Lights from traffic outside Big Ben in London

New clean air initiatives mean more costs unless fleets can create efficiencies

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Fleets will face "unavoidable" additional costs as a result of areas such as London's Ultra Low Emissions Zone, which comes into force in September 2020, vehicle leasing and fleet management company Arval UK said last week.

Unless savings can be made in overall vehicle running expenses, the cost of light commercial vehicle fleets meeting the requirements of the new wave of cleaner air policies in major cities will almost certainly be passed to consumers, according to Arval.

Line up of vans at an auction centreEddie Parker, commercial vehicle consultant at Arval UK, said: "As an example, fleets that operate in the London Ultra Low Emissions Zone have the choice of operating Euro 6 vans that meet its regulations or using older vans and paying a new £12.50 per day charge.

"Both of these options bring additional expense and will inevitably increase the cost per kilogramme of carrying goods into these areas, especially as fleets will also have to continue to pay the existing congestion charge and even potentially the current Low Emissions Zone charges, depending on the vehicle's age.

"Even fleets that make an overall switch to Euro 6 by the time that the ULEV comes into effect will find that these vans are more expensive to run thanks to the weight of the additional emissions technology, and for the majority of vehicles, the need to use AdBlue.

"The more widespread that ULEV-type initiatives become across the country, the more expensive it will be to carry goods into urban areas using LCVs and it is difficult to foresee a situation where this amount is not passed onto consumers in one form or another -- unless savings can be found elsewhere."

So how can fleets offset the cost of cleaner air policies?

Strategies such as 'right-sizing' van fleets can increase efficiency by using smaller vehicles that get the same job done but with better fuel economy.

Telematics can also help fleets make the most efficient use of fuel, Parker explained.

He added that Arval agreed with the legislation behind city-wide clean air initiatives.

"The aims of these policies are beyond criticism -- people living in our cities deserve clean air to breathe."

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