ULEZ-compliant vans that don't cost the Earth

London's low emissions zone can cost van drivers £250 a month, so use that cash for a new van that costs less than that.

BuyaCar team
Feb 4, 2022

Van drivers are among the hardest hit by London's Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), which replaced the outgoing T-Charge area. It has since expanded, and from October 2021 now covers a much larger area spanning between the North and South Circular Roads.

Tougher rules mean tougher levies - those with the most polluting vans will pay £12.50 a day, and unlike the T-Charge, it will run for seven days a week and 24 hours a day. It will affect most vans made before September 2016, which fail to meet emissions standards known as Euro 6.

Non-London drivers aren't necessarily immune either. Other cities are planning to establish clean air zones. Many will include charges for driving older and more polluting vans.

If your diesel van doesn't meet the Euro 6 standard (you'll often find it on your vehicle's registration document), then the cost of low emission zones can add up alarmingly quickly.

  • Drive into London five days a week and you'll be paying £12.50 per day
  • That equates to which is £62.50 a week
  • It's also £250 each month

This is just the cost to drive into central London, and comes on top of the Congestion Charge, which adds a further £11.50 per day.

For most van owners, that £250 could be spent more wisely. It could cover the monthly finance payments for a van that conforms to the rules, making it pay for itself. You're also likely to get better fuel economy and improved reliability from a more modern vehicle, so it could make a lot of sense to kick your old van to the kerb.

With that in mind, these are the best vans that cost less than ULEZ.

Vans that cost less than ULEZ

1. Vauxhall Corsavan

Used deals from £6,495
Monthly finance from £0*
Loadspace
 920 litres 
Payload 519kg
Fuel economy 73mpg - 85.6mpg
CO2 emissions 94g/km

The humble car-derived van has a lot going for it. Apart from the windows, it looks much the same as a regular hatchback, and drives like one too.

This means the Corsavan is pretty much the same as the excellent Vauxhall Corsa, except that it has more space in the rear, as the rear seats have been ripped out. The load-lugging ability may be tiny when compared to some vans on this list, however, for the £250 budget, you can get a relatively new one. You could also consider the Ford Fiesta Van which is a similar size.

2. Renault Kangoo

Used deals Limited stock
CO2 emissions
 112g/km
Loadspace 3,000 litres
Payload 650kg
Fuel economy 53mpg - 61.4mpg

You’ve probably seen hundreds of these nipping in and out of traffic over the years. There’s a reason for that - the Kangoo’s no thrills ethos suits the sensibilities of suits in accounts, as well as sole traders.

The good news is that they have efficient and economical engines, plus, the fact that they’re so popular means there are plenty on the market.

If you know that you'll be covering fewer than 100 miles in a day, the electric version could make more sense. It might be more expensive to buy or finance, but you could see running costs slashed.

3. Ford Transit Connect

Used deals from £8,790
Monthly finance from £0*
CO2 emissions
 123g/km
Loadspace 2,900 litres
Payload 993kg
Fuel economy 60.1mpg

Agile, stylish, and small enough to squeeze in and out of big city traffic jams. The Transit Connect, one of Ford's many vans, fuses car style (alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights) with the practicality of a van.

Your £250 budget will stretch to a van with a myriad of options, including one-year-old models with less than 20,000 miles on them. For this budget, expect a van with Ford’s excellent 'SYNC 3' entertainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

4. Peugeot Partner

Used deals from £8,995
Monthly finance from £330*
CO2 emissions
 112g/km 
Loadspace 3,300 litres
Payload 854kg
Fuel economy 55.4mpg-74.3mpg

You can file the Peugeot Partner under basic, sturdy, and economical transport. Plus you can get it in petrol or diesel variants, as well as in different wheelbases.

The Longer L2 versions are less popular, more expensive, and rarer too. Don’t let that put you off though - for £250 a month there are hundreds of regular wheelbase Partners on offer.

The Partner shares many of its mechanical parts with the Citroen Berlingo and Vauxhall Combo. All three are available in electric forms and use the same 136hp motor and 50kWh battery found in the rest of the car range, like the Citroen e-C4, Peugeot e-2008 and Vauxhall Mokka-e.

5. Volkswagen Transporter

Used deals from £16,995
Monthly finance from £816*
CO2 emissions 
125g/km
Loadspace 5,800-9,300 litres
Payload 692-1221kg 
Fuel economy 29.7-47.1mpg

The Transporter is one of the finest and most versatile vans on the market. It's reliable with a proven track record, and offers fantastic value for money considering that there is a loadspace of at least 5,800 litres.

As with most Volkswagens, the Transporter holds its value well so expect to pay a higher price for one of these. In return, you can expect a range of efficient diesel engines (or a new electric version).

6. Nissan NV200

Used deals Limited stock
CO2 emissions
 131g/km
Loadspace 4,200 litres
Payload 728kg
Fuel economy 53.3mpg - 55.4mpg

The Nissan NV200 doubles down on size. It might look compact, but it houses a massive payload capable of 728kg.

It has a couple of engines that can skip the ULEZ charges too. Both are 1.5 diesels, and while they’re not fast, they are frugal and don’t require AdBlue - saving you more money. Spend a little more on your van, and you could save in other places too, like fuel, because Nissan phased out the diesel version of this van in favour of the electric e-NV200.

7. Ford Transit Custom

Used deals from £9,495
Monthly finance from £342*
CO2 emissions
 168g/km 
Loadspace 3,500 litres
Payload 1165kg
Fuel economy 43.5mpg

Once upon a time, there was merely ‘the Transit’, whereas now there is a quartet of Transits. The smallest is the Transit Courier, the slightly larger Transit Connect comes next, while the Transit Custom is the one most people will recognise as a traditional Transit size. At the end of the spectrum is the gargantuan Transit.

The Custom certainly has all the hallmarks of a Ford van - it drives much like a car, has long maintenance schedules, and it’s reliable too. You're best off going for a post-2017 model; Ford updated the Transit Custom range then so versions past this year will look the freshest.

If you want to spend less time at the pump, it's worth considering the plug-in hybrid version which can do around 30 miles from a full charge of its batteries.

8. Mercedes Vito

Used deals Limited stock
CO2 emissions
 163g/km
Loadspace 5.5m3
Payload 897 kg 
Fuel economy 45.6mpg 

Yes really, a premium van in this price range. And while a premium van might sound like an oxymoron, the Vito certainly has a nicer interior than most others. You can even spec decadent options like heated front seats and a reversing camera.

This budget does limit your options to models that are generally around two years old, but they’ll still be ULEZ compliant and you’ll be able to find a long-wheelbase model for the money if you need something that can handle a big load.

Like most vans these days, there is an electric version called the eVito.

 

 

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