With the environment (and our need to protect it ) more and more in the public eye, business owners and fleet operators may be wondering how they can reduce their environmental impact.

Transport remains the biggest emitting sector of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, with as much as 27% of total greenhouse gas emissions coming from the sector, and the WHO also citing the sector as the fastest-growing contributor. It would seem then, that businesses operating any type of fleet have a responsibility to curb their emissions.

Reducing time on the road by planning effective routes, and maximising truck capacity is a start, and will certainly make some inroads to reducing the overall emissions of your fleet. The biggest impact you can have though is by moving to electric and low-emissions vehicles.

Some of the most highly polluted areas of the UK have already made moves to enforce the use of low-emissions vehicles, with clean-air zones in place in cities like Leeds and Birmingham. The City of London has even announced the introduction of a zero-emissions zone, and the FTA has introduced a voluntary Logistics Emissions Reduction Scheme for commercial fleet operators. Indeed, if concerns about the environmental impact of commercial vehicles don’t motivate fleet operators to reduce their emissions, the prospect of clean-air zone charges and other penalties may do the trick.

Electric & low-emissions vehicles

The most effective way for operators to improve the emissions record for their fleet is by moving towards the vehicles that cause less pollution. This includes electric vehicles (EVs) and ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs).

The move needn’t be an upheaval though: clean-air zones in the UK (aside from London’s proposed zero-emissions zone) require vehicles to comply with Euro VI regulations, and most commercial vehicles can be retrofitted to reduce their emissions and become compliant.

What are the Euro VI regulations?

Euro VI-compliant vehicles are those which comply with the Euro VI regulations on vehicle emissions. Euro VI regulations for light vehicles were introduced in 2007, and for HGVs in 2009, and are set by the European Commission (though countries outside of Europe have also adopted the standard). They replace the previous Euro-5 standard, and are in place in place to reduce the harmful emissions caused by vehicles:

“considerable reduction in NOx [oxides of nitrogen] emissions from diesel vehicles is necessary to improve air quality and comply with limit values for air pollution”.

The euro standards place a limit of the amount of NOx that can be emitted by a vehicle. In order to comply with euro VI standards, light diesel vehicles must emit less than 0.08 g/km, and light gasoline vehicles must emit less than 0.06 g/km. For HGVs, this number is 0.4 in steady-state testing and 0.46 in transient testing.

Newly registered vehicles in the UK must be compliant with Euro VI. Additionally, various authorities in the UK are putting charges or bans on non-compliant vehicles travelling trough clean-air zones.

What’s the difference between ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs) & electric vehicles (EVs)?

Ultra-low-emissions vehicles, also known as ULEVs, are those that produce considerably less pollution than their traditional, gas or diesel powered counterparts. Typically, we could consider any vehicle which complies with the euro VI standard to be a ULEV. We could also look to the UK government guidelines on the ULEVs which qualify for funding – these guidelines define ULEV vans as:

“These vehicles have CO2 emissions of less than 75g/km and can travel at least 16km (10 miles) without any emissions at all”

EVs are defined as vehicles which “run on electricity some or all of the time”. While ULEVs reduce emissions, all-electric vehicles, cut it completely by using electricity to power the vehicle. Hybrid electric vehicles, which are classed as both EVs and ULEVs, are powered partially by electricity and partially by traditional fuel.

EVs for businesses

Electric vehicle technology has come on in leaps and bounds in the past few years alone, with 8,500+ all-electric plug-in vans currently registered in the UK.

Category B (car) licence holders may drive a slightly heavier vehicle, provided is powered by a low emission technology, compensating for the lost payload capacity due to the added weight and size of alternative fuel technologies. This makes electric LGVs accessible for SMEs and small operators, who aren’t required to hold an operator licence for vehicles with a gross plated weight under 3,500 kg.

Even HGV operators are seeing a shift towards EVs. All-electric vehicles suited to road haulage now becoming a reality (DAF Trucks are trialling an all-electric tractor unit in the Netherlands, Volvo have delivered their first all-electric trucks to customers in Sweden, and both Nikola Motors and Tesla have released prototypes of all-electric HGVs). Schemes like The Climate Group’s EV100 campaign are fast-tracking the move the EVs in commercial fleets, with a number of multinationals pledging to make a full switch by 2030 and 10,000 vehicles that have already been switched to EVs.

Making the switch

For organisations hoping to reduce the emissions fo their fleet, the move doesn’t have to be expensive or complex – there’s no need to try and make a big switch all at once.

Start by retrofitting vehicles to comply with Euro-VI regulations – transforming existing, heavily-polluting vehicles into ULEVs by adding new parts that reduce emissions.

As vehicles come to the end of their life & need replacing, or as your business (and fleet) grows, you can add EVs or ULEVs into your operation.

Why move to move to electric & low-emissions vehicles?

Some operators may still be dubious about making the switch. common worries about using ULEVs & EVs for businesses include:

Cost

While there is, inevitably, some cost involved in purchasing EVs, the overall lifetime cost is likely to be far less than for traditionally-fuelled vehicles. Using ULEVs and EVs allow operators to avoid CAZ charges, and may bring incentives like charging grants, as well as saving on fuel and other maintenance costs. In fact, one study estimates that operators could save approximately 15 pence per mile (ppm) for vans, and 38ppm for HGVs.

Training

Though electric and hybrid LGVs can be driven on a regular Category B (car) licence, drivers are required to complete a short training course if driving ULEVs above 3.5 tonnes and below 4.25 tonnes (the additional payload limit permitted to commercial ULEVs). Understandably, some operators do have concerns over the additional driver training required, and worries about assigning drivers who haven’t completed the training to the vehicles which require it.

The training takes just a few hours, and using a system like Stream to manage drivers & vehicles makes it easy to track which drivers have completed the training and which vehicles require drivers to have completed the training. ULEV training (including dates, certificates of completion, etc.) can be recorded against drivers with a cat. b licence (HGV drivers aren’t required to take the training, and can drive any ULEV). The training requirement can also be recorded against any ULEVs between 3.5 tonnes and 4.25 tonnes. Stream Go’s planning functionality will then not allow drivers without the correct training to be assigned to runs using those vehicles.

Charging

The other big concern for businesses thinking of switching to EVs is the vehicle range and the charging network. In the meantime though, electric vehicles are already dominating the urban delivery sector. Short distances, readily available charging points and the avoidance of CAZ charges make them perfectly suited to this environment. Demand for long-range vehicles (500+ miles) is expected to grow fast though, and that is where concerns about vehicle range & charging points is more pressing.

Our award-winning work on Stream for EVs allows operators and fleet managers to easily plan routes that take the charging range of vehicles into account, assuaging fears around vehicles running of charge on the road. Schedule a demo today to talk about how Stream for EVs can help you make the move towards a greener fleet.

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