When we hear the word congestion zone, most of us think of London, the home of Big Ben, sky rise buildings and expensive high-street boutiques. However, soon London may no longer be the only city in UK that adopts the congestion charge.
Proposals for a ‘clean air zone’ were announced for Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton. These proposals would require government approval and it is entirely plausible that they will be approved. Part of the proposal is to introduce congestion zones in and around the cities by 2020, meaning any car that is subject to the congestion charge will have to pay a fee to drive through the congestion zones.
Oxford is going a step further and is planning to be the first zero emissions city zone by 2020, banning all petrol and diesel powered vehicles from entering the city centre.
What does this mean?
Well, put simply, any vehicle that is powered using a combustion engine capable of producing carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate (PMs) emission could be subject to the congestion charge and Busses/Coaches, HGV’s and Taxis are especially high up that list.
If we compare the difference in harmful emissions output from a normal day-to-day car and a high-end luxury car, the difference is quite stark. For the sake of comparison, let us take a BMW 3 Series and a Bentley Continental GT.
The Bentley produces nearly three times as much CO2 and twice as much NOx and PMs. These figures are based on real-world data under normal driving style. However when you’re behind the wheel of a performance vehicle, the driving style is everything but normal.
The difference in the emission levels between these two vehicles strongly suggest the possibility of increased congestion charges for the luxury and super cars.
How does this impact the luxury car rental market?
So the question is, how do these proposed clean air congestion zones affect the supercar and the luxury car rental market.
It is still unclear how the government plans on imposing and enforcing these clear air zones. Currently the proposal only plans to charge buses, taxis and HGV’s for using the clean air zones. Although private cars are exempt from being levied by clean air zone charges, a rental car is technically not a private car and therefore may be subject to the charges.
This could hike the cost for customers hiring a luxury car if they are planning on driving through these clear air zones. If Oxford goes ahead with its plans for being the first zero emissions city zone, all petrol and diesel vehicles would be banned from driving through the city centre.
One could argue that driving around town in a flashy loud car could be seen as part of the appeal when hiring a luxury or supercar for a special occasion, so it will be interesting to see how these zero emission city zones would affect the luxury car rental industry in the foreseeable future in terms of bookings.
Another factor to consider is that if a luxury car rental company is located within a zero emissions zone or if they offer a delivery and collection service that requires driving through a zero emissions zone, they may have to relocate/rethink their services.
Military vehicles are exempt from charges by virtue of Section 349 of the Armed Forces Act 2006. So if you want to avoid paying congestion charges, hire out a tank instead.