Beating the Congestion Charge: 10 Planet Friendly Cars

By Spencer Hart on at

Transport for London has recently announced plans to increase the congestion charge to £11.50. Combine this with the fact cars now have to produce less than 75g/km of CO² and commuting by car could get pretty expensive. Compiled below is a list of the greenest, cleanest running cars to help beat the congestion charge and save money in the long run.

1.) Renault Zoe

The Renault Zoe is a small, pleasant looking, five-door city car with an all electric motor underneath the bonnet. The Zoe comes with some useful standard kit, such as the ability to preheat your car on cold mornings. If you’re looking for a small electric vehicle that doesn’t break the bank, this has to be your best bet. Battery hire from Renault does cost at least £70 per month, but this includes a lifetime guarantee for the battery and roadside assistance.

CO² Emissions: 0
Range: 130mi
Charging Time: Between 30mins - 9 hours
Price (incl Gov. Grant): from £13,995

2.) BMW i3


Many people are predicting the BMW i3 will be the first truly successful electric car, with it’s great driving dynamics, luxurious interior and desirable styling. The body is made from carbon fibre so it’s lightweight and the cabin is light and spacious. If you’re worried about running out of power mid-journey, BMW also offer a Range Extender model, which features a small petrol generator used purely to charge the battery.

CO² Emissions: 0 (13g/km for Range Extender)
Range: 90mi (180mi for Range Extender)
Charging Time: 30mins - 7 hours
Price (incl Gov. Grant): from £25,680

3.) Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid


Do you want a super economic car but also need something which is practical? Well try this Volvo on for size, with it’s large boot, four-wheel drive and massive range. Volvo is marketing this car as an all-rounder, with the ability to drive 31 miles on electric power alone or switch to hybrid mode to return 155mpg. The V60’s abilities don’t stop there, it also has a performance mode, combining the 215 hp turbodiesel engine and the 70 hp electric engine to power the car to 60mph in under six seconds. Essentially you’re getting three cars in one – which might make the price tag a bit easier to swallow.

CO² Emissions: 49g/km
Range: 560mi
Charging Time: 3.5 - 7.5 hours
Price: £48,775

4.) Renault Twizy


The Renault Twizy is easily the cheapest vehicle on this list, unfortunately this does come at the expense of missing doors, windows, heating, a decent sized boot; pretty much any luxury. It has two seats and certainly more protection from the weather than a motorbike. Just like the Zoe, battery hire from Renault costs at least £49 per month, but this does include a lifetime guarantee for the battery and roadside assistance.

CO² Emissions: 0
Range: 62mi
Charging Time: 3.5 hours
Price: from £6895

5.) Porsche Panamera


It may seem incongruous to be concerned about £11.50 in congestion charge if the car costs £90.000, but it’s good to save the planet and eco-friendly people come in all shapes and wealth sizes. Many people say the Panamera is ugly, but I think it’s the nicest looking four-door executive saloon available, just try not to go crazy with the optional equipment or you’ll find the car costing north of £100,000.

CO² Emissions: 71g/km
Range: 22mi pure electric
Charging Time: 2.3 hours
Price: £88,960

6.) Smart ForTwo Electric


With its short wheelbase and low centre of gravity, driving the electric Smart ForTwo should be like driving a go-kart around the city centre – great fun. With the optional convertible model you’ll also be able to enjoy the environment you’re saving. Mercedes give you the option to buy the battery outright or rent the battery from them. The added benefit of renting is that once the capacity falls below 75% they replace it for you.

CO² Emissions: 0
Range: 90mi
Charging Time: 7 hours (1 hour fast charge)
Price (incl Gov. Grant): from £13,400

7.) Volkswagen E-Up


The Volkswagen E-Up definitely sits at the luxury end of compact city cars. With high-quality interior trim, blue stitching, five doors and heated front seats all as standard on the base model it makes the asking price of almost £20,000 sound quite reasonable.

CO² Emissions: 0
Range: 93mi
Charging Time: 30mins - 10 hours
Price (incl Gov. Grant): £19,250

8.) Tesla Model-S

The Model-S is a luxury car which weighs two tonnes, reaches 60mph in 4.2 seconds, tops-out at 140mph and has a range of 300 miles. Magic and pure ingenuity indeed. This stunning car is the brainchild of Elon Musk and his Silicon Valley buddies. If you want the most elegant and capable all electric car then look no further, but you may want to purchase a small fire extinguisher as well.

CO² Emissions: 0
Range: 300mi
Charging Time: 9 hours
Price: from £49,900 for the basic model, £68,700 for the Performance model

9.) Ford Focus Electric


The Ford Focus is officially the world’s best selling car and the Pope’s vehicle of choice, but despite these accolades Ford are not resting on their laurels. Introducing an all-electric version later in 2014 Ford are clearly planning for the future. The electric Focus has a decent range and is bound to be as practical as ever but we’ll have to wait and see whether a Focus can really be worth almost £30,000.

CO² Emissions: 0
Range: 100mi
Charging Time: 4 - 11 hours
Price (incl Gov. Grant): £28,580

10.) BMW i8


The i8 will no doubt be the best car on this list dynamically; with lightweight materials, great aerodynamics and BMW’s handling wizardry. The i8 is also the most futuristic looking with a claim to fame, starring alongside Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. The BMW has an electric motor powering the front wheels and a three cylinder petrol engine powering the rear wheels, both of which help the car reach 62mph in 4.4 seconds with a top speed of 155mph.

CO² Emissions: 59g/km
Range: 22mi pure electric
Charging Time: 2 - 3 hours
Price (incl Gov. Rebate): £99,895