Story: COLIN DAWSON
Hoist hire company Plantire has voiced strong objections to current London Congestion Charge rules, which do not provide the same incentive for firms choosing to operate low-emission vans in the capital as it does for cars.
It’s an inequality that will chime with many business van operators who choose to run sub-100kg/km CO2 emission vehicles. Under existing rules, private cars with emissions of less than 100g/km CO2 are exempt from the London Congestion Charge. However, light commercial vehicles under 3.5 tonnes with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions are not exempt.
Plantire runs two Vauxhall Corsavan 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX models with Start/Stop technology that achieve emissions of just 89g/km CO2 – exactly the same as the equivalent five-door Corsa, but unlike its passenger car variant, its operators must pay the £10 daily charge.
The hoist hire firm, based near Heathrow, uses the Corsavans for an average of around six journeys a week into the Congestion Charge Zone and is effectively being penalised to the tune of around £3,000 a year for running a low-CO2 van in London.
Plantire’s general manager John Tocher told Business Vans: “Although we knew when we ordered the Corsavans that they were not exempt, we felt sure that Transport for London would change the exemption. It makes sense that if cars with emissions under 100g/km CO2 are exempt, vans emitting less than 100g/km CO2 shouldn’t have to pay the Congestion Charge either.”
He continued: “We chose the Vauxhall Corsavan ecoFLEX because of its low running costs and to reduce our carbon footprint. We love that it has clever green technology like Start/Stop and although we have noticed fuel cost savings, having to pay the Congestion Charge is almost negating these savings and seems grossly unfair.”
Despite the exclusion of vans from Transport for London’s green transport initiative, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has expressed emphatic support for light commercial vehicles in the capital, stating previously: “Vans are the lifeblood of this city. This noble bunch is mostly small business owners and independent traders who are focused on grafting hard to support their families and build a better future.”
Unfortunately, these sentiments are not echoed by Transport for London Director of Congestion Charging and Traffic Enforcement Nick Fairholme. He told Business Vans: “The Greener Vehicle Discount aims to incentivise a switch to cleaner cars. The CO2 limit of vans and HGVs is not recorded by the DLVA and this would make administration of any discount very difficult. There is already a 100% discount for all fully electrically propelled vehicles including vans and commercial vehicles, including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.”
The Corsavan 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX with Start/Stop is Vauxhall’s most efficient commercial vehicle ever, achieving 83.1mpg on the combined cycle.
Richard Collier, Vauxhall’s national commercial vehicle sales manager said: “Ultimately we would love all our Corsavan ecoFLEX business van customers to get the same Congestion Charge exemption enjoyed by our Corsa ecoFLEX customers, both of which have sub-100g/km CO2 emissions.”
Keep up to date with developments in our business van news section.