Drivers in the UK Are Sleeping in Their Cars to Cut Fuel Costs


In a bid to cut back on fuel costs in an economy that seems more and more people finding lower-paying jobs, many people in the UK have taken to sleeping in their cars between shifts.

How many is many? About 1 in 16, if surveys by the RAC and FairFuelUK are to be believed. These people are self-reporting that they save money by sleeping in their cars and minimizing drives to work, with as many as 3% of all those surveyed saying that they’ve actually camped out near work in order to save on the cost of filling up.

I think I speak for all of us when I say “Holy f!@#!!”

Commuters are Resorting to More Extreme Measures to Cut Fuel Bills

Commuters have resorted to sleeping in their cars in a bid to cut down on their hefty fuel bills.

A joint survey by the RAC and FairFuelUK has revealed that one in 16 commuters have slept in their car to save money by minimising drives to work. And three per cent said they have camped near work in order to save on the cost of filling up.

Motorists are being forced to make tough sacrifices in an effort to save money and reduce the impact of the price of fuel, with three-quarters of motorists in the survey using their car less today than a year ago.

Drivers are even resorting to extreme measures such as cutting out family trips or considering quitting their job to cut back on the miles they travel.

Quentin Willson, a spokesman for FairFuelUK, said: “As a society, we’ve never seen this financial pressure on personal mobility.”

In the last financial year, motorists in Britain stumped up a whopping £26.8billion in fuel duty. This is marginally less than the £27.26billion that was raised in 2010/11, but nearly three times more than the £9.63billion paid out by UK drivers during 1990/91.

That’s article, in full, so you know I’m not making it up. Granted, fuel is a lot more expensive in the UK than it is here in the good-ol’ USA, but I can easily imagine a scenario where a group of Wal-Mart or Target workers would admit to having spent the night in the parking lot in between evening and morning shifts to save a few gallons of gas. In fact, I’d bet you money that it’s happening.

This is what our addition to petroleum is leading up to, people, and why we need to come to terms with that addiction sooner than later.

Source: AutoExpress.

About the Author

I’ve been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.

  • Jason Carpp

    It doesn’t sound like a bad thing, to sleep in your car if you’re tired. Just be sure to pull over to the side of the road to sleep.

    • No … I mean, just – no. These aren’t people pulling over, these are people who make so little that they have to offset the price of gas by sleeping in the parking lots at their work between shifts. This is not fun.

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  • Bob Wallace

    There was a lot of this sort of stuff going on in the US during the ’70s gas crunch. People were sleeping in their offices, renting couches and spare rooms a couple nights a week, camping in their cars up to four nights a week, etc.

    Several people who had RVs and worked in SF found places to park their RVs in the City and stayed in them during the week, returning home for weekends.

    And a lot of carpooling.

    That said, the UK has decent public transportation. Why not use it to save fuel?

    • Jason Carpp

      I agree. Why don’t we use the bus and trains that we have? Why don’t take a taxi instead of driving our own cars to work?

      • Bob Wallace

        Driving ones own car has benefits. The driver gets to set the schedule, control the radio, make detours/stops as desired. It creates some time away from others. It makes it easy to haul all ones stuff.

        If it’s not a budget-buster the majority of people prefer to drive, it seems. Fuel costs, parking, and congested roads can push people onto public transportation.

        I don’t think we’ll eliminate the private vehicle. We just need to make them environmentally friendly and affordable. A “just as big as needed” self-driving EV would be the solution for most.

        Get in your car at home and work, play games, nap, whatever on your way to work. Get out and the car takes itself off to park. Phone your car to pick you up outside your work site….

        Build the car out of sustainable materials and power it with renewable energy.

        • Jason Carpp

          How can one make a a car any more environmentally friendly? What kind of materiel can manufacturers use that’s less harmful for the environment? And what sort of renewable energy is there to power a car?

          • Bob Wallace

            Well, we can start with materials which are highly recyclable. Steel, aluminum, copper, glass – that sort of stuff.

            Then we can fill in the rest with materials made from plant materials. Plastics, fibers, tires – grow it and compost it.

            Power? Far, far more that we would ever need from Sun and wind.

          • Let me know how far you get casting aluminum with solar. 😉

          • You don’t need to make a new car friendlier when you can buy a used car and keep it running. There are old Volvos and Mercedes out there with well over a million miles on them … buy one of those.

          • Bob Wallace

            Done, Jo.

            Researchers at University of Delaware used four years of weather and electricity demand/load data in one minute blocks to determine 1) if a combination of wind, solar and storage could meet 99.9% of demand and 2) the most cost effective mix of each to meet demand.

            The data for 1999 through 2002 came from the PJM Interconnection, a large regional grid that services all or part of 13 states from New Jersey to Illinois. This is the world’s largest competitive wholesale electricity market, serving 60 million customers, and it represents one-fifth of the United States’ total electric grid.

            They used currently available technology and its projected price in 2030. The included no subsidies for wind and solar in their calculation. They did not include hydro, nuclear, tidal or other possible inputs. They also did not include power sales to and purchases from adjacent grids.

            They found that by 2030 we could obtain 99.9% of our electricity from wind and solar energy/storage and the remainder 0.1% from fossil fuels for about what we currently pay “all-in” for electricity. The all-in price of electricity which includes coal and oil produced health costs currently paid via tax dollars and health insurance premiums.

            During the four year period there were five brief periods, a total of 35 hours, when renewables plus storage were insufficient to fully power the grid and natural gas plants came into play. These were summer days when wind supply was low and demand was high. The cheapest way to cover these ~7 hour events was to use existing natural gas plants rather than to build additional storage.

            After billions of simulations using differing amount of wind, solar, storage and fossil fuels they found the best solution was to over-build wind and solar and at times simply “throw away” some of the produced power. Building “too much” wind and solar turns out to be cheaper than building more storage given the storage solutions we have at this time.

            Budischak, Sewell, Thomson, Mach, Veron, and Kempton

            Cost-minimized combinations of wind power, solar power and electrochemical storage, powering the grid up to 99.9% of the time

            Journal of Power Sources 225 (2013) 60-74

            Apparently there are 23 aluminum casting plants in Pennsylvania, one of the 13 states covered.

            You can read the paper here –


          • Nice. Ly. Done. +1

          • Bob Wallace

            I’m going to request you spend a few minutes and read at least the first three pages and the abstract of this paper, Jo.

            As someone who is feeding information about our future transportation solutions it seems to me that you should understand how we can run our future grid with renewables.

            There are, IMO, two very important papers that everyone connected to the energy business should be familiar with.
            Jacobson and Delucchi’s 2009 study which shows that there is more than enough harvest-able renewable energy to power the entire world – electricity, heating and transportation. And this one that shows that we can deal with the facts that the wind does not always blow nor does the Sun always shine. That we can run a solar/wind grid without paying more for electricity.

            You already know how cheap it is to power vehicles with electricity.

            Lots of EVs/PHEVs on the grid will make a renewable energy grid easier and cheaper.

            As a long term car lover (learned to drive in 1949 International and 1952 Chevy pickups and got my first car, a 1951 Ford convertible in 1960) I’m enthused about the future of cars. IMHO we will be able to drive all we want and for a very nice price without wrecking the planet.

            All we need is batteries with about 2x capacity of current ones to start the ball seriously rolling.

    • Don’t confuse “London” with “the UK”. That would be like saying “New York has great public transport, so why don’t the people working at WalMarts in Oklahoma just take the subway? It’s really an ignorant statement.

      • Bob Wallace

        I’ve traveled around the UK on public transportation. It might not be optimized for commuting for work, but they do have systems up and running.

        And the obvious has been overlooked. Carpooling.

        Put two people in a car rather than one and commute costs are cut in half.

        Put four people in a car rather than one and commute costs drop to 25% of what they were.

        • Jason Carpp

          I agree. I got to visit the UK a few years ago, and during the time we were there, we took British Rail to get from London to Stratford-upon-Avon, from Plymouth to Cardiff, from Plymouth to Edinburgh. That’d be alot of driving, but no sweat for a diesel-electric train. What I’ll never understand is why more people here in the USA don’t take the train to get from LA to San Francisco, or from San Francisco to Seattle. Taking a plane is fine for longer distances, like from LA to London, or from Seattle to Sydney (Australia), but for around the country, why not take the train? In and around town, take the bus or drive a couple of people.

          • Bob Wallace

            Unlike Europe and the Eastern US, the Western US cities were largely built after Americans had fallen in love with cars. We never built the public transportation systems that were in place in other parts of the world when cars appeared.

            At this point in time it is just not easy/convenient to travel around the West on public transportation. You can get from city to city, but it’s not easy. Last year I needed to travel from San Francisco to outside of Placerville in the Sierra foothills where I had parked my car during a long trip.

            My plane got in after all Greyhound buses to San Francisco were done for the day. Stayed in a hotel. Next morning I took the city bus (only runs once an hour) to the Greyhound station and waited three hours for the next bus to Sacramento.

            By the time I got to Sacramento the last bus to Placerville had left so I spent another night in a hotel. The next morning I got to the bus stop to catch the 7am, only morning bus to Placerville.

            Once I arrived in Placerville I found the cheapest cab company would charge me $150 for the 12 mile ride to where my car was parked. I thumbed.

            Travel time – two full days.

            Driving from where my car was parked to the SF airport takes approximately three hours.

            This is why so many people in the Western US drive rather than take public transportation.

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