In 2021, the government wants all hybrids charged for entering London.
New proposals that would see the current Congestion Charge exemption for some hybrid vehicles and private hire taxis removed are entering a public consultation.
At present, the Ultra-Low Emission Discount allows vehicles that emit fewer than 76g of CO2 per kilometre to enter the London Congestion Charge zone for free.
However, the proposal would see this exemption scrapped in 2019 to be replaced with a ‘phased’ Cleaner Vehicle Discount, which would only apply to zero-emission-capable vehicles (i.e. plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles).
In 2021, Transport for London (TfL) plans to change the Cleaner Vehicle Discount again, so that only fully electric and vehicles qualify.
As a result, some hybrid cars will lose their exemption in 2019, while all hybrids – even those capable of long distances on electric power alone – will no longer qualify for free entry into the city. TfL says this will affect around 10 percent of vehicles currently eligible for the discount.
The government is also considering a central London zero-emission zone, which would prevent any petrol, diesel or hybrid car entering the city centre from 2025.
As well as targeting polluting private cars, the government’s proposals will also clamp down on private hire taxis. Should the scheme pass the public consultation, pre-booked private hire vehicles (PHVs) will have to pay the congestion charge according to their emissions.
Hackney carriages, or black cabs, will not be affected by the proposals.
Alex Williams, TfL's Director of City Planning, said: 'If we are to clean up the capital's toxic air and tackle congestion in central London, we need to have the appropriate incentives as well as the right interventions.
'The Congestion Charge has had a real impact on improving London's roads for all since it launched fifteen years ago.
‘However, over that time, the availability and standard of low-emission vehicles has greatly advanced and the number of private hire vehicles entering the zone during charging hours has rocketed. It is only right that we keep the discounts and exemptions for the scheme under review to make sure it continues to be effective.'
Bridget Fox, sustainable transport Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: 'The Congestion Charge plays a vital role in cutting unnecessary traffic, keeping London moving and helping clean up our dirty air.
'It's right that TfL is keeping the Congestion Charge under review and integrating it with other clean air measures. We hope Londoners will take this opportunity to speak up for healthier streets.'