British Gas has said it aims to bring down private customer costs of running an electric vehicle (EV) as Renault and Nissan confirm their latest models will remain exempt from the London congestion charge and GM and Honda combine over fuel cell technology.

The announcements come as multiple companies – including British Gas, funding partner Hitachi Capital, Renault and Nissan captive finance provider RCI Financial Services (RCI FS) and finance broker Car Loan 4U – have spoken of the need to promote the affordability of EVs and the promotion of affordability, generally, in car finance has been highlighted by Experian Automotive as changing the ownership habits of motorists.

Using subsidies made available through the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, British Gas is now able to offer residential charging points and installation for free in conjunction with Chargemaster, operators of the privately-funded POLAR public network of EV charge points. Suitability for a domestic charge point will be surveyed by a British Gas technician and access to the 1,800 POLAR charging points will run until March 2014.

Andreas Atkins, head of Electric Vehicle Services at the energy supplier, called the offer a "milestone" made possible by Government funding "to help reduce the cost of owning an EV". Atkins added the offer of residential installation meant an EV driver could have charging points installed at their own home and those of regularly-visited friends or family.

Renault and Nissan

At the start of the week, as British Gas launched its EV charging package, the Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) replaced the Greener Vehicle Discount and Electric Vehicle Discount, meaning only zero or ultra-low CO2 emitting vehicles will be exempt from the London Congestion Charge.

Renault has four vehicles which qualify for the ULED, including the Kangoo Van ZE, which qualified for the plug-in grant for commercial vehicles in February 2012, and the Zoe supermini.

Steve Gowler, managing director at RCI FS, told Motor Finance he hoped the Zoe would come to replicate the Nissan Leaf, which has been marketed on an "aggressive" PCP and provided an experience "very similar to the normal car experience" for the captive finance provider.

The Leaf also qualifies for the ULED and, with the battery now available to lease rather than only bought outright, is available from £189 a month.

Despite predicting a rise in EVs and hybrids as changes are made to the Congestion Charge, Car Loan 4U has reported a majority of motorists do not find the levy helpful to their journey times.

Meanwhile, General Motors and Honda, holding more than 1,200 fuel cell patents between them, have announced they will collaborate over the next generation of hydrogen-powered technology in the hope of creating a fuel cell capable of a 400-mile driving range by 2020.