More surprising is the fact that London exceeded the national average with 37% of vans (almost 85,000) not meeting the emission standards.

The changes to the LEZ will require larger vans, minibuses and other specialist diesel vehicles to meet ‘Euro 3’ emission standards in order to be driven within the LEZ without paying a daily charge. Typically, Euro 3 vehicles are those registered after 1 January 2002, affecting those that will be 10 years old from January next year.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘It’s not only emissions that improve when owners and operators upgrade, fuel efficiency also gets better, returning real-world benefits on top of the LEZ savings. SMMT anticipates a slight rise in commercial vehicle registrations in this last quarter of 2011 as owners and operators buy-into more efficient, compliant vehicles.

‘The CV market has been strong all year and is up 20% for the year-to-date. It’s clear that those businesses and individuals running vans and trucks in the capital have already begun to renew their vehicles and we’ll be watching with interest how the market performs over the next few months.’

The LEZ will continue to apply to Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCVs) but from 3 January 2012, the regulations will demand an increase from Euro III to Euro IV standards. Vehicles first registered as new on or after 1 October 2006 will meet the Euro IV standard, but the 2010 Motorparc shows that 32% nationally, and 29% in Greater London, do not meet the LEZ threshold.

Transport for London provides further detail and guidance on the London Low Emission Zone, the vehicles affected and options open to commercial vehicle operators at its website.