FLEET managers are generally unprepared for the impact of clean air zones being implemented or expanded across major cities in the UK this year.
Research commissioned by Europcar Mobility Group UK, surveyed 300 fleet managers to understand their awareness and level of preparation to meet challenges that will arise from the clean air ones.
Despite 87 percent of the fleet managers questioned accepting their businesses will be impacted by the Clean Air Zones (CAZ), 21% admitted to not being fully aware of the rules for the different types of zones, according to the whitepaper ‘Clearing the Air’: Are Fleet Managers Ready for the Clean Air Revolution?.
Taking London as an example, the research revealed over two thirds of businesses do not fully understand the size of London’s recently expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), what times the zone is in operation, the costs involved, and the type of vehicles to which the rules apply. Just over a quarter of respondents could correctly identify how big the ULEZ extended area is (29%) and which additional London boroughs it encompasses (27%).
At the time of the research, nearly a quarter (23%) of businesses had not planned for travelling into London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, and only just over half (55%) felt somewhat prepared for travelling in and out of Clean Air Zones. Overall, nearly a third of businesses do not know the potential cost of entering the CAZ.
With charges starting at £8 per day for cars, taxi and LGVs for Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone and up to £100 in daily charges per lorry or larger vehicle entering London’s ULEZ, businesses that aren’t prepared could face a significant rise in outgoings.
While the majority of fleet managers are not concerned about switching to lower emission vehicles (79%), for over 1 in 5 businesses, the main concern about making the switch is cost. Around two thirds of businesses (64%) are looking to other alternatives and are planning to make more use of public and shared mobility solutions. Nearly half of the fleet managers surveyed said they plan to decrease the use of grey fleet to reduce the cost risk of the new Clean Air Zones.
Ron Santiago, Managing Director, Europcar Mobility Group UK, said businesses that aren’t prepared could see a significant rise in outgoings. With charges of £8 per day for cars, taxis and LGVs for Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone and £12.50 for London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, the annual saving for a business which has just 25 vehicles a week entering a Clean Air Zone could be up to £16,250.
Clean Air Zones are a welcome move in the fight for improved air quality in our towns and cities but the whitepaper findings highlight how important it is that fleet and business travel managers understand the rules and regulations for each of the Clean Air Zones, if they are not to fall foul of potentially heavy fines and daily admission charges for non-compliant vehicles. A lack of awareness could impact the bottom line for many companies and a lack of planning will reduce their ability to remain flexible to changes in business demand.
We believe that long-term rental, along with shared mobility solutions and a greater use of public transport will be a valuable part of sustainable transport strategies going forward. For fleet managers, having the ability to manage costs and ‘flex’ their fleet in response to fluctuations in demand is key to helping their companies thrive.
For 1 in 5 businesses the main concern around switching to a lower emissions fleet is cost. The ability to build a flexible fleet that does not put cashflow or capital expenditure under pressure is paramount for businesses that rely on their vehicles to get goods and people in the right place at the right time.”
Key dates for Clean Air Zones
London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ): expanded zone – implemented from 25 October 2021
Birmingham: Already live
Bath: Already live
Portsmouth: Already live
Oxford: Pilot launch February 2022; full launch tbc
Dundee: 30th May 2022
Aberdeen: expected May 2022 – enforcement (the issuing of fines) will not start until May 2024
Edinburgh: Spring 2022
Manchester: 30 May 2022
Newcastle: July 2022
Bradford: Early summer 2022
Sheffield: Start date of late summer 2022
Bristol: Summer 2022 – date tbc
Liverpool: 2023 – date tbc
Glasgow: expected to be enforced June 2023
Cardiff: Currently in consultation stage