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Drive a BMW, be C-charge exempt

Date: 27 June 2007

Tristan Young

The healine doesn't sound possible, but Tristan Young says that it is

Drive a BMW 3-series and be congestion charging exempt. Sounds unlikely doesn't it?

It's not. This week's announcement by the German manufacturer (and a user-chooser favourite) shows how close that statement is to reality.

Ken Livingstone plans to change London's C-charge system next year to take into account a car's carbon footprint. Basically anything with a CO2 output of less than 120g/km will go free in London. And anything producing more than 225g/km will cost a fortune.

With BMW's announcement that fleet favourite the 318d comes within a whisker of the lower banding at 123g/km, my sources tell me that as soon as Ken's plans are set in stone you can be assured another tweak

will be carried out by Munich's boffins to slip the car below 120g/km. And don't forget, the 118d would already qualify to go free in London with a CO2 output of 119g/km.

Just think about the impact of this: for starters those makers selling hybrids must be worried.

At the other end of the spectrum, BMW's X5 diesel will be only just outside the upper band, and you can expect that to be tweaked to be the right side of a £25 C-charge maximum.