Ultra Low Emission Zone? Just go electric!

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London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan announced that there will be an Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London from the 8th April 2019. Amongst other groups the Road Haulage Association have responded extremely negatively, saying this will ‘damage the economy’. Relax! There are electric vehicles for nearly every need in London from cars to heavy goods vehicles, and the prices are competitive too. EVs won’t even pay the Congestion Charge let alone the ULEZ charge.

ULEZ and background

It is widely agreed that there are around 9,000 deaths linked to pollution in London every year. The economy as stands is choking the very people who are making it possible. It is no wonder then that Transport for London has instituted the ULEZ.

According to Transport for London, “Petrol vehicles that don’t meet Euro 4 standards and diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 standards will have to pay a ULEZ daily fee (£12.50 for cars, vans and motorbikes; £100 for buses, coaches and HGVs) to drive in the zone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year…”

The statement continued, “It is estimated that introducing ULEZ in central London will result in nearly a 50 per cent reduction in road transport NOx emissions in 2020.”

Road lobby recoils in horror

Some groups have got their knickers in a twist over the issue. Both the Freight Transport Association and Road Haulage Association have fired off angry press releases. The RHA stated, “This demonising of road freight by the Mayor and Transport for London is a serious issue for the people and businesses of London. We all need freight vehicles to move the goods we all use, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the bicycles we ride, and the buildings we work in.”

They neglected to say that if Londoners are all choking to death then there wouldn’t be a need for clothes and food. I was at a stop smoking clinic yesterday and asked what the lung carbon monoxide readings would be for a London non-smoker? The pharmacist said it would be the same reading as if I smoked five cigarettes a day here in rural Dorset.

There are vehicles for every sector to go electric

From your commuter who still wants to drive to work to the biggest HGVs, there are EVs that will be able to drive on London’s roads of every size. It is possible that London’s air while never as fresh as here in Dorset could be a sight less toxic than smoking five fags a day if everyone went over to EVs. Let’s look at a few from very heavy to very light.

Daimler Benz and Mitsubishi Fuso have both started making EV HGVs that are suitable for inner city deliveries. They have a range of around 100 miles a day, more than enough for a multi-drop route.

UK based startup Arrival have just started a pilot project with Royal Mail to test their 3.5 tonners on London’s roads. 3.5 tonners are midweight trucks that can move up to 3.5 tonnes of goods. They are planning to sell the vehicles at a similar price to same payload ICE trucks of today.

White van drivers do most of the last-mile deliveries in London, and Transits are used by builders and all sorts of other trades. Ford and logistics company DHL have partnered to build thousands of StreetScooter WORK XL vans every year at a factory in Germany. While many will go into DHL’s delivery fleet, there is excess capacity to supply other fleets around the world as well. DHL bought the startup StreetScooter for its light last mile delivery vehicles just a year or so ago. The original vehicles were electric delivery bikes. With DHL’s financial muscle this will now include the full gamut of EV delivery vehicles from scooters to long wheelbase vans.

As to cars? Look around E-car Test Drives for some inspiration!

The excuses are running out to use a dirty old polluting vehicle in London. My only wish is that other town and city councils would use their legal muscle to fine the daylights out of dirty vehicles too. Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham and even Weymouth down the road from me have toxic air. I just wish councils outside of London would have the balls to take the leap that London has!


Richard Shrubb

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