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Hybrid Cars and Vans Now Liable For London Congestion Charge

Is this the thin end of the wedge for the plug in hybrid (PHEV)?

Hybrid cars and vans work on a combination of fossil fuel (petrol or diesel) and electric power. Some vehicles are powered by a choice (or combination) of a conventional engine or battery operated electric motor, depending on driver selection, the state of battery charge or driving conditions. Others use ‘range extender technology’ – the engine never actually powers the vehicle, it’s basically an onboard generator, topping up the charge in the battery pack as and when required. Both of these types can also be charged at home, at work, or at a public chargepoint in the same way as a fully electric car or van.

The Government has already stated that, along with new petrol and diesel cars and vans being banned from sale from 2030, hybrid vehicles must also be withdrawn by 2035, meaning that we’ll only be able to buy or lease fully electric vehicles (unless it’s a truck).

Previously, in an effort to persuade drivers to adopt low emission technology when sourcing a new car or van, hybrid vehicles which emitted less than 75g/km of Co2, and that could cover a minimum of 20 miles using battery power alone were eligible for a 100% discount on the London congestion charge. Normally costing £15 per day, and operating from 7:00 to 22:00 7 days a week, this would save the PHEV driver over £300 per month if entering the zone 5 days a week. This charge is payable by drivers of non compliant vehicles in addition to the daily ULEZ fee, the area of which has recently been extended right out to the north and south circular roads.

On Monday October 25th 2021, this concession to drivers of PHEV vehicles was withdrawn in its entirety. Hybrid owners will now have to budget for this charge when planning any journeys within the zone. A senior officer for the Greater London Authority has been quoted as saying that ‘We’re ending the cleaner vehicle discount for plug-in hybrids in recognition of the point that vehicles (irrespective of emissions) contribute to congestion and we want to be encouraging a shift to walking, cycling and public transport.’

So are the days of the PHEV numbered? We think there’s still an attraction for some, particularly those motorists who want to dip their toes in the water when it comes to electric but are still nervous about range, something that hybrid owners don’t have to worry about any more than drivers of petrol or diesel cars and vans. For those who need to drive in central London regularly though, a significant benefit is now history.

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