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  • Sep 23, 2022
  • 4 Minutes

How is the cost of living crisis affecting Britain’s commuters?

The current economic climate has tightened many people’s budgets, and our latest study has revealed the stark reality of Britain’s cost of living crisis.

Our data insights team has found that one third of Brits (32%) will not be able to afford their commute if the cost of fuel keeps rising.  

We also found a generation divide, with young people most affected by the fuel crisis. Six in 10 (63%) people aged 18 to 24 say they’d not be able to afford the drive to work if prices keep inflating, with just 24% of 55 to 64 year olds stating this was the case.

Fuel prices have hit record highs in 2022, and despite prices starting to fall, the RAC said at the start of August that the average petrol price at the big four supermarkets – Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons – was £1.74 per litre. Diesel was £1.86.

What else did the research find?

Another aspect of our study showed that 35% of Brits would consider changing jobs if it allowed them to save on commuting costs, whilst a quarter (24%) would think about car sharing to get to work.

Furthermore, half of the nation (50%) feel it is acceptable to ask passengers for petrol money given the current economic climate, up from the 33% of people who thought it was acceptable to ask passengers for petrol money before the cost of living crisis.

Regionally, people living in the Midlands were most likely (37%) to ask passengers for petrol money before the cost of living crisis and they are still most likely to ask for fuel money in the current financial climate (53%).

The research also revealed that more than a third of respondents (36%) had cancelled social activities such as sports practice or catching up with friends, due to the rising cost of fuel.

How can travel become more affordable?

We’ve been crunching the numbers and our data insights team can reveal that average running costs for electric vehicles are approximately 70% of comparable petrol and diesel cars.

Using data from our online EV-4-Me quiz, designed for consumers to discover how an EV would fit into their lifestyle, we’ve found that drivers can expect average annual running costs of £722* when behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.

This is a whopping £1,933 cheaper than a comparable petrol car (£2,655 annual cost) and a substantial £1,636 less expensive than a diesel car (£2,358 annual cost).

These yearly running costs incorporate fuel, servicing and Vehicle Excise Duty and equate to monthly savings of £160 and £136 for petrol and diesel drivers respectively.

Alternative solutions

Whilst this research suggests the switch to electric is a cost effective move for consumers, EVs are currently in short supply due to a global semiconductor shortage. Therefore, alternative short-term options may include lower emission petrol and diesel vehicles with suitable fuel economy.

For example, if you want to keep running costs to a minimum, the Volkswagen Tiguan may be a consideration.**

What do the experts say?

Our CEO Mike Todd said: “Rising fuel costs are a serious issue and as our research highlights, many people are already making lifestyle changes to negate the higher prices. Drivers looking for a quick fix might want to consider low emissions ICE vehicles to help reduce running costs, but the fact that some will not be able to afford to drive to work if prices keep increasing is the shocking reality of the situation. We know the cost of living crisis has tightened lots of people’s budgets, but bigger ticket items such a new car may still be a necessity for many, so our role as a finance provider is to help consumers with these affordability issues.

“This is why the transition to green travel is more important than ever and why electric cars are the future. These vehicles are far more sophisticated and more reliable than people realise, and in fact, are also far more affordable than people think. With World EV Day on the horizon I’d encourage anyone considering buying an EV to really do their research and book a test drive, as I am confident that you won’t be disappointed. At Volkswagen Financial Services UK we continue to develop propositions to assist customers make the transition to electric cars and practical tools like our EV-4-Me quiz are great ways of showcasing the savings that can be made by embracing greener and sustainable travel.”

For more information on electric vehicles, visit our dedicated EV hub here.

READ MORE: Rising energy costs: How will this impact EV drivers?

READ MORE: How has the pandemic impacted the nation’s driving routines?


The data for this study was collected in August 2022 and comprises responses from 2,040 British respondents.

*EV-4-ME is designed to offer guidance on which fuel type might be most appropriate for you, based on your answers to the questions provided. It should not be relied upon solely to inform your buying decision. For more information, visit https://customer.vwfs.co.uk/electric-cars/lifestyle.html


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