After a period of consultation it has now been confirmed that cars emitting 100 g/km CO2 or less, as long as they meet Euro 5 air quality standards, will be exempt from the London Congestion Charge.
This new emissions-based system will replace the current 'technology-based' approach, meaning that hybrids will no longer be exempt from the charge - unless they comply with the criteria above.
The outcome is likely to be that lots of diesel-engined cars will replace the popularity of cars such as the previous generation Toyota Prius, which emitted 104 g/km CO2, and which will soon have to pay to drive in central London. But although many of the new crop of diesels may be sub-100 g/km in terms of CO2, they still have emissions that are in most cases worse for local air quality than petrol and certainly petrol-electric hybrid cars. And local air quality is a huge problem in London.
Electric cars will be appearing from mainstream manufacturers from early 2011, and with zero tailpipe emissions they will provide a much better solution to help with clean air in central London. However they will be treated no differently than a diesel car emitting 99 g/km CO2.
Transport for London has said it will monitor developments and another review will be conducted in 2012, when it will decide whether or not to reduce the 100% discount threshold to vehicles emitting under 80 g/km CO2.
As well as the new criteria for exemption, the Congestion Charge for other vehicles will also be increasing in cost, from £8 to £10 per day - if paid in advance or on the day of travel. This will increase to £12 if the charge isn't paid until the following charging day.
The cost will be £9 if registered for the new congestion charging auto pay system (charged in arrears) or the fleet scheme (where payment is upfront).
The West London Extension is also being removed.
Drivers can register for the Greener Vehicle Discount (GVD) from 4th January 2011, when the new scheme starts, for a payment of £10 per vehicle per year.
Some hybrids such as the new Prius will be exempt, but the 101 g/km Honda Insight will still have to pay £10 per day. See our Green Car Guide for the lowest emission vehicles in class.