RAC Cars News


2013's Congestion Charge Beaters

By raccars Published

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Last week's news of a reduction to London's congestion charge threshold will have come as a huge blow to motorists who have diligently invested in sub-100g/km vehicles. From 1st July, only cars emitting less than 75g/km will be exempt from the fee, which lets out the Mini Cooper D, Fiat 500 TwinAir and the Lexus CT200h and any other traditionally powered vehicles. Only hybrid or electric vehicles meet the new requirements.

There will a period of grace for owners who have already signed up to the Greener Vehicle Discount, the so-called 'Sunset Period,' which will allow them until June 2016 congestion charge free. From that time onward, only a very limited list of cars fits the bill:

Vauxhall Ampera/Chevrolet Volt

A range-extender powertrain gives this car emissions of just 27g/km, making it eminently suitable for the new conditions. A 1.4 litre petrol engine is paired with an electric motor, to give a 40 mile, emission free driving range, while plug-in recharging is also possible.

Peugeot ion/Citroen C-Zero/Mitsubishi iMiEV

Like the Vauxhall, these are badge engineered versions of the same car, with an impressive CO2 free range of 93 miles. However, the purchase price is high compared to rivals.

Nissan Leaf

The recently updated Leaf claims to offer 90 miles before it needs recharging and, being all electric, has emissions of 0. It's also relatively affordable, compared to others on the list.

Renault Twizy

At just over £6,000, this EV is beautifully affordable but with only about 40 miles between charges, it is strictly for city use only.

Renault Zoe

Like the Twizy and Nissan Leaf, this EV demands a monthly battery lease fee but offers a decent recharge range of 130 miles. With the OLEV grant scheme, it compares to standard superminis in price and has been praised for its style and performance.

Toyota Prius Plug-In

The Prius has experience and size on its side, plus 134bhp under the bonnet for performance of 0-62mph in 11.4 seconds. The latest versions also improve on the original's range and at 49g of CO2 per km, it fits London's congestion charge criteria admirably.

Tesla Roadster

Thanks to the Lotus Elise inspired Tesla Roadster, sports car fans can also flout the new congestion charge rules. It's not cheap but it's very fast, has a 130 mile range and, with production already having ceased, has exclusivity value.

Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid

Even with an OLEV grant, the V60 Hybrid is expensive, but it emits only 49g/km of CO2 and with a 212bhp 2.4 litre diesel engine, mated to a 69bhp electric motor, it will get you to 140mph.

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