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London's Electric Avenues: New Playground for Alternative Cars - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Since the introduction of stringent congestion fees, London traffic has loosened up and cleaned up. Britons are now increasingly cruising their capital in cars running on alternative energy to avoid the charge.

Formerly a traffic nightmare, London city center has become a playground for drivers of alternative energy cars. Since the British capital introduced a congestion charge of 8 pounds sterling for each conventional car between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Londoners have begun trying out new models that discharge less CO2, freeing drivers from the fee.

"The congestion charge is a great success," says John Mason, head of enforcement at Transport for London's Congestion Charge. "Every day there are 100,000 fewer cars in the city than before the introduction of the fee." That's a 25-percent reduction, and the vehicles that do venture into the city center have become cleaner. "In February 2003 there were only 90 electric cars in London, in June 2008 it was more than 1600," says Mason. Tallies of other eco-friendly cars, including gas and hybrid models, also rose sharply, from 1,000 vehicles in 2003 to more than 20,000 by the last count. "The British buy about twice as many hybrid cars as Germans, and most of those who do drive in London," explains Debbie Fox of market monitor Jato Dynamics.

by Fran on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 03:15:43 PM EST
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