Nottingham launches ULEV Experience to encourage EV take-up

A new initiative has been launched in Nottingham to help businesses and the public sector take-up electric vehicles. The ULEV Experience is a programme designed to help businesses to understand, trial and implement Ultra Low Emission Vehicles, funded by Nottingham City Council’s Go Ultra Low city project.

The ULEV Experience programme offers businesses and the public sector fully-funded fleet reviews delivered by Cenex and the Energy Saving Trust worth up to £11,000, with the intention of helping a business to understand if low emission vehicle technology is right for them.

It also offers Low Emission Vehicle loans delivered by DriveElectric with over 20 different makes and models available to try for up to one month.

The programme also offers business engagement and events delivered by CleanTech Business and The Big Wheel local transport advisory group to help an organisation learn more about ULEVs and identify if there are any benefits for the business – all free to attend.

The programme was launched at a ‘ride and drive’ EV showcase at Nottingham racecourse, which was attended by a range of local businesses and public sector organisations.

It allowed businesses to understand the funding support available from central government and through Nottingham City Council’s Workplace Travel Service. There was also the opportunity to test drive a range of the latest electric cars and commercial vehicles so operators could experience the technology first-hand.

Nottingham is one of five cities that have featured in the government’s plans to create Clean Air Zones (CAZ) to be operational by 2020 – the others are Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, and Southampton – in a bid to improve air quality in cities.

Government ministers were ordered by the Supreme Court to deliver measures aimed at tackling the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air, following pressure by environmental groups.

The CAZ plan is part of the government’s attempt to meet it pollution targets by 2020. It is hoped that each CAZ will contribute to the UK’s compliance with the EU’s clean air directive and will reduce levels of air pollution.

Nottingham City Council is currently working with the government to establish the most effective form of CAZ, which will run in parallel with other measures designed to improve the city’s air quality.

As well as the ULEV experience, these include an ‘Eco Expressway’ prioritising electric buses, and new cycle routes.

In Birmingham, the City Council said that, by 2020, it was looking to impose a levy of between £6-£10 on cars travelling into its planned CAZ, which covers every road within the city centre and includes the popular Bullring Shopping Centre and Arena Birmingham music venue.

Vehicles entering the CAZ will be charged if they fall below set emissions standards:  Euro 4 for petrol vehicles, which are those registered before 2006, and Euro 6 for diesels, typically those registered before 2015.

Based on 2016 data, the  council has estimated that about half of all cars would fall within the charging scheme based on these emission standards, and would include about 55% of all vehicles, when HGVs, vans, coaches and minibuses were taken into account.

Meanwhile in Leeds, the proposed charging CAZ would cover all roads within the outer ring road, with the motorways acting like a southern boundary.

Charges will apply to HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles. Daily fees would range from £12.50 for taxis and private hire vehicles, to £100 for buses, coaches and HGVs.

Leeds City Council is also considering seeking government funding to encourage local businesses and transport operators to upgrade their vehicles to meet environmental standards.

In Southampton, the CAZ was introduced on a non-charging basis in 2017 and consists of a number of measures designed to reduce emissions while offering incentives to encourage people to become more environmentally conscious.

Access restrictions and penalty charges will be introduced in 2019, with Southampton City Council saying the charges will be set at levels designed to reduce pollution.

In Derby, councillors are confident they can meet their air quality obligations through alternative measures to CAZ charging, including a proposed scrappage scheme for the most polluting vehicles.

One of the reasons for this view is their belief that the cost of regularly paying the CAZ charge may be prohibitive for those who cannot afford to upgrade their vehicle to a compliant Euro 6 diesel, Euro 4 petrol or electric/hybrid, either through retrofit or buying a new vehicle.

For company employees, councillors believe the CAZ charge will simply be reclaimed on expenses and might actually be less costly than changing the vehicle.