battery that works in conjunction with either a petrol or diesel engine
- Hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles
If you want a ULEV as your company car you will benefit from the lowest rates of company car tax.
However, the P11D value of the car, which is used to calculate your company car tax, is based on the full list price of the car before discount. See What company car tax is due for green cars?
Nevertheless, ULEVs offer business drivers real savings on benefit in kind company car tax.
For example, if you were to choose the latest Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-i Business Edition CVT (£24,140) – which is a hybrid model – company car tax starts from £531 a year.
You could of course choose the lowest emission Ford Focus diesel, the 5 Door 1.5 TDCi Style ECOnetic 105PS with a P11D value of just £19,090. However, despite the lower cost, the higher CO2 emissions mean company car tax starts from £687 a year.
You want yet lower company car tax? How about this – the even more expensive Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid 1.8 VVT-i CVT. Costing £33,340, but thanks to its plug-in hybrid tech CO2 emissions are just 49g/km, so company car tax starts from £467 a year – over £200 a year less than the Ford.
So that’s the difference ULEVs can make to your company car tax bill.
Here are the details for you of those three cars for company car tax comparison:
Toyota Prius 1.8 VVT-i Business Edition CVT
- P11D £24,140
- CO2 emissions 70g/km
- Benefit in kind value £2,655
- Yearly company car tax from £531
Ford Focus 5 Door 1.5 TDCi Style ECOnetic 105PS
- P11D £19,090
- CO2 emissions 88g/km
- Benefit in kind value £3,436
- Yearly company car tax from £687
Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid 1.8 VVT-i CVT
- P11D £33,340
- CO2 emissions 49g/km
- Benefit in kind value £2,334
- Yearly company car tax from £467
So what types of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles are there?
Here’s our guide to the different types that are available along with some that aren’t – yet! Let’s start in alpha order with – possibly – the ultra low emission vehicles of the future.
Whether you call them driverless cars, autonomous cars or self-driving cars, there’s little doubt that they’re just about the most talked about and controversial cars of the moment. But you’ll have to wait a while to choose one as your company car!
And we can expect to see driverless cars roaming the streets of Britain very soon, with the UK government giving them the green light to start testing in 2017.
In simple terms, a driverless car will allow you to jump into a car, select a destination and that car will chauffeur you to where you want to go. This will either sound delightful or terrifying, depending on your point of view.
Whilst most major car manufacturers are experimenting with driverless cars, it is perhaps Google that has generated the most headlines. Its own autonomous car does away with conventional controls, has no steering wheel and will do 25mph.
It’s already out testing on the streets of California.
Electric Vehicles (EV)
An electric car, or electric vehicle (EV) is powered by an electric motor, rather than a conventional petrol or diesel engine.
An electric vehicle uses energy stored in its rechargeable batteries, which can be charged via a household electric supply.
An electric vehicle will emit zero emissions from its tailpipe, making them cleaner to run than their combustion engine counterparts, although you still need to factor in the power provided by the utility company.
In the UK, electric vehicles such as the BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and Tesla Model S are all eligible for the government’s Plug-in Car Grant (see panel above What grants are available for ULEVs?).
However, you may need to factor in the cost of leasing the batteries from the manufacturer, although in the case of the Nissan Leaf, you have the option to lease or purchase the batteries outright.
A full charge will typically provide up to 100 miles of range, depending on driving style and accessories used in the car.
An overnight charge will provide maximum juice for an electric vehicle, although up to 80% charge can be achieved within 30 minutes using a fast charge.
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV)
Some consider fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) to be the next generation of green cars, whilst others doubt they will either be cost-effective or efficient enough to take over from the current EVs.
Fuel cell electric vehicles are powered by electricity generated by hydrogen and oxygen, emitting only water during driving. FCEVs of the future are likely to offer a potential range of between 400 and 500 miles, comparable to a conventional engine and far superior to today’s EVs.
What’s more – should a commercially viable infrastructure be established – it could take just five minutes to refuel a fuel cell electric vehicle. As in an electric vehicle, 100% of torque is available from zero rpm, giving FCEVs tremendous acceleration.
Daimler, Ford and Nissan – through its alliance with Renault – are collaborating on a common fuel cell system, whilst Hyundai has already previewed its own fuel cell electric vehice – a version of its ix35 SUV – which is now on sale, and is joined by the new hydrogen Toyota Mirai.
Not to be confused with a plug-in hybrid – more on this in a moment – a hybrid car uses either a diesel or petrol engine combined with an electric motor.
As a result, a hybrid car will emit less CO2 and be more economical than their combustion engine counterparts.
The best-known hybrid car in the world is the Toyota Prius, which will run on electric power at low speeds, with both engines working together when additional power is required.
Although the Prius cannot be charged using a household socket, with excess power and regenerative braking used to recharge the batteries, there is also a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version.
Thanks to the their low CO2 emissions and excellent all-round abilities, hybrid cars tend to make popular company vehicles and Toyota does offer special Business versions of Prius.
Liquefield Petroleum Gas (LPG)
You’ll have no doubt spotted what looks like half price fuel at your local petrol station.
It’s called Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), but is also known as Autogas.
If your car has been converted to run on LPG – good news – you too can fill up for 50% less than your office counterparts. No wonder you see so many converted Range Rovers…
LPG is also a cleaner burning fuel than unleaded or diesel, providing an added green bonus.
An LPG conversion typically costs between £1,500 and £2,000, but if you run a 4×4 or an inefficient vehicle, that outlay could soon be recouped, with some analysts suggesting a 12-month payback is possible.
Proton offered a GEN-2 ecoLogic model, with the LPG conversion included with the purchase price of the car. But the brand is no longer available. Mazda offers the facility to buy one of its cars for factory conversion that will be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Otherwise buy a petrol car and get it converted – go to the Drive LPG website for approved converters.
The conversion should be carried out by an approved installer and you’ll need to ensure you have enough space for the LPG tank, with one popular option fitting in the spare wheel well.
It’s also worth checking a map of LPG filling stations to ensure there’s an outlet near you, or at least on your journey to work.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)
A Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) offers the best of both worlds, with an electric motor for short runs and inner-city trips, plus a conventional engine for longer journeys.
Like their hybrid counterparts, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles offer significant reductions in CO2 and much improved fuel economy.
Furthermore, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle can – as its name suggests – be plugged into the mains to recharge the onboard batteries.
The battery on a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle can be recharged using a standard household current, or via one of the increasing number of charging points throughout the country.
Depending on the vehicle, it could be possible to complete your entire commute in a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle under electric power.
But should the battery run out, the diesel or petrol engine will takeover, providing a range comparable, if not better, than a standard petrol or diesel-engined car.
What’s more, the combination of a traditional engine with the electric motor can provide a performance boost.
For example, with a combined 285hp and 440Nm of torque – the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid is the most powerful V60 in the range – not bad for a 48g/km estate car. Take note business buyers!
Then there’s the tax-dodging Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, which is not only London Congestion Charge exempt, but also offers the delicious combination of 71g/km CO2 and a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds.
Also look out for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which offers 44g/km CO2 for the same price as its diesel equivalent.
A Range-extender (REX) is like having your electric cake and eating it.
You should think of a Range-extender as an electric vehicle with the safety net of a small conventional engine, should you need to go further than the batteries will allow.
Whilst not driving the wheels, the auxiliary motor acts as a generator to charge the batteries on the move. Say goodbye to range anxiety. All you need to do with a Range-extender is charge the batteries when you get back home or to the office.
The technology used in a Range-extender vehicle is the stuff of electric dreams, but it’s still in its infancy and there are few models to choose from.
By way of comparison, at £34,130, a BMW i3 REX costs £3,150 more than its pure EV counterpart.
Solar power for cars
YOU’RE not likely to see a car powered by solar power appearing in a motorway service station any time soon, but the technology remains fascinating nevertheless.
Earlier in 2014, Ford unveiled is C-Max Energi Concept, which featured a solar power panel system on the roof, with Ford claiming the solar power C-MAX could offer a range of up to 21 miles, by tracking the position of the sun. Clever stuff.
But don’t get too excited. As things stand, we only foresee solar panels being used to provide additional power to in-car accessories, such as the air-conditioning system. Or, perhaps, to generate hydrogen locally at a hydrogen filling station.