London mayor Ken Livingstone has proposed a £5 a day charging scheme for London which is due to be introduced in February 2003, but gas-powered vehicles that meet 'Band 4' emissions requirements on the TransportEnergy Powershift register can apply for a 100% discount.
Congestion charging is likely to have the greatest effect on van operators whose drivers need access to the city for deliveries or provision of services, but manufacturers are stepping up their efforts in providing vehicles that run on gas or can be converted to run on gas and qualify for a full discount.
Ford's liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) Transit now complies with Euro IV emissions legislation and qualifies for a 70% grant towards the cost of conversion.
The factory LPG conversion, covered in the vehicle warranty, has been revised to ensure it meets Band 4 criteria and means fleets and sole trader drivers who need access to central London can avoid paying the £5 congestion charge.
The conversion, available on 2.3-litre petrol versions of the Transit, costs £1,800 but a PowerShift grant of £1,260 is available.
Steve Parker, Ford director of commercial vehicles, said: 'The Ford Transit leads the LPG medium commercial vehicle market. This step is significant for Ford because it helps us to offer our customers more choice when they are looking for a durable, secure and dependable vehicle to keep their businesses moving.
'We are now working with PowerShift to establish block grants for payment of the LPG subsidy. The aim is to automatically trigger the subsidy payment direct to the end user.'
Meanwhile, Iveco has begun offering a low-emission compressed natural gas (CNG) version of the Daily City Truck range.
The vehicles are powered by Iveco's 2.8-litre engine, which produces 106bhp and 162lb-ft of torque, and run only on CNG. Iveco says the engine already exceeds Euro V emissions legislation, long before Euro IV becomes mandatory. Vehicle range varies between 150 and 170 miles according to the size of the tank fitted, and payloads range from 970kg to 2,315kg depending on the wheelbase.