Every courier driver knows how important it is to make the right choice when buying a new vehicle. It’s usually the biggest expense of your business, and it’s also where you’ll be spending a lot of your time until your next upgrade.
On top of this, factors outside your control can make it more urgent to move on from your old van. New regulations stand to increase costs significantly, but switching could help you save – both by avoiding extra charges and by benefiting from better fuel efficiency.
Better fuel efficiency means lower operational costs, while a courier driver can also benefit by spending more time on the job and less time detouring to petrol stations.
Manufacturers have long recognised this, but pressure from regulators and the public over environmental concerns has increased incentives to improve in this area.
ULEZ: A New Scheme for 2019
These concerns are about to get a lot more serious for anyone driving in London, because on 8 April, Transport for London (TfL) is introducing a new daily pollution charge in the city centre. The Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) adds an extra £12.50 daily charge on qualifying vehicles operating within Central London, to be extended across the city over the next few years.
This new scheme could see an individual courier driver paying around £3,000 a year, if driving daily in the ULEZ.
Benefits to Switching
Of course, the ULEZ isn’t just a way to make money: it aims to clean up the capital’s air and improve quality of life. Happily, the mayor’s office have put their money where their mouth is on this issue, offering grants to those who switch non-compliant vehicles for compliant ones.
‘Compliant with what?’, you might ask. The answer lies in the previously obscure emissions standard, Euro 6. This sets strict limits on all vehicles sold in EU markets after September 2016.
Crucially, all vehicles that meet Euro 6 standards are exempt from ULEZ charges.
If you’ve already upgraded, then, you might avoid fees. If not, don’t worry – the government has set up a scheme perfect for any courier driver.
To qualify, you must be a small business registered with Companies House or pay VAT in the UK, with less than £632,000 turnover or less than £316.000 on the balance sheet for the past two financial years.
If you meet these criteria, three options are available:
A £3,500 grant for scrapping and replacing a non-compliant van that has been driven in the congestion charge zone at least 52 times during the six months before 22 February 2019.
A £3,500 grant for scrapping and replacing ANY non-compliant van, available for businesses based in London.
£6,000 off a new electric van (including the £3,500 grant and a £2,500 contribution towards the new vehicle).
All scrapped vehicles must be insured for business use, road taxed with valid MOT and scrapped at an authorised facility.
For a courier driver, these grants are not just a way to escape ULEZ charges; they’re a government contribution to an upgrade you would have made sooner or later anyway.
If you’re eligible, go to TfL’s website to get started – but complete your application soon, as you’ll only get the grant for vehicles registered beforehand.
There are plenty of good reasons to upgrade in 2019, especially as other cities are looking to implement ULEZ policies within the next few years. Don’t risk getting caught out: take advantage of the grants now.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier driver work in the express freight exchange industry. Numerous transport exchange businesses are networked together on their website, trading jobs and capacity through what is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange company in the UK.
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