Third of London drivers plan to sell their car head of ULEZ expansion

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Londoners are making arrangements to ditch their current cars ahead of the proposal to extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in the capital in a year’s time, according to a new report.

Mayor Sadiq Khan has already tabled his plan for the zone to cover all 33 boroughs in the capital from August 2023, which would see anyone getting behind the wheel of an older vehicle inside the massive boundary hit with £12.50 daily charges.

With the expansion expected to be given the green light after the consultation on the proposal closes on Friday, one in three drivers in London have responded to a poll saying they are planning to sell their cars in the next six month.

Third of Londoners want to sell their cars ready with ULEZ expansion looming: Some 36% of drivers in the capital say they need to sell up before the zone gets bigger in August 2023

Third of Londoners want to sell their cars ready with ULEZ expansion looming: Some 36% of drivers in the capital say they need to sell up before the zone gets bigger in August 2023 

More than a third (36 per cent) said they will sell their current motor in preparation for the zone’s next expansion in a survey carried out by Motorway.

The ULEZ was only extended back in October, with the boundary rippling out to the North and South Circular roads in a move.

At the time, Transport for London estimated the move would affect 100,000 cars in the city per day, though the AA believed calculated that it would impact closer to 300,000 drivers in the capital.

Yet Sadiq Khan wants to continue the squeeze on motorists by making the zone even bigger from August 2023.

In a statement announcing his plans back in March, the Mayor said there is only a ‘small window of opportunity left to reduce carbon emissions to help save the planet’ and declared there is ‘still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the lungs of young Londoners and leading to thousands of deaths every year’.

He added: ‘If no additional action is taken to reduce air pollution beyond the existing polices, around 550,000 Londoners would develop diseases attributable to air pollution over the next 30 years and the cumulative cost to the NHS and the social care system is estimated to be £10.4 billion.’

Motorway, the specialist car-selling website, said the decision to further extend the ULEZ is causing growing concern among locals.

In the poll of 1,000 motorists based in London, three in five said they are worried about how it will affect their finances. 

Based on this response alone, it suggest that more than half responding to the research are those with non-ULEZ compliant older cars.

Two in three say they can’t afford to switch to a newer petrol model that meets the ULEZ requirements to avoid the £12.50 charge – let alone stretch their budgets to premium-priced electric vehicles.

The car sales site’s research also found that two in five of Londoners sold their car when ULEZ was originally introduced.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has proposed for the ULEZ to be extended again from August 2023 to cover all 33 boroughs within Greater London

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has proposed for the ULEZ to be extended again from August 2023 to cover all 33 boroughs within Greater London

Explaining his reasons for another ULEZ expansion, the Mayor said there is 'still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the lungs of young Londoners and leading to thousands of deaths every year'

Explaining his reasons for another ULEZ expansion, the Mayor said there is ‘still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the lungs of young Londoners and leading to thousands of deaths every year’

When asked about the reasons for selling their petrol or diesel cars, almost half (47 per cent) of Londoners said they were making the switch to an electric vehicle in light of the potential expansion of ULEZ in a year. 

However, due to the rising cost of living, many will be unable to afford that luxury – especially those on low incomes who are running much older cars because that is all they can afford, and are likely heavily reliant on them.

What’s more, the research also suggested that a third (36 per cent) of those in the capital are unaware the ULEZ is due to be extended again next August.

How to check if your car is ULEZ compliant 

Exemption from the £12.50-a-day ULEZ charge is different depending on the type of vehicle you own and the fuel it uses:

  • Petrol cars and vans: need to meet Euro 4 standards (vehicles post-2006) 
  • Diesel cars and vans: need to meet Euro 6 standards (vehicles post-2015) 
  • Motorbikes and mopeds: need to meet Euro 3 standards (post-2007 vehicles) 
  • Buses, coaches and lorries: need to meet or exceed the Euro VI standard

The dates provided are merely a guideline and some newer cars than this might not qualify to be driven for free within the ULEZ. 

If you’re unsure of the Euro standard of your car use TfL’s vehicle checker to find out if you’ll be charged.

Alex Buttle, co-founder of Motorway, said his website has tracked a rise in the volume of diesel cars being offered for sale, which he said could be linked to time ticking out before London’s emission zone’s next expansion.

‘The cost of petrol and diesel, along with the cost of living, are rising fast. This coupled with the extension of the ULEZ in London, means more urban drivers are questioning their current car and driving habits,’ he said.

‘We’ve seen a 21 per cent rise in diesel cars being sold on Motorway since last month and the research revealed many more motorists will be looking to sell in the next six months due to the likely expansion of ULEZ to cover the whole of the city.’

Earlier this month, the DfT confirmed that diesel car ownership in London has dropped by a quarter

Privately-owned diesel car numbers in the capital depleted from 155,274 in the first three months of 2021 to 116,796 in the same period this year – a decline of a quarter.

However, the decline in diesel numbers has done little to cut toxic emissions in the capital in the last six months.

Last week, the DfT published a report on the six-month impact of extending the ULEZ from Central London (the same area covered by the Congestion Charge Zone) to the North South Circular roads, which was enforced from 25 October 2021.

It showed that nitrogen dioxide emission levels in London have fallen further from targets while harmful particulate matter levels have also remained constant, despite fewer older vehicles being used in the city.

According to the report, an average of 94 per cent of vehicles driven within the current ULEZ boundary daily meet the necessary emission requirements to avoid the £12.50 charge.

That compares to 85 per cent being compliant six months earlier. 

However, this only related to vehicles used in the existing ULEZ zone, and doesn’t take into account the number of older cars being used by drivers living and commuting into the proposed larger boundary for next year. 

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