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What’s going on with the new London Congestion Charge?

By now, we should have had confirmation about the proposals for London’s new congestion charge. This was due to see the exemption changing from a technology-based system – currently exempting hybrids and electric cars for example – to an emissions-based system, exempting cars emitting 120g/km CO2 or less.

However, despite the new system being expected to start on the 4th of February, there has still been no decision.

The delay may very well be due to the concerns about the new system encouraging a huge amount of small cars to clog up the centre of the capital. Since the announcement of the proposals, a large number of cars have been announced by manufactures that sneak under the 120g/km barrier. In practice this could mean that allowing such low emissions cars in for free could make congestion and emissions worse.

The 120g/km limit has obviously been seen as a challenge by car manufacturers. If engineers can create so many cars to break under the 120g/km barrier, then imagine what a target of 100g/km would do – the VW Polo Bluemotion and the Seat Ibiza Ecomotive have both achieved this goal already.

What’s the official word from London Mayor Ken Livingstone? The delayed decision is still said to be imminent, but in the meantime the existing system remains. This may upset people who have rushed out and bought sub-120g/km cars in the expectation of free London driving.