One in four businesses that use vans have left it late to prepare for the launch of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London, new research from Europcar Mobility Group UK suggests.
Furthermore, more than 1 in 10 (12%) businesses said they were unsure what the requirements of the ULEZ are or had never even heard of it.
The ULEZ is being introduced in central London from April 8 in a bid to improve air quality. Once introduced, petrol vans travelling within the zone must meet Euro 4 specification and diesel vans must be Euro 6 compliant.
Under new regulations non-compliant cars and vans will be charged £12.50 a day - that’s in addition to the usual congestion charge.
According to the Europcar Mobility Group UK research, more than a third (34%) of London based businesses said that these regulations will be the single biggest transport issue that affects their business in 2019. Despite this, at the beginning of February only 36% said that they fully understood the impact in terms of vehicle emissions.
This lack of understanding is particularly concerning as the majority of businesses (59%) surveyed use their vans every day of the week, said Europcar.
For businesses travelling through the ULEZ every day, driving non-compliant vehicles could add up to over £4,500 a year, per van.
For more than 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 fleet that were 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.
However, the impact of the ULEZ extends beyond just businesses based in Greater London. More than a quarter of businesses spread across the UK said that between 11 and 50% of their fleet travel into London on a regular basis, with 36% of businesses from as far as the East Midlands travelling into London at least once a week.
Stuart Russell, director of commercial vehicles at Europcar Mobility Group UK, said: “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.”
Russell told Commercial Fleet he has seen “significant interest” in Europcar’s mid to long term rental products as businesses of all sizes look for solutions to the introduction of ULEZ. He said: “These vehicles enable businesses to not only reduce their carbon footprint but eliminate the ULEZ charges. This is all possible without tying up capital on outright vehicle purchases or committing to a long-term lease deal.”