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Impact of emissions zones on fleets overstated, Arval says

Date: 22 January 2019   |   Author: Sean Keywood

New emissions rules being introduced in UK cities will have a limited impact on most fleet operations, and the tone of debate about them in the industry is out of proportion to their likely effects. 

That's according to leasing company Arval, which has responded to the imminent introduction of the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), and the Clean Air Zones (CAZ) due to arrive in other cities.

It says only businesses with vehicles that routinely work in London, or that operate buses or trucks in other CAZ cities will really need to take immediate action.

Arval fleet consultant David Watts said: "Some of the more dramatic statements being made across the fleet industry regarding the London ULEZ and potential CAZs in the government's original five mandated cities of Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham, Leeds and Southampton are not reflective of their likely effects which, for most fleets, will be minimal.

"In some respects, the whole ULEZ/CAZ debate has become a little overheated in a way that is unnecessary. As a company, we are keen to dispel some of the myths." 

Watts said it was important to draw a distinction between charging and non-charging CAZs.

"Derby, Nottingham and Southampton have all declared that they will not introduce a charging zone, leaving only Birmingham and Leeds," he said. 

"While Birmingham is proposing to introduce a Class D zone, the same as London's, Leeds is expected to operate a Class B which just impacts on buses, trucks and taxis or private hire vehicles. 

"The impact of these measures on the vast majority of fleets will, therefore, be limited."

Watts added that it was important to remember charging zones will not stop vehicles entering, but simply levy a charge for non-compliance. 

"The facts are that ULEZ/CAZ charges will not apply to cars and vans that meet Euro 6 diesel and Euro 4 petrol standards and timing is key," he said. 

"Although the London ULEZ comes into effect in April, Birmingham's doesn't happen until 2020. Given typical replacement cycles, most fleet cars will meet these criteria by the time they come into effect." 

Watts said that while some vans might be affected in the short term, these would only be a small minority, and should soon be defleeted.  

He said that the Birmingham and Leeds zones would probably operate on a similar basis to the London Congestion Charging Zone, which had been running for many years without a major impact on fleets. 

He added that although other cities were also considering zones, fleets should still not be unduly concerned.

"Bath and Bristol are seriously considering Class D Zones while Manchester and Sheffield are likely to introduce a Class C zone," he said. 

"However, it is unlikely that these will be introduced until late 2020/21. 

"For the vast majority of car and van operators, there is very little to be concerned about. Any fleets that feel they may be affected or have any concerns can contact Arval for advice and clarification but the overriding message is not to panic."