For many years now there has been a reasoned argument from UK removers that the age of their vehicles is not particularly important since their trucks do very little mileage per annum, especially when compared with general hauliers. Many still look at replacing the body on their older chassis for this very reason – the rear of the vehicle is the part that receives most punishment.
However, this philosophy was turned on its head almost ten years ago when London introduced the dreaded LEZ (Low Emission Zone) which targeted older, more polluting heavy vehicles by introducing stiff charges for entering a designated area. Many in the industry rely to some extent on removal work to and from the capital and therefore had to respond by either modifying their power units, buying new vehicles or stop running into central London.
The London LEZ has proved so popular with residents and politicians that a whopping 34 other local authorities across the UK are looking at introducing similar schemes between now and 2020. Now that it isn’t just London being affected, surely its time for the removal industry to sit down and consider how it should approach this issue. Clearly there will be a period of escalating charges to enter the LEZs, probably leading to an outright ban on HGV’s that aren’t of a low emission standard. The old philosophy that movers can control their costs by predicting a long service life for each of their trucks is under serious threat.
We believe a pan-industry approach is now needed in order to lobby politicians to see if special consideration can be given to the industry. However, given the likely outcome of this appeal, the shrewd movers should also be looking to create a new approach to pricing, and we suspect the larger companies with multi-million pound turnovers are already looking into this issue. If LEZs spread across the UK and removals companies are forced to replace their vehicles more regularly, they will have to increase their prices. Our best advice is to start planning your fleet replacement programme, and instead of seeing how low you can drop your prices, start working towards building them up.