If you own an older petrol or diesel car you may now have to pay £21.50 per day to drive in the London Congestion zone – £10 more than the owners of newer, cleaner cars. Read on to find out why and if the T-Charge is applicable to your vehicle.
What is the T-Charge?
The Toxicity or T-Charge is an extra daily £10 fee on top of the London Congestion Charge that’s payable by drivers of older vehicles who wish to drive through certain parts of the city. It will be enforced from 7am to 6pm, the same hours as the Congestion Charge.
The added cost of driving in the capital has been introduced by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as part of plans designed to significantly reduce pollution.
Announcing the T-Charge, Khan said: “It's staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems. The T-charge is a vital step in tackling the dirtiest diesels.”
Citing medical research, Khan said that almost 10,000 people in the capital die annually due to polluted air.
Who has to pay it?
The registered keeper of any car that doesn’t meet Euro 4 emissions standards (generally cars built before the start of 2006) that is driven in the zone during its operating hours. It also applies to quadricycles that don’t meet the Euro 3 standard and HVGs and coaches that don’t meet Euro IV.
There is a 90% discount for Congestion Zone residents taking the daily fee down to £1.50, and a further reduction for anyone paying via the automated payment system.
The T-Charge is aimed at deterring the most polluting vehicles from entering central London, which is why it applies to all cars with emissions standards below Euro 4. Broadly speaking, it will apply to all cars first registered before 1 January 2006 when the Euro 4 standard became compulsory for all new cars.
What are the Euro standards?
Euro standards have got progressively tougher over the years and include a limit on the Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions new vehicles are allowed to produce.
For example, the most modern vehicles now have to comply to a Euro 6 emissions standard, which allows petrol and diesel cars to emit just 0.06g/km and 0.08g/km of NOx respectively. In contrast a Euro 3 diesel car can emit up to 0.5g/km of NOx and a petrol one 0.15g/km.
How much does the T-Charge cost?
The charge is on top of the current £11.50 Congestion Charge, meaning drivers of applicable vehicles travelling in the city during peak times will have to pay a total of £21.50 – or £20.50 if using the automated charging system.
The system is regulated by the existing network of monitoring cameras that currently police the Congestion Charge zone, and will be able to fine drivers who fail to pay the extra fee for driving a polluting car into the city.
Find out more about the London Ultra Low Emission Zone
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Considering changing to an electric car? Read our guide to the best models - and the ones to avoid
Electric cars are becoming more mainstream by the day, and this is only going to accelerate as rules are introduced to limit which vehicles are allowed into major cities.
The main thing holding these cars back remains range anxiety – the fear that you won't have enough juice to get to where you’re going. This is because electric cars can typically cover only about 150 miles between charges, and it takes much longer to charge a battery than it does to fill a petrol tank. However, this is slowly becoming less of an issue.
Even now, there are luxury electric cars which can cover more than twice that average distance on a single charge. And even if you can't stretch to one of these, an electric car can still make sense, because they're cheap to run and are ideal for journeys such as the school run, trips to the shops or a short commute.
So, which electric cars should you consider? Here we count down our favourites, tell you which ones to avoid, and look ahead to the models you'll be able to buy soon.
Top 10 electric cars
10. Volkswagen e-Up
The regular Volkswagen Up is one of our favourite city cars, and this electric version is just as practical and good to drive; it feels almost entirely uncompromised by its conversion to electric power. It's just that unfortunately, it costs twice as much as the petrol models.
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9. Nissan Leaf
One of the more affordable electric models on sale, the Leaf is about the same size as a Vauxhall Astra and similarly easy to drive. There are two battery options to choose from: a 24kWh that allows a theoretical range between charges of 124 miles, and a 30kWh that extends this to 155 miles. The latter is only available on the more expensive trim levels, though.
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8. Toyota Mirai
The Mirai is a hydrogen-fuelled car, which means that you'll need to fill it up with hydrogen at specially chosen filling stations, of which there are currently very few. It's powered by a single 152bhp electric motor and can travel for up to 400 miles between refills. We found it to be quiet and well controlled, but at around £66,000 it's certainly pricey, and with limited volumes coming to the UK it's likely to be a very rare sight.
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