The organisation representing vehicle-leasing businesses has claimed that the early introduction of Londonâ€™s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) could create a â€˜big financial challengeâ€™ for fleet operators.
On Friday (3 November), the Mayor of London announced that the ULEZ would be introduced in the centre of the city 17 months earlier than initially planned, on 8 April 2019 (see airqualitynews.com story).
The ULEZ will further toughen emissions standards in the capital, with petrol cars, vans and minibuses required to meet the Euro 4 standard, whilst diesel vehicles will be required to meet the Euro 6 standard in order to avoid a charge of Â£12.50 per day on top of the congestion charge.
According to the Mayor, up to 60,000 vehicles every day will be impacted by the introduction of the measure.
However, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), has claimed that the early introduction of the ULEZ could present challenges for small and medium sized businesses, for whom it may be difficult to replace older vehicles in time to avoid being charged.
Commenting following the announcement on Friday, BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney, said: â€œThe ULEZ will now come into effect seventeen months earlier than originally planned and many commercial fleet operators will face a big financial challenge in trying to upgrade their vehicles ahead of schedule.
â€œMany of these operators will be small and medium sized businesses that rely on buying second-hand vehicles from larger fleets and canâ€™t afford to go and buy a whole new Euro VI fleet at short notice.â€
BVRLA has also claimed that cities looking to follow in Londonâ€™s footsteps by introducing their own clean air zones or â€˜other air quality measuresâ€™ must adhere to â€œconsistent standards, signage and enforcementâ€.
The organisation has added that any potential measures to target diesel vehicles should seek to â€œminimise the impact on local businesses and the wider economyâ€.
Mr Keaney added: â€œDiesel vehicles play an essential role in transporting goods and people around the country, but the emissions they produce on low-speed urban roads means they have no long-term future in our cities.
â€œWe need a carefully blended set of incentives and restrictions that removes the oldest, most polluting diesel vehicles without crippling our economy or punishing people for decisions they have already made.
â€œThe vehicle rental and leasing industry has a significant stake in this transition and we look forward to working with local and national government to deliver a workable solution.â€
Last month the environment minister Therese Coffey indicated that the government is considering the introduction of a â€˜targetedâ€™ scrappage scheme for the most polluting vehicles, which is likely to be consulted on later this year (see airqualitynews.com story).
In a written response to parliament, Dr Coffey wrote: â€œThe government is considering how to support people impacted by local plans and will consult in the autumn on measures to support affected motorists, residents and businesses. This could, for example, include retrofitting vehicles, support for car clubs, improved public transport offers or targeted vehicle scrappage.
â€œA number of vehicle manufacturers have recently launched their own national scrappage and trade in schemes that offer substantial discounts off the purchase of a new vehicle.â€