July 21, 2019

Costs set to rise as emissions zones bite

Transport for London (TfL) and the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) have sent out a warning to van operators that the London Ultra-Low Emission Zone, and the numerous Clean Air Zones that are being proposed in cities around the UK, will have a real financial effect on businesses.

Indeed, with an estimated 80% of the UK van fleet yet to meet Euro 6 emission levels and many operators seemingly unaware of the changes that are coming in just a few months, 2019 could well be a costly year for some.

The ULEZ will begin operating in April 2019. It will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, within the current congestion charge area in central London. However, in October 2021, the ULEZ area will expand, to include everything within London’s North and South Circular roads, a far bigger geographical area. To comply with the 2019 ULEZ, diesel-engined vans must be Euro 6 emissions compliant, or face a daily charge of £12.50. Vans with a petrol engine must meet the Euro 4 standard.

In October 2020, all HGVs operating within the zone will also have to be Euro VI, or face a £100 per day charge. Likewise, vans with engines of Euro 3 or older will be charged £100 per day to enter the zone.

The adoption of the ULEZ next April comes 17 months earlier than originally planned, demonstrating the fact that London continues to fail to meet international air standards. TfL claims that there are 9,400 premature deaths in London each year due to air pollution.

“It is accepted that we need to do something about it,” said Katharina Winbeck, head of transport, environment and infrastructure for the London Councils.

“Transport is not the only source of pollution, but it is a big source.”

James Davis, customer insight and strategy director (CV) at Cox Automotive, claims that there are around 4.3m vans on UK roads, alongside 600,000 trucks. In the last 10 years those van numbers have grown by 64% and they show little sign of slowing down. However, Cox, which owns Manheim Auctions, says that around 30% of those vans are at least 10 years old, with many having Euro 3, 4 and 5-rated engines.

By the April 2019 deadline, Euro 6 vans will have only been available for two and half years, which will not have been long enough for many operators to have changed to newer vehicles. Indeed, Manheim claims that only 20% of vans will be Euro 6 compliant by next April, so 80% of vans will be liable for the ULEZ charge. Manheim claims that this is equal to 56,000 daily journeys in non-compliant vehicles into the London ULEZ alone.

It is perhaps interesting to note that councils and emergency services are not exempt, so older ambulances, police vehicles and fire engines that do not comply will all be liable to pay the charge on a daily basis.