As we see the beginning of the new university academic year, we also see the migration of more than half a million students heading to campuses across the UK.
Like the summer holiday period, this involves a huge number of car journeys across the UK, leading to a seasonal spike in mileage on Britain’s motorway network as well as a surge in associated fuel costs and CO2 emissions.
It is estimated that the average return mileage for drivers undertaking the student drop off is 180 miles*. With approximately 500,000 students making the journey according to figures from The House of Commons Library**, this adds 90 million additional miles to the nation’s roads – a volume that is likely to be repeated at the end of term.
With high fuel costs now dominating UK forecourts, there is also a substantial financial burden linked to the large-scale student travel migration.
Based on a typical family-sized SUV, the petrol cost to complete the average 180-mile return journey equates to around £32 per car***. At this level, the combined petrol cost to facilitate the mass movement to university campuses adds up to a collective £16 million – hurting UK wallets during the prevailing cost of living crisis.
The all-round benefits of an EV
By comparison, the use of an electric vehicle in place of a petrol- or diesel-powered car provides substantial cost saving benefits, for both individual journeys and the nation as a whole.
Factoring in rising energy prices, the home charging cost for a 180-mile journey in a standard EV SUV is £23. This saves budget conscious families £9 per student return trip when compared to a petrol-powered car. It would cut around £4.5 million in total fuel bills for all the journeys that form September’s nationwide migration of students.
However, it is not only cost benefits that a switch to green travel can deliver – there are also vital positive environmental impacts, too.
If even 50% of the total 500,000 180-mile return drop-off journeys were carried out in an EV, some 10,985 tonnes of CO2 would be removed from the atmosphere. This is based on the average emissions rate of a typical family-sized SUV petrol vehicle (141 g/km2)^.
And, positive figures from our own exclusive research indicates that people are buying into the EV revolution. Our data insights team found that the cost of petrol and diesel is prompting 31% of consumers to ‘seriously consider’ an electric car for the first time.
Whilst for those looking to purchase an EV, issues such as better access to quality charging points (37%), the high price of petrol (36%) and longer ranges on a single charge (35%), were viewed as the most important factors swaying their thinking.
Most encouraging is the fact that further research data compiled by our data insights team shows that the UK is currently more than 100,000 EVs ahead of the Climate Change Committee’s 2032 EV adoption curve target.
These numbers depict a steeper-than-needed adoption rate, which is to be welcomed if the Committee’s ultimate target of 55% of all light duty vehicles on UK roads being battery powered within the next decade is to be met.
What do the experts say?
Joe Laurence, one of our Commercial Development Managers, said: “September is always a busy time in further education as students begin the new academic year. For many studying at university, this involves travelling to another part of the UK to live on-campus and our research shows the huge environmental benefits to be had if we start converting these journeys to EV-powered trips.
“The case for making the switch to electric is getting stronger all the time and some of the anxieties that drivers may have around cost, range and charging are proving to be less of an issue as EV technology continues to evolve at pace.
“We've seen a real surge in demand for electric cars over the past two years and in the next four or five years electric cars will become the preferred choice for many. We just need to make sure that energy prices stay affordable.”
For more information on electric vehicles, visit our dedicated EV hub here.
*BBC TV Licensing
***Correct as of 14/09/2022 and please visit www.vwfsfleet.co.uk/fuel-cost-comparator for latest cost comparison