Commuters in London are being urged to look at alternative vehicle choices as the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) comes into force.
Sales in electric cars, electric mopeds and motorcycles are tipped to rise as drivers face the prospect of paying up to £24 a day just to drive in the city.
From April 8 most vehicles driving in the capital’s central zone will not only have to pay the existing congestion charge of £11.50 but also an additional daily fee of £12.50 if they fail to meet new tighter exhaust emission standards.
In fact, from October 25, 2021, the zone will be expanded to include all the inner London area bounded by the North and South Circular roads.
All vehicles, including motorcycles, will need to meet Euro 3 emissions standards or pay the charge – with a £160 penalty for those who don’t.
Bart Jacobsz Rosier, CEO and co-founder of Etergo, a cutting-edge electric scooter manufacturer, said: “London’s ULEZ charge is certainly a good reason for people to start thinking about changing to electric.
“Riding an electric scooter into the city, for instance, is going to be more convenient, cheaper and better for the environment, too.
“Our goal is to show the world that electric is the future and hopefully the ULEZ will drive the market and a change in behaviour with it.”
So, what are the options for commuters who want to do their bit for the environment and to avoid charges in the process?
1. Electric scooters
Smartphone-compatible mopeds with removable batteries are a great way to beat the charges – and be greener.
The Netherland’s much-anticipated AppScooter is the latest on the market and is tipped to take electric scooters to the next level.
This bike can carry two adults and, with the option to have three batteries on board, travels up to 150 miles without having to re-charge.
It will also feature a touchscreen, operated by buttons on the handlebars, which includes an internet connection, access to music and navigation.
Batteries can be quickly charged when connected to a normal household plug socket.
So, no need for a fancy charge point in the garden – just unplug the battery and take it into home or work.
One of the big benefits of electric mopeds is low maintenance costs. Brakes will need servicing and replacing but there is no oil, clutch cables, filters or fluids to check.
Electric scooters are also tax free – and exempt from both London’s congestion charge and ULEZ charge.
In fact, the government will even contribute 20 per cent of the purchase price when buying one, up to a maximum of £1,500.
With AppScooters coming in under £3,000 it could prove to be the most cost-effective way to travel in urban areas in future.
2. Electric cars
Fully-electric cars are exempt from road tax, congestion charge and ULEV charge – and are far cheaper to run than a petrol version.
Those approved by the government are also subject to a government grant of up to £3,500 towards the cost of purchase.
Up-front costs can still be a problem for some people – Europe’s most popular electric car, the Nissan Leaf, starts at £29,635, for instance.
However, a recent report by Deloitte suggested that by 2024 electric and petrol cars will cost the same.
Modern home-charging points mean an electric car could be charged in as little as three hours. But finding a charging point elsewhere can still be a problem – and those who live in apartments find it almost impossible to install a charging point at home.
As for range, this is in increasing all the time and is currently 168 miles for the Leaf – but 335 for Tesla’s top-of-the-range model.
More than 60,000 plug-in cars were bought in Britain in 2018 with figures rising annually.
Nearly all motorcycles produced since 2007 meet the ULEZ standards, so no need to go electric if you don’t want to.
New riders must undergo compulsory basic training before getting a licence and road tax is required. But a second-hand bike can cost under £500 and they are exempt from London’s congestion charge.
Fuel costs are lower than for a petrol engine car – a motorbike can travel 15 miles for around £1. However, they are still higher than for an electric moped which could potentially travel 50 miles for just 25p – or for free if you are able to charge the battery at work!
4. Join a car club
Car clubs are becoming so popular that even Transport For London recommends them on its website as an alternative to car ownership.
Joining a club provides the convenience of owning a car without the cost of repairs, servicing or parking. Members can book cars using an app for anything from an hour to a weekend (or longer in some cases). Fees normally include petrol but increase with the number of miles driven.
Some car clubs offer electric vehicles and members won’t pay Congestion Charge or ULEV charges because all cars registered by car clubs are exempt.
Examples of car clubs in London include: DriveNow, Enterprise Car Club, City Car Club, Zipcar, Blue City, Co-wheels, E-car club, Hertz 24/7 and Ubeeqo Car Club.