TfL’s LoCity to help fleet operators navigate low-emission vehicle market

New London mayor Sadiq Khan last week made it clear that tackling the capital’s poor air quality through lowering road transport emissions was going to be a key focus during his term at City Hall.

So TfL’s LoCity programme, which was launched in January, finds its role propelled up the political agenda, as it aims to prepare the logistics sector for this change in emissions regulations.

The five-year programme seeks to bring together all commercial vehicle stakeholders – including hauliers, van operators, trade associations and vehicle manufacturers – to stimulate availability and uptake of low-emission CVs and associated infrastructure.

LoCity’s focus is on CVs that have less air quality-related emissions than a best-in-class diesel or petrol vehicle. Those vehicles that have similar air quality-related emissions, but have demonstrably reduced CO2 emissions will also be included in the remit, as will retrofit technology.

The mechanism for measuring both air quality and CO2 emissions will be through the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership’s new HGV and van emissions testing certification programme.

LoCity has been designed to be shaped and led by the industry, which TfL believes is vital for the scheme’s success.

Ian Wainwright, head of freight and fleet programmes at TfL, told Freightinthecity: “Bringing everyone together, you get a clear view of what the problems are, what the barriers are and what things we can facilitate. Gone are the days where TfL sticks a regulation in and says ‘you will achieve this’. We’ve tried to work with the industry from the early stages to ensure we can build something that will provide information, guidance and support and works with the industry.”

Workstreams

The LoCity programme will be split into three workstreams, which aim to:

  • help increase the availability and affordability of viable low-emission CVs;
  • establish alternative fuel and supply chain infrastructure to support the uptake of cleaner CVs;
  • and improve understanding through jargon-free communications, highlight steps organisations are taking and inform future fleet buying decisions.

TfL plans to establish a clear, technology-neutral platform that will show operators the benefits of different types of fuel or drivelines, where they will and won’t work, and clear whole-life cost comparisons to inform fleet buying decisions.

Wainwright said: “We’ve got to debunk the myth that says ‘this is where it will cost me an awful lot more’. That’s why whole-life costs are so important. It’s trying to ensure we are an honest broker in this debate and present the information in a neutral manner.”

LoCity is also keen to share the experiences of operators that have already trialled new technology to help demonstrate how different vehicles perform in real-world fleet operations and highlight benefits to a business’s bottom line.

To date, the project has established a series of working groups to address each of the three main agendas.

Research is being carried out into the main barriers to uptake of cleaner vehicles, with key themes such as lack of different sized vehicles, concerns over range, perceived additional costs, and lack of accessible infrastructure emerging as common themes from early stakeholder workshops.

Accreditation scheme

Also coming across strongly from industry is the message that operators do not want a new accreditation scheme developed, which TfL is quick to point out is not the intention with LoCity.

Wainwright explained: “LoCity is designed to increase the amount of low-emission vehicles in operation; we are not setting up an accreditation scheme. This was a clear message from the initial stakeholder workshops: ‘don’t give us another accreditation scheme – look at the barriers, look at the infrastructure’.”

He added that longer term, there may be an opportunity for low-emission vehicles to link up with existing industry schemes already in operation across UK cities, which would enable operators to demonstrate they are working to a recognised standard.

While London is taking the lead in establishing a low-emission freight programme, TfL also believes it is essential to work with freight teams in other UK cities, as well as alongside the DfT on LoCity.

“This is to make sure, that while we may be the vanguard of this, we’re not going off on a limb that’s not the direction of travel for UK operators,” said Wainwright.

  • TfL is holding the first annual LoCity conference and exhibition next Wednesday 25 May, which fleet operators may register to attend free of charge.