If you live in London, you’ve almost certainly heard of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), and be aware of the charge for driving in this area. But not everyone has to pay the £12.50 daily fee - some vehicles are exempt. To help you learn more about ULEZ compliant cars, we’ve explored this topic in more detail below:
What is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)?
The Ultra Low Emission Zone, or ULEZ, is an area within London which has restrictions on what types of vehicles can drive there without the driver being charged a fee. Originally this area just encompassed central London, but the zone was expanded in October 2021. This meant that anyone driving in the areas up to, though not including, the North and South Circular roads can be affected by the ULEZ charge.
Any cars driven within the ULEZ, which don’t meet the exemption guidelines, will need to pay the daily charge of £12.50. It’s therefore important that you know whether your vehicle is ULEZ compliant before you drive in London.
Why Was the ULEZ Expanded?
While there have been improvements in air quality in recent years, there is still a level of toxic air pollution within London. This is considered to be an environmental and health risk to anyone living or working in the area.
According to the London.gov website, approximately 4,000 Londoners died prematurely in 2019 due to long-term exposure to air pollution. The capital city exceeds World Health Organisation guidelines for a number of dangerous toxic particles, so efforts are being made to reduce air pollution. The ULEZ is a way of encouraging people to invest in more environmentally friendly vehicles, helping make London air cleaner.
Which Cars are ULEZ Compliant?
When it comes to vehicles that are ULEZ compliant, the key factor is their minimum emissions standards. For petrol vehicles, this means meeting Euro 4 standards, while diesel vehicles need to meet Euro 6 standards. The age of the car is not overly important, though it can give you a rough idea of whether your vehicle will be ULEZ compliant.
It’s also good to note that fully electric vehicles are able to drive in the Ultra Low Emission Zone without incurring any charges. Hybrid vehicles, which partially rely on electric power, will usually meet the Euro 4 or 6 standards, but it will depend on their engine type.
What Petrol Cars are ULEZ Compliant?
In order to be ULEZ compliant, petrol vehicles must meet Euro 4 standards. This means that they can’t produce more than 1.0g/km of CO (carbon monoxide) or more than 0.08g/km of NOx (nitrogen oxides). Cars that meet Euro 4 standards will also have less than 0.10g/km Total HydroCarbon (THC) emissions.
Generally speaking, if your car was made after January 2006, it should meet these standards. However, this isn’t a definitive rule, so you should check whether your vehicle is ULEZ exempt before you drive in London, to ensure you avoid any charges.
What Diesel Cars are ULEZ Compliant?
With a diesel vehicle, it will need to meet Euro 6 standards in order to be ULEZ compliant. As with Euro 4 standard vehicles, in terms of CO, these cars can’t emit more than 1.0g/km. They have a lower allowance for NOx - 0.06g/km - but the Total HydroCarbon emissions figure is the same, at 0.10g/km.
The year to bear in mind with Euro 6 standards is 2015, as normally any car made after September 2015 will meet these standards. But just like with other Euro standards, it’s always a good idea to double check whether your vehicle falls into this category.
Is My Car ULEZ Compliant?
In order to check whether your car is ULEZ compliant, or ULEZ exempt, you can look in your logbook for the vehicle's minimum emission standard. You can alternatively contact the car’s manufacturer, who will be able to let you know what your car’s minimum emission standard is. If it’s not ULEZ compliant, you will need to pay the £12.50 daily charge when travelling in the Ultra Low Emission Zone.
If you’re unsure, you can enter your number plate into the Transport for London website, and check to see if it meets the emissions and safety standards required to drive in the ULEZ. This tool will also let you know if you would need to pay a fee to travel in the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) or have to pay the Congestion Charge.
ULEZ Compliant Cars for Sale
If your car doesn’t currently meet ULEZ requirements, you may be considering selling it and buying one that won’t cost you a daily charge of £12.50! If you are driving in London every day, that will total up to almost £100 a week, and close to £5,000 a year.
You can therefore save yourself a lot of money by investing in a new vehicle. There are lots of cars that are ULEZ compliant, but popular models include:
- Audi A3
- Ford Fiesta
- Honda Jazz
- SEAT Ibiza
- Toyota Prius
- Volkswagen Golf
Perhaps the ULEZ charge is the incentive you need to switch to an electric car. From 2030, petrol and diesel vehicles will no longer be manufactured, while hybrids will stop being made from 2035. The future is electric vehicles, so why not get ahead of the curve! Electric cars don’t emit any NOx or CO2, so are much more environmentally friendly, and will exempt you from ULEZ charges. They are also exempt from the Congestion Charge, as well as road tax, so you may be able to save money there too!
It’s additionally worth noting that some vehicle selling sites allow you to filter your search, so that you’re only shown ULEZ compliant cars. AutoTrader, for instance, has this feature, offering a range of vehicle options which don’t come with a ULEZ charge.
Car Finance for ULEZ Vehicles
If you’re looking to buy a new or secondhand ULEZ compliant car on finance, Wheelie Good Finance can help! Simply complete our short online application form, and we’ll do our best to find you a suitable lender. Even if you have a bad credit score, you may still be eligible for car finance. This is because many of the loan providers we work with look at more than just your credit history when making a loan decision.
If approved, you can choose a ULEZ compliant vehicle from any reputable UK dealer, and could be behind the wheel in just a few days! The lender will transfer across the payment, and you’ll just need to make the monthly instalments as agreed.
One of the best things about applying with Wheelie Good Finance is that our application won’t have an impact on your credit score. We also don’t charge a fee for using our services - as we work on a commission basis with our lenders, it’s completely free! So what are you waiting for? Apply today to find out if you can save yourself a lot of money on a ULEZ compliant car!