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Truck operators caught out by tightening of emissions standards

Truck operators must take notice and act in good time to avoid being caught out by the forthcoming tightening of the emissions standards within the London Low Emissions Zone (LEZ); that’s the message coming from the manufacturers and exhaust system suppliers alike.


“This will be the first time many truck operators have vehicles that fall within the scope of the LEZ restrictions,” says truck manufacturer MAN, LEZ consultant Neville Loome. In common with other truck manufacturers MAN is gearing up to offer an exhaust aftertreatment retrofit services for operators of non-compliant vehicles.

Phase 4 of the LEZ takes effect in January 2012 and means owners of vehicles over 3.5 tonnes which do not meet the particulate emissions standards of Euro IV engines must pay a fee if they want run their trucks within the LEZ area. Euro IV legislation cut the allowable level of particulate emissions in the exhaust of heavy vehicles by 80 per cent and became mandatory for new heavy commercial vehicles registered after October 2006. 

Unless a vehicle has been modified to meet the particulate limit, the registered owner will be charged £200/day to operate within the LEZ or face a £1,000 fine.

 “Vehicles with non-compliant engines will have to be fitted with exhaust aftertreatment, basically a diesel particulate filter, if they are to avoid attracting the charge,” says Mike Galey, director of marketing at exhaust systems supplier Eminox. He adds: “Many commercial vehicles operators have not yet woken up to this fact. Until now their vehicles have been young enough not to be impacted but with the LEZ limits getting tighter and hard-pressed operators keeping vehicles longer, this time many more will be in scope.”

It is estimated that some 75,000 heavy vehicles will be affected by the changes and upwards of 15,000 are expected to be retrofitted with DPF systems including some which were modified to meet the earlier phases of the LEZ regulations. “Vehicles that had previously been fitted with a partial flow filter to comply with the earlier rounds of LEZ regulations will have to be fitted with full-flow systems to meet the new standards,” says Mr Galey. 

He says the filters being offered will allow any vehicle with a Euro I or later engine to meet the new standard and the cost to retrofit a simple system starts from around £3,000. Any filter used must meet the specifications laid down by the London authorities (the LEZ website has a list of approved suppliers) and the truck manufacturers are working with the companies listed to offer retrofit systems for their customers’ trucks, busses and coaches.

Scania and Volvo dealers around London are offering retrofit LEZ compliance solutions which use Eminox’s Continuously Regenerating Trap (CRT), which combines a ceramic oxidation catalyst with full wall flow filter. This requires no driver input and requires maintenance on average once a year.

MAN is working in conjunction with both Eminox and Dinex and its dealers from as far afield as Northampton are offering a retrofit service. Daf’s dealers in the south east will retrofit a Dinex filter once they have established the vehicle’s duty cycle to ensure a suitable system is installed.

Eminox also has its own fitting centre near Heathrow while some truck manufacturers are offering special deals to allow companies impacted by the tougher LEZ regulations to buy a new truck at a discount or on favourable finance terms. And with authorities in at least six other cities (including some in Scotland) considering introducing schemes similar to the LEZ, such offers could take on a wider importance.

Despite the retrofit services now being put in place, the truck and filter manufacturers stress that fleet owners must not wait until the last minute to have their vehicles modified, as there is not the capacity to cope with a late surge and get all the work before the 3 January start date.

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