If you’re planning a holiday or business car trip to London from the middle of August you need to check if you will be hit by a daily charge as the Ultra Low Emission Zone extends to the perimeter of the M25 orbital motorway.
With the ULEZ expansion due this summer, many of us are wondering how we may be impacted. Is paying the daily charge worth it, or could trading a petrol or diesel car in for a ULEZ-compliant model actually save money in the long run?
Uswitch car insurance experts have answered all the questions surrounding ULEZ and how it could impact the cost of driving.
What impact will the ULEZ expansion have on the cost of driving?
The expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in Greater London has had a significant financial impact on driving. Non-compliant vehicles entering the ULEZ now face a daily charge of £12.50 for cars, motorcycles, and vans, while heavier vehicles like buses and lorries face a charge of £100.
According to data from TFL, this has encouraged many drivers to upgrade to cleaner alternatives, but the transition comes with costs. For instance, the average cost of purchasing a new electric vehicle (EV) in the UK is around £30,000, although government grants can help offset some of this expense.
Additionally, the ULEZ expansion has created market shifts affecting the cost of driving. There has been an increase in second-hand EV prices due to the increased demand for low-emission vehicles. However, high-polluting vehicles have experienced a decline in value due to their decreased desirability.
How to avoid unexpected ULEZ fines and penalties in new zones
Know your status
To determine if your vehicle is exempt from ULEZ charges, check if it meets emission standards. Use the vehicle checker tool on the Transport for London (TfL) website for a quick and easy verification.
Plan your routes
If your vehicle is not ULEZ-compliant, plan your routes to avoid entering the ULEZ zone during chargeable hours or explore alternative transportation options, such as public transport or car-sharing services.
Stay updated with ULEZ policies
Keep yourself informed about any updates or changes to ULEZ requirements, including potential expansions to other cities or modifications to emission standards. Regularly check official sources such as your local council or the TFL website for the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Non ULEZ-compliant commuters could be paying £62.50 per week in charges
As of June 2023, the ULEZ charge in London is £12.50 per day for most vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, and vans up to and including 3.5 tons. This charge is applicable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How to find out whether you’re eligible for ULEZ exemptions or discounts:
- Certain vehicles are exempt from the ULEZ charge, including electric vehicles, registered disabled passenger vehicles, historic vehicles (40 years and older), and certain types of agricultural and military vehicles
- Residents of the ULEZ zone may also be eligible for a “sunset period” discount if they have vehicles that do not meet the ULEZ standards but meet specific criteria. This discount is applicable until 24 October 2024.
Waiting lists for compliant vehicles:
The introduction of ULEZ can drive up the demand for low-emission vehicles, including hybrid or electric cars. For example, sales of low emission cars such as PHEV ( plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) & BEV (Battery electric vehicle) have seen an increase of 21.2% & 32.7% increase from 2022 to 2023.
As the number of compliant vehicles increases, insurance companies may consider them to be lower risk, which could potentially lead to lower insurance premiums.
How to find out whether your car is ULEZ-compliant
To comply with ULEZ requirements, cars must meet specific emission standards. The current ULEZ standards in London are as follows:
- Petrol vehicles meeting Euro 4 emissions standard or higher are exempt from ULEZ charge (usually post-2005)
- Diesel vehicles registered after September 2015 generally need to meet Euro 6 emissions standard or higher to avoid ULEZ charge
- Vehicle emission standards are based on exhaust emissions, not manufacture or registration dates, so older vehicles can meet requirements while newer ones may not.
Leoni Moninska, Uswitch car insurance expert said, “Although the ULEZ expansion from 29 August 2023 is making positive changes towards reducing pollution in major cities, it comes at an additional cost for drivers.
“The cost of living crisis is already adding pressure to household budgets and this additional cost to driving will now see UK drivers with non-compliant vehicles such as cars, vans and motorcycles, facing charges of up to £62.50 per week.
“However, there are ways that drivers can steer clear of paying the new charges, including:
Planning journeys to avoid the ULEZ by selecting “avoid tolls” on a sat-nav. and using trusted sources such as your local council and the TFL website to stay up to date on the latest policies.”