What effect has the ULEZ expansion had on the scrap car market?

If you live in or around London, then four letters will have dominated your daily life for the past few weeks – ULEZ. It feels impossible to go a day without hearing about Sadiq Khan’s plan to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone to encompass all of Greater London, and more often than not, you’re not hearing positive things.

But, here at Scrap Car Comparison, we’ve found this entire ordeal quite intriguing, particularly from the perspective of the scrap car market. We’ve been helping customers find the best deal for the End-of-Life Vehicles for 15 years now, so when something thrusts the term ‘scrap’ into the headlines, our ears prick up.

A roadside sign reading 'ULEZ 2023 Expansion' in white lettering on a black background

Has ULEZ expansion impacted the scrap car market?

With Transport for London revealing that over 8,000 cars had been scrapped since the expansion was introduced, we decided we’d take a look at our own data to see if there’s been any noticeable changes. In short, yes. A lot. We’ve seen an increase of a staggering 105.5% on traffic coming from within London, compared to a growth of 67% across the rest of the nation. To go a little deeper still, quotes from London have increased by 53% over the past 12 months, whilst Greater London has increased more still, up 78% year-on-year. The rest of the UK also grew over the past year, but by 46%, showing there has been significantly more interest from London, and ULEZ has to have played a large part in that growth.

Our operations manager, David Kottaun, said the following about the data we found: “We’ve definitely seen an increased demand in car scrappage in and around London – and at a much higher rate than the rest of the UK, which is very likely as a result of the expansion of ULEZ.

The announcement of the expansion of the ULEZ scheme will leave many drivers’ vehicles non-compliant, meaning they will be too expensive to run for lots of people. With the value of non-compliant vehicles dropping since the announcement, scrapping the vehicle will be the most sensible decision for lots of owners.

Similarly, many of the petrol cars which meet the ULEZ standards have been first registered with the DVLA after 2005 – meaning many non-compliant vehicles will be approaching twenty years old and will likely already be coming to the end of their lives on the road.”

What is ULEZ?

First up, a small history lesson. The Ultra-Low Emission Zone first came into effect in 2019 in a bid to bring down the air pollution from Central London. The scheme saw drivers on non-compliant vehicles charged £12.50 a day as a penalty for their pollution.

A roadside sign reading 'Ultra low emission ZONE ULEZ At all times' on a green and white background

From the 29th August 2023, that boundary will now extend to all London Boroughs, which means places such as Croydon, Kingston-upon-Thames, Wembley and Twickenham all now fall under its remit. A Freedom of Information request from the RAC has revealed that this could affect some 700,000 cars.

Compliance for the ULEZ is based on your vehicle’s tailpipe emissions. All vehicles driving within the ULEZ boundary must comply with either Euro IV (for petrol) or Euro VI (for diesel) standards. In layman’s terms, this basically means petrol cars built after 2005 and diesels built after 2015. For bikes, it’s Euro 3 standards, which should be met by almost all motorcycles manufactured after 2007.

Is there a scrappage scheme?

Stacks of scrap and salvage cars that have been stripped of parts

For drivers of non-compliant vehicles, there is a system in place to help out in the shape of a government-funded scrappage scheme. Any Londoner with a non-compliant vehicle is able to apply for the grant to help the owner ditch their polluter and get something a little bit more eco-friendly – or at least something that complies with the ULEZ regulations.

The London scrappage scheme originally had a pot of £110m to play with, but with the expansion of the ULEZ boundaries, the Mayor has confirmed that an additional £50m has been made available from the City’s reserves. Cars and motorcycles are eligible to claim up to £2,000, while vans can claim up to £7,000. There are also grants available for minibuses and vehicles with access for disabilities.

Not eligible for the ULEZ scheme? Here’s what to do

While the scrappage scheme offered by the Mayor may seem a great deal, the bottom line is that money has to be used for a new car (or public transport voucher). But what happens if you simply just want to take the cash and decide for yourself what you want to do with it? Well, that’s where Scrap Car Comparison is the better option. When you scrap your car with Scrap Car Comparison, every penny is transferred to you and is yours to do with as you please, and the entire process couldn’t be simpler. All you need to do to get started is to provide us with your vehicle’s registration number and your postcode and we’ll scour the market to ensure that we can give you the very best price going.

With buyers up and down the country you’re never too far away from our service, and with collection agents operating in 99% of postcodes, we’ll even throw in a collection for free. All cars sold through our service will go to certified Authorised Treatment Facilities, meaning every car will be recycled in line with all government regulations. Get started today and get your best price in as little as 60 seconds.

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