Do electric cars pay congestion charge?
Electric cars are the future, but that’s not to say their present popularity isn’t booming. There’s a lot to love about these cars that forgo traditional fuel and all the CO2 emissions nasties that come with it. Not least the fact that every car brand worth its salt has at least one electric vehicle to its name, for a huge variety of models to choose from.
If you call the capital home, though, then you may want to consider an electric vehicle for a different reason. The congestion charge. Electric vehicles are automatically exempt from the LEZ and ULEZ but are electric cars exempt from congestion charge fees as well?
Do electric cars have to pay congestion charge?
- Simple answer: no.
- Long answer: no, but only until 2025.
At the moment, the congestion charge zone (CCZ) gives current adopters of electric cars the benefit of not having to pay charges. Known as the ‘cleaner vehicle discount’, vehicles with CO2 emissions of less than 75g/km and a minimum 20-mile zero-emission capable range will face zero fees within the CCZ. As of October 25th 2021, hybrid cars will no longer be eligible, only battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars. So, it might be the ideal time to sell your hybrid car.
In 2025, even driving a clean vehicle will no longer qualify you for an exemption. After all, with the 2030 ban on petrol and diesel cars on its way, giving all-electric vehicle drivers exemptions from the congestion charge would mean eliminating the charge entirely.
What is the congestion charge?
The congestion charge is a fee that drivers must pay in order to enter central London. The charge was introduced in 2003 and London’s congestion charge zone remains the largest in the world. The zone was introduced with several goals in mind:
- To reduce congestion and traffic in central London
- To combat air and noise pollution
As well as this, the congestion charge helps fund wider Transport for London systems such as the city’s buses, tubes, and trams. Primarily, the CCZ’s goal was to cut down the number of vehicles on central London’s roads and encourage the use of public transport. Since then, the LEZ and the ULEZ have both been introduced with stricter rulings around the issue of pollution and CO2 emissions.
What happens if I drive in the congestion charge zone?
If you drive in the CCZ in a car that is not congestion charge exempt then you will face a fee of £15. You will have to pay the charge for every day you enter the zone. You will not be charged for entering multiple times on the same day. If your car is exempt, then you will not have to pay a fee.
Am I automatically exempt from the congestion charge?
No, if you haven’t registered for the discount, you will have to pay the charge regardless of car type. It is your responsibility to let TFL know you are driving a car eligible for exemption by getting in touch and providing them with your vehicle’s V5C and clear evidence that it is electric. You can challenge any fees you have been charged, but best to just do the essential admin first and not have to run into unnecessary charges.
Where does the London congestion charge operate?
As of 2021, the congestion charge zone runs in central London only. The CCZ covers any area within the London inner ring road.
You should familiarise yourself with the precise area of the CCZ as it can seem to start pretty abruptly. For example, driving to pick someone up from Vauxhall bus station may narrowly miss the CCZ, but driving to the other side of the station for train passengers might just see you pass through the CCZ.
How do I know if I am in the congestion charge zone?
The CCZ will be marked by road signs that warn that you are entering an area where the congestion charge operates. You will not be physically approached or stopped from entering the zone. The CCZ is regulated through automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) which is done via CCTV.
Do electric cars pay congestion charge in London suburbs?
The congestion charge zone only operates in central London, so there is no congestion charge for driving your electric car, or any car, through the London suburbs. However, if you are driving a diesel or petrol vehicle then you need to keep the ULEZ in mind. This stretches much further than the CCZ and into Greater London.
Thinking of selling your car?
Tempted to sell your car and make the electric switch? Then here are some must-read guides for you!
- Electric cars — the ultimate guide
- Electric cars — should you buy or sell?
- How long does it take to charge an electric car?
- How & where to charge your electric car at home and on the road
- What is a hybrid car and how do they work?
- Do electric cars need servicing?
- LPG cars — the ultimate guide
- Do you pay tax for an electric car?