In a move that will no doubt affect many Van users in the London area, Mayor Boris Johnson confirmed that the city’s congestion charge is to become more stringent.From 1st July, only vehicles that emit 75g/km of CO2 or less will be exempt from the charge.
Current vehicles that are exempt from the congestion charge (vehicles emitting 100g/km or less) will continue to qualify for exemption for another 3 years. The official end date of the grace period will 24th June, 2016.
Although vans have not been able to take advantage of the Greener Vehicle Discount rules, this now means that no vehicles that rely solely on a petrol engine can enter London free of charge as of July. Only plug-in hybrids and range extended electric vehicles will be exempt. However, due to higher purchase costs and vehicle insurance, 100% emission free vehicles are still a rare sight on British roads.
Currently no diesel powered car or van is eligible for the Ultra Low Emissions Discount (ULED), even though diesel car sales has risen sharply, taking a 50% market share compared with 10% ten years ago, partly due to the low carbon incentives in London and for company car owners.
Boris Johnson has shown compassion in light of the issues facing London’s van drivers, stating previously: “Vans are the lifeblood of this city. This noble bunch is mostly small business owners and independent traders who are focused on grafting hard to support their families and build a better future.”
One of the lowest emissions vans on the market, the Vauxhall Corsavan 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX, emits just 89g/km CO2, which is identical output to the equivalent Corsa car, currently exempt from the congestion charge for the next three years. So, despite the best efforts of van manufacturers to reduce emissions, why haven’t vans with this output been able to take advantage of the current exemption rules when they could clearly qualify?
Transport For London (TfL), does not believe exemption from the London congestion charge will would encourage them to produce even greener commercial vehicles in the future: In 2010, TfL stated that it “considers it unlikely that a congestion charging discount would be a significant additional incentive in this very competitive market where manufacturers already strive to produce fuel efficient vehicles.”
Although more fuel efficient commercial vehicles are now on the market in the van sector, TfL will only take into account a 100% discount for fully electric vehicles. Expect to see plenty of this style of van in the future once they become more cost effective. However, with the constant increases in congestion charges, this could become sooner rather than later.