BVRLA publishes blueprint for an urban future without diesel

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), the trade body representing the UK’s vehicle leasing and rental industry, has published a blueprint for delivering “a cost-effective transition away from diesel vehicles in urban areas”.

Announced at the same time as the launch in London of the T-Charge Clean Air Zone for cars and commercial vehicles, the blueprint outlined the need for a managed transition that reduces diesel market-share in the most environmentally and economically effective way.

Produced by Ecuity Consulting, the Diesel vehicle market-share reduction analysis report has four main conclusions:

  • The government should focus its efforts on reducing diesel car use in urban areas. Around one-third of car use is on urban roads and electric and hybrid cars represent an increasingly affordable alternative.
  • A steady transition away from using diesel vehicles will enable the supply chain and consumers to move to alternative technologies without incurring too many costs.
  • Government policy should focus on trying to reduce car ownership instead of just choosing alternative vehicles. A scrappage scheme that provides mobility credits for public transport, car club and car rental journeys could stimulate this behaviour change.
  • The government needs to provide a consistent clean air zone policy framework across the UK to avoid placing extra burdens or costs on people and businesses driving between urban areas.

“Diesel vehicles play an essential role in transporting goods and people around the country, but the emissions they produce on low-speed urban roads means they have no long-term future in our cities,” said BVRLA Chief Executive, Gerry Keaney.

“We need a carefully blended set of incentives and restrictions that removes the oldest, most polluting diesel vehicles without crippling our economy or punishing people for decisions they have already made.

“The vehicle rental and leasing industry has a significant stake in this transition and we look forward to working with local and national government to deliver a workable solution.”

The BVRLA has considerable political clout and influence in the UK. Its  members provide car sharing and vehicle rental and leasing to businesses and consumers, operating a fleet of more than 4.7 million vehicles, representing 1-in-8 cars, 1-in-5 vans and 1-in-5 trucks licensed to operate on UK roads.

The BVRLA believes that switching from vehicle ownership to vehicle “usership” could provide drivers of older vehicles with a cost-effective transport solution, as members’ fleets are already compliant* with the T-Charge emissions standards and will enable drivers to avoid the £10 daily charge placed on pre-Euro 4 diesel and petrol vehicles travelling in the zone.

The BVRLA welcomed the fact that the T-Charge does not penalise drivers of newer cleaner diesel vehicles and instead focuses on older, higher polluting vehicles.

Earlier this year, in response to the government’s UK Air Quality Plan, the BVRLA urged policymakers to move from consultation to action as soon as possible. It said they should:

  • Provide a comprehensive set of Clean Air Zone guidance to ensure consistency in terms of standards, enforcement, timescales, and charges
  • Provide industry with confidence in the Euro 6 standards by legislating to ensure all compliant vehicles may be operated across the UK without additional cost or restrictions
  • Give a clear guarantee that the government will not introduce any new motoring taxes that end up punishing businesses or individuals for vehicle purchasing decisions that were made based on previous government policy
  • Ensure that any diesel scrappage scheme is both flexible and targeted. This should include providing support for companies looking to replace or retrofit older, more polluting commercial vehicles. In addition, it should encourage owners of older, more polluting cars to give them up, by offering ‘mobility vouchers’ that could be used for car rental, car clubs and other shared or public transport
  • Continue to fund and support the Plug-in-Car and Plug-in-Van Grants, gradually adjusting the CO2 and zero-emission range requirements to ensure that the incentive keeps pace with advances in technology
  • Ensure a consistent tax policy to support the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles.

*The BVRLA has produced a Fleet Air Quality Factsheet which outlines the range of compliant vehicles its members can provide to businesses and individuals impacted by clean air zones. Due to their age profile, every rental, lease or car club car is likely to meet the Government’s Clean Air Zone minimum emissions standard of Euro 6 for diesel and Euro 4 for petrol cars by the time these zones are introduced in 2019/20. These fleets are already compliant with the London T-Charge emissions standard of at least Euro 4 for diesel and petrol.