Just one in three UK adults is aware that the London Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) came into force yesterday (April 8, 2019), according to a new study.

A survey by Nissan found that just 37 percent of British adults know that drivers of vehicles that fail to meet the required emissions standard will have to pay £12.50 to enter the Congestion Charge zone in central London. This fee is charged on top of the Congestion Charge, and is paid by drivers of diesel-powered vehicles that fail to meet the Euro 6 emissions standard and petrol-powered vehicles that fail to meet the Euro 4 emissions standard.

Ultra Low Emissions Zone sign on asphalt with Nissan Leaf and London taxi

Both standards limit vehicles to 80 mg of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emitted per kilometre travelled, although they apply to vehicles of different eras. The Euro 6 standard came in on September 1, 2014, but the RAC says it applied to most newly registered vehicles from September 1, 2015. The Euro 4 standard, meanwhile, was introduced on January 1, 2005, but the RAC says it was applicable to most new cars from January 1, 2006. If you are unsure of whether your vehicle meets the emissions rules, you can use the Transport for London (TfL) website to check.

Gridlock traffic in London UK

Speaking before the scheme was introduced, London’s Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues, said: “London's filthy air is a public health crisis that causes thousands of premature deaths, harms lung development in children and requires urgent, bold action. We are leading the world in delivering the central London Ultra-Low Emission Zone, which is set to reduce polluting emissions by 45 percent.”

Ultra Low Emissions Zone sign with Nissan Leaf

Although few were aware of the ULEZ, Nissan’s study found that almost half of respondents supported the introduction of such a scheme, even if three-quarters (75 percent) of those quizzed had no idea which standard their vehicle was built to. Even those living outside the capital showed some support for the idea, with 35 percent saying they thought their local city would benefit from a ULEZ and 31 percent claiming it would change how much they drove. More than a quarter said it would make them want to switch to an electric vehicle, which would be exempt from the charge.

However, Nissan’s research revealed concerns for the environment were far more likely to push people into electric vehicles. Almost two-thirds of respondents (60 percent) said they would switch to electric power for this reason, while 43 percent said they would move away from internal combustion engines if the incentives were good enough.

Nissan Leaf charging in London

“It’s clear that as the UK continues to implement its Road to Zero strategy - which will see at least half of all new cars sold being ultra-low emission models by 2030 - UK citizens are taking a more active interest in the benefits of electric vehicles, which contribute strongly to improving air quality in city centres,” said Andrew Sellars, sales director and interim MD of Nissan’s UK operations.

“However, it’s also clear that more needs to be done to increase public awareness about how electric vehicles, such as the Nissan Leaf, can help drivers avoid charges like those in the new ULEZ zone. The financial incentives to purchase an electric vehicle can be greater than £10,000, and are there to encourage people to change their vehicle for one with zero tailpipe emissions.”

Gallery: Nissan in London Ultra Low Emissions Zone