More Clean Air Zones are coming in 2022 - is your business ready?

More Clean Air Zones are coming in 2022 - is your business ready?

You’re probably familiar with the basic idea of Clean Air Zones already, as they’ve been on the national agenda for quite some time now. To give you a quick recap though, a Clean Air Zone is essentially a designated area that’s subject to specific measures designed to tackle air pollution. At the moment Clean Air Zones are, for obvious reasons, almost always situated in major cities or other built-up urban areas, and one of the core measures in question involves identifying the most polluting vehicles travelling within the boundaries of the Zone, and levying an extra charge against drivers of those vehicles.

The idea is to start making it more difficult and expensive to drive older, more polluting vehicles, and help drivers make the shift to newer and less polluting vehicles, including hybrids, and even fully electric cars and vans. You might have already spotted what’s making so many people so unhappy about these plans - one way or another, they’re going to involve extra costs for countless business owners, at least for the time being. Now, that’s where daily car hire and daily van hire can help - but before we get into that, how should you start preparing? 

Which Clean Air Zones are coming in this year? 

Clean Air Zones have already been implemented in a number of UK cities, with many more on the way. Sheffield and Newcastle are both slated for their own later in the year, but currently the dates are unknown. As for the rest, we’ve provided a quick breakdown for you below.

CAZs live now

Coming in February - April 2022

Coming in May 2022

Coming in Summer 2022

All the Clean Air Zones will introduce new charges to larger commercial and municipal vehicles like HGVs, coaches and buses that do not meet emissions requirements, as well as private hire cars, taxis, and sometimes regular passenger vehicles. The larger vehicles can expect to be charged around £100, although these charges will vary, whereas smaller vehicles will be expected to pay less, but this will still be around £10 a day. 

So as you can see, these new Clean Air Zones have the potential to cost you a lot of money if your fleet isn’t up to date. Now, while buying newer and cleaner vehicles is always a good investment in the long term, we’re aware that not every business will have the money to do that, especially if you’re still dealing with the series of economic shocks from the pandemic. If that’s the case, you might find a couple of options available to you, depending on your circumstances. One might be to rely on a grey fleet - in other words, personal vehicles used for company business. Another could be to potentially look at car hire or van hire for short periods. Let’s take a look at each in turn!

Using the grey fleet to get around

Our position on this is no secret here at Intack Self Drive, so we’ll come right out and say it - the grey fleet isn’t your best option. To recap the meaning quickly; the grey fleet obviously isn’t referring to colour, but the fact that they’re not quite company vehicles, even while being used for company business. That means they occupy a certain legal grey area - hence the term, grey fleet. 
While countless people have used their personal cars for company business at some point, there’s a big difference between running a very occasional errand that happens to be business-related, and actually relying on your car long-term to fulfil a vital role within the company (such as a delivery vehicle). 

You probably don’t need us to tell you that the latter is very risky. Private vehicles are exempt from the terms of the Clean Air Zones in several cities right now, so it can be particularly tempting to rely on them. But there are all sorts of problems with that. We’ve outlined them in detail in a previous post about the grey fleet, but if you’re short on time we’ll sum them up: 

•Added paperwork complexity and complications
•Concerns about safety and conditions
•Overall suitability for the task

What you may be able to save in CAZ fees when using a private vehicle can quickly be eclipsed if something goes wrong. (For example, if the vehicle is involved in a crash, and the terms of its insurance don’t cover it for business use.)
That’s not to mention the more obscure but no less critical possibilities too, such as the potential for family demands on personal vehicles. There’s nothing worse than relying on an employee to make an urgent delivery with their own vehicle, and finding out their spouse has commandeered it for the school run. There’s also the fact that it’s not a permanent solution - Clean Air Zones will eventually get stricter, until their terms ultimately apply to private cars too. 

Hiring a car or van

Compared to using the grey fleet, if you don’t yet have the liquidity to buy another vehicle for your official business fleet, hiring a car or van (either on a short term or long-term basis) can provide you with a useful, flexible solution. 

If you need a vehicle relatively infrequently, hiring one on an ad-hoc basis can be much more cost-effective than buying one outright. When you hire a car or van from us here at Intack, we take care of all tax and insurance, as well as the vehicle’s maintenance schedule - keeping all the costs low, and the admin straigh­tforward. It also means that you can enjoy all the utility of the vehicle for exactly as long as you need it, saving you from having to worry about insurance, taxes and MOTs when you’re not.

Similarly, if you think you might need the vehicle on a more long-term basis, that’s exactly what our Flexi Hire service is for. While it obviously requires a greater financial commitment than using the vehicle on a one-off basis, it can still be a lot more cost effective than buying or leasing a vehicle, especially since (unlike a lease) it doesn’t tie you into any long-term commitments. 

Now that more Clean Air Zones are coming into effect we know that emissions standards will play a bigger deciding role than ever in your decisions here at Intack, so we take care to offer a wide range of vehicles to choose from - allowing you the freedom to balance the costs of each one, and the requirements of the Clean Air Zones that may be covering your area of operations. And of course, picking a vehicle specifically for its low emissions reduces the chances of you getting charged by multiple Clean Air Zones on the route through to your destination! 

If you’ve got any more questions or you need a bit of clarification, you can find more answers over on our FAQs page. Or if you’re ready to get started, you can browse the best car hire deals right here on our site at Intack Self Drive, or give us a call on 01254 57811!
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