Emission Equality Congestion Charge Campaign

I've just had an interesting note from Volvo Cars UK regarding the Emission Equality Congestion Charge campaign.

As you may already know, London has a Congestion Charge which aims to limit the amount of traffic in busy London streets. The benefits are numerous and the reduction of traffic is beneficial in many ways. London residents see & hear less vehicles (70,000 less vehicles a year, according to official figures, public transport flows better, cyclists have a better time getting around, the air is less polluted and money goes into local government coffers (hopefully to invest in better public transport and cycling schemes).

There are however concessions to the Congestion Charge with the Alternative Fuel Discount - to qualify for this discount vehicles
"must be powered by an alternative fuel, bi fuel or dual fuel, and not solely by petrol or diesel. It must also meet strict emissions criteria."
Under the current rules, the AFD gives drivers a 100% discount, but Volvo Cars UK believe the method of discounting is now obsolete because the Volvo S40 DRIVe emmits less CO2 than most hybrid vehicles and it is the current What Car? Green Car of the Year.

Volvo questioned the fairness of the AFD scheme saying that, if the discount should exist then it should not bias any one particular technology over another. You can see their point: If a hybrid emits more CO2 than a Volvo S40 DRIVe and gets a 100% discount then that's hardly fair is it?

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has since launched a consultation on this matter, the Emission Equality Congestion Charge Campaign, instigated by Volvo.

The Mayor of London’s new ‘Greener Vehicle Discount’ proposes that any cars registered after 1 January 2011 that emit less than 100g/km of CO2 and meet the Euro V standard for air quality will be exempt. In addition, and as a way of encouraging the uptake of electric cars, the same exemption will apply to full battery electric and plug-in hybrid cars.

Transport for London (TfL) invites feedback on the new proposals with the deadline for responses by 2 August 2010, so visit their website to express your views on the proposed changes to the Congestion Charge.

Once a decision has been reached, the results will be published and the changes will be in force from 4th January 2011.

Welcoming the announcement, the MD of Volvo Cars UK, Peter Rask, said:

"When we started the Emission Equality campaign, it was clear to us that the discounts offered to hybrid and alternative fuel cars were out of date and unfair to the many thousands of motorists who'd decided to take a different technical route to achieving a lower level of emissions.

“On behalf of all manufacturers of conventionally-powered low emission cars, all we asked The Mayor for was a level playing field. I'm very pleased that this consultation has been launched and the proposals could give Londoners a far broader choice of low-emission cars in the future.”

Volvo already offers a sub-100g/km Volvo C30 SportsCoupe with prototype full battery-electric C30s in the pipeline and plans to release a V70 plug-in hybrid estate in 2012 that emits less than 50g/km CO2.