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Proposed diesel crackdown plans could hit company vehicles

Proposed diesel crackdown plans could hit company vehicles

Proposed diesel crackdown plans could hit company vehicles

For any business that requires staff to use company vehicles, operating the most efficient and environmentally-friendly fleet is a top priority.

Thankfully, almost every mainstream car manufacturer has been keen to develop and market greener, lower-emitting vehicles in recent years.

Not that they’ve had much choice; a Europe-wide agreement requires every car maker to reduce CO2 emissions across their entire range to an average of 95g/km by 2021, with a hefty fine for any brand that falls short.

Around a decade ago, diesel cars were being championed by the UK government for their lower CO2 emissions, with businesses and diesel drivers being rewarded with lower company car tax and cheaper vehicle excise duty (or ‘road tax’ as you may know it).

However, since then, diesel’s less publicised potential for being high pollutants, due to elevated NOx emissions, has damaged its reputation greatly.

It has now reached a point that all diesel vehicles (cars, coaches, trucks and vans) could soon face charges of up to £20 to travel through town and city centres across England, as part of new air pollution measures.

According to the Sunday Times, the ‘toxin tax’ would take effect in 35 urban areas across England, while in ‘nine or ten’ of the worst affected city centres, private and commercial diesel vehicles could be banned from driving altogether during peak traffic hours.

An estimated ten million diesel drivers could be affected by the new plans, set to be announced by environment secretary Andrea Leadsom this week. Only the newest and lowest-emitting engines would be exempt from the diesel crackdown.

Firms which operate vehicles in London are set for a double-whammy of bad news, with city mayor Sadiq Khan expected to introduce a daily charge of £12.50 for the most polluting vehicles when entering any part of greater London inside the North Circular and South Circular roads. That’s on top of the Congestion Charge too.

Sam Hall, founder of liberal Conservative think tank Bright Blue, welcomed news of the government’s plans to set up what would essentially be low emission zones across the UK.

“Air pollution is a serious public health issue that goes well beyond just a few cities,” said Mr Hall.

“Our research has shown that 40 per cent of local authorities in the UK breached legal air pollution limits in 2015.

“Low emission zones are a targeted solution to cutting air pollution that reduce the number of old polluting vehicles entering polluted cities. They also ensure that the owners of these vehicles pay the social costs of their pollution.”

If your company runs a number of diesel vehicles, you might be thinking ‘great, what am I meant to do now?’. While no amount of words and advice will ease the inconvenience of replacing these vehicles, there are plenty of solutions emerging.

The London Taxi Company announced in March that it is to launch a new range-extender electric cab before the end of the year. The taxi will be able to drive for at least 30 miles on electric power alone, as per new Transport for London legislation.

Also, pure electric cars are becoming more affordable and are able to cover longer distances than ever before. For example, the latest Nissan Leaf can reach up to 155 miles on a single charge, while the Tesla Model S can drive for 393 miles before needing a recharge, although at almost £88k, is hardly fleet-friendly.

 

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image courtesy of iStock