London Imposes $50 Guzzler Fee on SUVs and Lux Roadsters

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London Mayor Ken Livingstone is on a tear. Yesterday he announced a £500 million investment in new bicycling infrastructure. Today, he approved a plan to charge the drivers of SUVs, high powered sports cars and other large engine, high emission vehicles a £25 fee ($48.75!) to drive into Central London’s congestion charging zone. Simultaneously, low emission vehicles will become exempt from paying the charge. In a press release, Livingstone said,

The CO2 charge will encourage people to switch to cleaner vehicles or public transport and ensure that those who choose to carry on driving the most polluting vehicles help pay for the environmental damage they cause. This is the "polluter pays" principle. At the same time, the 100 per cent discount we are introducing for the lowest CO2 emitting vehicles will give drivers in London an incentive to use the least polluting cars available.

BBC News has more:

The new charges come into force on 27 October this year.

Transport for London (TfL) estimates about 33,000 vehicles that will now fall into the £25 charge sector drive into London each day.

It predicts about two-thirds of these will no longer come into the charge zone once the new fee is introduced.

London’s transport commissioner, Peter Hendy, said the new charges were likely to bring in £30m to £50m a year, with most of this money going on new cycling and walking initiatives…

…The National Alliance Against Tolls said: "This move is not based on logic but on the whipping up of prejudices against those who use these particular vehicles."

Photo: Bennet Summers / Flickr.

  • Congestion Pricer

    And to think we’re arguing about a measly $8!!

    Mr. Livingstone, I salute you!

  • true dat

    Why exempt low-emission vehicles?

    Emissions or no, all cars generate space pollution that severely compromises biking, walking, surface transit and urban livability.

  • Guz

    Whup the SUVs with a $42 pollution surcharge and keep the $8 congestion charge. The first pedestrian killed in New York City was killed by an electric car. Dead is dead. Congestion is congestion.

  • Yeah… not sure that a 100% exemption for any motor vehicle is a good precedent. London could easily and quickly be re-congested with these things:
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/07/volkswagens_pol.php

    (Wind turbines, greenish paint, hooray!) On the other hand, once you have the infrastructure (as the new tank surcharge demonstrates) you can make changes as you need to, so when 62mpg Polos become a nuisance you can bump them back up to at least £4 daily.

  • Hilary

    Giving out incentives to people to convert to more fuel-efficient, smaller vehicles is exactly what we should be doing. We could be doing it with our restrictions on the city’s parkways and bridges. Why should NYC accept the phony redefinition of “truck” and “automobile” created as loopholes for SUVs and light trucks?

  • anon

    It sounds a bit punative and arbitrary to me. So a guy who drives 2 miles in a 10 miles a gallon car is punished but someone who drives 100 miles with a 30 miles a gallon car isn’t?

    I don’t know if the Mayor of London has the authority but a gas tax is a far more equitible way to discourage undesirable behavior than this.

    I’d be worried about provoking a backlash with regulations so arbitrary.

  • momos

    I agree that congestion is congestion. It’s not smart to exempt a car from the congestion charge, no matter whether it pollutes or not.

    However, a $50/day guzzler charge is s great idea. It compliments the UK’s general car tax scheme, which taxes autos according to the grams of CO2 emitted per km.

    This is one of the reasons diesel engines have become so popular in the UK. Modern diesels burn cleanly and emit far less CO2 than gasoline engines, while also giving far better mileage.

    Interesting historical note: Rudolph Diesel, the German engineer who invented the diesel engine, originally designed his engine to run on peanut oil. Only later were diesel engines adapted to run on fossil fuel.

  • st

    I agree with #2 tru dat–why exempt low emmision vehicles? If the goal is to reduce traffic congestion then ALL vehicles should pay. Otherwise it becomes a socialist class tax–penalizing those who happen to earn more.

  • Perhaps Livingstone wants to clean up the air as well as the streets?

  • Anonymous from EU

    #8: Completely and utterly wrong.

    Those people chose to buy a car that costs more and pollutes more. They could just as well have bought a car that pollutes less but they chose otherwise.

    You are assuming that being paid more means you are allowed more liberties than what is allowed to those who are paid a bit less. Common misconception.

  • I’ll say it again

    #8’s confusion follows logically from the ambiguity of the word “congestion” in the CP plan. Congestion is being used to mean both “crowding” (in which case #8 has a point) and “pollution” (in which she is of course wrong.) Many of us know that the two are linked (because vehicles that idle cause more pollution) but the whole debate has been clouded by this failure to explain and set clear goals. I guess it was deemed too risky. Look where it’s brought us.

  • Matt

    #6 the zone only covers a small area, so it’s more like “the guy who idles, doing an average of 6mph, for a 2 mile journey” whatever kind of car you have! Petrol tax is already quite high, petrol is about £1 a litre.

    #9 yes, the congestion charge’s original main aim was to reduce pollution. London has the worst air pollution in western Europe.

    The van in the picture will probably have to pay a charge too, it looks really old (the phone number on the back changed 13 years ago when they added a digit to all London numbers to make more space for new ones).

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