“Manufacturers must remind truck and fleet operators exactly what green technology they have available to them,” according to West Midlands Metro Mayor Andy Street.
On a visit to Guest Truck and Van in West Bromwich, where the environment was at the top of the agenda in a conversation about transport sustainability, innovation and alternative fuels, the Mayor said fleet operators should demonstrate how their actions can positively influence the environment.
Robert Spittle, Managing Director of Guest, which is one of the largest IVECO dealer groups in the UK, told the Mayor about some of the difficulties facing commercial vehicle manufacturers as environmental concerns become an increasingly important part of every-day logistics.
Showing the Mayor its range of electric vans and some of the least polluting big trucks on the road, he said: “There is no getting away from the fact that trucks and vans will play a huge part in the big picture of getting products to places for the foreseeable future and probably beyond. The UK’s truck fleet needs to be continually updated, which is the case when it comes to larger operators, but not always so with smaller ones.
“Most commercial vehicle manufacturers are making significant investments in technologies that will decrease the environmental impact of their trucks and vans, and the fuel they use.
“A greener option is already available, however a world of logistics that is totally zero or ultra-low emissions is unfortunately still quite a way off. Nevertheless, there are solutions available now to forward-looking businesses that are able to work and plan in advance.
“We hear about creative plans to transfer freight from road to rail or even the canal network, but there’s no avoiding the reality that even with a huge investment in infrastructure, products will still have to be transported from their point of origin to a hub, and then again the final mile to their destination. The world will need trucks for a very long time to come.
“Battery technology has come on in leaps and bounds, making an all-electric van a practical alternative to diesel power, and the predictable and repetitive nature of many deliveries means that companies can complete a day’s work with a single charge and the up to 150 km range that gives them.”
Robert added that city clean air zones - already high on the political agenda - could have an additional impact for the freight sector. However, following the example in London, which has had one for some time, he hoped that the industry is prepared.
Cities such as Nottingham are currently undergoing trials, while other cities including Birmingham - which announced its proposal for a clean air zone in the city centre this week - will have to implement the strategies and boundaries very quickly to comply with legislation, said Robert.
As Mayor of the West Midlands region with responsibility for transport, Andy Street has already committed to ruling out any universal congestion charge on drivers in the West Midlands, and has said he will explore a scheme to incentivise more lorries and heavy vehicles to use the M6 Toll at peak times.
In his election manifesto he said that the region must: “Implement the Clean Air Zone as required by Government, which will charge older, more heavily polluting trucks and heavy vehicles to enter parts of Birmingham city centre.”
He also pledged to: “Lobby Government to ensure that businesses and individuals who own these trucks and polluting vehicles have the right level of financial support to help them invest and switch to cleaner vehicles, for example a scrappage scheme similar to London.”
Speaking at Guest Truck and Van, Andy Street, who looked at some of IVECO’s greenest vehicles, said: “It’s clear that green technology for commercial vehicles is advancing and I know a lot of work is being done in the West Midlands.
“At this stage in the development of technology and deployment of regulations, I think education is vital, to remind truck and fleet operators exactly what green technology they have available to them, and how they can positively influence the environment with their actions right now.”
Guest’s Robert Spittle said: “It was good to speak to the Mayor about the challenges the industry faces. As the former head of John Lewis, he understood the operation of commercial vehicle fleets and how important an issue it is. I welcomed the opportunity to update the man who has the biggest responsibility for developing the region and who has influence at the very highest levels.”
PR by Clive Reeves PR in Birmingham