What does Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ consultation mean for fleets?

The plans for London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) are evolving all the time. Just a few weeks ago, Sadiq Khan announced that it will come into force in central London in April 2019 – a year earlier than previously planned. Now, he’s launched a new consultation on expanding it beyond the limits of the current Congestion Charge zone.

The consultation is mainly about two proposals. First, raising emissions standards for heavy vehicles across the whole of Greater London from 2020. Second, expanding the ULEZ for light vehicles to the North and South Circular roads in 2021.

The former would be done by increasing the emissions standard that heavy vehicles have to meet to avoid the existing Low Emission Zone charge, from Euro IV to Euro VI. This effectively means that most pre-2014 HGVs would have to pay £100 a day to drive in Greater London, while pre-Euro IV lorries would have to see their daily fee rise from £200 to £300.

The latter proposal would affect cars and vans. Under the ULEZ rules already announced, those that don’t meet the emissions standards (Euro 4 for petrol, Euro 6 for diesel) will have to pay an extra £12.50 a day to drive within the Congestion Charge zone. (This will replace the new £10-a-day T-Charge on pre-Euro 4 vehicles.) Now, Mayor Khan is proposing that this zone be extended up to (but not including) the North and South Circular roads in 2021.

What this means for fleets

Obviously, it would increase the costs of running older, more polluting vehicles in London. Many HGVs that currently avoid charges outside of central London would start having to pay them from 2020 onwards. And many cars and vans – especially diesels – that operate in London would have to pay the ULEZ fee from 2021, even if they don’t enter the Congestion Charge zone.

All of this is designed to give fleets an extra incentive to upgrade to newer, cleaner vehicles – and it looks like it’ll work. In a survey that Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions conducted for our Future of Fuels report, 65% of fleet professionals said that the introduction of London’s ULEZ and similar Clean Air Zones in other towns and cities will make them more likely to switch to alternative fuels. At Hitachi Capital, we’re working on a range of options to suit all fleet needs, from electric vans to specialist CNG vehicles.

I’m sure we all welcome efforts like these to tackle the problem of air pollution in London and other cities. At the same time, it’s important that policymakers make it viable for fleets to make the switch to alternative fuels by investing in charging and refuelling infrastructure. As our report reveals, that’s the main obstacle preventing more fleets from going green.

Anyway, you can read the full consultation and submit your own response here. It’s open until 28 February. Make sure your views are heard.