Drivers of small diesel and hybrid cars, even the Toyota Prius, could be forced to pay the capital’s congestion charge in full under plans by Transport for London.
TfL proposals would mean from July 2013 to qualify for the 100% discount from the Congestion Charge for electric and ultra low emission cars and vans, cars would will have to be either pure electric or be cars and vans that emit 75g/km or less of CO2 and meet the Euro 5 emission standard for air quality.
Previously the limit was 100g/km.
The current hybrid Prius, with The 1.8 litre Hybrid Synergy Drive, has stated emissions of 89g/km, while the plugin hybrid version offers has stated CO2 emissions of 49g/km.
Tackling dieselisation of London's car fleet
TfL says the proposals will help tackle the increasing dieselisation of London's car fleet. Over the past decade diesel car sales have increased from around 10% to 50%, partly as a result of low carbon vehicle incentives.
A Euro 4 diesel car emits about 22 times as much particulate matter as the equivalent petrol car, according to TfL.
The Financial Times reports that around 17,500 drivers are registered for the discount, of which about 6,000 drive into the zone each day. A further 2,000 have registered full electric vehicles, which will remain exempt.
Two years period of grace
The current Greener Vehicle Discount and Electric Vehicle Discount will be closed to new registrations on 28 June 2013, and cars currently registered for the Greener Vehicle Discount would not meet the criteria for the Ultra Low Emission Discount. However, owners of vehicles already registered for the Greener Vehicle Discount will continue to receive the 100% discount for their car for a further two years, until 26 June 2015.
Penalty charge increase to £130
TfL is also seeking views on proposals to increase the penalty charge for the Congestion Charge from £120 to £130. It is also removing the option to pay in retail stores.
Transport for London (TfL) is encouraging Londoners to have their say on proposed changes to the Congestion Charging scheme before the public consultation closes on Friday 8 February.
Those who wish to express their views should visit tfl.gov.uk/ccyourviews.