ULEZ: businessess ‘sleepwalking into nightmare’, says Europcar

With London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) set to come into effect on April 8, a survey of businesses that use vans by Europcar has revealed that 1 in 10 (12%) either weren’t sure what the requirements of the ULEZ will be or had never even heard of it.

The survey also revealed that 25% of businesses had made no plans for ULEZ, as late as February.

From April 8, petrol vans travelling within the zone must meet Euro 4 specification and diesel vans must be Euro 6 compliant, with non-compliant vehicles charged £12.50 a day.

Last month London mayor Sadiq Khan launched a £23m scrappage scheme offering micro-businesses and charities grants of up to £6,000 to switch to cleaner vehicles, but there still appears to be a lack of understanding of how the scrappage scheme works and how the ULEZ will affect businesses.

Europcar says this is particularly concerning as the majority of businesses (59%) surveyed use their vans every day of the week, which could add up to over £4,500 a year in costs, per van.

For over half (51%) of businesses based in Greater London, one of the key transport issues they had was vehicle condition with 92% of those businesses admitting that they had vans on their fleet that was more than 3 years old.

Diesel vans that are older than this may not meet Euro 6 specifications and will therefore not comply with ULEZ regulations.

Stuart Russell, Director Commercial Vehicles, Europcar Mobility Group UK, commented: ‘The regulatory changes that the ULEZ is set to bring are going to have a significant impact for businesses around the UK, not just those that are based in London. Many businesses trade within this zone and could be liable to this daily charge.’

In January, The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said a boost in air quality due to ULEZ will come at a disproportionate cost to London’s many small businesses.

Natalie Chapman, Head of Urban Policy at FTA said: ‘FTA recognises and supports the legal obligation to improve air quality and supports the principle of a low emission zone, but we question the effectiveness of the scheme in improving air quality as it is not a new standard.

‘Instead, it is just bringing forward the fleet replacement cycle at a huge cost to many small businesses and operators of specialist vehicles.’