Hybrids suffer in new Congestion Charge
08 August 2007 05:45
Transport for London today proposed a far-reaching shake-up of the capital's Congestion Charge, linking a new incremental system to a car’s C02 outputs and axeing the automatic hybrid advantage.
Models that emit 120g/km or less will be exempt from the £8-a-day charge, while those producing over 225g/km would take a whopping £25 hit, according to the plans which are currently under consultation. At a stroke it would remove the anomaly where a large Lexus 4x4 hybrid sidesteps the toll while a low-capacity, modern diesel with lower emissions pays full whack. But there will still be injustices. Residents living in central London currently receive a 90 percent discount, meaning they pay around £170 per year unless their car is exempt. Under the new proposals, residents with cars emitting over 225g/km will be liable to pay the full charge – that’s over £5000 per year. So where a Citroen C1 carrying just one person would enter the zone for free, a full seven-seat SUV (carrying more people to the benefit of emissions and, lest we forget, space in the city centre) is heavily penalised. Even owners of early hybrids won’t necessarily qualify for exemption, as only the latest Euro 4-compliant engines will make the grade. And here’s the real rub: a system such as this needs to implemented with a long-term view. With a number of UK cities nationwide looking at congestion charging, the motoring public must know that the buying decisions they make now based on current taxation will still prove relevant years down the line. A Lexus RX400h might have seemed like a prudent investment a week ago, but the goalposts look set to shift after today's announcement, making the car irrelevant and, quite possibly, extremely hard to sell on.