Air quality, Smith Electric Vehicles demise and Direct Vision Standard are most read in 2017

Smith Electric Vehicles

With air quality one of the major themes dominating the political landscape and by association the road transport industry in 2017, unsurprisingly some of the most read content on Freight in the City this year related to exactly that.

However it was Smith Electric Vehicle’s demise at the start of the year that was one of our most read and by association made a story about it’s bold plans from the end of 2016 another our hit of the year, as people digested the news that a technology firm who’s time had come, had indeed come but not in the sense must of us had expected.

Arrival, previously Charge Automotive, has had a high profile this year, appearing at our own Freight in the City Expo and launching a trial of its exciting electric vehicles with Royal Mail.

It had the consequence that an older story on the site, detailing where Arrival had come from, was very well read.

Autonomous vehicles were another theme in 2017 that started to generate interest. Some love the concept others think it science-fiction but Volvo’s use of the technology for refuse trucks in Sweden caught people’s attention.

The forthcoming Direct Vision Standard continues to prove controversial, and an update at the start of this year setting out it that would be enforced under criminal law proved one of our most read of 2017.

Clean air zones have gathered pace this year, and will no doubt dominate next, and details of Southampton’s plans to address poor air quality and demand HGVs are Euro-6 to enter the city also proved popular.

Ultra Low Emission Zone set to go live across London from October 2020 for HGVs

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is likely to apply to HGVs operating across the capital from 26 October 2020, TfL has confirmed.

Launching a consultation on plans to extend the ULEZ across greater London, following its commencement in the centre of the city in 2019, mayor Sadiq Khan called on Londoners to let him know what they think of his plans “to clean up our lethal air”.

“I am determined to take the bold action needed to protect the public from London’s poisonous, deadly air. I can’t ignore the shameful fact that London’s air is so toxic it harms children’s lungs, exacerbates chronic illness and contributes to thousands of premature deaths each year.

“Following the successful introduction of the T-Charge, and confirmation of the central London ULEZ, I am moving ahead with the next stage of my plan to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone up to the busy north and south circular roads,” he said.

Trucks that do not meet the Euro-6 emissions standards by these dates will pay a £100 daily penalty for coming into London.

Khan told a committee of MPs last week that the T-Charge was a loss leader for TfL but essential in changing attitudes.


T-Charge is a loss maker but vital ahead of the ULEZ, says mayor

London mayor Sadiq Khan told MPs last week that the T-Charge introduced in October was a loss maker for TfL but is important in changing behaviour and a precursor to the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

“Half of the bad-quaity air in London comes from transport, and 88% of that comes from diesel. Roughly speaking, 34,000 vehicles a month would be caught by the T-Charge. Not all of them are coming to London every day and paying the additional fee, which is good – we are not trying to make money; we are trying to change behaviour.

“The ULEZ will initially cost us. Over a period of time it will bring in revenues, but we will ring fence that money for clean air. We will not divert that money anywhere else,” Khan told members of the Air Quality Inquiry.

Khan also claimed businesses were broadly supportive of the earlier ULEZ start date, which had been consulted on extensively and had come forward by 17 months, despite concerns raised by the RHA and FTA.

He added that TfL would consult on extending the zone to all of London for HGVs shortly.

The RHA previously stated that the early launch date for the ULEZ is a “means of quickly bringing in revenue to cover the mayor’s other plans for the city”.

Chief executive Richard Burnett also warned that half the UK HGV fleet may not be Euro-6-compliant by the time it comes in.

While Khan did not speak about HGVs, he conceded that there will be an impact on vans, something the FTA had warned about.

He told MPs the first stage of the ULEZ would likely affect 70,000 vans that are not Euro-6 compliant, “which is why I’ve been lobbying government for a diesel scrappage scheme”, he added.

Khan said a targeted scheme to help poorer residents and smaller business would cost the government £500m over two years.

“This means that businesses could get the assistance they need to move away from the most polluting vehicles,” he said.

New Arrival in commercial vehicle sector plans to electrify the market

Arrival remains bullish about the prospects of its electric-powered light commercial vehicle, and the disruptive impact its technology-led approach will have in the broader market.

Aiming a shot at its larger, conventional rivals, Matt Key, chief of business development at the Banbury-based start up, said: “The world we live in, especially within the commercial vehicle sector, is behind what’s technically possible.”

“Overpricing is what makes electric vehicles niche. Manufacturers claim there’s no demand for them. But operators are interested until they find out how expensive they are compared with conventional designs,” he told delegates at yesterday’s (8 November) Freight in the City Expo.

Arrival, previously Charge Automotive, made headlines earlier this year when it revealed Royal Mail was conducting a long term trial of nine of its T4 [a working title], which is described as a 4.25 tonne all-electric autonomous-ready truck.

“Electric trucks should be simpler than conventional powered vehicles,” said Key, making the point that there are examples of fully electric vehicles from more than 100 years ago in automotive museums, so the concept is far from new.

“Retrofitting conventional vehicles is where it gets expensive. If you build from the bottom up as we have done – the Lego block approach if you will – you end up with something simpler.

“We are also trying to do more in software rather than hardware, which is typically heavier,” he said.

“Ultimately, we approach our truck as a device. Think of our four-tonne truck as a big phone on wheels.”

Arrival plans to put its 4-tonne vehicle into full production at the end of the year and already has designs for a 7.5-tonner.

Key claimed that the company would be able to deliver it at broadly the same price of a conventional vehicle with similar payload.

We believe it’ll be priced at £35,000, which will include the battery. This is without factoring in any available government subsidy,” said Key.

The T4 is claimed to have a range approaching 200km and can take a full charge in an hour with 100% more payload and 50% more volume than a conventional equivelent.

However, Key said: “This is a very specific vehicles for inner city deliveries.”

Arrival has designed its vehicles with shared components. Key likened the approach to a plug and play PC, which is easily upgradable.

It is using the technology to develop other variants such as a small bus, as well as a taxi and an electric-assisted bike that could be used for delivering post or pizza.



TfL went too soon with Direct Vision Standard, claim panel

Industry experts have accused TfL of putting the cart before the horse with its Direct Vision Standard (DVS).

Speaking at Freight in the City Expo at Alexandra Palace today (7 November) Ross Paterson, head of product and marketing at Mercedes-Benz, said customers were asking what star rating each model had on a daily basis.

“We can’t simply answer that question; there is so much uncertainty about it, but nonetheless, customers need to buy some vehicles. They have to safeguard themselves; they don’t know what to buy at the moment,” said Paterson.

He later added: “From my perspective regrading the Direct Vision Standard and working with TfL, a lot of hard work is ongoing but it not complete. But I do feel the announcement was made a bit too early – the research should have been done first and then announced afterwards. So there is confusion.”

James Hookham, deputy chief executive at the FTA, agreed. “The mayor’s ambition, noble as it is, has seen him progressing too quickly with this. It has gone ahead of the checks and balances required and means we remain in the dark over DVS,” he said.

Hookham said there was an urgent need for clarity about the DVS specification so manufacturers could factor this in to designs where possible and customers, pressured to upgrade their vehicles to meet London’s Ultra Low Emission Standard (ULEZ) coming in 2019, could make the correct purchasing decisions.

Paterson added: “We build vehicles for the European market rather than for specific cities or city agendas.”

Announced last year, DVS is seeking to introduce a rating system running from zero to five based on the level of direct vision a driver has from their cab.

Trucks with the lowest, zero rating would have been banned from London by 2020, with only those achieving three stars or above permitted entry from 2024.

Although TfL published interim ratings in September these have subsequently been removed from its Safer Trucks website.

Tim Ward, freight and fleet engagement manager at TfL, reminded delegates that 78% of fatalities involve cyclists and HGVs with truck blind spots the key issue identified in police reports.

“Since the first announcement, which was’ DVS or nothing’ we have now looked at the research, spoke to the manufacturers and re about to consult on a permit scheme.”

“The permit scheme will mean a vehicle fitted with suitable equipment [potentially sensors or cameras] could bring a zero star truck up to the [basic] standard,” he said.

Ward said TfL would launch a consultation in regards the permit, what it might contain and how it might work, within the next month.

Regulations and the ULEZ

Hookham said that while operators weren’t against change, many now felt overwhelmed by the pace of it and wanted clear guidance on how to conform.

“We really need an overall look at all the restrictions that are coming in too. The incremental approach that has been taken is adding cost to operating in London and also living in London, which can’t be good for anyone,” said Hookham.

On the subject of the ULEZ and purchasing decisions, Paterson said that while conforming with the ULEZ was not an issue for Mercedes, it was a huge one for its customers, many of whom were delaying making a purchase due to fear of getting it wrong.

He added that many would have upgraded to Euro-5 and would have planned to run the vehicles well beyond the new 2019 ULEZ start date and instead will now face a £100 penalty to enter certain areas.

Gas is part of the solution to UK’s air quality challenge

Gas is back in a big way thanks to the UK’s air quality challenge, according to Calor Gas’s head of strategy and corporate affairs Paul Blacklock.

Speaking to delegates at Freight in the City, where the company was showcasing its electric LPG range extended rigid truck developed with Emoss, Blacklock said “until three years ago LPG fuel seemed to be on its way out.

“Then the air quality crisis and the VW scandal happened”.

Blacklock said that with a ready built infrastructure of LPG, the fuel source could be described as the ‘cheap date’ when it came to tackling the UK’s emissions challenges.

“While there is no one technological solution to the air quality challenge, it is also true to say there’s too much cost to electrify everything in terms of rewiring the network and power generation,” he told delegates.

“Dedicated gas trucks are coming to form part of the air quality landscape. Dedicated electric vehicles are coming, but HGVs have not been seen as part of that movement and aren’t going to happen anytime soon.”

“We believe our range extended truck is a game changer that will drive transformation in the UK,” said Blacklock.

Calor Gas, which operates a fleet of some 800 vehicles, said its range-extended truck uses LPG to drive the vehicle’s electric generator. This charges the battery supplying the motor with electricity.

Compliant with the latest emission requirements, Calor said its LPG range extender will deliver lower carbon emissions than petrol and provide the capability to increase a vehicle’s battery-only range up to 250 miles.

The technology also offers the opportunity for geofencing to cut emissions to zero when operating in city centres.

Calor added that BioLPG, which is due to be available in early 2018, offers “even more significant environmental benefits over existing range-extension technologies, such as diesel and petrol”.

Claimed savings are an 82% carbon saving compared with conventional diesel power, rising to 94% with BioLPG. Particulate matter is also virtually eliminated and there is a claimed 94% cut in NO2.

Hauliers face period of unprecedented change, says Innovate UK

Hauliers face the biggest change to how they do business since they left behind the horse and cart, according to Innovate UK’s Venn Chesterton.

Speaking to delegates in the first seminar session at the Freight in the City Expo today (7 November), the ultra low emission vehicle lead at Innovate UK set out a raft of emission and technology changes that hauliers will need to wrestle with in the next few years.

“Make no mistake. We are seeing a push towards zero emissions in urban areas,” said Chesteron (pictured).

He added that the government’s air quality strategy meant there would be more examples of London’s T-Charge and forthcoming ULEZ to come across the UK (likely as Clean Air Zones) as local authorities have been charged with cleaning up the UK’s air.

He added that while the government’s approach to tackling climate change remained voluntary for the sector at present, that remained open to legal challenge and hauliers needed “to be aware” for that reason.

“No one technology will fix this. Electric, bio-gas, hydrogen will all have their parts to play. In the near future we will see something that does long-haul conventionally than switches to zero emission mode when entering a city. The technology for this is already here,” he said.

Chesterton used the example of John Lewis switching its heavy fleet to alternative fuels as an example of movement in the industry, but warned delegates that changes happening were broader than even emissions. “How will you stay competitive and at the cutting edge?” he asked delegates.

He also said his one year old daughter will quite likely never have a driving licence. “And insurers will price the rest of us off the road if autonomous systems fulfil their potential and are deemed to be safer than humans,” he said.

Innovate is a government backed agency that funds, tests and showcases the best new technology.

Mayor confirms Ultra Low Emission Zone will start in April 2019

London mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed his plan for an earlier start date for an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

In a statement today, TfL confirmed that the ULEZ would start on 8 April 2019 in central London requiring HGVs to meet Euro-6 emission standards and petrol-powered vehicles Euro-4.

The ULEZ will replace the T-Charge introduced last week and operate in the same area, alongside the Congestion Charge but (unlike the T-Charge and Congestion Charge, which are only in place on weekdays) it will operate 24 hours a days, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Failure to pay the £100 charge for HGVs could see a fine of up to £1,000 levied.

Plans to extend the ULEZ London-wide for HGVs remain under consultation.

Last year, London operator O’Donovan Waste Disposal urged Khan to give the road transport industry more time to adjust to the new emissions rules.

Jacqueline O’Donovan, MD at the Tottenham-based firm, said any acceleration in the rollout of the ULEZ would leave very little time for operators to plan for the reforms.

“Khan’s clean air revolution will require HGV operators to reduce diesel emissions in all forms across their entire fleets, as well as require them to adopt new clean technologies.”

“But this does not happen overnight,” warned O’Donovan, adding that the wider industry needs time to make further changes and adopt new technologies.

In today’s statement the mayor said: “London’s lethal air is one of the biggest health challenges of this generation. We can’t continue breathing in air so toxic it harms children’s lung development and causes chronic illness and premature death. I am determined to take the bold action needed to address this scourge once and for all.

“So I am pleased to confirm that from 8th April 2019 – 17 months earlier than planned – stricter standards for diesel vehicles will apply 24/7 across central London. This builds on the success of the T-Charge and is part of my comprehensive plan to clean London’s air.”

ULEZ – Key points
  • From April 2019 the ULEZ will replace the T-Charge and operate in the same area, alongside the congestion charge but (unlike the T-Charge and Congestion Charge, which are only in place on weekdays) it will operate 24 hours a days, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  • There will also be two ULEZ charge levels: £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorbikes and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches. These charges will be in addition to the Congestion Charge (C-Charge), so the more polluting cars and vans would pay £24 per day and lorries would pay £111.50 during C-Charge hours.
  • All revenue raised will be used by Transport for London to help maintain a greener transport fleet and reduce pollution across the transport network.

TfL’s director of city planning Alex Williams will be taking part in next week’s LoCITY conference held at Freight in the City Expo in London on 7 November.

Williams will be talking to the freight sector about the ULEZ rollout, as well as the mayor’s draft transport strategy, and on hand to answer audience questions.

Register today for your free entry pass.


See the DAF LF City at Freight in the City Expo

Freight in the City Expo at Alexandra Palace, London, next week will showcase DAF Trucks’ new LF City.

The City variant is part of a wider LF range of lightweights (from 7.5- to 18-tonne rigids).

The 7.5-tonner that will be at the expo is powered by an SCR-only 3.8-litre 170hp engine, developing 600Nm of torque. DAF said the Paccar PX-4 – now the smallest engine in the DAF range – has been optimised for urban operation

A 5-speed manual gearbox and super-tight turning circle combine with the PX-4 to provide nimble driving characteristics, and an overall distribution package ideally suited to start-stop vocational applications.

Another vehicle highlight at the expo will be Terberg’s Urban Safety Logistics Vehicle. The 18-tonne refrigerated truck was designed in conjunction with Terberg’s sister company Dennis Eagle and bodybuilder Gray & Adams.

The free to attend Freight in the City Expo takes place on 7 November and as well as an exhibition of the latest urban delivery vehicles and technology, it features a full seminar programme where expert speakers will address some of the major challenges of the day facing urban operators.

Transdek to Duet at Freight in the City Expo

Transdek DUET

Transdek UK is highlighting the environmental and cost saving benefits of its Duet urban double-deck trailers on stand 9 at this year’s Freight in the City Expo.

The expo takes place on 7 November at London’s Alexandra Palace and Transdek will be showing its urban trailers, which it claims can carry up to 107% more freight than standard 18-tonne rigid trucks.

Transdek will have two 10.6m Duets on show; an ambient trailer and a multi-temperature trailer. The latter includes a number of specialist quiet features suited for out of hours deliveries in the convenience and grocery retail sectors.

Both models have a tighter turning circle and better maneuverability than rigids without steering axles, according to Transdek.

Mark Adams, MD at Transdek, said: “As a company we are committed to developing supply chain solutions that help drive down the number of deliveries required in urban centres and provide a sustainable distribution model.

“We feel strongly that double deck trailers designed for the urban environment can make a significant impact on cutting the number of vehicles in towns and cities thereby slashing emissions.”