By Ross Williams
Alpha Contracts Leasing Ltd
THERE is no doubt that the thrust of Government policy is to persuade all the UK's motorists to stop driving conventional engine vehicles as soon as is practical. The message is getting through, as a country (and a world) we must reduce the adverse effects on air quality of CO2 and, more importantly, Nox emissions. The latter now being recognised as being even more damaging that CO2.
The tactics available to the Government to achieve this aim include vehicle specific grant subsidies (which have been reduced in the last 12 months), punitive tax charges for supposedly 'dirty' cars, clean air zones and local charging regimes based upon the engine type and age.
As a result of the above effects, the enquiries being received at Alpha Contracts have changed from predominantly diesel car enquiries to more and more drivers reverting to petrol engines and, of course, to the various hybrid options now available in the market. Let's concentrate on the latter type of enquiry. There are three types of Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) and then there are Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV). The former includes an engine of some type, either using a battery as a subsidiary power source to reduce CO2 levels or a small petrol engine to supplement a larger battery pack. A ULEV will be a purely electric powered vehicle.
The choice of vehicle in the market has increased dramatically, as has the demand, which means in turn that factory lead times on certain vehicles are often very long, in some cases up to and over 12 months. This is predominantly because the manufacturers of the battery packs cannot cope with the worldwide increase in demand. We would urge any driver considering a change from a combustion engine vehicle to a LEV or ULEV any time in the next 12 to 18 months to get in touch and check the lead times and costs involved.
If you choose a plug-in hybrid the battery will need charging, which is usually done at home. Alpha Contracts has teamed up with Anderson EV who provide an installation service of charge units which are a little more stylish that the usual plastic housing, especially suited to the older type of property where a conventional installation might look garish. Anderson EV can be found here: https://andersen-ev.com. At the time of writing grants are still available for home installations, until HM Government move the goalposts once again, that is.
But what happens when you are away from home and need a recharge? Chronic underinvestment in the charge installation infrastructure means that drivers may well have trouble finding a charge point. Local information and help in route panning can be found at "Zap" and their local area maps can be found here: www.zap-map.com/live
So we find on one hand diesel engine cars becoming more unpopular and demand for LEV and ULEV cars increasing, whilst on the other hand the supply of alternative fuel vehicles is restricted due to manufacturing restraints. Jaguar Land Rover have recently announced a huge investment programme in LEV cars and are moving away from their heavy dependency on diesel vehicles. This is good news for the UK economy at a time when the UK motor industry is under pressure with adverse headlines from Honda and Vauxhall/PSA in recent months.
However, this good news does need the necessary infrastructure to keep up, and we have some sympathy with the Government in as much as the speed of change in technology, partly driven by Government policy, far outstrips the pace that Government is able to react to that change.
Local government often uses Low Emission Zones (LEZ) and Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) in order to improve city centre air quality has an impact on car users, predominantly older vehicles but has a bigger impact on those companies operating commercial vehicles. The London ULEZ came into effect earlier this year and it can cost a 'dirty' van £12 every day, that's 365 days of the year, to go into the zone. The definition of a 'dirty' van doesn't necessarily mean one with graffiti drawn on the back doors but it does capture a surprisingly high number of newer vans registered up to 2015/6. You can check your liability for the charge online here: www.tfl.gov.uk/ulez
Commercial vehicle manufacturers have been slower in having to change their engines to comply with new legislation, partly because the emphasis was initially on passenger cars, but now they are in full swing. Again, this is leading to, and has meant at times, severe shortages of stock for supply to customers. This is starting to ease slowly as we approach the end of the year.
More excitingly perhaps, we are starting to see electric vans in various forms arriving in the market place, during 2019 you can expect see models from Renault, Nissan, Citroen, Peugeot, VW, Mercedes and perhaps the one we are most excited about, the Ford Transit version. If you are an operator in an urban location doing lots of stop start type driving, then these could just be the vans for you.
Finally it's holiday time, are you going to France?? Have you purchased your Crit'Air sticker? It is now mandatory for vehicles to have these stickers which indicate how clean your car is environmentally, many large cities in France operate the system. It's a big fine for even not displaying a sticker (up to £117). So for the cost of £2.75, go to www.certificat-air.gouv.fr and make sure your holiday spending is done on wine and not a fine.
Cut through the hybrid hysteria by putting a call in to the team at Alpha Contracts Leasing Limited. As you can see from the above it's a very fast moving marketplace and we are doing our best to stay on top of it. For advice on where your next car or van is coming from and how you can do your little bit toward saving the planet then call 01604 756620 to talk through any questions you may have or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe motoring, BBQ-ing and holidaying!