Electric shocker: supercharged costs leave plug-in city car up the creek without a paddle

  • Finance Nissan Leaf and SEAT Ibiza for less than one VW e-Up
  • Electric Renault Zoe £6,600 cheaper to buy through finance
  • e-Up needs charging far more often than less pricey rivals

Want to get an electric car to save money? Don’t think that all plug-in models will cut your motoring bills with low prices and minimal running costs; the Volkswagen e-Up – a city car with a whopping £20,780 list price (after £4,500 of government grant) – could cost you more in monthly payments than much bigger, more upmarket cars.

In fact, PCP finance costs for the e-Up are so high that you could run a substantially larger plug-in model and have enough change to get a petrol supermini.

Worse that this, Volkswagen’s smallest electric car can’t even compete on range – being capable of up to 99 miles between charges – meaning you’ll need to top up more than twice as often than with one cheaper alternative.

If you think that you’ll recoup costs quickly enough to warrant going for the e-Up over the petrol equivalent, think again, as the fossil-fuel variant is so much cheaper that it’d take more than seven years before fuel savings – even if you could hypothetically charge the e-Up for free – outweigh the extraordinarily high finance costs.

Finance an electric Nissan Leaf AND petrol SEAT Ibiza for less than one VW e-Up

The purpose of PCP finance is to make expensive cars more attainable for people who don’t have the cash to buy them outright, but that’s not the case with the VW e-Up – as APR charges are high and the deposit contribution discount available is small.

As a result, despite having a £3,410-lower list price than the Nissan Leaf 24kWh Acenta, the e-Up costs £357 per month (on a three-year, 10,000-mile-per-year contract with a £2,513 deposit) compared with just £219 per month for the Leaf (with matching contract terms).*

Consequently, over the three-year term opting for the more spacious, faster and higher-capacity Leaf would save you more than £4,600. That’s enough to lease the stylish and fun-to-drive SEAT Ibiza SC 1.2 TSI 90 SE – including all monthly payments and upfront costs – with £50 change.

Volkswagen e-Up 5dr

Monthly cost: £357 (35 payments)

Deposit: £2,513 (£900 manufacturer deposit contribution)

Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £15,007

Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £22,143

Cash price: £20,780

Mileage allowance: 10,000 miles per year

APR: 6.3%

 

Nissan Leaf 24kWh Acenta and SEAT Ibiza SC 1.2 TSI 90 SE

Monthly cost: £219 + £120 (35 payments)

Deposit: £2,513 + £360 (£5,000 Nissan deposit contribution)

Total amount payable by customer if returning cars: £14,957

Total amount payable by customer to buy car (Nissan only): £21,714

Cash price: £24,190 + £13,265

Mileage allowance: 10,000 miles per year + 10,000 miles per year

APR: 6.0%

 

Renault Zoe: more than twice the range for £109 less per month

The Renault Zoe might be nearly two feet longer than the e-Up and boast a much more useful 250-mile claimed range per charge than the VW’s 99-mile figure, but it’s also more than £100 cheaper per month (including the Renault’s monthly battery lease charge, on a three-year, 6,000-mile-per-year contract with a £2,299 deposit).*

That will save you £3,454 over the finance term if you hand the car back at the end of the contract, rising to an even more substantial £6,574 if you intend to make the optional final payment to buy the car when the contract ends. That’s enough to save you  eight years’ worth of battery lease payments for the Zoe should you buy the car after three years.

Volkswagen e-Up 5dr

Monthly cost: £358 (35 payments)

Deposit: £2,299 (£900 manufacturer deposit contribution)

Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £14,816

Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £22,183

Cash price: £20,780

Mileage allowance: 6,000 miles per year

APR: 6.3%

 

Renault Zoe R90 ZE40 Dynamique Nav

Monthly cost: £180 + £69/month battery lease (35 payments)

Deposit: £2,299 (£5,904 manufacturer deposit contribution)

Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £11,362

Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £15,609

Cash price: £18,170

Mileage allowance: 6,000 miles per year

APR: 4.0%

 

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Mercedes B250e: more space, greater acceleration and lower monthly payments

While the Nissan and Renault aren’t the most upmarket cars available, the Mercedes B250e feels several rungs above the VW e-Up in terms of quality and performance. Though it is capable of covering 124 miles per charge, it can sprint to 62mph in just 7.9 seconds – far faster than the Up’s 12.4-second figure.

More than this, monthly payments weigh in at £17 less per month than the Volkswagen at £309 compared with £326 (on a three-year, 10,000-mile-per-year contract with a £3,499 deposit).*

Space for rear passengers and in the boot is also much greater than the Up, making the Mercedes far more useful as a family car.

Do bear in mind, however, that if you intend to purchase the car at the end of the finance scheme, the B250e will cost £2,348 more than the Up. Considering the £8,605 difference in list prices, though, the larger car is still by far the better value option.

Volkswagen e-Up 5dr

Monthly cost: £326 (35 payments)

Deposit: £3,499 (£900 manufacturer deposit contribution)

Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £14,914

Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £22,050

Cash price: £20,780

Mileage allowance: 10,000 miles per year

APR: 6.3%

 

Mercedes-Benz B250e Sport

Monthly cost: £309 (36 payments)

Deposit: £3,499 (£7,386 manufacturer deposit contribution)

Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £14,623

Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £24,398

Cash price: £29,385

Mileage allowance: 10,000 miles per year

APR: 5.7%

 

Cheaper rival offers 250-mile range compared with VW e-Up 99-mile figure

Range is one of the big concerns preventing many drivers from choosing an electric car, with the fear of running out of charge putting many off. While the Renault Zoe now offers a claimed range of 250 miles between plugs, the only slightly pricier BMW i3 manages 186 miles and the Leaf and B250e 124 miles, the e-Up again lags behind, incapable of breaking the 100-mile mark.

As actual range is affected by how many of the in-car electrics you use – such as headlights, air conditioning and heated seats – the real-world figure is likely to be less than 90 miles in summer and around 60 miles in winter. This means that even those who rarely cover long journeys may find themselves unsure whether the e-Up will be able to get them where they want to go. The Renault Zoe’s real-world figure, meanwhile, sits around twice that, making it much more useful for drivers and company car users alike.

 

Petrol VW Up £8,178 cheaper than e-Up; enough for seven years’ worth of fuel

The VW Up is a very likeable city car and feels a lot more grown-up than many alternatives, including the Citroen C1 and Renault Twingo, but even if you’ve fallen in love with the e-Up, it’s not the one to go for. The petrol 1.0 75hp top-spec High Up model is £8,660 cheaper to buy – equivalent to £196 per month less, at £161 compared with £357 (on a three-year, 10,000-mile per year contract with a £2,513 deposit).*

You do miss out on around £1,000-worth of equipment that the e-Up gets, but even if you add this to the bill, the petrol is much better value. If you’re worried about running costs, however, fear not; the £6,843 saving to run the petrol model for three years buys you 57,000 miles’ worth of petrol (assuming conservative fuel economy of 45mpg). That’s enough for seven years’ motoring for a typical driver.

Volkswagen e-Up 5dr

Monthly cost: £357 (35 payments)

Deposit: £2,513 (£900 manufacturer deposit contribution)

Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £15,007

Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £22,143

Cash price: £20,780

Mileage allowance: 10,000 miles per year

APR: 6.3%

 

Volkswagen Up 1.0 75hp High Up 5dr

Monthly cost: £161 (35 payments)

Deposit: £2,513 (£500 manufacturer deposit contribution)

Total amount payable by customer if returning car: £8,164

Total amount payable by customer to buy car: £12,528

Cash price: £12,120

Mileage allowance: 10,000 miles per year

APR: 4.6%

 

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*Deals are correct at time of publication. Everyone’s financial circumstances are different and credit is not always available – Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. These deals are indicative examples of some packages available this week.