Fleet and vehicle compliance in 2021: What to expect

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James Walker • Feb 26, 2021 • Flexible hireFleet compliance

With the effects of COVID-19 still ongoing, and the introduction of new fleet regulations just around the corner, 2021 continues to be a busy year for fleet managers across the UK. The combination of the lasting impact of the pandemic, Brexit, new government policy and further technical innovation is driving a shift towards a more sustainable and flexible model of fleet management.
However, with this comes stricter compliance requirements. We take a look at new laws set to come in place in the very near future, and how, combined with the lasting impact of the pandemic, these will affect fleet managers who need to comply.

Before we begin - You can learn everything you need to know about how to keep your fleet compliant with our free no-nonsense guide - Fleet compliance: the safety, environmental & sentencing changes you need to be aware of. Get your copy below:


Fleet regulations in 2021

This year, fleet managers can expect a range of new regulations coming their way from this month, as the UK's emphasis on safer and more eco-friendly commercial vehicles continues.

The Low Emission Zone (LEZ): 1st March

The first, is the Low Emission Zone (LEZ), where emissions standards will become tougher for heavier vehicles from 1 March 2021. The regulations were postponed to allow businesses the time to meet the new emissions standard while facing intense demands from the coronavirus pandemic.

But the date has come around fast, and there's very little time left to get your fleet up to speed if you want to avoid the daily charges.

Here's what the LEZ means for your fleet:

  • HGVs, heavy vans, buses/minibuses and coaches

HGVs, heavy vans, buses/minibuses and coaches will need to meet the new standard of Euro VI - nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). TfL states that this standard is the same as the ULEZ standard, so vehicles will no longer need to pay a separate ULEZ charge.

  • Vans, minibuses and specialist diesel vehicles

For vans, minibuses and specialist diesel vehicles up to 3.5T GVW there has been no change, and vehicles still need to meet the current standard of Euro 3 (PM). However, if your fleet contains these vehicles, you'll still have to pay the current daily charge if they are non-compliant.

The tougher LEZ standard means harsher daily charges. HGVs, lorries, vans or other specialist heavy vehicles (over 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight) or buses, minibuses and coaches (over 5 tonnes gross vehicle weight) will be charged:

  • Euro V (NOx and PM) - £100
  • Euro IV (PM) - £300

Clean air zones across the UK: ongoing

As we've seen with London's Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), the government is rolling out further clean air zones across the UK in coming months. This means, much like the LEZ, if you're operating within a local authority with a Clean Air Zone, you may have to pay a daily charge if your vehicle doesn't comply.

Here's what clean air zones are coming this year so far.

Bath’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ): 15th March

Starting on 15th March, Bath's Clean Air Zone will be in effect across the city and some of the surrounding area with a view to improve air quality in the area. It will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The CAZ is a class C Clean Air Zone, which means charges do not currently apply to private cars and motorbikes, even if used for work purposes. 

However, the CAZ will affect the following vehicles.

  • Coaches and buses: Euro 1-5/V diesel and Euro 1 to 3 petrol (or earlier) where the daily charge will be £100.

  • Trucks and lorries (HGVs): Euro I to V diesel standard where the daily charge will be £100.

  • Taxis and private hire vehicles: Euro 1-5/V diesel and Euro 1 to 3 petrol (or earlier) where the daily charge will be £9.

  • Van, light goods vehicle, pick-ups and campervans: Euro 1-5/V diesel and Euro 1 to 3 petrol (or earlier) where the daily charge will be £9.

  • Private heavy goods vehicles i.e. horse transporters or motorhomes: Euro 1-5/V diesel and Euro 1 to 3 petrol (or earlier) where daily charge will be £100.

You can find out more about the daily charges and what support is available on the Bath & North East Somerset Council website.

Birmingham's Clean Air Zone: 1st June

Another city implementing a Clean Air Zone this year is Birmingham. The Zone was originally supposed to come into effect in 2020, but due to COVID-19, has been delayed until June this year.

The Clean Air Zone will operate across the city, covering all the roads within the A4540 Middleway Ring Road, but not the Middleway itself. It will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

More information on how the Zone will work, as well as what charges you can expect can be found on the #brumbreathes website.

More Clean Air Zones are coming

Bath and Birmingham aren't the only cities in the UK with plans in place to introduce Clean Air Zones. GOV.UK reports that more cities will be looking to implement clean air zones later in 2021 and 2022.

This means that even if your fleet won't be affected right now, it's best to get one step ahead. 

The Direct Vision Standard (DVS): 1st March

The Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for heavy goods vehicles over 12 tonnes comes into force on 1st March - the same time as the new LEZ. Developed to improve the safety of heavier vehicles on London road, the DVS will require all HGVs to have a safety permit in order to operate within the Greater London area.

Like the LEZ, the Direct Vision Standard can cost you a fair amount if your vehicles don't meet the standard.

If your vehicles don't have the necessary Safe System features implemented to ensure you meet the standard (minimum 1 star, with 5 being the maximum) then you will have to pay a £550 fine each time you’re found to be non-compliant.

TfL are urging fleet managers to “not get caught out” by the standard - so you need to ensure your fleet is compliant. 

That being said, the DVS is a tricky regulation to get your head round - which is exactly why we developed a free guide to help.

Brexit considerations

Fleet managers are understandably concerned about the impact that Britain leaving the EU will have - be it on their vehicles or general fleet management.

In particular, it's the stricter EU emissions targets that are causing concern. Aimed at tackling global warming, the emissions targets have already started to be phased in, but will apply to all registrations from this year. While these targets mainly affect manufacturers specifically, there is predicted to be wider impact to the fleet industry.

Opinions on how the emissions targets will affect fleets are mixed, with a positivity towards lowering CO2 emissions, but a concern over how this will affect supply - which has already seen huge disruption due to COVID-19.

From a positive perspective, in time, low-CO2 models will become more widely available at a more affordable rate. The risk in the short-term is that fleet managers struggle to get the vehicles they want, and therefore have to wait longer, or choose different vehicles."

Regardless, lowering emissions is an issue that isn't going away any time soon. And if the UK government, as some have suggested it may, opts to implement even tougher emissions targets, who knows what fleet managers may have to contend with in the post-Brexit world?

By now, the fleet industry is well-versed in unprecedented uncertainty and ambiguity. However, what's clear (especially after the impact of COVID-19) is that fleet managers cannot simply continue as they always have - and need to be always looking ahead, prepared for what comes their way. 

To learn how to keep your fleet compliant, both now and in the future - get your copy of our free guide to ensuring fleet vehicle compliance now:


Fleet Compliance

Free Download: Fleet compliance: the safety, environmental & sentencing changes you need to be aware of


We've talked through just some of the major changes fleet managers can expect to see in the remainder of 2021, but one question still remains: what impact will they have on fleet managers?

With COVID-19 concerns still ever-present in the minds of businesses, new compliance requirements only add to the pressure of trying to stay afloat, and keep your fleet on the road.

This is a huge challenge, but one that fleet managers can navigate if they are prepared. In order to keep their business moving while still ensuring compliance, fleet managers must adapt to the changing situation - both now and in the future. And here's how.

Fleets need to innovate

Commercial fleets are increasingly turning to technology to improve their fleet efficiency and compliance. Telematics, for example have grown from strength to strength over the years - evolving from simple trackers into intelligent systems that not only help with route planning, but provide vehicle diagnostics, assist with regulatory compliance and improve driver communication, safety and transparency.

And technology isn't set to slow down anytime soon. Emphasis on lower emissions means electric and hybrid vehicles will become increasingly commonplace. Autonomous vehicles are no longer an unachievable pipe-dream.

While these kinds of technologies are a world away at present, it's essential that fleet managers innovate wherever possible, to ensure they aren't left behind. This means ensuring your vehicles meet the necessary emissions and driver vision standards, and upgrading them with the latest technology when they can.

Fleets increasingly need flexibility

If there's one thing that fleet managers have learned in the past year, it's that the ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances is absolutely vital to business continuity. 

Fleets are seeing further regulations and restrictions as the years go on. Constantly having to update and upgrade vehicles to meet the latest legislation can be incredibly costly and time consuming - and in a period where business circumstances are changing from one day to the next, it's no longer the most viable option.

On top of this, continuing fluctuation in demand means that fleet managers may not need to use all vehicles in their fleet at one given time. Having surplus of unused vehicles, or not enough to meet supply has caused significant challenges that aren't expected to go away completely any time soon. 

Therefore, fleet managers main priority moving forward should be flexibility. This means having vehicles that are compliant with the relevant regulations before they absolutely have to beand ensuring that fleets can be scaled up and down easily to meet demand -  without incurring additional costs.

The way to do this is through flexible hire, where businesses can rapidly scale their vehicle fleets in response to changing customer demand, and to meet complex compliance requirements.

See how Enterprise Flex-E-Rent is enabling businesses to meet changing demand

Clearly, this year has a lot in store for fleet managers across the UK - and you need to make sure you're prepared to avoid getting fined and risk business downtime.

Our free guide to ensuring fleet vehicle compliance helps you make sure that your vehicles are up to date in the coming months. Get your copy now:

Fleet Compliance

Free Download: Fleet compliance: the safety, environmental & sentencing changes you need to be aware of

Our guide contains the latest information you need to ensure fleet compliance, including safety and environmental legislation and the sentencing changes for non-compliance.



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