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Interview with the Evening Standard - ULEZ: How delivery service Gnewt use electric vehicles to cut car emissions and reduce air pollution

As the ULEZ comes into effect in April, Sadiq Khan has promised a £46 million fund for businesses to make the switch to cleaner cars.

While many London-based businesses explore their options to use vehicles that will be exempt from the charge, Future London spoke to a company that has been operating a fully electric fleet for a decade.

Gnewt Cargo, a delivery service using only electric vans, was founded by Sam Clarke in 2008, who had previously developed electric bikes and scooters. 

“I had spent a lot of time in China, where the use of electric vehicles was prevalent in major cities a long time before the rest of us were doing it.

“I thought: ‘If Chinese residents were able to use a solution then why aren’t we doing it?’” he said.
Despite starting Gnewt at a time when the economy was in a downturn, Mr Clarke said support from TfL helped it get off the ground. 

Clarke’s company, which was sold to distribution company Menzies in 2017, is now looking into how to increase sustainability of its business practices even further.

Adam Smith, group commercial director at Menzies Distribution, said: “It’s not just about reduction in car emissions, but reduction in congestion too.” 

He added the company was looking into new ways of delivering parcels that would involve delivery drivers travelling part of the journey on bike or on foot.

Clarke, who still works with Gnewt, noted that in addition to engine emissions, there are also concerns over tyre wear producing particulate matter, which is linked to breathing problems.

As more businesses make the switch to cleaner cars to comply with ULEZ standards, Clarke’s advice to business owners is to plan ahead.

“The reality is, we’ve known about [the ULEZ] for about four years and we’ve had all that time to plan for it.

“It is about sufficient planning and understanding what vehicles are available and when.”

Published 20th February 2019 on the Evening Standard by Jessica Taylor