Recently the British Government announced a plan to ban all new petrol and diesel vehicles as of 2040, to combat rising nitrogen oxide levels in the UK.
The announcement is a new step in the government’s clean air plan. The UK’s poor air quality is believed to be the largest environmental threat to public health. Despite calls to introduce charges for entering “Clean Air Zones” (CAZ), government fears a backlash against charges which punish individual motorists. Whilst the ban will exclude HGVs, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have said HGVs won’t be exempt from other charges.
With the end goal to have every UK vehicle to be ultra-low emission by 2050, how will this affect fleet operators in the UK?
1. Planning for the Future
The proposed plan now means fleet operators must prepare for the inevitable and as a result changes will have to made. Although the ban as of 2040 excludes HGVs, this won’t protect operators from rising fuel costs or carbon taxes. With new alternatives not cheap, it is advisable for companies to start planning now.
2. New Technology
While alternatives have already been developed and trialled in the UK and Europe, technology will have to improve for firms to continue regular service.
Noteworthy experiments have been made by the likes of Waitrose in trialling compressed natural gas (CNG) alternatives, with ultra-emissions, cheaper fuel and longer ranges. Manufacturers like BMW and Renault are also making developments for electric and hybrid HGVs with ultra-low air and noise pollution. However, with with ranges still short, they’re still unusable for long distance use.
Consequently there is still a lot of work to do and, due to extremely high development costs, it is likely significant investments will need to be made.
3. Monitoring Equipment
Alongside new vehicles it is certainly worth investing in fleet telematics and management systems. The systems not only help fleet operators see vehicle alerts and track their vehicles, they also improve fuel efficiency and reduce time on the road.
4. Route Planning
The possible introduction of a large number of new CAZ zones, fuel levying and congestion charges means route planning software will become essential for all fleets not wanting to incur extra costs.
With electric alternatives as a front runner, fleets will need to invest in charging infrastructure. Increased demand for power also means new nationwide infrastructure to deliver enough energy power electric vehicles. CNG is proving to be a much cheaper alternative fuel, with infrastructure costs being dramatically lower for the end user.