All you need to know about ULEZ and what to do when it hits the capital
When does the ULEZ arrive?
The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) arrived in London on 8th April 2019. It’s a move by Mayor Sadiq Khan to combat the effects of London’s toxic air. It will introduce a new set of standards that vehicles must abide by when in London’s centre.
Does your business operate in the capital and rely on vehicles? If so, you’ll need to get familiar with what the ULEZ means for you.
We’ve broken down all you need to know about the ULEZ: what it is, what it means for your business, and most importantly, how you can get up to speed with its demands to avoid paying big fines. With our tips, including advice on vehicle tracking, you’ll also be able to save on your fuel costs while maximising the efficiency of your routes.
Interested? Read on for all you need to know about the ULEZ London.
What is ULEZ?
ULEZ is the Ultra Low Emission Zone coming to the capital in April this year. It’s a response to the poisonous effects of vehicle emissions on the city’s residents. You’ll need to ensure your vehicles meet a particular standard to drive through central London. Otherwise, you’ll have to get used to paying a daily charge. The ULEZ will usher in the tightest emission standards London has ever seen.
What are the costs?
What’s the cost of failure to meet ULEZ standards? It’s a daily charge of £12.50 for most vehicles, such as cars, motorcycles, and vans. It's payable once per day you drive through the zone, and isn't reflective of how much time you spend there. A harsher penalty of £100 awaits heavier, non-emission friendly vehicles like lorries, buses and coaches.
This fee will replace the current T charge, but coexist with the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) charge and weekday congestion charge of £11.50. This means that the total costs for ULEZ non-compliance could total up to £145 a week per vehicle.
What’s more, the charging day runs from midnight to midnight. So if your business relies on late night transport, your drivers could be facing a Cinderella situation just to dodge doubling up on charges.
Where is the ULEZ?
The ULEZ covers the same geographical area as the current congestion zone. Broadly, this stretches from just shy of King’s Cross in the north to Vauxhall in the south. In the east it runs to the borough of Tower Hamlets, including major stations London Bridge and Liverpool Street. And in the west, the zone stretches almost all the way to Paddington and includes Green Park and Mayfair.
Will it affect you?
If you live, work, commute, or run a business that employs one or more vehicles and operates in London, there's a chance the ULEZ will affect you. And if you’re in the taxi trade, you’ll need to be especially aware of what the ULEZ means. Why? Because several of the major stations lie within the zone – and most of London’s iconic landmarks and points of interest do too.
The question is, how much will it affect you? Potentially quite a lot, according to official data from TfL (Transport for London) and The Mayor of London. Check out the infographic below to find out how you'll be affected:
Ditch diesel for the daily commute
Right off the bat, car commuters are paying a lot more than people using public transport. A Zones 1–2 Day Travelcard, which covers a wider area than ULEZ, costs £12.70. By contrast, travelling through the same area by car now sets you back £24 in daily ULEZ and congestion charge fees. That’s more than the cost of a London–Spain Ryanair round trip. Maybe commuting from Barcelona isn’t such a crazy idea.
On yer bike…bikers
Motorcycles and mopeds that don’t meet the required emissions standards still qualify for a 100% congestion charge discount, provided they’re registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). If your fleet fits that description, your daily ULEZ fees are capped at £12.50 per vehicle.
At first glance, this makes them the least costly type of non-compliant vehicle to drive in central London. But, upon closer inspection of TfL’s minimum emission standards, you’ll notice that two-wheelers are held to a higher standard (Euro III) than cars, vans, and even lorries (Euro V and VI, respectively). This, despite the fact that motorcycles emit lower volumes of toxic nitrogen oxides, and spend less time idling in traffic than hulking HGVs, has many of London’s riders (understandably) up in arms.
HGVs pay the highest fees
But it’s lorries, coaches and larger vehicles that pay the most under the ULEZ rules, with a single trip into London during peak hours costing £111.50.
Interestingly, due to the way TfL calculates the charging day – from midnight to midnight – driving outside of peak hours can actually be even more expensive. For example, a grocery truck driver who enters central London at 23.59 to make deliveries to businesses inside the ULEZ, pays twice – once for each charging day spent inside the zone.Can your business afford to operate solely outside of the ULEZ? Can you afford to pay a daily charge to drive in central London? If not, read on to learn how to comply with the standards and beat the charges.
What are the standards?
The Euro standards are the rules your vehicles will need to comply with in the ULEZ. These are a range of rules setting limits for the amount of emissions allowed from vehicle engines. These emissions include particulate matter (PM) and pollutant nitrogen oxides (NOx).
Take a look at the Euro standards and when they came into effect below.
|Emissions standard||Applied to new cars from||Applied to most registrations from|
|Euro 1||1st July 1992||31st December 1992|
|Euro 2||1st January 1996||1st January 1997|
|Euro 3||1st January 2000||1st January 2001|
|Euro 4||1st January 2005||1st January 2006|
|Euro 5||1st September 2009||1st January 2011|
|Euro 6||1st September 2014||1st September 2015|
This table is a rough guide, but shouldn’t be your only source for what emissions standard your vehicles comply with. For more information on how to find out, read on.
The standards you’ll need to conform to within the ULEZ from 8th April 2019 are:
- Motorised quadricycles and tricycles (L Category)
EURO 4 (NOx)
Vehicles that run on petrol including:
- Other specialist vehicles
EURO 6 (NOx and PM)
Vehicles that run on diesel including:
- Other specialist vehicles
EURO 6 (NOx and PM)
- Other specialist heavy vehicles
If your business relies on the use of heavy vehicles like lorries and coaches, your vehicles might not be compliant if bought before 2015. The same goes for if your cars run on diesel. If your vehicles are motorcycles or petrol cars, you’ve got a bit more leeway.
How to make sure you’re ULEZ compliant
Now you know the standards, it’s time to make sure your vehicles comply with them. The easiest way to do this is with Transport for London’s ULEZ Vehicle Checker. Simply enter your registration plate number to find out if your vehicles comply with the relevant Euro standard. You can also contact your car manufacturer to find out if your cars make the cut.
If your vehicles don’t meet the standard but you don’t drive within central London, there’s still no excuse for skimping on the cost of ULEZ compliance. The ULEZ is extending, and will be a whopping 18 times larger by 2021. Plus, you’ll be doing your bit to reduce the pollution in London’s air and sending a positive message to your customers.
You can bring your vehicles up to Euro 6 compliance by fitting them with approved filters, or you can replace them. Whichever route you go down, it’s worth doing. Governments all around the world are bringing in emissions restrictions, and these will only get tighter.
What does it mean for your business?
The short answer? You’ll need to make sure your vehicles are ULEZ compliant, or prepare to pay a daily charge. For lorries and heavy vehicles, this amounts to hundreds of pounds a week. It’s not financially feasible, and with London’s polluted air affecting the health of the city’s children, it’s not that noble either.
Don’t be afraid to embrace the ULEZ. It’s a great opportunity for your vehicle-based small business to modernise and gain traction over your rivals. And there’s plenty of ways to make sure you don’t pay a penny in fees. Read on for our top tips.
How to avoid paying ULEZ fines
✔ Switch to petrol
Petrol cars produce fewer emissions than those running on diesel, meaning the rules around petrol cars are less stringent – Most petrol cars since 2006 are ULEZ compliant; diesel cars older than late 2014, however, won’t meet the standard. Making the transition to petrol is more sustainable in the long run, and helps get rid of ULEZ fees in the short-term.
✔ Upgrade or replace your cars
You can get approved filters fitted to your vehicles to bring them up to the right Euro standard. However, another option is to simply replace all non-compliant vehicles in your fleet. It’s a punchy choice, but it will save you money over time – both in ongoing maintenance costs and pesky ULEZ fees.
✔ Plan your routes better
Another way to avoid ULEZ fines is a vehicle tracker. It lets you better plan the routes of your vehicles as they traverse the big city. Even if some of your vehicles aren’t compliant, it’s not a problem – a vehicle tracker will help you avoid fines by keeping your older cars out of the ULEZ altogether. Vehicle trackers are also a great way to bring your small business up to speed with the big players.
✔ Look to the future
There’s talk that London’s plans for an even tighter ‘zero emission zone’ by 2025 are coming forward, meaning we could see areas of the city restricted to electric and hybrid cars as early as 2020. Investing in electric cars before they’re mandatory shows your commitment to the environment. And could help you get the edge over your rivals while adding a point of uniqueness to your business.
Emissions are getting left behind – don’t let your business follow them. Check if your vehicles are compliant, and if they aren’t, endeavour to make them so. ULEZ is extending and non-compliant vehicles are gradually being forced off the road. London is no island here; emissions standards are rolling out across Europe and the world. If your business has big plans, there’s no better time than now to get your vehicles up to speed.
But don’t see ULEZ as a bad thing. Aside from working towards a healthier nation and planet, it’s an unmissable opportunity to grow your business. Electric cars and GPS vehicle tracking are no longer the stuff of science fiction – they’re the future of your industry. And there’s no time like the present to drive change for the world and your business.