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Electric cars and Ultra-Low Emission Zones

Everything you need to know about low emission and clean air zones

Electric cars and Ultra-Low Emission Zones

One of the many benefits of driving an electric vehicle (EV) is that it complies with all the new emissions regulations that are being introduced in towns and cities across the UK.

Clean Air Zones (CAZ)

There are currently 26 cities that have proposals for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which is an area that has been targeted with specific measures designed to improve air quality.

If you live in London, Bath or Birmingham, you’re already subject to some restrictions.

CAZs will also be introduced over the next few years in;

  • Basildon
  • Bradford
  • Bristol
  • Cambridge
  • Canterbury
  • Coventry
  • Derby
  • Exeter
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Oxford
  • Portsmouth
  • Sefton
  • Sheffield
  • Southampton
  • St Albans
  • Warrington
  • Wokingham
  • York.

But is air quality so bad in these cities that we need more restrictions for cars? Sadly, it is.

Poor air quality concerns health professionals, who estimate that pollution leads to up to 36,000 deaths a year, while annual costs amount to more than £20bn. After cancer, heart disease and obesity, air pollution is fourth biggest threat to public health in the UK.


What type of cars will be charged in a CAZ?

To avoid a charge in a Clean Air Zone, petrol and diesel cars must comply with the following Euro engine standards:

  • Petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles have to comply with Euro 4 for NOx. These will mostly have been registered with the DVLA after 2005, but some cars meeting the standard have been available since 2001.
  • Diesel cars must be Euro 6, to meet NOx and particulate matter (PM) standards. These are mostly cars that have been registered with the DVLA after September 2015.
  • Diesel vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles also have to meet Euro 6. All new diesel vans sold from September 2016 should meet this standard.

Older diesel cars are the main target of the measures, but we expect the regulations to tighten up in the coming years, as climate and pollution issues become more acute.


How much will it cost to enter a Clean Air Zone?

Many of the proposed CAZs have yet to reveal exact details of charges and we expect that they will vary from zone to zone. It’s also possible that some cities decide to not even bother to charge: they’ll just restrict or ban certain types of vehicle.

We do know that the charge for London's Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), which covers all of central London between the North and South Circular roads, is £12.50 a day. Every day of the year. Because pollution doesn’t take a day off.


What’s the best way to avoid CAZ charges?

If you have a relatively new petrol or diesel car, you don’t need to worry about being charged for driving into a CAZ. Yet.

But public pressure on improving air quality could speed up the pace of changing regulations and the strong probability is that more and more petrol and diesel cars will no longer comply with new emissions or air quality rules.

The best way to keep ahead of these tightening regulations is to drive an EV. With no tailpipe emissions, an EV doesn’t contribute to air pollution, so it will always be unaffected by new air quality rules.

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