Drivers of cars in bands A and B (less than 120g carbon dioxide per km) will no longer have to pay the charge.
Bands C, D, E and F will still have to pay the current charge of £8. The remaining G band (Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, Range Rover Sport) will pay the maximum £25.
The announcement comes as good news for super-minis like the Toyota Aygo and Peugeot 107, which will all escape the charge. Citroen will have 20 of its models declared congestion charge exempt if proposed changes take place. The French manufacturer has seven versions of the C1 city car, four C2s and six C3s which produce less than 120g/km of carbon dioxide and fall into band B.
The plans are still subject to consultation, but it is hoped the new plans will all be in place by 2010. However, the lower emissions cars could have the charge dropped by 2008.
The 90% resident's discount currently enjoyed by those living within the congestion charging zone, will be withdrawn for vehicles in band G.
Livingstone said: 'Londoners are becoming increasingly aware of the need to tackle climate change and reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Most vehicles that will be charged £25, in vehicle excise duty band G, are high priced models.
'Those who buy them can afford to choose from pretty much the whole of the mainstream car market but have chosen to buy one of the most polluting vehicles. By making these changes to the congestion charging scheme we are encouraging people to take into account the impact of their choice of new car on the environment and the planet.'
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has warned that the congestion charge changes won’t just hit 4x4 drivers, but also families.
"You might think Livingstone's latest wheeze is all about taxing 4x4s, but the truth is very different. Families that need people carriers and estate cars, but who already pay the penalty through higher road tax and fuel costs, are set to be hit by the mayor's triple whammy. In his war against the affluent, he seems content to ignore this collateral damage to families,” said SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan.
The cars below are examples of band G cars which will have to pay £25 if they want to drive in central London.