TFL tightens the net

Date: Monday, May 23, 2011

From January 2012 the London Low Emission Zone will affect van drivers. James Dallas looks at the manufacturer incentives to help operators beat the charge.

From the start of next year Transport for London is widening the net of its Low Emission Zone (LEZ) to take in vans and pick-ups as well as heavier goods vehicles.
Commercial vehicle operators and private owners face having to pay £100 a day to travel into the Greater London zone if their vehicles date from before 1 January 2002 and have not been modified to comply with Euro3 emissions standards. Failing to pay the charge entails a £500 fine.
From 3 January 2012 the LEZ will expand to include vans of between 1.205 tonnes and 3.5 tonnes, minibuses of up to 5.0 tonnes, ambulances and motor caravans.
The LEZ initiative started in 2008 but from next year an additional 72,000 commercial vehicles will be included.
Citroen and Ford were among the first of the major commercial vehicle manufacturers to offer their customers incentives to trade in their old vans for newer, lower-emission models. Citroen is to introduce an allowance of up to £3500 to help commercial vehicle operators based in Greater London cope with their liabilities under the changes to the LEZ. Under its ‘Go Green and Clean Allowance’, which will run from 1 May 2011 to 31 March 2012, Citroen will offer savings of £1750 towards a new Nemo in exchange for an old van,  £2500 for a Berlingo or a Dispatch Combi, and £3500 for a Dispatch LCV or Relay. In order to qualify for the scheme operators must be able to prove that their old vans are taxed, MOT’d and roadworthy so that dealers can dispose of them at auction or to buyers operating outside of London. As a spokesman for Citroen put it, the allowance will not cover “old snodgers”.
“The vehicle must still have some value,” he said.
Crucially, to get a discount on a new van, customers must produce the letter from TfL informing them of their obligation to pay a daily charge of £100 to use their existing van within the LEZ. TfL sent out letters to the registered keepers of affected vehicles in April.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has endorsed the scheme. He has also given his backing to the commercial vehicle scrappage scheme Ford has introduced for its London-based customers. Owners of vans of at least 10 years old will qualify for a discount of up to £3000 by exchanging their vehicle for a new model. The scrappage scheme incentive includes the Fiesta Van, Transit Connect and Transit. The Blue Oval’s move coincided with the announcement from Johnson that he will support manufacturers who deliver financial support to van and minibus operators affected by the expansion of the LEZ.
The Ford scheme offers customers discounts of £1000 on a Fiesta Van, £1500 on a Transit Connect, £2000 on a FWD Transit and £3000 on a RWD Transit.
Ford’s UK commercial vehicle boss, Steve Clary, said: “Ford is acting in advance of the new LEZ measures to ease the transition from older vans into new commercial vehicles.”
The move to encourage customers into greener LCVs has gathered momentum with Peugeot announcing a range of cashback deals on new vans in addition to all existing incentives. The manufacturer is offering £500 on a Bipper, £750 on a Partner, £1500 on an Expert and £2000 on a Boxer. Like Citroen’s offer, the incentive only applies to customers who receive the letter from TfL and runs until 31 March 2012.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles pledged to offer a range of incentives to London-based van drivers needing to switch to lower-emission vehicles including deposit contributions towards new vans and servicing packages for used ones.
The LEZ was due to be extended to cover LCVs last year but Johnson postponed this in February 2009, claiming that in the tough economic climate it would “clobber London’s small businesses, the backbone of the capital’s economy”.


LEZ at a glance

• Introduced in 2008 by former London Mayor Ken Livingstone to cover heavy goods vehicles travelling into Greater London.
• From January 2012 the LEZ will include vans from 1.205 to 3.5 tonnes, minibuses of up to 5.0 tonnes, motor caravans and ambulances registered before January 2002 that do not meet Euro3 emissions standards.
• Affected vehicles entering the LEZ must pay a £100 daily charge or face a £500 penalty.
The London LEZ covers Greater London, including sections of the M1, M4 and M40 therein, but the M25 is not included.


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