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New Ultra Low Emission proposals to bring London Congestion Charge discount changes next year
The proposed new Ultra Low Emission Discount will provide a single 100 per cent discount from the Congestion Charge for electric, ultra-low emission, and plug-in hybrid vans

Story: COLIN DAWSON

CHANGES to the discount rules for the London Congestion Charge planned for next year could benefit business van operators in the medium term.

TfL is consulting on changes to the Congestion Charging scheme which would see the introduction of a new Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED). This would replace the existing Greener Vehicle Discount (GVD) and unlike the GVD would be open to vans as well as cars.

Currently, only pure electric vans are exempt from paying the charge. But from July 2013 two new categories of ‘green’ business van could join them. The criteria for the proposed new Ultra Low Emission Discount are:

  • Any type of pure electric vehicle
  • Ultra-low emission vans with CO2 emissions of 75g/km or less (these would also have to meet Euro 5 emissions standards)
  • Plug-in hybrid vans with a minimum range of 10 miles in ‘electric’ mode and a maximum speed of at least 50 mph
  • TfL is to publish a list of eligible vehicles.

Other proposed changes would see an increase in the penalty for failure to pay the Charge to £130 from £120, and the phasing out of payment at retail outlets.

Vans registered for the current Electric Vehicle Discount would automatically qualify for the new Ultra Low Emission Discount. Drivers of these vans would not need to take any action as TfL will automatically transfer the van to the new discount type. Van operators would be required to pay the annual renewal fee of £10 when their discount becomes due for renewal.

So will business van operators benefit? That depends on the manufacturerers. At the moment, no vans meet either of the two new discount criteria.  Ford’s new 87g/km Fiesta (read the business van review for the Fiesta) and the 83.1mpg Vauxhall Corsavan 1.3 CDTi ecoFLEX with Start/Stop are the pick of the green bunch; there are no plug-in hybrid vans.

But the relentless drive to lower emissions will continue, and 75g/km isn’t that far off.

TfL’s 12-week public consultation on the proposals closes on Friday 8 February 2013. It will then prepare a report for Mayor Boris Johnson setting out the comments received during the consultation. The Mayor will then make a decision on whether or not to go ahead with the proposals with or without modifications.

Keep up to date with developments in our Business Van News section.

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