First introduced in 2003, the Congestion Charge in London is a fee that certain vehicles have to pay for entering the city centre. The Congestion Charge was introduced as a way to reduce the pollution and traffic in the capital, which has been a major problem throughout history. As the world has become greener and the Government works towards clean air targets, the Congestion Charge has changed over the years and many motorists are now confused.
In the early days of the Congestion Charge, the vehicles that were exempt from the charge were those that emitted less than 100g/km of CO2. Vehicles have become much cleaner since then, which lead to traffic in the capital rising once again. This led to the limit dropping to 75g/km and since October 2021 it is now only zero-emission vehicles that can enter the Congestion Charge zone without paying a penalty (currently £15 per day).
This means that currently the only vehicles that can enter the Congestion Charge zone without facing a fee are purely electric cars, vans and other vehicles with zero tailpipe emissions. You also need to register with Transport for London (TfL) to avoid paying the charge. There are other exemptions, including Blue Badge holders, breakdown recovery vehicles and vehicles with 9 or more seats.
Paying the Charge
If you are driving a vehicle that is not exempt from the charge, you need to pay this online at the TfL website – you can do this beforehand or the next day (this will add £3.50). If you fail to pay by midnight of the following day, you will face a £160 fine (reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days). In addition to this, there is also the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and other clean-air zones in major cities around the UK.
Switching to Electric
The Congestion Charge is just one reason why so many people are currently switching to an all-electric vehicle. You can make huge savings by making the switch, but it is important to take out a GAP insurance policy if you buy an electric car. This will cover any shortfall between the insurance payout (the current market value) and the amount outstanding on the finance agreement. Due to depreciation, this could save you thousands of pounds.
The Congestion Zone rules have changed often over the years and this can cause confusion for motorists entering the capital. It is important to be aware of what vehicles are exempt and which are not as well as what you need to do if you need to pay the charge. Now is a good time to switch to an electric vehicle, which would help you to avoid the Congestion Charge along with the other financial benefits of making the switch.
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