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New Congestion Charge rules hit hybrids, eco diesels

From June 2016, owners of even Toyota Prius hybrids will have to pay the same congestion charge as Range Rovers and Ferraris. The government has just approved new rules, as part of an Ultra Low Emissions Discount (ULED) scheme, meaning any vehicle that emits CO2 at a rate of 75g/km and above will be liable to pay to enter the congestion charge zone.

The ULED will replace the now defunct greener vehicle discount (GVD), which previously allowed anyone with a car emitting 99g per km of CO2 or less to drive through the zone for free. Under new ULED rules, only vehicles that emit 75g/km or less will qualify for exemption.

The rule change is thought to affect over 200,000 ‘green’ car owners, many of whom will have bought their vehicles specifically for CCZ exemption. A huge number of car types including hybrids such as the Toyota Prius, 3-cylinder superminis such as the Fiat 500 TwinAir, and efficient diesels like the Volvo S60 DriveE will no longer be exempt.

Luckily, anyone driving cars that used to qualify for the 99g/km GVD threshold will be given a three-year ‘sunset period’ until June 2016. Electric cars are still exempt from the charge.

In related news, London Mayor Boris Johnson confirmed that drivers will no longer have the ability to pay the congestion charge in shops, citing the low number of payments made over the counter. The penalty charge for driving in the zone without paying the charge will also increase from £120 to £130.

Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor’s Environment advisor, said: “These changes are in line with the Mayor’s aim to improve air quality in London by reducing emissions from private vehicles and promoting the further development of low emission vehicles.

“We want to encourage the continued development of these technologies, while also protecting the benefits to traffic flow in the centre of London that the charge provides.”

Have you been affected by these changes? Let us know in the comments below.

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