The London congestion charge, which has already been the focus of angry protests from residents opposed to its extension, continues to cause controversy. This time it is GoinGreen, the UK distributors for the G-Wiz (or Reva as it is known in India) electric vehicle, who are kicking up a fuss. The problem is not the charge itself of course, as that has been a big part the company’s success (as CEO Keith Johnston told TreeHugger here and here). What GoinGreen are concerned about is proposals to extend the number of vehicles exempt from the charge to include all those in emissions band B (currently only band A vehicles i.e. electric, some alternative fuel vehicles, and hybrids in band B, are exempt). The company argues that this move is unwise because it both fails to tackle air quality issues, such as NOx emissions, and because it also fails to distinguish between low-emission and zero-emission options. Keith Johnston had this to say:
Band B exemption would discourage further investment in electric vehicles, when the market is at an early and vulnerable stage, by sending out confusing and inappropriate signals to Londoners and others parties. The world is watching what happens in London. It would be a great shame if having helped to make London the emission-free car capital of the world, any policy change to further promote low-carbon motoring inadvertently resulted in its demise. With exciting new technologies and products due to be launched in 2008, the electric car is the ideal solution to pollution and congestion in London.
::GoinGreen::via press release::