The Cleaner Vehicle Tracker will deliver accurate emissions performance data for most new cars and vans in both cities. The project aims to help consumers in purchasing decisions and incentivise manufacturers to build cleaner vehicles before they are required by European Union (EU) law in 2021.

At a press conference in Paris yesterday (29 March) morning, Mayor Khan said: “My scheme will put an end to the smoke and mirrors that have been employed in official emissions tests.

“It will provide Londoners with an honest, accurate and independent evaluation of the emissions of most new cars and vans on our roads and on the showroom forecourt. By having ‘on the road’ testing I believe we will help Londoners make an informed choice and incentivise manufacturers to build cleaner vehicles sooner.”

‘Buy electric’

The tracker, available online from the Autumn, will provide a free ‘health check’ service to London fleet operators to understand where improvements could be made across their fleet. The initiative reflects Sadiq Khan’s commitment to tackle London’s toxic air levels, which has seen the Mayor recently unveil the world’s first hydrogen double-decker and a £10 T-Charge for the most polluting vehicles.

Khan has called on the UK Government to incentivise a diesel scrappage scheme for the public, by offering up to £3,500 to businesses and low-income families to support the uptake of low-emission vehicles. Four European capital cities – Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens – have already responded to the call and agreed to remove diesel vehicles from their cities by 2025. The cities have pledged to incentivise alternative vehicles and promote walking and cycling infrastructure.

Friends of the Earth’s air pollution campaigner Oliver Hayes believes that if more European cities followed this lead, “the transition to clean, green transport will be all the swifter”.

“Since the dieselgate scandal, many drivers feel rightly let down by manufacturers and unable to trust their claims about toxic emissions,” Hayes said. “So, decisions about what car to drive next will be massively improved by a simple, independent scoring system like the one announced today by Mayors Khan and Hidalgo.

“For drivers who can’t get out of cars altogether and on to clean public transport, that choice should also be guided by two very clear principles: don’t buy another diesel, and if at all possible buy an electric or a petrol-hybrid.”

Vive la France

Green campaigners will hope Khan can emulate the Parisian transport model; Mayor Hidalgo plans to pedestrianise a 1km stretch of the city in an attempt to lower spiralling air pollution. In December, Paris banned 50% of French drivers from entering the city centre, which was suffering from the highest case of winter pollution in a decade.

Other emission-limiting measures introduced include a “superbonus scheme” extension, whereby motorists can receive a €10,000 payment for swapping polluting vehicles for EVs, and a €1,000 electric scooter grant will also be introduced.

In comparison, the UK’s Plug-in Vehicle grant offers a maximum of £4,500 depending on the model category of the car, although this does increase to £8,000 for certain vans. Ministers have set aside more than £600m for low-emission vehicles over the course of this Parliament to help reduce the UK’s carbon emissions and improve air quality.

George Ogleby

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