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What are the implications of new ULEZ measures on fleet operators?

London’s new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) measures will be introduced in April 2019. By 2021, the second phase of these measures will result in emission zones expanding by up to 18 times greater than the current central zone.

With such big changes on the horizon, it’s no surprise that the new measures are causing concern among some fleet operators. Once introduced, vans, petrol-fuelled cars and minibuses with emissions standards pre-dating the introduction of Euro 4, will have to pay a substantial amount over and above central London’s existing congestion charge. With charges for non-compliant vehicles increasing to £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorbikes; and £100 per day for HGVs, buses and coaches. In addition, cars and vans that are deemed to be high polluters will have to pay £24 per day, and HGVs £111.50 during C-Charge hours. Vehicles will be charged 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year long.

The impact of the ULEZ seemingly looks grey, with SMEs and sole traders operating in the capital anticipating that they could be hit the hardest by the new measures. Small businesses make up 99.2% of all businesses in London and recent data released by Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has revealed that 63% of small business owners predict operation costs will increase as a result of the ULEZ introduction and a total of 43% said it would lower profit margins.

So what steps can be taken in order for fleets of all sizes to remain viable, whilst reducing air pollution?

Optimising fleets

Despite apprehension, some proactive fleet managers are already ahead of the game, taking steps to optimise their fleet resources, reduce C02 emissions and incentivise consumers to book delivery slots that result in less impact on the environment. Transport operators need to leverage intelligent routing software to guarantee maximum output from their fleets. Real-time visibility of delivery demand and capacity will enable operators to optimise deliveries without having to add vehicles or drivers.

The utilisation of telematics data provides fleet operators with the ability to view jobs and vehicle locations in real-time, whilst enabling managers to add tasks and reroute vehicles in the instance of traffic, and also provides the ability to warn customers should a driver be running late. The addition of tachograph data also equips fleets with a solution that monitors and ensures drivers remain within the legal parameters that govern their hours spent on the road, ensuring fleets remain compliant and removes the danger or exceeding drivers hours’.

The Solution

Descartes’ route planning and optimisation software helps to maximise the operational efficiency of road transport operations through continuous background optimisation of resources to meet customer demand. It enables organisations to improve fleet utilisation and profitability with an enhanced customer experience. Transport operators can transform supply chain performance to maximise their delivery capacity and reduce wasted time spent in delivering in congestion zones. Using the solution, companies can continuously improve the responsiveness and productivity of distribution operations by creating optimal delivery routes, monitoring planned versus actual delivery performance and better managing delivery exceptions.

It also eliminates the inclusion of unrealistic commitments within schedules, a huge benefit to the consumer as only options that can be fulfilled will be provided. The potential benefits in efficiency and cost savings of creating end-to-end visibility throughout the last mile are compelling, with one leading UK retailer achieving an increase in the delivery capacity of 35%.

Embracing change

The negative impacts of congestion have long been a well-documented topic and these new measures should be seen as a win for air quality and the environment. The implementation of the ULEZ and stricter standards for heavy vehicles across London is due to result in 100,000 Londoners no longer living in areas exceeding legal air quality limits by 2021, with all areas in the capital expected to see reductions in pollution.

When it comes to consumers, these latest measures may not be at the top of the list of considerations when choosing a retailer; cost, choice and convenience will continue to be key drivers. However, there has been a seismic shift in public interest towards sustainability and these measures, if successful, could play their role in perceived ‘green retailing’.