ALD Automotive recently held its first ever Clean Air Zone event in Bristol, where the company is based. It was attended by over 200 visitors, including local and national employers, clearly demonstrating how high emissions and staff mobility are on everyone’s agenda.
The audience included representatives from Local Authorities and Government bodies, keen to hear from Electric Vehicle and Environmental experts, who made detailed presentations on subjects such as the UK’s charging network, switching fleets over to Ultra Low Emission Vehicles and strategies to improve air quality.
During the presentations, the delegates were asked a series of questions on their motoring habits and their views on mobility and the environment. It found that while the vast majority (75%) currently drive a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle, over 75% feel that all vehicles emitting CO2 should be charged for entering a CAZ. Also, nearly 65% of delegates at the event confirmed that they are currently looking to introduce Ultra Low Emission Vehicles as part of their fleet, demonstrating a clear wish to address the issue.
The event was chaired by TV actor Robert Llewellyn (Red Dwarf and Scrap Heap Challenge), who is an electric vehicle enthusiast and the founder of the ‘Fully Charged Show’.
The event, held in conjunction with the University of the West of England (UWE), aimed to examine the future of business mobility, in light of the introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZs) across the UK. Although it was held in Bristol, where ALD has its headquarters, delegates were invited to attend whether they operated vehicles in the city or not, to widely spread the message about measures that can be taken now, as well as to dispel some of the myths surrounding the introduction of CAZs and the use of alternatively fuelled vehicles.
The presentations included insights into the future of the UK charging network, and how vehicle availability is possibly the biggest barrier to EV uptake.
Delegates heard how Defra, operating a varied vehicle fleet, is working hard to reduce the harmful impact of its fleet on people and the environment. One important presentation aimed to explain how the first five mandated Clean Air Zones could be implemented and what fleets need to do now to prepare for them.
Perhaps the most compelling presentation came from Dr Jo Barnes from UWE, who opened by explaining that air pollution causes 300 additional deaths a year in total in Bristol, compared with 12 people killed in road traffic collisions in the city. She explained how a Bristol CAZ could be implemented as early as next year. Professor Graham Parkhurst, also from UWE, emphasised the need for urgent action and how, although CAZs are an imperfect solution, they are necessary as a temporary measure. He explained that they tackle a symptom but not the cause, that there is potential for unintended consequences, their effectiveness is uncertain, and he questioned whether they would raise the required revenue.
Finally, Matt Dale, Head of Consultancy for ALD, outlined the results of a study commissioned by ALD and conducted by UWE into mobility in the city. It highlighted the fact that while many in the study work in Bristol, their journeys take them all over the UK, including into cities mandated to introduce CAZs. The study looked at over 300,000 trips by 4,000 vehicles fitted with connected vehicle technology and concluded that if the mandated CAZs were charging zones, then the vehicles in the study could collectively incur total charges of over £30,000 per year. ALD will shortly make the full results of this comprehensive study available to fleets.
As well as the expert presentations, delegates were able to view exhibition displays by My First Mile, Chargemaster, Venturer autonomous mobility, Clair City and UWE. Vehicles on display included the Kia Niro, Ford Transit Custom PHEV and the Ford Hybrid Mondeo.