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Boris consults on future of the Congestion Charge

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has launched a consultation on the existing Congestion Charge exemption for hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.

Under the current rules, the Alternative Fuel Discount gives drivers of alternative fuel and hybrid cars a 100% discount in London’s Congestion Charge.

Volvo instigated the Emission Equality Congestion Charge campaign, as the company believes that this method of discounting is now outdated as many modern conventionally-engined cars emit less CO2 than most hybrids. agrees with Volvo; when the exemption was first introduced it provided an incentive for new technology such as hybrids. However today it means that a small city car with emissions of less than 100g/km CO2 has to pay the charge, but cars such as a Porsche Cayenne 4×4 hybrid is exempt, which doesn’t really make any sense.

In the defence of low emission petrol-electric hybrids, it should be said that their ‘regulated’ emissions, ie. those that impact on local air quality, such as NOx and particulates – a critical issue in cities such as London – are much lower than those of diesels.

Volvo had questioned what place an emissions discount had in a congestion charge but, if a discount should exist, called for fairness in any scheme so that it didn’t bias one particular technology over another.

Under The Mayor’s new ‘Greener Vehicle Discount’ proposal, any cars registered after 1 January 2011 that emit less than 100g/km of CO2 and meet the Euro V standard for air quality will be exempt. In addition, and as a way of encouraging the uptake of electric cars, the same exemption will apply to full battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars.

Boris’s predecessor, Ken Livingston, proposed that cars with 120g/km CO2 emissions or less would be exempt – if this had been enacted, today there would be thousands of sub-120g/km cars clogging up London’s streets without paying any charge. At the time, proposed that the limit should have been 100g/km CO2 in order to encourage more sub-100g cars.

Transport for London is inviting feedback on the new proposals until 2 August 2010 via the TfL website:

Once a decision has been made, the results will be published, with any changes taking effect from 4th January 2011.

Keywords: Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, consultation on existing London Congestion Charge Alternative Fuel Discount exemption for hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles.