Q: Which cars, available with an automatic gearbox, are exempt from paying the London congestion charge? Jeremy Cameron
A: Three types of car are except from paying the London congestion charge: electric vehicles, cars powered by alternative fuels (petrol-electric hydrids, LPG and dual-fuel engines) and vehicles with nine or more seats.
The Toyota Prius and Honda Civic IMA are petrol-electric hybrids that both come with an automatic gearbox as standard and can comfortably seat four people. Lexus’s new RX400h off-roader and forthcoming GS450h executive saloon also use hybrid technology and are available with automatic gearboxes but are not eligible for exemption.
Vauxhall offers LPG versions of the Corsa, Astra and Vectra, all of which are available in automatic form. Alternatively, you could have an existing petrol-engined car converted to run on LPG. This would then be eligible for exemption if the modification was carried out by an approved company. For a list of approved converters, contact the LP Gas Association (www.lpga.co.uk).
The only car that comes with nine seats is the Land Rover Defender 130 station wagon, but is not available as an automatic.
If you run a car that is exempt from the charge, you will still need to register it with Transport for London before travelling into the congestion zone or you will pick up a fine.