Planning for the expansion of Clean Air Zones

Mar 15 | 2018

How are you planning for the time when your almost new Euro 5 truck cannot be used in most major cities?

Moving companies operating trucks in London have had to face the burden of paying a daily charge to enter the capital’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for a number of years. Soon things are set to get worse with all but the very latest Euro 6 vehicles being hit with a whopping £300 a day charge to enter the Zone from April 2019. Other cities including Leeds, Nottingham, Southampton and Derby are finalising plans to introduce their own Clean Air Zones with another 25 or so earmarked by DEFRA to do the same. Companies based within the Zones will presumably have to pay the charge every time their vans leave the yard. With removals trucks covering relatively low mileages, fleets tend to be older, so moving companies are likely to be affected by the spread of the new Zones more than most.

So, what are the options? Paying the charge is obviously out of the question unless it could be passed onto the customer, and with so many cities about to introduce their own CAZs it will now affect moving companies throughout the UK, not just those operating in London. Indeed, the problem is repeated across the whole of Europe. Upgrading your fleet to the latest Euro 6 standard is of course one solution - if you can afford it - although scrapping a perfectly serviceable, though non-compliant vehicle, will come as a bitter pill for most, and part-exchange values for pre-Euro 6 trucks are going to be rock-bottom, if they exist at all. Buying used Euro 6 trucks now, before the rush, would make good business sense, although with Euro 6 only having been around since 2014, they are likely to be thin on the ground.

At The Movers & Storers Show last November, Alan Barnard from Green Urban gave an interesting presentation about the Euro 6 conversion service they’re offering to movers in collaboration with truck specialist Bespoke Bodies of Warrington. Alan claims that for a fee of around £15,000 they can upgrade almost any non-compliant truck to Euro 6 standard, which on the face of it sounds like a bargain and well worth investigating.

Despite Brexit, European standards are likely to remain relevant in the UK for many years to come. In any case, for movers doing regular runs to the Continent, operating anything other than a Euro 6 vehicle is not going to be economically viable. Vehicle leasing companies look set to make a killing as operators clamour to upgrade their fleets next year. However, with residual values being difficult to calculate due to the uncertainty of ever more stringent standards being introduced in the future, leasing charges are bound to rise.

Sadly, it looks like the days of the traditional long-service removal van are drawing to an end, and for smaller companies in particular, the roll-out of Clean Air Zones across the UK and the rest of Europe presents a major challenge. It is vital that removal companies keep abreast of the changes taking place and make plans to deal with them.

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