London’s vehicle emission surcharge to start 23 October

London’s T-Charge will come into force from 23 October taking the daily charge for non-compliant vans and trucks travelling into the capital to £21.50.

Regular visitors into central London are likely to comply with the emissions surcharge as it is set at the same Euro-4 and above level for HGVs as London’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is.

However, those running vans face a step up from the LEZ’s Euro-3 requirement to Euro-4.

Unlike the LEZ, cars are included in the T-Charge and will need to be Euro-3 or above.

Non-compliant vehicles face a £10 penalty on top of the £11.50 Congestion Charge Zone fee. TfL has said the vast majority of pre-2006 vehicles will face paying the charge – around 10,000 vehicles.

The T-Charge will operate in the same area and Monday to Friday operational window as the Congestion Charge Zone.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems.

“That is why today, on the 14th anniversary of the start of the congestion charge, I’ve confirmed we are pressing ahead with the toughest emission standard of any major city, coming to our streets from October 23rd .

“Londoners overwhelmingly support my plans to introduce this £10 charge because they feel when it comes to battling pollution the time for action is now.

“The T-Charge is a vital step in tackling the dirtiest diesels before I introduce the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone as early as 2019.”

The Ultra Low Emission Zone will mean all vans and lorries will need to be Euro-6 to avoid paying a daily charge of £100 for HGVs and £12.50 for vans. The ULEZ will be in operation 24/7.

Find our if your vehicle is affected at TfL’s emissions surcharge checker.

Turkish electric van-maker BD Auto launches into UK market

BD Auto and Energy is to begin offering its range of all-electric vans in the UK this spring.

The Turkish manufacturer has been producing pure electric LCVs and passenger models for more than eight years and has more than 400 vehicles in operation in seven European countries.

It believes the time is now right for UK operators to adopt electric vehicle technology, driven by greater pressure from cities to improve air quality and reduce transport emissions.

BD Auto uses base vehicles from major OEMs – ranging from 3- 4.25 tonnes GVW – and gives them a new powertrain and control system in its Turkish factory.

Customers are given a full warranty, servicing and maintenance package, as well as financing and lease options.

Vans are eligible for the government’s Plug-in Van Grant, are also exempt from paying London’s congestion charge.

Chris Jones, head of sales at BD Auto and Energy, said he had been meeting with key fleet customers and demonstrating products in London over recent months and is “convinced that this is the time to introduce” the vans to the UK.

“The current information surrounding diesel engine pollutants and the effect on London’s air quality means that the requirement for electric commercial vehicles has never been greater,” he added.

“We are pleased to offer a zero-emission solution to business users in London as BD Auto vehicles are 100% electrically powered and produce no pollutants as well as having an excellent working range and large carrying capacities.”


Mercedes-Benz all-electric heavy-duty truck will be on city roads this year

The Mercedes-Benz all-electric Urban eTruck is to enter the market this year in small series production following an “outstanding” customer reaction to its debut at IAA in Hannover last year.

Zero-emission, “quiet as a whisper” and with a payload of 12.8 tonnes and a range up to 200km, Mercedes said the Urban eTruck offers an economical, environmentally friendly option for operators.

Stefan Buchner, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks worldwide, said: “We are currently talking to around 20 potential customers from the disposal, foodstuffs and logistics sectors. With the small series, we are now rapidly taking the next step towards a series product. By 2020 we want to be on the market with the series generation.”

The first few units will go to customers in Germany, followed by additional units elsewhere in Europe.

Mercedes said the aim of the trials was to learn from real-life applications and requirements, coupled with customer feedback, to further optimise the electric truck’s design.

Tests will include use in shift operation, charging times, plus battery and range management.

Buchner added: “When it comes to future technological issues, we have set the standards in the sector, for instance with regard to electric and autonomous driving plus connectivity.

“2017 will now be our year of implementation: step by step we are developing the vehicles and systems to achieve market maturity.”

In order to be able to test the various application possibilities, 18- and 25-tonne models will be equipped with refrigerated, dry box and platform bodies.

Together with a special charger that takes into account the increased demands on a truck, the vehicles will be handed over to the customers to use for a period of 12 months, during which they will be supported by Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ road testing department.

The Urban eTruck is part of a wider electric initiative from Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler Trucks. Its light-duty Fuso eCanter electric truck will be in use in a global small series in 2017: around 150 vehicles will be handed over to selected customers in Europe, Japan and the USA.



UPS talks urban delivery trials ahead of Freight in the City Birmingham Summit

UPS director of sustainability for Europe, Peter Harris, shares some of the work taking place across European cities ahead of his appearance at Freight in the City Spring Summit next month.

Global parcel carrier UPS is to trial a brand-new urban delivery concept in London this year.

The company plans to operate new electrically-assisted cargo containers in London’s busy Westminster area, in an effort to reduce the emissions and congestion associated with increasing van usage in the capital.

Technology used on the ‘e-trailer’ is termed net neutral, so the weight of the trailer is not felt by the handler, allowing for increased volumes of last-mile deliveries by foot or cycling.

The trailer is being developed through the Low Impact City Logistics project, which is part of a £10m research investment by InnovateUK for collaborative R&D to improve end-to-end people and freight journeys.

It is planned that a number of the e-trailers would be preloaded at the UPS centre in Camden before being brought in on a larger trailer towed behind a normal delivery vehicle for helpers to then make the final mile  by foot or cycle.

Peter Harris (pictured), director of sustainability for Europe  at UPS, tells Freight in the City that the concept for the trailers was a natural extension to an urban delivery operation that has been running in Hamburg, Germany for a number of years.

This sees a number of urban micro depots – large containers, much like the size used for sea freight – positioned around the city.

The containers hold enough volume for several helpers to work from throughout the day, delivering parcels by foot, bike or e-trike.

The helpers also collect parcels from residents and businesses in the city centre and return them to the containers for pick-up at the end of the day by one lorry.

“So, instead of it being trucks moving around in the city all day, it’s one truck in and one truck out, and the rest of the time we’re using zero-truck transport, which is the ambition to try and get trucks out of the city and the emissions and congestion that go with them,” explains Harris.

The Hamburg model is now being expanded to other European cities.

Mega city

“But when we came to thinking about London, we thought we probably need a slightly different approach here,” says Harris.

One of the key challenges was London’s density, he says, as a mega city, with the option of siting a number of large containers on valuable road or pavement space being unlikely.

Also, the option to deliver by trike might prove tricky in London’s bustling streets, making foot delivery with an e-trailer a more practical proposition.

To overcome all these challenges, UPS is working within a consortium including the University of Huddersfield, Westminster City Council, Fernhay, Skotkonung and Outspoken Delivery to develop the e-trailer technology and prototype.

“At our central London depot in Camden, the e-trailers will be positioned  on the belt just as our normal trucks are” says Harris.

“The trailers will then go down-town already loaded into drop order.”

To avoid the need to drop-off large container units across the city, e-trailers will be delivered by a transfer trailer pulled by a regular distribution truck. This will likely hold around six units, although this has not yet been finalised.

Timescale for rollout of the e-trailers has yet to be confirmed, but will take place this year.

Urban focus

The project is just one element of the move towards sustainable deliveries taking place in the UK by UPS.

For example, the company has just deployed its 52nd electric truck in London

“They’re mostly conversions from diesel, which is quite interesting in its own right because a version of the style and configuration that we wanted didn’t exist, so we developed our own  working with a German technology firm called EFA-S,” says Harris.

UPS carries out the strip-down and refurbishment of the older trucks used itself ahead of the electric conversion by EFA-S.

The company has received funding through its work on the FREVUE project that aims to establish the feasibility of electric commercial vehicles in real-life operations across Europe.

Project work has included significant expenditure to overcome the challenges of charging multiple electric vehicles from the grid at one time.

“We actually went through a major expenditure in London to achieve this. We don’t want to do this again as it’s very expensive and it’s not moveable. Nor is it incremental.

“So what we’re proposing instead is a smart grid facility that would connect our vehicles to the grid in an intelligent way and look for available capacity within the existing supply,” Harris says.

“If we can make that work, and we are hoping to do it in conjunction with UK Power Networks Services, then it could potentially open up a completely new realm of opportunity for urban electrification.”


The company is also planning to introduce 15 more range-extended electric 7.5-tonne Tevva Motors trucks into its fleet (pictured).

And gas-powered trucks are also a key player in the UPS alternative-fuelled fleet, with the company operating 19 HGVs on LNG from its Tamworth depot.

“The challenge is that we want to run them on renewable gas, but it’s just not available in liquid form. So we’ve had to fall back on LNG” says Harris.

“There needs to be new infrastructure put in place to capitalise on this new market.”

Harris believes the UK is well placed to be a leader in terms of renewable fuels expertise, with a political framework supportive of driving such developments forward.

As such, the UK continues to be a pivotal market for UPS to trial new emerging technologies and developments.



Fleetdrive Electric heads to Freight in the City Birmingham to help operators switch to ULEVs

Fleetdrive Electric will be heading to Freight in the City Spring Summit next month to share its experience in ultra-low-emission vehicle (ULEV) leasing packages.

A ‘Go Ultra Low’ company, the firm said its team’s extensive knowledge of ULEVs can provide vital support and guidance for fleets looking to make the switch to electric.

Offering a free and impartial fleet analysis, Fleetdrive Electric can identify practical operational uses where electric vehicles could generate long-term savings for an organisation.

It can deliver advanced CO2 reporting, cost-comparisons with petrol/diesel alternatives to highlight the whole-life vehicle costs and efficiencies, and offer effective recommendations to reduce the environmental impact of a client’s fleet.

The company can also identify the most suitable vehicles available for your business needs, offer information about charging options and grants, ensure you get optimum performance from an electric vehicle and support you with practical operational advice.

Fleetdrive offers all makes and models of cars and vans available in the UK and, being completely independent of any manufacturer or franchised dealer group, said it provides unbiased advice to make sure you get the best value for money.

Driver training is also offered, as well as carbon footprint monitoring and accurate forecasting data.

“Our unique EV flexi-lease service enables fleet operators looking to explore how electric vehicles can realistically add benefit to their organisation to take a trial on a commitment-free flexible lease arrangement,” a spokeswoman said.

“With extendable contracts from as little as 30 days, electric cars and vans can be tried and tested within a practical environment to fully assess the feasibilities. It also provides an eco-friendly solution for short-term vehicle rental.”

Fleetdrive Electric will be on hand to talk to visitors about making the switch to ULEVs at Freight in the City Spring Summit held on 1 March at Edgbaston Stadium.

Make sure to reserve your free place today!

By David Craik

Howard Tenens to operate UK’s first 26-tonne dedicated gas rigid trucks in Innovate trial

Howard Tenens is to operate the UK’s first pair of 26-tonne rigid dedicated gas trucks under the government’s £20m Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial.

Working in a consortium led by gas specialist Air Liquide, the operator will use the government grant funding to purchase the two new Scania rigids that will run entirely on biomethane.

The trucks will operate out of Howard Tenens’ Swindon depot and be used on a number of its main contracts such as Toolstation, Honda and Cotswolds Outdoors.

Howard Tenens has been an early adopter of gas-fuelled trucks on its fleet, taking part in previous government-funded trials of the technology enabling the firm to run 36 dual-fuel gas/diesel vehicles.

However, in line with industry advances in technology and research into gas-fuelled trucks, the company believes dedicated biomethane vehicles will deliver much greater environmental benefits.

Ben Morris, executive director at Howard Tenens, said: “Adding these new trucks to the Howard Tenens fleet seemed like a natural development in our ongoing journey to use gas vehicles.

“These new vehicles will reduce carbon emissions by around 70% compared to a normal diesel engine and is the most viable option available to us for reducing our carbon footprint.”

Howard Tenens said it as has overcome the availability issue associated with gas by investing in a gas refuelling station at its depot in Swindon, where the two new trucks will be based.

The operator has also partnered with a local company, Advanced Plasma Power, which will supply sustainably produced biomethane for the trial.

Advanced Plasma Power will produce the biomethane from its plasma gasification plant, turning household rubbish into the gas needed to fuel the two vehicles.

Not only does this process reduce the amount of waste that is sent to landfill in the local community, but it also generates a clean and sustainable fuel.

Rolf Stein, CEO at Advanced Plasma Power, said: “The biomethane project sets out with a goal to provide sustainable and low cost solutions to the challenges of decarbonising heating and transport.”

The new trucks will join the fleet later this year and be closely monitored throughout the trial to assess if their performance meets operational and environmental targets.

If successful, Howard Tenens will look to add more to its wider fleet.

Smith Electric Vehicles ceases trading – or does it?

Smith Electric Vehicles has ceased all operations due to lack of funding, according to a statement issued by one its shareholders this week.

Tanfield Group, which owns 5.76% of share capital in the electric truck firm, said: “In August 2016, the board of Smith stated that it planned to centralise its operations in the United States while retaining a presence in the UK as a branch of Smith USA Corp, but due to a lack of funding, it recently ceased all activity in both the United States and the UK.”

Tanfield had previously taken the decision for the year ended 31 December 2015 to “impair the investment value of Smith to nil” due to the uncertainty around its future and the level of funding it required. understands that the CEO of Smith Electric Vehicles, John Dixon, has retired from the board and that the remaining members are exploring possible funding options.

“The board of Smith also stated that there was no guarantee they will be successful in raising the required funds and that without funding it is unlikely that Smith would remain solvent,” Tanfield added.

In an exclusive interview with Freight in the City last year, the company shared its comeback plans as it believed the time was right for industry to embrace electric trucks.

Its aim was to bring its latest generation of electric trucks to the UK this spring, thanks to a fresh injection of funding from a US investor.

Smith Electric Vehicles, responded and said that “we have paused the operation – not ceased it – and the board are working on getting the company back on track”.

Fors freezes 2017 membership fees; lowers charges for smaller operators

Fors has published its membership subscription fees for 2017, lowering charges for smaller operations and freezing its other fees at last year’s levels.

From 17 February, Fors will now apply a flat rate of £80 per vehicle for fleets with up to five vehicles.

Under 2016’s structure those with two to three vehicles paid £180, while those with four to ten vehicles paid £420 (under 2017’s revisions those with six to ten vehicles will pay £420).

Those with a single vehicle will pay £65 as they did a year ago, and the other subscription fee bands have been frozen right up to the top of the scale (those running 100 vehicles who pay £2,250).

Audit fees and silver and gold evidencing checks remain unchanged too.

All prices exclude VAT.

“What this shows,” said Fors director, John Hix, “is that Fors is very much in tune with the operating community and the demands it faces with the cost of running commercial vehicle fleets – whatever their size and make-up.

“We enjoyed a good deal of positive feedback at our Fors Members’ Conference,” he said, “and, quite rightly, operating costs, were uppermost in the minds of members.

“So, we wanted to make sure our fees are as keen as possible and we will remain receptive to member feedback,” he added.

London mayor Sadiq Khan calls for diesel scrappage scheme

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is calling on the government to introduce a diesel scrappage scheme, which could see 70,000 Euro-5 diesel vans and minibuses removed from London’s roads.

The mayor sets out his proposals this week in a report Proposal for a National Scrappage Scheme, which suggests such a scheme could be applied to cities across the UK.

The report uses London as an example city scheme and estimates the scheme would cost up to £515m in the capital over a two year period.

The key recommendations include:

  • Payments of £3,500 to scrap up to 70,000 Euro-5 vans and minibuses in London and a national fund to support charities and small businesses that often own older diesel vehicles. This fund would be around £245m, allowing small businesses and charities to buy or lease compliant vehicles;
  •  A credit scheme valued at £2,000 to help low-income households scrap up to 130,000 polluting cars, with incentives for car clubs;
  • Payments of £1,000 to help scrap up to 10,000 older purpose built taxis in London.

The report also recommends the government consider linking scrappage payments to plug-in van grants and gives “additional incentives” to encourage fleet businesses to switch to cleaner vehicles and to trial or increase the number of new, cleaner vehicles used in city centres.

A nationwide scheme would also help the UK meet its legal obligations on European pollution limits, incentivise diesel drivers to switch to cleaner vehicles, and improve the health of the nation, the report argues.

It added that such a move if adopted would do away the cost of introducing the Ultra Low Emission Zone and reduce NOx emissions in London by 40%.

Khan said: “For years government has incentivised and encouraged people to purchase diesel cars. It is only fair that they now helps people to switch to cleaner alternatives. The government needs to help us clean up the dangerous air in London.”

Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental Leasing Association, said the proposed fund “could make a significant contribution in reducing emissions by removing some of the oldest, most polluting vans and cars from our streets.

“There are some urban journeys or tasks that require a car or van, but those vehicles should be clean, safe and modern and should be used efficiently.”

DfT to pilot fleet review scheme to help small hauliers cut fuel usage

The government is to launch a pilot HGV fleet review scheme to encourage smaller hauliers to cut fuel usage through increased driver training and in-cab technology.

The pilot is one of a range of measures aimed at cutting road freight emissions which are outlined in the DfT’s recently published Freight Carbon Review.

The review looks at ways the road freight industry can cut its emissions. These are estimated to make up 17% of carbon emissions and 21% of NOx emissions in the UK.

It is part of wider government plans to slash UK emissions by at least 80% by 2050.

The pilot HGV fleet review scheme will be run by the Energy Savings trust.

It has been prompted by evidence that smaller operators are significantly less likely to invest in either driver training or telematics equipment.

The pilot will deliver a five-day bespoke training course for participating fleets.

Freight Carbon Review

Other measures outlined in the review include confirmation that the longer semi-trailer (LST) trial will be extended, and a government pledge to work with the FTA to encourage smaller hauliers to sign up to its Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme.

The review also set out plans to introduce laws to allow Category B driving licence holders operating alternatively-fuelled vans of up to 4.2-tonnes to carry an extra tonne in weight, to account for the heavier drivetrains.

Incentives to encourage hauliers to use cleaner, quieter vehicles in Clean Air Zones are also on the agenda.

The FTA welcomed the review and called on both government and the freight industry to make greater efforts to help cut freight emissions.

Christopher Snelling, FTA head of national and regional policy, said: “Making the switch to alternative fuels is challenging for many operators, with a lack of public refuelling infrastructure and the expense of new technology, so we need further government support.

“Industry, too, must play its part. Year-on-year, Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS) members outperform the sector as a whole when it comes to carbon reduction.”