With the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion coming in a matter of weeks, demand for the mayor’s £160million vehicle scrappage scheme has rocketed.
It comes as Londoners look to ditch older cars and use the grant to fund purchasing a model that escapes the £12.50-a-day charge.
There has been a 50 per cent rise in the number people in the capital looking to scrap their motors in the months of May to July – and nearly an 80 per cent jump in the areas surrounding London compared to a year ago, new figures show.
It comes after Sadiq Khan announced last week that the scheme is being opened up to all Londoners with non-compliant cars who will be given £2,000 if they ditch their polluting vehicles.
Do scrappage schemes promote a waste culture? Classic car experts warn it strip the roads of thousands of perfectly good vehicles, many of them which could be collectible in the future
But there are major concerns about the waste culture of scrappage schemes, which promote destroying perfectly good, reliable vehicles and will have a damning impact on the future of the classic car market.
On 29 August, Mr Khan will oversee the expansion of ULEZ to cover the whole of Greater London and its 32 boroughs, affecting areas including Croydon, Kingston Upon Thames, Twickenham and Wembley.
Owners of non-compliant cars will be charged £12.50-a-day to drive in the zone, which could result in additional bills of more than £4,500 a year for those getting behind the wheel on a daily basis on the capital.
The mayor’s office estimates that around 200,000 owners of older cars in London will be stung by the expansion, though a recent FOI request made by the RAC revealed that the true number is closer to 700,000 drivers.
The ULEZ expansion scheme takes place on 29 August. It will then cover all 32 London boroughs
Mayor Sadiq Khan has pumped another £50million into the scrappage scheme, setting its cost at an eye watering £160million as he widens its availability to anyone in London with a non-compliant car
The scheme offers anyone living within the ULEZ boundary from 21 August to scrap their non-compliant car and receive up to £2,000 to put towards buying a replacement that is eligible. One scrappage company says it has seen a massive spike in quotes to scrap cars in London
Last week, Sadiq Khan confirmed that from 21 August, all Londoners can apply for the scrappage scheme following a further £50million investment, having previously only made it eligible to those living in the capital receiving benefits.
ULEZ Scrappage Scheme grant payment options
- Scrap a car – £2,000
- Scrap a car – £1,600 plus one adult-rate Annual Bus & Tram Pass
- Scrap a car – £1,200 plus two adult-rate Annual Bus & Tram Passes
- Scrap a motorcycle – £1,000
- Scrap a motorcycle – £600 plus one adult-rate Annual Bus & Tram Pass
- Scrap a motorcycle – £200 plus two adult-rate Annual Bus & Tram Passes
- Scrap a wheelchair accessible vehicle (car or van) – £10,000
- Retrofit a wheelchair accessible vehicle – £6,000
Source: Transport for London
With hundreds of thousands of vehicles in Greater London non-compliant, many more drivers are now choosing to scrap their vehicles.
UK-based scrap car comparison service Scrap Car Comparison analysed its own data for May, June and July and found that traffic on its site from London users is up 105.5 per cent annually.
That compares to growth of 67 per cent for the rest of the country.
And scrappage quotes significantly increased during those months, up 53 per cent in Greater London and 78 per cent in the surrounding areas – compared with 46 per cent for the rest of the UK.
David Kottaun, operations manager at Scrap Car Comparison said: ‘We’ve definitely seen an increased demand in and around London 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 many 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.’
Do scrappage schemes promote a waste culture?
A ‘scrapped’ car isn’t necessarily thrown away entirely.
While the vehicle can’t be returned to the road, much of it can reused or recycled.
When an owner agrees to scrap a vehicle, it is sent to an Authorised Treatment Facility.
It is here where the vehicle has all hazardous materials and salvageable parts removed before it is crushed.
For instance, the battery is removed to be broken down separately, as are the car’s tyres, which need to be stored elsewhere due to their potential to burn at high temperatures.
Fluids – including oil (and oil filters), coolant, anti-freeze, and all other liquids are also disposed of as to not pollute water supplies, and if a vehicle has a catalytic converter this is broken down to retain their valuable metals and prevent further contamination from the materials inside.
Once the car has been completely ‘depolluted’, it is then ready to be crushed, with experts suggesting that just five per cent of the vehicle is wasted.
However, there are still major concerns about the waste culture scrappage schemes promote.
In a world where plastic straws are being phased out and we are encouraged to use a bag for life, it feels a little counter intuitive to throw away a 10-year-old diesel Volkswagen Golf that could keep going for years to come.
Destroying perfectly good cars with up to five to 10 years more life left in them is not only a waste of resources, it can also have an unnecessary environmental impact and reduce the number of vehicles on the road for low-income families.
During the 2009 scrappage scheme – designed to boost the new car sector in the wake of the financial crisis – a total of 392,227 cars were registered through the scheme.
The sales success of new models also meant the same number of old cars were consigned to the scrap heap – including some cars which were considered either classic, exotic or rare at the time.
Analysis of the 2009 Government-funded scrappage scheme by Hagerty revealed some of the classic cars that were taken off the road and destroyed as a result
Incredibly, a staggering 31 Peugeot 205 GTIs (like the one pictured) were scrapped in the 2009 Government scrappage scheme. These are now valuable classics that sell for around £30k
A 2020 study by insurer Hagerty found that the most scrapped cars were best-selling models from a decade or more previously. But there were also many scrapped that would make a classic vehicle enthusiast wince.
Among those scrapped in 2009 included an Alpina B7, BMW M5 and 850i, three Porsche 928s and even an original Audi Quattro, which Hagerty says would today be worth in excess of £70,000.
Incredibly, a staggering 31 Peugeot 205 GTIs died, alongside 14 Subaru Impreza Turbos and several V12 Jaguars.
Less sporty but still sought-after now is a long list of Series Land Rovers, Morris Minors, classic Minis, original VW Beetles, Citroen 2CVs and various MGs.
The classic car sector is generally horrified at the thought of scrappage schemes, which could take future collectible models off the road for good
What will be the impact on the classic car market?
Generally, the classic car sector is horrified at the thought of scrappage schemes and the impact it has on the availability of classic and modern-classic models, according to Hagerty’s 2020 report.
Speaking exclusively to This is Money, Tim Shaw, host of popular National Geographic show Car SOS – which surprises owners who have experienced hardship by restoring their beloved classic vehicles – says these scheme see ‘perfectly good cars scrapped by the illusion of green washing’.
He told us: ‘We are taking good vehicles off the road that have already paid their carbon emission duties years ago when they were manufactured.
‘It makes more sense to repair them so that any carbon emitted in the manufacturing of new components can be offset against a much longer lifecycle of a vehicle.’
Car SOS hosts Tim Shaw (left) and Fuzz Townshend (right) gave a damning verdict of scrappage schemes. Tim called it ‘destroying perfectly good cars by the illusion of green washing’ while Fuzz described it as ‘another laughable piece of short-sighted throwaway society nonsense’
He went on: ‘Proof that scrappage schemes don’t work is in the fact there are airfields full of these cars rotting and wasting away that could still be used.
‘We need to get away from this consumerism of buying new vehicles and should be repairing what we have.
‘What also needs to be offered more commonly is to covert vehicles to EVs rather than rushing off to buy a new electric car.
Tom Wood, CEO of Car & Classic, told us that the scheme is a ‘mistake that doesn’t consider the bigger picture’
‘Of the tens and thousands of components in a petrol or diesel car, the only part that doesn’t meet the ULEZ requirements is the engine itself.
‘All the engine does is rotate a shaft. So why don’t we take the engine out, replace the fuel tank with batteries and add an electric motor to your 2002 VW Golf rather than offering people £2,000 off another vehicle.’
From a classic car standpoint, destroying these vehicles is ‘throwing away part of our growing up,’ Tim says.
‘We identify with classic cars because of the emotions they provoke. If we lose them we run the risk of losing culture references, history and memories.
‘The cars on the roads today will become classics in 20 years’ time. But that won’t happen for the young people of today, and that seems very unfair.
‘There has to be a better solution.’
Fellow host Fuzz Townshend called the ULEZ scrappage scheme ‘another laughable piece of short-sighted throwaway society nonsense’.
He told us: ‘Cars should be treated like underpants. Wash them regularly and only throw them away once they’re full of holes and can’t keep their contents safely tucked away.
‘You can be certain that the claims industry will be lining up a campaign in the near future: ‘Did you unnecessarily purchase a new electric car using the government scrappage scheme?”
Mike Brewer, host of motoring TV show Wheeler Dealers, told Hagerty that he ‘wept during the first scrappage scheme’ as he saw many future classics being taken off the road
Tom Wood, boss of Car & Classic, told us that the scheme is a ‘mistake that doesn’t consider the bigger picture’.
He explained: ‘We are witnessing good classic vehicles that are needlessly being taken off the road. Used responsibly, classic cars have so much more to offer and are an important part of our history, heritage and individuality.
‘At Car & Classic, we feel it’s important to continue the passion and legacy of these cars, not simply confine them to being crushed.
‘Previous scrappage schemes have seen good classics simply left to rot in airfields that could have been saved, avoiding the significant environmental cost of building new cars.’
Mike Brewer, host of motoring TV show Wheeler Dealers, told Hagerty that he ‘wept during the first scrappage scheme’ as he saw many future classics being taken off the road.
‘My local Citroen dealer had a 6,000-mile MG Metro. It looked like someone had just peeled the cellophane off it – and it was being scrapped. That broke my heart.
‘I could see why the scheme was there to keep the industry going but there were profits to be had by offering people the opportunity to buy them.’
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