Own a Bentley Bentayga or a brand new BMW company car and you’ll be fine with London’s new huge ULEZ – drive a five-year-old Ford Focus or a classic car and you’ll get clobbered.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan dropped a bombshell he has been itching to deliver last week, with a massive extension of London’s ultra-low emission zone.
And on that bombshell (to borrow a Top Gear catchphrase) he dropped another – the ULEZ extended out to the North and South Circular, encompassing a major chunk of residential London, will carry no resident discount.
Good: Drive a brand new £160,000 gas-guzzling 6 litre and 2.4 tonne Bentley Bentayga 4×4 and you won’t fall foul of the ULEZ as it meets the required euro standard
So, if you live in the area and your car isn’t new enough to meet the emissions standards, from 2021 you must pay £12.50 if you use it at any time, on any day of the year.
This is bad news for most people with a petrol car made before 2006, so not meeting euro 4 standard, and more critically for those with diesel cars not meeting euro 6 standard, most cars sold before September 2015.
It also leads to the slightly perverse situation where someone could drop the kids off in a £160,000 6 litre Bentley Bentayga 4×4 without forking out a penny, but use a trusty old 2011 diesel Ford hatchback instead – current value £5,000 – and you get hit by a £12.50 daily charge.
This is obviously an example that pulls out polar opposites, but there will be contrasts such as this cropping up all over the place.
I imagine this will go down a treat with parents who need to drive their children to breakfast club, so mum or dad can then go to work, and must now buy a new car or pay £62.50 a week.
The richer you are, the more able you are to buy a new car. That makes this a highly regressive charge.
What’s worse for the cash-strapped or fans of bargain motoring is that the most you can lose on a £2,000 car is two grand, for example, whereas if you buy a new car – or even a second hand one that passes the required euro standards – you will lose thousands more in depreciation.
Bad: Own a classic car like this 1968 Mercedes 280SL and live within the ultra-low emissions zone and you will have to pay £12.50 if you drive it at any time, of any day of the year
It is also a huge headache for those of us who live in London and own a classic car.
My little Peugeot 205 GTI does less than 3,000 miles a year, mainly outside London. In a short period of time, I will have to pay £12.50 if it is driven day or night, 365 days a year. Even if I only drove it once a week, that would be £650.
Meanwhile, a company car driver racking up 15,000 miles a year in a bland new saloon or SUV pays not a penny.
I’m biased, but classic cars are a great sight on our streets – and I see plenty on my cycle across London to work each day. Does Sadiq really want the ULEZ to drive classic cars off London’s roads?
Yet, this column is not to bemoan my lot as someone privileged enough to own a classic car. Instead, it is to point out the glaring inconsistencies the ULEZ extension with no resident discount brings.
ULEZ will cover central London from 2019, but under the new plans will be extended massively to all of London within the North and South Circular two years later
A London Councils report shows the sources of nitrogen oxide in the Greater London air – roads transport contributes 50%, with petrol cars making up 6% of overall total and diesel 12%
London’s air could do with cleaning up.
Car ownership contributes to the bad-for-your-health nitrogen oxide pumped into the air, but it’s not the only cause.
London Council stats from 2013 show petrol cars contributed 6 per cent and diesel cars 12 per cent, with the remaining 50 per cent of the total NOx accounted for by road transport coming from taxis, vans, minibuses, buses and lorries.
Encouraging polluting cars off the road is not a bad move, however, it could be done without such a punitive system.
The inner congestion charge zone could carry the £12.50 charge, while the outer zone could operate daytime Monday to Friday, with a resident-only discount to £5.
This would be enough to discourage many journeys and dramatically clean up the air.
It should have been tried first before this regressive and perverse plan.
Most of you won’t live in London, so you may think ‘why does this even matter to me?’ It matters because this is a sign of things to come. Where London leads cities and towns across the UK will follow.
That’s bad news for those who prefer good value second hand cars, or classics, to losing thousands in depreciation on new motors.
What are the ULEZ car standards?
- Euro 4 for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles: this covers most new registrations from January 2006.
- Euro 6 for diesel cars, vans and minibuses and other specialist vehicles: this covers most new registrations from September 2015.
It is possible that cars before these dates can be compliant and also that cars after these dates may not be. Check on theTransport for London website here
SAVE MONEY ON MOTORING