London Mayor Boris Johnson has unveiled a ‘delivery plan’ to prepare the capital’s road users for the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), which goes live in the centre of the capital from 7 September 2020.
The ULEZ scheme – which covers the same area as the congestion charge zone - will require all cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses, coaches and heavy good vehicles to meet minimum emissions and pollution standards as part of an attempt to radically improve air quality in the centre of the capital.
The most ambitious part of the plan involves diesel vehicles. From 2020, only Euro 6-rated diesel vehicles will be allowed into the ULEZ zone without charge.
Cars, vans and minibuses that are not Euro 6 rated can pay a £12.50 daily charge to enter the ULEZ zone, but this will be on top of the congestion charge, which currently costs £11.50 per day.
Transport for London (TfL) says HGVs, buses and coaches that are not Euro 6 compatible will be charged £100 per day to enter the ULEZ zone on top of the daily congestion charge.
The new rules are less onerous for petrol-engined vehicles. Cars, vans and minibuses that meet Euro 4 emissions regulations will be allowed into the ULEZ without extra charge. Motorcycles and scooters must meet Euro 3 standards.
TfL says its own bus fleet operating inside the zone will use 3000 hybrid double-deckers and 300 zero-emission single-deckers, driven by either batteries or hydrogen.
TfL will also bring in legislation for taxis and private hire vehicles. From 1 January 2018, all newly licenced taxis must be ‘zero-emission capable’ with a minimum zero-emission range of 30 miles and an overall CO2 rating of under 50g/km.
TfL also says it will have installed a rapid charging network to support the new cabs by 2018.
From the same date, all newly licenced private hire vehicles will also have to be zero-emissions capable. TfL says vehicles should either be rated under 50g/km of CO2 with a 10-mile zero-emission range, or between 50g/km and 75g/km of CO2 and with a 20-mile minimum zero-emission range.
Vehicles in the ‘Historic vehicle’ tax class – built before 1 January 1973 – will be exempt from the ULEZ charges.
The Greater London Authority and TfL say they also want the local London boroughs to support the introduction of electric and hybrid-plug in vehicles in order to encourage Greater London residents to switch to low and zero-emission cars.
They want at least 100,000 ULEZ cars in use by 2020 and possibly as many 200,000. TfL says one third of journeys in the capital are completed by private vehicle.
Hackney Council says it is working to introduce enough roadside charging points so that "all households are no more than 500 metres from a fast charger".
Charging infrastructure will be the biggest challenge for the adoption of ULEZ cars in the capital because two thirds of households do not have off-road parking.
The London Fire Brigade will also replace its support cars for electric vehicles by 2016 and is calling on manufacturers to 'bring forward' technology that would allow zero-emission fire engines.