With London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) set to expand on 29th August 2023, more vehicle owners will have to ensure their vehicles are ULEZ-compliant.
First introduced in April 2019, ULEZ aims to reduce pollution and improve air quality. It requires owners of petrol and diesel vehicles to reduce the amount of harmful gases their vehicles emit.
A fleet’s non-compliant petrol and diesel cars face daily fines if driving within the demarcated ultra-low emission zone.
Use this guide to check whether your vehicle is ULEZ-compliant, and to help create a more healthy environment for all London residents. This article will further discuss the role of emission control tech to reduce vehicle emissions.
Emission Standards for ULEZ Compliance
ULEZ aims to reduce harmful vehicle emissions, and pollution and improve London’s overall air quality.
What cars are ULEZ-compliant?
- Petrol cars:
- Vehicles must adhere to Euro 4, Euro 5 or Euro 6 standards
- Vehicles registered after January 2006, generally, qualify for this rating
- Diesel cars:
- Vehicles must be Euro 6 compliant
- This rating encompasses vehicles registered after September 2015
- Hybrid and electric cars:
- Diesel-powered hybrid and electric cars must adhere to Euro 6 standards
- Petrol-powered electric and hybrid cars must adhere to Euro 4 standards
- Vans and motorbikes:
- Vans with diesel engines must adhere to Euro 6 standards
- Vans with petrol engines must adhere to Euro 4 standards
- Motorbikes must adhere to Euro 3 standards
Petrol Vehicles and Euro 4, Euro 5 and Euro 6 Compliance
To be compliant, petrol-powered personal or fleet vehicles must meet and adhere to Euro 4 emissions standards.
Most petrol cars, registered in the UK as of January 2006 meet these emissions standards. The minimum for petrol cars to be ULEZ-compliant is to meet Euro 4 standards, however petrol cars that meet Euro 5 or Euro 5 standards are also automatically exempt from paying ULEZ charges.
If a petrol car does not meet Euro 4 standards, vehicle owners can upgrade their petrol car in order to make it ULEZ-compliant.
Upgrade the vehicle’s exhaust system
Petrol car owners can Install a three-way catalytic converter, helping to make their vehicle ULEZ-compliant. Fitted in your vehicle’s exhaust system, this system converts hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide (CO) and NOx into less harmful gases, thus reducing harmful emissions to near-zero levels.
As well as this, petrol car owners can Install an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system. This system recirculates exhaust gases into the engine’s cylinder, replacing the recirculated air with CO2. This lowers the fuel combustion temperature (because of reduced levels of oxygen or O2), thus reducing the amount of NOx produced and emitted by the exhaust system.
Changing the vehicle’s engine
You may also consider changing the vehicle’s engine, opting for a newer model with improved emission controls and efficiency. Upgrading to a more modern engine can significantly contribute to reduced emissions and overall environmental impact.
The modifications to petrol vehicles can be costly and it’s advised that vehicle owners rather upgrade to a compliant vehicle to save money.
Petrol cars that qualify for the historic vehicle tax class are also ULEZ-exempt. This, however, excludes petrol models that are used for commercial purposes.
Meeting Euro 6 Standards
To be ULEZ-compliant, diesel cars must adhere to Euro 6 standards.
Almost every diesel car registered as of September 2015 meets this standard. Some earlier models also meet Euro 6 standards, for example, some diesel cars registered as far back as 2012 also qualify for compliance.
Diesel vehicles typically produce more toxic emissions than petrol cars, which is why the rules for diesel vehicles to be ULEZ-compliant are more stringent.
Upgrading the vehicle’s exhaust system
As diesel cars produce more toxic emissions than petrol cars, they require an exhaust system that is more effective enough to remove the toxic emissions when the vehicle is in use.
Therefore, diesel vehicles will need a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) installed in order to remove the harmful byproducts from the exhaust gases.
Installed in the exhaust system, an SCR converts nitrogen oxide (NOx) into nitrogen, water and carbon dioxide (CO2). This reduces NOx emissions to near-zero levels.
Similarly to petrol cars, an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system can be installed. This system is very efficient at reducing NOx, and unlike the need to upgrade the catalytic converter, this EGR system will be sufficient for diesel cars too.
Change the vehicle’s engine
Diesel engines must also be changed in order to meet Euro 6 standards. Changing the engine helps to lower the car’s emission value to help make it ULEZ-compliant.
If you find that it’ll be too costly to make these modifications, it’s suggested that you replace the vehicle by upgrading to a compliant vehicle.
Diesel cars that qualify for the historic vehicle tax class (classic cars) are exempted from ULEZ compliance and emissions standards. This, however, excludes vehicles that are used for commercial purposes.
Benefits of ULEZ Compliance
The ULEZ guidelines follow Euro standards and aim to reduce the amount of Nitrogen Oxide, Carbon Monoxide, hydrocarbons (THC and NMHC) and particulate matter (PM) that is pumped into the environment.
It, therefore, holds many benefits for London residents and the environment.
According to UK government statistics, ULEZ has contributed to:
- A close to 50% reduction in Nitrogen Dioxide pollution levels in central London
- A five times faster reduction of air pollution in London than in the rest of the UK (between 2016 and 2020)
- More than 1 million hospital admission averted by 2050.
Additionally, the Inner London Ultra Low Emission Zone Expansion One Year Report (published in February 2023) shows that NOx emissions were reduced across all vehicle types in London, with Transport for London (TfL) buses recording a 70% decrease in their NOx emissions.
Incentives and Penalties
The ULEZ system brings with it a range of benefits and incentives for vehicle owners, while non-compliant vehicles face ULEZ penalties.
The introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) system comes with a range of compelling incentives designed to encourage vehicle owners to transition to more environmentally friendly options.
A ULEZ-compliant car runs fuel more efficiently which can save you money on fuel bills. Many ULEZ-compliant vehicles are equipped with fuel-efficient technologies. This translates into reduced fuel consumption, resulting in long-term operational cost savings for fleet owners.
When using a ULEZ- Compliant vehicle, owners can also enjoy the perk of navigating the ULEZ zones without incurring any daily ULEZ charges. This exemption directly translates into cost savings, making compliant vehicles a financially savvy choice, especially for those who operate in ULEZ zones on a daily basis.
For those who haven’t yet purchased a ULEZ-compliant vehicle, purchasing one qualifies owners for tax or rental incentives. The regulations incentivise vehicle owners to upgrade their older vehicles to meet ULEZ compliance, offering owners discounts on public transport in London and reduced prices when buying a new, ULEZ-compliant vehicle.
Non-compliant vehicles can find themselves facing penalties, aimed at discouraging the use of high-emission vehicles within ULEZ zones.
Petrol vans, cars and motorcycles (weighing up to 3,5 tonnes) and minibuses (weighing up to 5 tonnes) that are not ULEZ-compliant will have to pay a daily charge of £12.50 to operate and drive within this zone. The same applies to diesel vehicles.
Trucks and vans (heavier than 3.5 tonnes) and minibuses, buses and coaches (heavier than 5 tonnes) are ULEZ-exempt. They will, however, need to pay the LEZ penalty charge if they do not meet the set Low Emission Zone (LEZ) emissions standards.
Keeping Your Fleet ULEZ Compliant
To be ULEZ-compliant, diesel cars must adhere to Euro 6 standards, while petrol vehicles must adhere to Euro 4 standards when driven in low-emission zones.
Most diesel cars registered as of September 2015 meet this emission standard, while most petrol cars, registered as of January 2006 also meet these emission standards.
To get your non-compliant vehicle up to standard, it is suggested that vehicle owners upgrade their vehicle’s exhaust system or change the vehicle’s engine.
Vehicle owners driving ULEZ-compliant petrol cars or diesel-powered vehicles save money on their fuel expenses, do not pay daily ULEZ charges and contribute to cleaner air in London. ULEZ-compliant electric cars and hybrid vehicles also do not pay a ULEZ charge.
If you want to take advantage of these great benefits – while contributing to a safer and cleaner city – contact Crystal Ball today for advice on how to get your personal vehicle or fleet ULEZ-compliant.