Driving in central London can be an expensive business mainly thanks to numerous new charges imposed on drivers, but do electric cars have to pay the congestion charge? Read on to find out.
What is the congestion charge zone?
If you’re unfamiliar with London’s congestion charge, here’s a brief overview. It was introduced in 2003 with the aim of reducing traffic and pollution in the capital. There’s a flat fee of £15 per day for cars to drive into London, with areas affected signposted with a white C in a red circle.
The congestion charge applies between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday, and midday to 6pm on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays. It is different from the London Ultra-Low Emissions Zone, which applies 24 hours a day, every day of the year (except Christmas day).
The congestion charge operates inside the London inner ring road, including the City of London and the West End.
It is enforced using number plate recognition cameras that detect when you drive into the specified charging zone.
Are electric cars exempt from the congestion charge?
Good news for the owners of electric cars, you’re exempt from paying the London congestion charge. Zero-emission vehicles are eligible for a 100% discount, all you have to do is apply for a Cleaner Vehicle Discount.
Until 2021, low emission vehicles that emit less than 75g/km of CO2 and can travel at least 20 miles on electric power were also exempt from the congestion charge. The rules have changed since though and the exemption now only applies to pure EVs.
How to apply for congestion charge exemption
You can apply for the Cleaner Vehicle Discount on the Transport for London website. You’ll need to upload photos of your V5C logbook, and it costs £10 per car to register.
If you don’t register, you’ll still have to pay the congestion charge and you’ll be fined if you don’t. You’ll also have to continue to pay the charge until your application has been approved.
What are the best congestion charge exempt cars to buy?
You get funky styling and zero emissions in a small, city-friendly package.
The Peugeot e-208 is also a car worth considering. Like the Mini, it looks great, it’s compact enough for navigating London traffic and also comes packed full of tech. For a full run-down of the best congestion charge exempt cars, tap the button below.
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