Transport for London is considering making only electric vehicles exempt from paying the Congestion Charge from April next year, tightening regulations that currently allow a small number of hybrid models to be driven in the zone without charge.
A consultation has opened today gauging feedback on the new proposals, which would bring regulations more closely in line with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) categories. These drive the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG), and add an electric range on top of official CO2 emissions.
The new proposals would see the introduction of a new Cleaner Vehicle Discount – replacing the current Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) that allows greener cars to drive in the Congestion Charge Zone without a daily charge. It would retain the ULED’s 75 g/km CO2 and Euro 6 limits, but add a 20 mile electric driving range to regulations.
Should this go through, it would affect those drivers of models such as the Toyota Prius and Yaris Hybrid, which have previously been eligible for the ULED, but cannot travel more than a mile or so on electric power only. New and recently bought Toyota hybrids like the Prius have had their official CO2 emissions figure increased above ULED limits anyway, as a result of adjusted testing to tougher standards.
Other proposals include removing the Congestion Charge exemption for private hire vehicles. These twin proposals aim to improve air quality in the centre of London, reduce traffic, and help drive demand for the greenest vehicles on the market.
TfL calculates that traffic levels have dropped by 30% since the Congestion Charge was brought in 15 years ago. However, during that time, the number of private hire vehicles entering the zone has increased from around 4,000 a day to more than 18,000.
Alex Williams, TfL’s Director of City Planning, said: “If we are to clean up the capital’s toxic air and tackle congestion in central London, we need to have the appropriate incentives as well as the right interventions.
“The Congestion Charge has had a real impact on improving London’s roads for all since it launched fifteen years ago. However, over that time the availability and standard of low-emission vehicles has greatly advanced and the number of private hire vehicles entering the zone during charging hours has rocketed. It is only right that we keep the discounts and exemptions for the scheme under review to make sure it continues to be effective.”
If proposals are accepted, the new Cleaner Vehicle Discount would come into force from 8th April 2019. The consultation has opened today (Friday 6th July) and closes on 28th September 2018.