Whether you’re a weekend warrior looking for new ways to escape the city or a nine-to-fiver wanting to streamline your commute, “should I buy a car in London?” is a question asked by all kinds of people. If you live in the capital and are thinking about investing in a car, this article is for you. Read on as we cover all the practical and financial factors to consider when deciding whether you should buy a car in London.

The pros and cons of public transport

One of the biggest reasons people choose not to buy a car in London is the tube. The London Underground is one of the most iconic urban public transport networks in the world – and for good reason. Around two million passengers per day ‘mind the gap’ and often combine their journey with overland trains, buses, trams, riverboat services and sometimes even a set of wheels via London’s public bicycle hire scheme.

While public transport is incredibly efficient at getting people from A to B, it can be stressful with the average Londoner enduring a commute of 74 minutes. This gets many people thinking, should I buy a car in London?

While this can be a pretty straightforward question in other cities, the capital is unique and there are some special considerations you’ll need to factor in when asking if you should buy a car in London.

Parking in the capital

Whether you squeeze into a street space drawing on your best parallel parking skills, resign to the exorbitant prices of ticketed car parks or splurge on renting or buying a private parking space, there’s no denying parking in London is a headache. And an expensive headache at that. The average standard space costs more than £1,730 per square foot, on par with homes in upscale neighbourhoods like Chelsea and Kensington. This puts private parking well out of reach for the average London motorist.  

Consider ‘park and ride’ options

Should I buy a car in London is a question asked by many people who live outside of London and commute into the city. It’s a great question, especially if your commute involves taking a bus from your house to the nearest train or Tubs station. Often, this step can add 30 minutes or more to a daily commute.

If you live near an official Transport for London car park, driving to a station and completing the final leg of your journey using public transport can be a great way to save on parking and petrol, not to mention reducing your eco-footprint. Season tickets offer great value for money and with car parks located across Greater London and beyond, chances are you’re within easy driving distance.

ULEZ charges

The capital has been struggling with air pollution since the Great Smog of London in the 1950s. The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has been introduced across the city to keep air pollution in check, with most vehicles hit with a £12.50 daily charge for travelling within the zone. This is definitely something to factor into your budget when researching the pros and cons of buying a car in London.

The EV revolution

When it comes to sidestepping the ULEZ charge in London and minimising your environmental footprint, electric vehicles (EVs) are the answer. Fully electric cars emit no CO2 or NOx from the tailpipe, making them 100% exempt from ULEZ charges. The average small petrol car churns out 120 g/km of CO2, meaning EVs are also a fantastic way to slash your personal emissions.

EV charge points in London

If you’re considering making the switch to an EV, it’s worth considering your driving habits and what charging infrastructure is available to you in London.

Hammersmith & Fulham is spearheading the movement, with Leader of the Council Stephen Cowan recently channelling more than £5 million into the installation of hundreds more lamppost chargers. By March 2023, the borough will offer more than 3000 EV charge points to London motorists.

“We’ve led Britain by installing these charge points as we encourage the shift to electric vehicles, cleaner air and a greener environment”, says Cowan. “If you buy a new car, please make it an electric one.”

Opt for a shorter range vehicle

Range is one of the biggest barriers to EV ownership, with many motorists worried their battery-powered car won’t be able to keep up with their driving habits. Thankfully, this isn’t usually an issue for London motorists using their car primarily for commuting. Low range EVs are more affordable than their high range counterparts, making them a great option for motorists on a budget. Models like the Smart EQ Fortwo and entry-level Fiat 500 Electric offer incredible value for money and more than enough range for you to zip around the city, then recharge when you’re back home.

Of course, if you plan to use your car to escape the city on weekend road trips and countryside adventures, it’s worth upgrading to an EV with higher range. The latest Mercedes EQS boasts an impressive range of 450+ miles, though it comes with a luxury price tag to match. The new Tesla Model S is also up there, with a range of around 400 miles. It can easily take you from London to popular holiday destinations like Cornwall.

Upgrade to a second-hand ZEC vehicle

In London, three types of vehicles meet ULEZ standards. They’re known as Zero Emission Capable (ZEC) vehicles and include the following:

  • 100% electric vehicles with battery-powered motors.
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that feature zero-emission technology backed with a standard petrol or diesel engine to boost range.
  • Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) that use hydrogen to generate electricity and run the car.

Buying a car in London: The next step

If you’ve weighed up your options, crunched the numbers and decided you’re ready to get behind the wheel in London, we’re here to help. Whether you’re in the market for a second-hand EV or a brand-new ZEC vehicle, our team has the experience and expertise to track down the best tailored car finance solutions in the capital.

Our service is backed by Evolution Funding, the largest motor finance broker in the UK. This means your application will gain exposure to a broad panel of lenders, which ultimately translates to a better car loan quote.

Rates from 9.9% APR. Representative APR 12.4%

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Representative Example

Borrowing £7,500 at a representative APR of 12.4%, annual interest rate (fixed) 12.36%, 47 monthly payments of £196.44 followed by 1 payment of £206.44 (incl. estimated £10 option to purchase fee), a deposit of £0.00, total cost of credit is £1,939.12, total amount payable is £9,439.12.

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