According to new figures released this week by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), just 10 Euro-VI compliant models were registered in 2013, rising to 526 in 2014, and 2,143 – equating to 53.5% of all new buses and coaches – last year.

SMMT said this surge in demand comes as the regulatory period of grace which has allowed operators to choose older technologies for their fleets is due to end.

The Euro-VI standard requires vehicles to deliver significant improvements to air quality. Real world testing of Euro-VI buses carried out by Transport for London (TfL) showed a staggering 95% decrease in Nitrogen Oxide emissions compared with previous generation Euro-V counterparts.

The UK Government has been ordered by the Supreme Court to reduce the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere.

Air Quality upgrade

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Industry has invested billions of pounds in advanced vehicle technology that delivers real results so it is encouraging to see this rapid uptake of Euro-VI in the UK.

“The UK automotive sector remains committed to working alongside operators, government and local councils to encourage widespread adoption of the latest vehicles that will help dramatically improve the air quality in our towns and cities.”

Low-emission rates for London, which has the largest bus fleet in the UK, were similar to national figures, but operators in Glasgow and Birmingham led the way with more than four out of every five new buses and coaches meeting the standard.

Operators have been assisted in their efforts by Government funding, including the Clean Bus Technology Fund, which subsidises clean-technology retrofits.

Concerted effort

The Clean Bus Technology Fund is a core part of the Government’s commitment to green transport which has seen £2bn worth of measures introduced since 2011. Upgrading existing transport is in addition to the Government’s £600m investment in low-emission technology over the next five years, which aims to help make almost every car and van zero emission by 2050.

Examples of this investment include Bristol which recently received Government funding for a fleet of poo-powered Bio-buses, while London introduced 51 all-electric buses back in July.

The London Mayor’s office also announced in late December that one third of its buses would be powered by a biofuel-diesel hybrid following a successful two-month trial.

The switch to low-emission buses is reflected by a general move away from polluting transport. Figures released at the start of 2016 revealed that sales of alternatively-fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rose more than 40% in the UK last year, gaining a largest ever market share of 2.8%. Pure electric vehicles saw an uplift of around 50%.

Brad Allen

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