Thore Vestergaard, SVP and MD of Allstar Business Solutions, look at how to deal with vehicles using the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
It’s just over a month since the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was launched in London and much has been said about it, from positives around cleaner air to how it might affect Londoners and businesses needing to operate in the central city area.
The aim of the initiative is to greatly minimise air pollution caused by exhaust fumes (harmful oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulates). The impact the ULEZ has on your business will depend on the types of vehicle you use – drivers of cars, vans and motorcycles that do not meet the required exhaust emissions standard will have to pay a daily charge of £12.50 to drive within central London. A higher charge of £100 is set to be put in place for heavier vehicles including buses, coaches and lorries.
Central London is home to around 23,000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), many needing to make vital trips in and around the ULEZ. For these businesses, stringent cost management is a daily business necessity and understanding the rules and fees of the ULEZ is essential if regular central London travel is unavoidable.
We have outlined the following steps to ensure your fleet is compliant with the ULEZ standards, or if not, how you can minimise the fees.
Payments and expense reconciliation
You will need to decide the best way for your business to pay for entering the ULEZ, whether the cost is incurred by employees and claimed back or paid centrally by your business.
Depending on the size of your fleet, there are two main ways to pay the ULEZ charge for businesses with up to five vehicles:
- They can register a payment card for AutoPay as a quick and convenient method. An employee can also pay as they go with any acceptable credit or debit card and claim the costs back.
- They need to register for FleetPay. This method only allows for Direct Debits to be set up.
Reading up and tooling up
You will need to understand how compliant your current fleet of vehicles is if your business relies on the ULEZ for its operations. Transport for London (TfL) has provided a ULEZ Vehicle Checker to assist. Simply input your vehicle registration, and you’ll find out if your vehicle is compliant with the current ULEZ standards.
Understanding your fleet fuel mix
You should think about the fuel mix of your fleet, just as much as the vehicle type, when operating in the ULEZ. Most petrol cars registered since 2006 will be exempt from the ULEZ fee1 – including those that meet the Euro 5 and 6 emissions standards.
It might be viable for businesses to find cheap petrol cars that are ULEZ compliant. Redeployment of petrol vehicles could also be an option for operations in the central London area.
Furthermore, businesses could consider using Electric Vehicles for regular trips into central London as they are exempt from the ULEZ charge. Most hybrids are also exempt from the charge too as they meet Euro 4,5 and 6 regulations.
Fleets can be fitted with tracking technology, which can provide information on the best routes to take for a given journey, as well as routes to be avoided (those that incur charges like ULEZ).
For regular trips to the ULEZ, re-deployment of vehicles for certain journeys could be an option. However, a company-wide travel policy should be considered to ensure that employees are aware of the ULEZ rules and regulations and what is deemed as an acceptable business expense for the ULEZ fee.
Now is the time to act
ULEZ will eventually spread further out of London and the UK. Some businesses might think it will not affect them but similar schemes are planned for other major UK cities by 2020 – including Manchester and Birmingham2.
As a business owner, you should see ULEZ as a real opportunity to future proof your organisation by assessing your environmental impact now. In the short term, all businesses can make some small changes to their operations and play a part in shaping local infrastructure for the better.
To find out more about Allstar Business Solutions and how it can help your business in navigating the ULEZ, visit: https://www.allstarcard.co.uk/