7 things you need to know about the ULEZ

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At 00:01 on the 8 April 2019 London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) became operational. Commercial Motor hit the streets in a natural gas-powered Iveco to find out some of the facts about the ULEZ.

1. When does it operate?

The ULEZ operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including weekends and public holidays. It was introduced on 8th April 2019.

2. Where does it cover?

The ULEZ covers 8 sq miles, in fact it’s the exact same 8 sq miles as the Congestion Charging Zone.  But in 2021 it will be expanded out to the North and South Circulars, covering 146sq miles.

3. What vehicles can I drive in the ULEZ?

The minimum standard for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes is Euro-6, with no exemptions. The ULEZ applies to specialist trucks like road sweepers, gritters, refuse vehicles, removals trucks, recovery vehicles and even fire engines.

TfL’s website advises that the scheme does allow the retrofit of emissions reduction technology, before helpfully pointing out that there currently isn’t anything available for trucks.

If you drive a car you have to abide by a different set of rules. Euro-6 is still the standard required for diesel cars, but petrol cars must only be Euro-4 compliant.

4. How much does it cost?

The daily charge for bringing a non-compliant truck into the ULEZ is £100. The penalty charge is £1,000, which reduces to £500 if paid within 14 days. Car drivers on the other hand (those that aren’t Euro-4 petrol and Euro-6 diesel) pay £12.50, with a £160 penalty charge.

You can register for Auto Pay (with a £10 admin charge per vehicle) or pay online at TfL’s website: tfl.gov.uk. There’s also a free official TfL app. Alternatively you can call 0343 222 2222 to pay by phone or pay a fine.

> Don't need to go into the ULEZ? Find out what Euro-5 truck you could own and operate instead

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5. What’s the point of the ULEZ?

The London Mayor estimates that the ULEZ will generate £174m of revenue in its first year, which after operating costs and other expenses, should boost TfL’s coffers by £127m. While this figure will decline as older vehicles are taken off the city’s streets, you can expect it to rise again two years later when the zone expands.

6. Our experience

We entered the ULEZ at 12.01am on April 8th, to find an extremely busy London. Almost all of the commercial vehicles we spot are Euro-6 compliant. During out visit we see just 9 cyclists, two of them don’t even have any lights.They’re almost as hard to spot as the ULEZ signs, which fail to stand out amongst the plethora of other warning signs that cover London’s streets.

7. What should I drive in the zone?

Any vehicle that meets the ULEZ standards is eligible to drive in the zone without a penalty, but we opted to take a CNG-powered 6.5-tonne Daily Natural Power owned by Arcese.

Not only is the Daily Natural Power we’re driving ULEZ exempt, but it emits 12% fewer NOx emissions and 76% less particulate matter than Euro-6 limits. Fill it with compressed biomethane, and the 3-litre natural gas engine produces 95% less CO2 too. It’s also 50% quieter than diesel, making it ideal for out-of-hours deliveries to residential areas.

Iveco is the UK market leader in gas vehicles, with a range extending from the 3.5-tonne Daily Natural Power to the 460hp Cursor 13-powered 6x2 Stralis NP. Last year it sold 201 gas-powered vehicles, a mix of compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquified natural gas (LNG).

The UK has one of the best gas filling networks in Europe, and it’s growing too. But operators travelling further afield shouldn’t suffer from range anxiety. With Commercial Motor’s help, last year Iveco set a new range record when one of its 5-axle artics managed to travel from London to Madrid on a single fill of LNG – that’s a staggering 1,728km.

Learn how Stuarts Truck and Bus continues to deliver for the South-West after over 50 years in operation

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We visited Stuarts Truck and Bus after it was named Dealer of the Year 2018 by Volvo Trucks UK, to find out how the business has managed to thrive for so long.

Over its lifetime the family business has dealt with site expansion, new locations and a changing repertoire of services.

“The family has always worked with the ethos that ‘nothing stays the same, and vision is required to progress change' the same philosophy will continue to be applied with use of the latest technologies to maximize efficiencies” Ross Stuart, Director, Stuarts Truck and Bus

Director Ryan Stuart sees the business as the ‘total solution’ for customers, offering everything that Volvo supplies. He also likes to let people see what they’re buying. “People like to window shop” says Ryan, and making transactions tangible is an important part of the offer. So with short term focus shifting to their newly opened used truck centres in Devon and Cornwall, a stock of 10 vehicles is maintained at each site.