Building a cleaner commercial vehicle future

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By Tom Roberts, van expert at Vanarama

The Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) has arrived in London and it’s those driving older vans who are getting hit the hardest!

All vans that fail to meet Euro 6 emission standards will be penalised, but a lot of organisations are saying a ULEZ doesn’t go far enough – they’re wrong to do so.

The Allow Independent Road-Testing alliance (AIR) claims that ULEZ will not stop dirty diesels from polluting central London.

It ran tests which found that many Euro 6 compliant diesels will still exceed the NOx limit while still having access to ULEZ.

Of course, there is still work to be done on emission standards, and that includes getting greater clarification on the status of the 4.6m commercial vehicles on UK roads today, but AIR is missing the bigger picture!

ULEZ is a huge step in the right direction – the number of the most polluting vehicles has already dropped by nearly 27,000 a day in central London as people shift to driving newer, cleaner vans.

The future of the commercial vehicle industry is only going to get cleaner and greener. Manufacturers are already playing their part.

The shift in policy towards cleaner vehicles has sparked positive announcements from some of the biggest LCV manufacturers.

Ford rolled out a full series of new hybrid and EV models at this year’s Commercial Vehicle Show. At the same show, Peugeot and Citroen revealed electric versions of the Boxer and Relay, respectively.

This is the type of leadership the industry needs and it’s great to see manufacturers leading from the front and getting it right when it comes to cleaner engines.

Don’t forget though, Ford hasn’t abandoned diesel engines – neither has Citroen or Peugeot – and they won’t for the foreseeable future because they know that cleaner diesels are still more reliable and affordable than petrol and EVs, and therefore are a necessity for tradesman.

Ford understands this, which is why their 2-litre diesel EcoBlue engine is being rolled out across all their commercial vehicles – a bi-turbo version of the same engine is even being included in the new Ranger Raptor performance pickup truck.

These cleaner diesel and hybrid engines are the bridging technology between ‘normal’ fuel and an ‘all electric future’.

EVs are the future, but the adoption rate in the UK remains sluggish because cost is always the critical issue. A typical electric van costs around £20,000, a high price considering you stand to lose over half of that in three years of owning one, with some electric vehicles depreciating by as much as 60% in that time!

Why would anyone take that on? Buying an electric van outright just doesn’t make sense to most tradesman (unless they’re signed up supporters of Extinction Rebellion), although leasing one will make it cheaper because it removes depreciation from the equation.

At the centre of the issues is this: city congestion charges like ULEZ will not be the death of diesel vans and neither are they trying to be.

ULEZ won’t stop tradesmen and van drivers from driving them, simply because they are the most affordable and reliable vehicles for their purpose.

So, when you next hear AIR shouting down ULEZ for not doing enough, remember that the automotive industry is already getting on with the job of providing present and future van drivers with affordable LCVs packing cleaner diesel and hybrid engines.

The first big strides are already being taken.

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