More than 20,000 drivers will have to buy a new car or pay the congestion charge after Mayor Boris Johnson announced major changes to the exemptions for “green” vehicles.
The existing Greener Vehicle Discount (GVD) for less polluting vehicles is to be replaced by a new Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED) which only the greenest zero or ultra-low emission vehicles will qualify for.
Drivers of vehicles such as the Toyota’s Prius and the Fiat 500 TwinAir will lose their exemption under the changes.
From July 1st only pure electric vehicles or those which emit 75g/km or less of CO2 and meet the Euro 5 emission standard for air quality will be exempted from the charge.
However owners of vehicles already registered for the GVD will continue to receive a full discount for a ‘sunset period’ of three years.
Mayor Johnson also confirmed that drivers would lose the ability to pay the congestion charge in shops. Transport for London says only 6% of payments are now made over the counter.
The penalty charge for driving in the congestion zone without paying the charge will increase from £120 to £130.
TfL has been consulting on the changes which were first announced in November.
Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor’s Environment advisor, said: “These changes are in line with the Mayor’s aim to improve air quality in London by reducing emissions from private vehicles and promoting the further development of low emission vehicles.
“We want to encourage the continued development of these technologies, while also protecting the benefits to traffic flow in the centre of London that the charge provides.”