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Ken's 4x4 nemesis to slip under £25 C-charge

Date: 21 August 2007   |   Author:

BMW is set to upset Ken Livingstone by engineering its X5 large off-roader to drop below the 225g/km CO2 figure that will incur the new £25 London congestion charge.

From the turn of the year the 3.0d X5 and the forthcoming more powerful 3.0Sd version will drop comfortably under the top boundary at 214 and 216g/km respectively, which will also drop the annual Vehicle Excise Duty. The X5 3.0d currently puts out 231g/km, and the previous X5 hit 250.

The Europe-wide change has been introduced after considerable lobbying from the UK, currently the market that is most CO2-focussed from a tax point of view. The drop in CO2 has been achieved through BMW's Efficient Dynamics programme, with technologies including brake energy regeneration, intelligent alternator control and the thing that BMW said makes the biggest difference to the CO2 figure, new intelligent air flaps in the grille that aid aerodynamics.

"We had quite a serious meeting with Munich," said BMW's general manager, product and marketing Carl Sanderson. "With full size SUVs in the premium sector, it's only us and Lexus that will get under 225g/km. That was the point of the argument to get Munich to do the work."

Sanderson said bosses at the company's Munich HQ were convinced to invest in the development because BMW would lose sales if it didn't get under 225g/km, and because of the opportunity that would be presented by the lack of competitor models under the boundary.

BMW's 118d already falls under the 120g/km boundary, which means exemption, though the company is also looking at the 318d that is currently just the wrong side of the limit. It should be tweaked before February to make it exempt.

There will be no letup in new BMWs towards the end of the year. The new performance icon M3 arrives next month, with the 1-series Coupe following in November, as well as new diesels for the X5, X3 and 6-series. "The 1-series Coupe will be very small volumes, maybe 3000 a year, but we've pushed hard to get it built because the UK is a strong coupe market," said Sanderson.