I fully support the need to reduce emissions but the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ), which comes into effect in London on April 8, and forthcoming clean air zones (CAZ) in other cities are causing a real headache.
Many public sector fleet operators purchase vehicles on 10-year cycles and are still operating Euro 3/III, 4/IV and 5/V diesel commercial vehicles. To expect us to replace them before the ULEZ or CAZs take effect isn’t realistic. Local authorities simply don’t have the funding to ramp this up at the rate that is expected.
London’s van scrappage scheme doesn’t help because it only applies to micro-businesses and charities and I don’t think it is sufficient for fleet operators to switch to electric.
Scrapping vehicles also doesn’t make sense if you’re still paying back the loan on those vehicles, as we are.
Some authorities are proposing a two-year grace period but they are restricting how many vehicles each operator can have ‘grace’ for.
All this means that public sector fleet operators will have to reorganise their vehicles and ones that don’t meet a certain zone’s requirements will be redeployed outside the zone. But that just shifts the problem elsewhere. And there may still instances where a non-compliant vehicle has to enter a zone and will face a charge – even if it enters for a short period.
The second-hand hire market for specialist commercial vehicles will also bear the brunt as they still have Euro 3/III, 4/IV and 5/V vehicles. There will be an uplift in rent because they will need to improve the age range of their vehicles.
And what about the market for Euro 3/III, 4/IV and 5/V vehicles? That could fall off a cliff. We normally sell those vehicles to the spot hire operators but they’ll essentially be worthless to that market. You’ll probably see vans being shipped around the country to be sold in areas that don’t have a CAZ or ULEZ.
The spider’s web of problems just grows and grows.