4 sep 23

'Fleets need two things to adapt to Low Emission Zones'

The world needs to slow climate change, and fleets are responsible for making it happen. Low Emission Zones (LEZs) emerging across Europe are shaping the regulations set for the zero-emission goal, reminding the obligations fleets must adapt under Euro-6. Jon Lawes, Managing Director at MHC Mobility, says integrating the regulatory tools with new technologies is critical to achieving the expected results and highlights two things to reach this goal.

Announced in September 2015, Euro-6 aims to limit the exhaust emissions produced by petrol and diesel engine vehicles, including plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV). Under the regulation, automakers are required to determine the emission of new cars, checked by an official test. Following the rapid spread of LEZs in Europe, Euro 6 gained more importance following the establishing of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London. Finally, Fit For 55, announced in 2021, set the goal of reducing emissions in Europe by 55% by 2030, completing an intact list of obligations for fleets to become greener. 

The process has many ups and downs, as a recent report from Fleet Check showed that 21% of the fleet vans would not comply with the ULEZ. According to Lawes, merging regulatory schemes and investment in electrification is vital. 

According to Lawes, Europe is making good progress as there are now 320 LEZs1 and are set to reach over 500 by 2025. While research suggests that a quarter of drivers2 are considering switching to electric vehicles (EVs), the London ULEz has been subject to controversy, says Lawes. “Its recent expansion has been criticised as part of a growing net-zero backlash, and many drivers are still more likely to switch to a more affordable compliant ICE car or choose a hybrid over ongoing concerns around public charging availability." 

The ULEZ applies in the inner city and restricts small and large vans along with motorbikes, cars, three-wheelers, four-wheelers and minibuses. Foreign vehicles must register with Transport for London (TFL) and pay a daily charge if they still need to meet requirements. The UK also has several Clean Air Zones (CAZs), bound to Euro standards, intensifying the regulatory adoption process. 

What shall be the solution? 

“A consensus among major European cities has formed over the past ten years that polluting vehicles should be reduced in city centres, and one tool being deployed is Urban Vehicle Access Regulation Schemes. It remains critical these schemes are combined with continued investment in EV charging infrastructure and policy incentives to improve accessibility to EVs.” 

The Fleet News survey underlined the former in 2022, with fleet managers stating range and public charging as the two most significant issues by 62% and 53%, respectively.

Fleet managers need a complete strategy

The Fleet News survey revealed that over a third of companies still need to work on a strategy to reduce carbon emissions of their UK light commercial van (LCV) fleets. Nevertheless, fleet managers have a clear ambition to switch their PHEVs, as only 1.5% of the vans in the survey were electric. Diesel accounted for 87%, and battery electric vans represented 6%. However, future orders leaned on diesel with 73% and 21% for eLCVs.

All new LCVs bought or leased from 2016 onwards must be Euro 6 compliant, and the engines must meet ULEZ standards. This is good news, says Lawes, because with more refined engine technology comes increased efficiency, meaning better fuel economy, fewer trips to gas stations and lower operating costs. "Euro 6 engines are also typically more powerful than their Euro 5 counterparts and will help vehicles avoid charges levied against non-exempt vehicles in European Clean Air Zones."

Being Euro 6 compliant brings many benefits to help balance the investment in more modern, compliant vehicles. But to do that, fleet managers need a long-term decarbonisation strategy, likely to include EVs, says Lawes. 

It is essential to mention that the changes in emission tests led to the introduction of the Euro 6d and other standards, requiring a careful look into LCV engine types before owning them.

Telematics have a vital role to play

According to the Fleet News survey, only one in ten fleets will transition to EV or PHEV vans by 2025. Around 44% will run diesel vans up and past the 2030 deadline. Lining up Euro 6 and Fit for 55 makes technology and innovation inevitable. 

According to Lawes, final mile delivery considerations are key for van fleets, with LEZs and Clean Air Zones increasingly penalising the more polluting ICE vehicles. “Each fleet is unique, whether it’s business critical trucks or an all-employee car benefit scheme, and a one size fits all approach doesn’t work.” 

This is where telematics shine upon fleets as the solution, says Lawes. "Telematics have a vital part to play in responding to new regulations and helping in adopting and managing a greener fleet, enabling operators to understand detailed vehicle usage patterns, establish TCO calculations, and make informed renewal decisions when faced with a broad range of considerations."  

Lawes underlines the many other benefits of telematics, too. Avoiding accidents, lower maintenance and fuel costs and improving fleet utilisation are some that can not be overlooked by fleet managers, inspiring them towards technology to meet the regulations standing in front of them. 

The main image is courtesy of Shutterstock, 1433617739. The in-article photo shows Jon Lawes, Managing Director at MHC Mobility.

Authored by: Mufit Yilmaz Gokmen