Volvo gets Boris to review the Congestion Charge

Volvo has been successful in its bid to get the The Mayor of London to review the Congestion Charge.

Volvo believes that the current system that provides exemption to certain alternative fuel vehicles including hybrids, but not low emission cars, is not fair.

In his response to the campaign, The Mayor confirmed that the exemption to the Congestion Charge was introduced to incentivise the take-up of more environmentally-friendly vehicles but that he recognised that vehicle technology has developed considerably since then. Transport for London will report its recommendations by the end of the year.

Although hybrid-powered cars are currently exempt from the London Congestion Charge, they have CO2 outputs ranging from 89g/km to 219g/km. Whereas at the end of 2008, there were 13 non-hybrid cars from other manufacturers emitting less than 105g/km of CO2 on the market.

Last month, Stuart Kerr, Regional President for Europe from Volvo Car Corporation wrote to The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, highlighting the disparity between the treatment of hybrid and conventional internal combustion-engined cars. In essence, drivers of hybrid cars enter the zone free of charge on a daily basis while drivers of low emission cars powered by conventional internal combustion engines with the same, or even lower, levels of emissions are charged £8.00 per day. This ‘tax’ could add a financial burden of over £2,000 per year to those drivers who have selected a traditionally-powered low emission car.

Since the original letter was sent, the Emission Equality campaign has attracted hundreds of supporters on Facebook, Twitter, and Volvo Car UK’s own website.

The subject of road and congestion charging was also covered by last week’s publication of the House of Commons Transport Select Committee’s ‘Taxes and charges on road users’ report. It noted that “Account should be taken of the full cost of road use, including social and environmental externalities, when considering the structure of taxes and charges on road users.”