With pro-congestion charge London mayor Ken Livingstone on the way out, there are a lot of questions about what happens next regarding the city's vehicle laws. At least one company, NICE, thinks electric car sales will increase under incoming mayor Boris Johnson, who is against the C-charge. In this time of flux, the UK-based website Clean Green Cars is offering Johnson ideas on how to "help frame a revised Congestion Charge that will be both fairer to motorists and more effective in reducing overall pollution." CGC is against Livingstone's congestion charge plan and hopes that its more moderate plan will be the new standard in London. The highlights of the plan include:
  • A stricter target of 110 g/km CO2 for cars qualifying for the lowest charge be applied
  • Vehicles achieving 110g/km or below should be charged £4 rather than being allowed in for nothing
  • Vehicles emitting more than over 225g/km should be charged £12 rather than £25
There are more details about this plan after the jump, but that 110 grams of CO2 level catches our eye. With so many automakers able to bring out vehicles that just ducked under the old 120 level thanks to minor tweaks, pushing the target down a bit further is an interesting move. We'll see if Johnson likes what he reads.

Press Release:

Clean Green Cars suggests partnership for a sensible Congestion Charge

Election of Boris Johnson is an opportunity to create a fair and effective system

Clean Green Cars (CGC) in partnership with Spyder Automotive, the automotive data specialists, has today written to Boris Johnson suggesting that its unique data analysis tools can help frame a revised Congestion Charge that will be both fairer to motorists and more effective in reducing overall pollution.

The plans announced by the former Mayor, Ken Livingstone, which are due to take effect in October 2008 are fundamentally flawed and will be counter-productive, for the following reasons:

TfL has stated that that only 2% of cars are below the 120 g/km CO2 limit for Congestion-Charge exemption. This is completely missing the point – TfL appears to have measured the total number of vehicles in use to obtain this figure. For new car sales, the percentage has risen from 5.4% in 2007 to 7.9% in the first three months of 2008 – and it will exceed 10% by the end of the year. That means one-in-ten of all new cars will not have to pay the Congestion Charge, even if motorists in London buy no more low-emission cars than the national average.

Owners of large new vehicles that will have to pay £25 per day can afford to buy a brand-new Congestion Charge-free car with the savings they will make. For example, if a Range Rover owner is faced with a charge of £125 per week, they can simply buy a brand new BMW 118d to drive into London at a weekly cost far lower than that (the typical weekly cost of a BMW 118d on a Personal Contract Plan is approximately £80 per week). Hence, the very high charge for large vehicles may actually increase both congestion and overall pollution. This concern has already been echoed by an independent report (by AEA) commissioned by TfL itself, which suggests that 'there could be an increase in the overall numbers of cars travelling within the zone,' and that the consequent 'increased congestion would mean all vehicles moving more slowly and hence increased CO2 emissions.'
The initial suggestions from Clean Green Cars are:

* A stricter target of 110 g/km CO2 for cars qualifying for the lowest charge be applied
* Vehicles achieving 110g/km or below should be charged £4 rather than being allowed in for nothing
* Vehicles emitting more than over 225g/km should be charged £12 rather than £25

The 110g/km Threshold
Setting the threshold at 110g/km will diminish the risk, identified in the AEA report, of Londoners switching to 120g/km-and-below models in sufficient numbers to cause congestion to increase, making the changes self-defeating, as will the imposition of a £4 charge rather than the exemption currently proposed. The Congestion Charge is still intended to be a charge on congestion and it therefore makes sense to charge any vehicle that enters the zone.

The 110g/km limit would also encourage car manufacturers to work harder to develop cars with lower emissions. Any family-sized car (e.g. Ford Focus) with a 1.6 litre diesel engine can meet the 120 g/km limit today, whereas 110 g/km of CO2 would provide manufacturers with a challenging, but achievable, target.

The £12 charge for vehicles over 225g/km, reduced from the proposed £25, is designed to discourage potentially well-off owners of these vehicles buying an additional low-emission car instead of replacing their high-emission model.

Editor's note:
The aim of www.cleangreencars.co.uk is simple: to provide clear, easily understood advice about choosing and using cars in a more environmentally considerate way. Our goal is to advise which cars are the best of their type, whether that is a small hatchback or something that can carry seven people. Its founders are Richard Bremner, one of Britain's leading motoring journalists, and Jay Nagley, a prominent industry analyst.

UPDATE: typo in main post fixed; thanks to Student Driver for noticing.
[Source: Clean Green Cars]

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