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How ULEZ is driving the transition to electric vehicles

The arrival of low emission zones has prompted a significant shift towards electric vehicles – but why?

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Londoners living in several suburban boroughs could find the cost of their annual commute rocketing by £3,000 when the capital’s ULEZ initiative expands on August 29, 2023.

On that day, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be covering all London boroughs in an effort to clear the capital’s air and improve its citizens’ wellbeing.

Pollution can cause life-changing illnesses, including asthma and lung issues. So, as 38% of journeys in outer London are made by car, it’s no wonder that the ULEZ is soon to extend its borders to include areas such as Barnet, Romford, Sutton and Richmond.

This doesn’t mean that Londoners are being discouraged from driving their own car. Instead, the ULEZ expansion is encouraging drivers to think about the environmental impact of their cars and make the switch to greener vehicles.

In this respect, an obvious question springs to mind: is the ULEZ helping to drive a transition to electric cars in the capital? cinch, the leading online car marketplace, shares some insight on why ULEZ might be spurring motorists to swap their fuel-powered vehicles for greener EVs.

Financial benefits

If you’re driving around London in a car that isn’t compliant with ULEZ emission standards and regulations, you’ll be charged £12.50 a day.

Driving a non-compliant car on your daily commute is likely to set you back about £3,000 a year just to get to and from your workplace.

One of the many benefits of having an electric car in ULEZ areas is that you’ll be exempt from this pricey fee. This is because you’re hitting the London roads in a vehicle that produces no emissions and, therefore, meets the ULEZ rules.

Improved air quality

ULEZ’s main target is to enhance the air quality of a city, which should in turn have a more positive impact on its residents’ health.

So far, the introduction of London’s ULEZ has brought about some encouraging improvements. Concentrations of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are 20% lower than what they would have been without the ULEZ, meaning Londoners are now breathing cleaner air.

With more electric vehicles on the road, these figures could become even more favourable. Considering electric vehicles produce zero tailpipe gases and ULEZ strives to minimise car emissions, EVs can play a crucial role in its mission.

An updated version of the ULEZ map for 2024

Greener infrastructure

Low-emission zones accelerate the development of better infrastructure for electric vehicles, as they need to accommodate greener cars roaming in the area.

One of the most common misconceptions about EVs is that there aren’t enough public chargers available, but the reality is that there are plenty. As of the end of May 2023, there were more than 43,500 EV charging points across the country, and new ones are rolled out daily.

One-third of all public chargers in the UK are in London (11,521), most of which are concentrated in the current ULEZ area. As the zone expands, we can expect more charging points to pop up on the outskirts of the capital.

A blue Mini Electric model

Market demand

As the expansion of the ULEZ has the aim to bring about positive environmental effects and play a part in the UK’s sustainability efforts, car manufacturers will have to adapt accordingly.

The demand for cleaner, more efficient vehicles – especially in low-emission areas – will continue to grow, prompting automakers to focus more on the production of electric cars.

With increased competition and a drop in battery production costs, EVs are likely to become more affordable. In fact, their price tag is expected to reach parity with their petrol and diesel counterparts by 2027.

This alone will make electric cars are more attractive option for drivers, as they’ll be able to drive around the capital free of charge and with limited impact on their surroundings.

Learn more about ULEZ: