How much does driving an electric car from Manchester to London, Lake District, Cornwall, Yorkshire and Blackpool cost compared to petrol and taking the train?

With petrol prices hitting record highs, more drivers than ever are turning to electric vehicles as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative. Between 2020 and 2021, the number of electric cars registered in Greater Manchester increased by 68 percent to a record 24,714.

There are now more 360 ​​charging stations in Greater Manchester, and Transport for Greater Manchester aims to increase that number to 3,000 by 2025. And with the summer holidays approaching, thousands of us are considering charging the car or taking the train to the deformation.

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But the one thing stopping many future electric vehicle (EV) drivers is the price and long-haul range. Compared to railways, EVs have an advantage in terms of personal comfort and convenience, but can suffer from the inconsistency of UK charging stations and the rising cost of electricity.

And there are huge differences in the availability of charging points, which can hinder the attractiveness and convenience of a long journey. There are currently over 30,000 charging stations in the UK, but the Isle of Wight, for example, has more than double the number of charging stations than Bolton, a town with twice the population.

The men compared some popular holiday trips from Manchester to find out which mode of transport is the most cost effective. See the table below (EV rides are based on a 2018 Nissan Leaf with a range of 168 miles per charge, while gasoline rides are based on an average fuel economy of 52.6 miles per gallon).

trip Railway Train fare Cost of EV trip Cost of petrol trip
London Manchester Piccadilly to Euston £26.70 advance / £68.60 on the day £13.93, plus £6.50 toll, would require two charges £29.45, plus £6.50 toll
lake area Manchester Piccadilly to Oxenholmea £13.80 advance / £36.30 on the day £4.97 £10.56
Blackpool Manchester Piccadilly to Blackpool North £7.50 / £22.20 on the day £3.50 £7.51
Cornwall Manchester Piccadilly to Newquay £57.20 advance / £237.10 on the day £21.54, would require two charges £45.86
Yorkshire Manchester Piccadilly to Whitby £67.60 on the day (no presale tickets listed) £7.87 £17.04

There are some important caveats to the calculations above – on train fares, cheaper fares may be available with train tickets and one-time promotions such as flash sales, therefore the upfront costs may be even lower. However, these savings can be negated on a door-to-door journey if there are additional costs for traveling to/from the train station. In addition, there are additional costs to take into account when using an EV such as parking, road tax/insurance and rental costs if the vehicle is rented.

Our calculations suggest that in most cases electric cars are the cheapest form of transport if you have one, although trains beat EVs outright in terms of time and environmental impact. The actual carbon footprint of a train journey is likely to always be lower than that of an electric car due to the environmental impact of vehicle production – particularly mining and battery pack assembly, as outlined in a Carbon Brief report.

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