Would you drive an electric car in London if it saved you money?

Electric car in London - London Congestion Charge

Are you one of many employees making a gradual return back to work in London? If so, you will have recently been stung by the London Congestion Charge (LCC). Commuting into London can be expensive as it is, so why should you have to pay additional fees on top of this. If you were offered a way of dodging these fees would you do it? Find out how you can gain exemption.

What is the London Congestion Charge?

For those who are unaware, the London Congestion Charge was set up on 17th February 2003. It was introduced to decrease the amount of congestion that certain parts of London suffered. Alongside the congestion, the air emissions are still at a worryingly high level. The aim of the LCC is to defer commuters from driving in, and to use public transport or car share instead. 

For those commuters who have already made the return back to the office, they will know that the congestion charge has changed since pre-lockdown, and not in a good way either!

The decision was made to place any London Congestion Charges on hold during the pandemic lockdown. Whilst public transport including buses and the London Underground were closed to prevent the spread of the virus, commuters were encouraged to travel in safely by car.

When businesses began safely trading again as government guidelines were eased, Transport for London (TfL) reinstated the charge for drivers on 18th May 2020. The zone would normally be in operation from 7am – 6pm on weekdays. As of 22nd June 2020, anyone driving through between the hours of 7am – 10pm will be charged the increased congestion fee of £15. This will now also include weekends!

With the increase in fees, is now the right time to switch and drive an electric car in London?

Can I avoid paying the London Congestion Charge?

In short, yes you can! We aren’t talking about completely skipping out on paying the fee either. With an aim to make London’s transport network zero carbon by 2050, driving an electric car in London is a highly recommended way of improving the air quality. 

Currently there are three types of vehicles that are exempt from the congestion charge:

  • Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles. These vehicles produce hydrogen to power the vehicle via a fuel cell.
  • Plug-in hybrids. These vehicles are manufactured to have a standard petrol or diesel engine, as well as having a small battery in order to be charged up.
  • 100% pure electric vehicles.

Which areas are affected?

The London Congestion Charge covers the area within the London Inner Ring Road. This includes the West end, as well as the City of London, two areas that can get increasingly busy.

Anyone living within the affected areas will receive a 90% discount for residents, however applications for new residents will be closed from 1st August 2020. If you’ve recently moved to an area within the London Congestion Zone, then it’s bad news for you unfortunately!

From 25th October 2021, the congestion charge will also see another change come into effect. Only battery electric vehicles will be eligible to travel through the congestion zone without being charged. Why wait till then when you can make the change now? 

As government guidelines state to avoid public transport where possible, and the large increase in the congestion charge, it can be an impossible choice for some commuters. 

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