The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association has welcomed news that Transport for London wants to make its emissions-based Congestion Charge discount technology neutral and available to vans. However, it believes that the new emissions threshold of 75g/km CO2 has been set too low and is merely a revenue-raising exercise.

“Adopting a technology neutral stance will bring the Congestion Charge in line with the Plug-in Car Grant and other fiscal incentives like Benefit-in-Kind Tax,” said BVRLA chief executive, John Lewis.

“A technology neutral approach is something we have been lobbying on for some time, in addition to the need to offer van operators a low-carbon incentive.”

The changes are introduced as part of TfL’s plans for a new Ultra-Low Emission Discount, which would come into effect on 1st July 2013, replacing the old Electric and Greener Vehicle Discounts. The emissions threshold for the discount will be tightened from 100 to 75g/km CO2, with affected drivers given a two-year ‘sunset period’ before losing their entitlement.

“Fleet operators at least have some warning this time, but they should remember that a vehicle that qualifies for a 100% discount could lose it at any stage,” said Lewis.

“This is particularly important when reviewing fleet policies and operational costs. You should also bear in mind that the discount is not automatically transferable if the vehicle is sold.”

TfL’s plans were outlined in a new consultation document which is open until 8th February. The BVRLA will be responding with the points listed above, and will also re-iterate its calls for rental cars and vans to be exempted from the Congestion Charge.

“It is ridiculous that London cabs can be exempted from the congestion charge but not rental cars,” adds Lewis.

“Rental cars are significantly cleaner than the average taxi and independent research* has shown that they can play a major role in reducing car ownership and parking congestion in urban areas like London.”