The Birmingham Clean Air Zone and the switch to EVs

June saw charges come into force for drivers entering Birmingham's Clean Air Zone (CAZ). Whilst the zone was officially launched on the 1st June, there was a two-week grace period without charges being enforced to give drivers time to adjust.


Birmingham's Clean Air Zone will cover all the roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road but not the Middleway itself. Vehicles aren't banned from entering the zone, but will pay a daily charge if they travel within the area and do not meet the emissions standards.


Diesel, petrol, hybrid and gas-fueled vehicles are exempt from charges if they meet certain standards, but all fully-electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are exempt.


BIRMINGHAM CAZ – TIMING AND CHARGES

The CAZ will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


Whilst private cars are exempt in Bath's CAZ, in Birmingham they are not. There will be a daily charge for non-compliant vehicles who enter the CAZ.


As a result, many business fleets, such as those who operate heavy goods lorries and vans, are set to face charges of £50 per day to operate their vehicles within the city centre. The zone will be enforced with automatic number plate recognition cameras and those who fail to pay the daily fee will be fined £120.


Birmingham City Council have announced some short-term exemptions for commercial vehicles, however these are set to last for just one year to allow businesses to upgrade their vehicles to meet new emission standards.


In addition, the Council have introduced a range of incentives for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) to encourage a shift to low emission vehicles, with £10 million put aside to help SMEs based within the zone, as well as the wider Birmingham and the West Midlands regions to make the vital switch.


WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FLEET MANAGERS?


The Freight Transport Association has calculated that, for a small firm with five lorries or vans, the extra cost of compliance could amount to more than 40% of their annual turnover should they not upgrade their vehicles.


Fleet operators will be able to apply for a cash payment towards retrofit technology/compliant vehicles, for up to £15,000 per vehicle. This incentive is something many businesses within the region should take advantage of to help with the costs of upgrading their fleet.


The announcement of the move away from diesel and petrol vehicles, along with the introduction of clean air zones in a large number of UK cities in the coming years will require businesses to look at their current fleet to evaluate whether they need to upgrade.


The response from fleet managers has been significant and an increase in registrations of electric vehicles, including battery-electric, plug-in hybrids, was up by 158% in 2019 and has continued to increase throughout 2020.


More and more businesses in the UK are choosing to start the process of electrifying their fleet to save money in the long term, not only on clean air zone charges, but on petrol and diesel costs too.

BENEFITS OF SWITCHING TO EV


A paper released by the Department for Transport’s Energy Saving Trust states that EVs are far cheaper than conventional vehicles on a pence per mile basis, where it is estimated that an average EV costs around £2-£3 to charge fully, for a range of 100 miles, whereas an equivalent petrol of diesel vehicle costs £9-£13 to drive the same distance.


In addition, maintenance costs for EVs are also estimated to be low as they have fewer service requirements. Businesses who choose to switch to EV can also benefit from government grant and tax incentives, all reducing the whole life costs of a fleet even further.


PREPARING FOR THE SWITCH


It is inevitable that at some point, businesses will have to make the transition from petrol and diesel to EVs to meet government compliance. When preparing to make this switch, the first priority should be to work out how quickly you want to complete the transition. This can be achieved by understanding your operational and financial setup and how electrification can be delivered for your organisation.


You must also consider site energy constraints with a scalable strategy, as securing enough electrical power capacity for both now and the future will be vital to the charging of your fleet.


Switching to EVs will inevitably increase power demand, so it is important to evaluate the increase in supply you will need for your end goal.


HOW CAN ROCK POWER CONNECTIONS HELP


At Rock Power Connections, we can install the electrical infrastructure needed for your EV charging points, including both the supply and the chargers themselves.


We liaise directly with the Distribution Network Operator to design and install the electrical connection needed for your EV plans. We undertake all the electrical and civils elements of the project, offering a hassle-free approach by being the sole contractor onsite with a dedicated point of contact.


If you want to explore your options, get in touch and we’ll be happy to advise.


For more information on installing EV Chargers, please contact Emma or Sophie on 01905 456385 or email emma@rockpowerconnections.co.uk or submit an enquiry here.

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