GoinGreen, the company that introduced the first private vehicle exempt from the London congestion charge that has sold in any quantity – the electric G-Wiz – has expressed its concern at the possible move to exempt all Band B vehicles (road tax categorisation) from the London congestion charge on the grounds of their low emissions. At the moment, only Band A vehicles i.e. electric, some alternative fuel vehicles and hybrids in Band B are exempt from the London congestion charge.
Keith Johnston, managing director of GoinGreen, says, “CO2 emissions are a global concern and London must play its part in reducing CO2 emissions. But the real issue for London is air quality (London has the worst air quality in the UK), the major cause of which is vehicle pollution. However, it is not CO2 that is causing most of this, but NOx (oxides of nitrogen) and other particulates that Band B exemption would not address. Electric vehicles, in contrast, do not emit any tailpipe emissions, ever!”
GoinGreen argues that it would be inappropriate to exempt Band B vehicles on the grounds that the real issue for London – air quality – would not be addressed by such a move; and secondly because it would not differentiate between lower carbon vehicles and the zero-emission electric G-Wiz. The move could result in more congestion and therefore, more pollution.
The majority of drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) are environmentally-aware and recharge using electricity from renewable sources. As a result, total motoring emissions are virtually zero for this category of motorist and they are rightly exempted from the London congestion charge. Even when electricity generated at a power station is taken into account independent research has demonstrated that EVs are at least 40% cleaner than the cleanest hybrid or diesel cars in Band B (source: Ecolane Transport Consultancy).
“Band B exemption would also discourage further investment in electric vehicles, when the market is at an early and vulnerable stage, by sending out confusing and inappropriate signals to Londoners and others parties,” says Keith Johnston, “the world is watching what happens in London. It would be a great shame if having helped to make London the emission-free car capital of the world, any policy change to further promote low-carbon motoring inadvertently resulted in its demise. With exciting new technologies and products due to be launched in 2008, the electric car is the ideal solution to pollution and congestion in London.”
GoinGreen recently conducted a customer survey, the first research the company had done into the driving habits of G-Wiz owners. It discovered that 68% of respondents said that they used to drive a conventional ICE (internal combustion engine) car into, and around, central London prior to owning a G-Wiz. For the first time anywhere in the world this demonstrates that low cost, low carbon motoring is effective in driving down pollution.