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London to introduce new Ulta Low Emission Discount for Congestion Charge scheme; countering dieselization

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, confirmed his decision to introduce a new Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) for the Congestion Charge scheme in the city. (Earlier post.) The new ULED will replace the existing discount and is intended to ensure that only zero or ultra-low emission vehicles driving into the capital receive a 100% discount.

One of the aims of making the changes is to help tackle the increasing dieselization 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. However a Euro 4 diesel car emits about 22 times as much particulate matter as the equivalent gasoline car.

While the ULED is technology neutral, no currently available diesel car would meet the criteria for the discount and this is unlikely to change in the immediate future.

The Mayor also announced two further changes to the scheme that will see the removal of the option to pay the charge in shops, which is now used for 6% of payments, and an increase in the level of penalty charge from £120 to £130 (US$183 to US$198).

To qualify for the new discount vehicles will have to be either pure electric or be cars and vans that emit 75 g/km or less of CO2 and meet the Euro 5 emission standard for air quality.

The ULED will be introduced on 1 July 2013 and will provide a single 100% discount from the Congestion Charge for electric vehicles and ultra low emission cars and vans.

It replaces the current Greener Vehicle Discount (GVD) and the Electric Vehicle Discount, although anyone registered for the latter will automatically be transferred to the new ULED.

Cars currently registered for GVD will not meet the criteria for the new ULED.

The Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) recognize that many drivers made the decision to purchase a low emission car in order to benefit from the existing discount. Therefore, in response to a number of comments made during the consultation, the current owners of cars registered for the GVD will continue to receive a full discount for that vehicle for a sunset period of three years—an increase from the two years proposed in the consultation.

The sunset period for the owners of vehicles currently registered for the GVD will therefore end on 24 June 2016.


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