Running LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) vans saves outdoor advertising firm Clear Channel UK £200,000 a year based on fuel cost savings and exemption from the London Congestion Charge.
LPG is about 40% cheaper than diesel or petrol and has historically qualified for Transport for London’s (TfL’s) alternative fuel discount.
However, as of December 24 this year, Clear Channel UK will have to pay for its LPG vehicles to enter the Congestion Charge Zone.
TfL has chosen to end the alternative fuel discount (replacing it with a ‘Greener Vehicle Discount’ for vehicles that emit less than 100g/km of CO2 and are Euro V compliant).
It’s a decision which Glenn Ewen, fleet manager at Clear Channel UK, believes represents a real challenge for fleet managers, but one the company is working hard to meet.
“We know this is an issue that TfL is aware of and is monitoring technologies. We really hope that it will recognise that our LPG vehicles are some of the cleanest vehicles going into the zone,” he says.
“All the sub-100g/km diesel vehicles are producing particulates so they’re affecting air quality but they get in for free.“
Clear Channel UK began using LPG in 1997 (before Ewen was appointed fleet manager). A third of the van fleet operates within the M25 but LPG vans are used throughout the country.
“With the mileage we were doing on quite a few of the vehicles and bunkering the fuel, it made commercial sense to introduce LPG across the country,” Ewen says.
He admits that using this fuel type makes Clear Channel UK more appealing to environmentally aware clients and local authorities, and has helped the company secure contracts.
The company has also benefited at auction. Although it contract hires vehicles, it takes responsibility for disposing of them under a long-standing agreement with its leasing provider.
Until the congestion charge rule changes were announced, Ewen had people phoning him to see when the next batch of vans would be going to auction.
“I estimate we made a £500,000 profit on the sale of LPG vans over a five-year period,” he says.
The changes are likely to have an impact on re-sell values. However, cost savings are not the sole motivation for using LPG vans.
“Congestion charging isn’t the main driver,” Ewen says. “A lot of our vehicles go into London at night, outside the hours the congestion charge operates.R