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Used car dealers react to Ulez expansion as they say they are now turning away non-compliant part-exchanges

  • Car Dealer investigates how Ulez expansion is affecting the capital’s used car showrooms
  • Businesses say they are turning away non-compliant part-exchanges as they are now ‘a pain’ to sell
  • Owners say profits are increasing as Ulez-compliant stock becomes worth more
  • Auto Trader says buyers can still find a bargain while remaining within Ulez boundaries
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Time 7:26 am, August 30, 2023

Used car dealers in London say they are actively turning away diesel part-exchanges after the controversial Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) was extended.

As of yesterday (Aug 29), the Ulez now includes London’s outer boroughs including Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon.

It means that motorists throughout the whole capital are now facing a £12.50 daily charge if their car doesn’t comply with emissions standards.


The new rules are being implemented after a legal challenge – led by five Tory councils – failed in the High Court.

To find out how the measures are impacting London’s car dealers, we have been speaking to retailers, who say they are already having to adapt.

Independent retailers told Car Dealer that non-compliant vehicles have seen their values tumble and are now being sold almost exclusively to buyers who are travelling from outside London.


Meanwhile, some dealers – but not all – say they are seeing the value of Ulez-compliant vehicles shooting up as a result of sky-high demand.

Among the firms to be impacted by the changes is McCarthy Cars in Croydon, which now falls within the Ultra Low Emission Zone.

Director Jim McCarthy told Car Dealer that diesel stock in particular had become ‘a real pain’ to shift.

He said: ‘We have sold cars off the back of it but what we have ended up with is a few non-Ulez diesels which to be honest are a bit of a pain for us to get rid of!

‘No one in London is going to buy them. The whole thing is a joke. The part-exchanges that are coming in – the diesels mainly – are going to end up sitting here for a while unless someone is willing to travel for them.

‘Wherever we can, we are trying to send people off to places like WeBuyAnyCar with them because we really don’t want them.’

He added: ‘The way we price cars is based on the market and what places like Cap HPI and Auto Trader are saying.

‘I wouldn’t say that we’re selling cars at the moment for any more money just because they’re Ulez-compliant. Ninety-nine per cent of our stock is Ulez-compliant.’

Another area which now falls under the regulations is Uxbridge, where anger over Ulez was said to be a key factor in the Tories winning a recent by-election.

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One of the dealers to feel the impact there is Ashraf Kassam, owner of Kassam Car Sales. He told Car Dealer: ‘The petrol cars are obviously going up in value and we are making more money now.

‘Buying from auction, you do have to pay more, but they are selling for more in the business.

‘Nobody can afford to pay £12.50 a day and so of course the non-compliant cars are now really just selling to customers from outside London.

‘We are seeing people selling their cars that do not comply but a lot are then buying new cars, rather than used, to replace them and be able to drive in London.’

Another business to see a change is Cottage Car Sales, a short distance away in Hayes. A spokesman for the outfit told Car Dealer: ‘We’ve seen plenty of people chopping in their older cars and buying compliant stock.

‘Their part-exchanges are now worth less than they would have been before and the cars they are buying are selling for more than they were previously because demand is so much higher.’

Used car buyers can get a Ulez-compliant car for less than £1,500, says Auto Trader

In response to the changing boundaries, Auto Trader has been looking into what stock dealers currently have on offer to meet the rules.

Its experts found that there are currently 1,520 compliant cars for sale on its platform, within a 50-mile radius of central London, costing under £2,000.

In the same radius, the outfit found 10,553 compliant cars under £5,000 and 65,577 compliant cars overall.

Nationally, 88.9 per cent of all stock was found to be Ulez-compliant, with the cheapest available car being a 2008 Ford Ka Petrol, worth £1,386.

Reacting to the findings, Ian Plummer, commercial director at Auto Trader, said: ‘Now that the new Ulez expansion is live, it’s important those with non-compliant vehicles know what their choices are, and the best place to start is by getting a valuation of their current vehicle on sites like Auto Trader.

‘Utilising the newly expanded scrappage scheme might be a good option if your car is worth around the £2,000 mark, but if it’s worth more, then selling it privately or to a dealer might be more fruitful.

‘The greater your budget, the more choices of vehicle you’ll have, but there’s no shortage of affordable petrol, diesel or electric compliant vehicles, with the cheapest compliant models on Auto Trader starting from under £1,500.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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