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How Might the Diesel Scrappage Scheme Affect HGVs?

There’s a lot going on in the world of HGVs right now – some areas of the UK are allowing trials of driverless HGVs and, elsewhere, there are some fascinating electric HGVs being tested by Tesla (although they’re not on sale to general audiences yet). The big thing that everyone is wondering about right now though is the government’s plans to ban diesel from sale by 2040, and the possibility of incentives for people who drive diesel vehicles to scrap them over the coming years. Right now, car drivers might be able to get some nice payments to encourage them to make the switch but diesel HGV fleets are, for the moment, out in the cold.

Announcement of Plan to Ditch Diesel

Michael Gove has announced plans to ditch diesel in order to reduce air pollution. The initial phase of the ban refers to cars only, but common sense dictates that if diesel will be banned in 2040 then haulage companies will need to update their vehicles too. Some companies are looking to replace their fleets right now, to get ahead of any ban, but this could be an unwise move given that there are scrappage payments being discussed for car drivers. “Any company that waits to make the switch could get an incentive to do so if the government consultations over the coming years go well,” explains a training executive at The LGV Training Company.

Current plans suggest that car drivers may be eligible for a payment of between £1000 and £2000 to encourage them to get rid of a diesel vehicle and get an electric or a low emission one instead. Electric HGVs aren’t yet commonly available though and it’s hard for haulage companies to make informed decisions about the financial costs associated with running them, as well as whether there are any logistical overheads. Electric HGVs could turn out to be a good choice, but they could be a maintenance nightmare. There are a few brave companies who, willingly, are making the switch voluntarily when their rivals are still running something that is known to be cheap and reliable.

Introduction of Toxicity Charge and Other Disincentives

Diesel HGVs haven’t been banned yet but they are going to be forced to pay extra to be on the roads thanks to the Toxicity Charge which is due to come into effect in October and there are extra parking charges as well as anticipated increases in the cost of the fuel. It’s hard to believe that it wasn’t all that long ago that Blair was telling companies that diesel was better for the environment than petrol. It’s going to take a long time to undo that marketing and educate people on the fact that other low emission vehicles are not just cheaper to run today but actually more beneficial for the environment in the long run.

We don’t know for sure if there will be a diesel ban for HGVs in the next few years – but 2040 isn’t that far away in the grand scheme of things, so it’s a good idea to start researching and preparing before you end up making a bad investment. Now might not be the best time to open your cheque book for a full fleet revamp, but there are things that you can do to prepare for the changes in the law while you wait.

19 Sep 2017

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