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Do electric cars pay congestion charges?

There are many benefits to owning an electric vehicle – but is being exempt from congestion charges one of them?

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What are congestion charges?

Congestion charges were introduced in London back in 2003 with the intention of reducing the traffic and pollution caused by city driving.

You’ll know when you’re entering a congestion charge area when you see the road marked with a red circle that contains a white ‘C’, and a £15 fee is required for driving in that zone.

This applies from 7am to 6pm throughout the week and from midday to 6pm on weekends and bank holidays.

Currently, electric vehicles that produce zero emissions are exempt from congestion charges across the capital.

That means you won’t need to pay the fee if you drive into a congestion zone in an electric car, so that can save some real money if you regularly drive in the city.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) are not exempt from the charges, and you’ll have to pay if you drive in congestion charge zones.

How to apply for the Cleaner Vehicle Discount

When you get your electric vehicle and head out for the first time, it’s important to note that you’re not automatically exempt from the congestion charges.

You’ll need to register your vehicle to receive the discount, and you could still receive a fine if you drive into a congestion zone without registering or paying the charges.

You’ll need to pay the congestion charge until your application is approved.

You’ll need to apply for the exemption through the TFL's website by supplying clear evidence that your car is electric and the vehicle’s V5C (your vehicle log book).

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When does the Cleaner Vehicle Discount scheme end?

The government's Cleaner Vehicle Discount scheme runs until 2025, and is the reason why EVs are exempt from congestion charges.

Under this scheme, electric vehicles can drive in congestion charge zones completely free of charge.

As the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned as of 2035, keeping EVs congestion charge exempt would mean putting a stop to the zones entirely.

The London ULEZ and electric cars

The London Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is an area in London where high-polluting vehicles must pay a charge to drive through.

It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week – with just Christmas Day as the exception.

As electric vehicles produce zero emissions so are therefore not in the high-pollution category, they are exempt from ULEZ charges. This could save up to £12.50 per day, on top of the congestion charges.

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