Between 2025 and 2030, Amsterdam will become off-limits to more and more petrol or diesel trucks and vans within the A10 ring road. Businessmen expect big problems: “If you need a builder in Amsterdam, you will pay big money.”
Os Kaspiki is angry, and not just a little. The manager of the pickle factory with the same name is trying to familiarize himself with the rules that determine which trucks can still enter Amsterdam after 2025. He has just bought a new one with diesel. A zero-emission electric truck wasn’t an option yet. It will have to be plugged into a charging station again after a distance of 300 kilometers and will also cost between four and five tons, Kisbeki says. “I sell pickles, not fancy rings or anything else.”
With the new diesel truck, purchased after 2020, he can access his company in Bose-en-Lemiere until 2030, according to the transitional arrangement agreed by the municipality with thirty other cities. But what bothers Kisbicki the most is that his other truck will not be welcome on the A10 circuit after next year.
He bought it in 2018 and in 2025 it will end up in Amsterdam for a “box truck” of emission class 6. But: his new truck also has emission class 6. “So what is my surprise? Both trucks have exactly the same engine. We can use one truck until 2030 and I can sell the other one next year. Crazy!”
“This is pure capital destruction. This truck can last for another 6 years in 2025. Kisbeki has nothing good to say about the municipal policy that is slowly but surely working towards completely zero-emission traffic by 2030. “I agree 100% 100 percent that the city needs to be cleaner. It’s no coincidence that we have 750 solar panels here. But they should give Amsterdam companies the opportunity to try this. They seem to only use public transportation at City Hall. Or on roller skates.
Amsterdam entrepreneurs must slowly but surely prepare for a future where only zero-emission traffic without a penalty can access the area within the A10 ring road. This has been known for years: In 2019, traffic consultant Sharon Dijksma attracted national attention. Due to air pollution, 2030 can be pointed out as the moment when no petrol or diesel cars will be allowed into the city. Petrol-powered trucks and vans will be banned from the A10 ring road from 2025.
Ultimately, zero-emission soup is eaten a little less hot. New diesel vans and vans purchased after 2025 will not be welcomed into the paddock, but there will be a transitional arrangement for existing cars – for vans until 2027 or 2028, depending on the emissions class. Trucks that entered service after 2020 are allowed to enter the city until 2030.
Ironically, the first consequence of the new rules is a run on new diesel trucks. Amsterdam truck supplier Truckland is busy with all the orders and trade organization Bovag also confirms, without being able to give figures, that there is demand for new diesel trucks. This will enable entrepreneurs to continue for years to come.
The municipality of Amsterdam has also done so itself, as many entrepreneurs have noted. When it turned out to be not possible to completely switch to electric garbage trucks due to problems with the electricity grid, Councilor Zita Pils (Sustainability) decided earlier this year to order 27 diesel-powered garbage trucks, also based on the idea that they could still be used inside Ring Road until 2030.
All kinds of obstacles
Other entrepreneurs cannot easily bend net-zero emissions rules to their will. Companies that receive a lot of freight traffic from outside the city expect major problems in the coming years, especially with regard to supplying shops and catering establishments. This concerns, for example, the food center – the former central market halls and the city warehouse. Vegetables, fruits, meat and fish find their way from here to shops, market stalls and restaurants in and around Amsterdam. But will this still be possible after next year?
Restaurants in the city center have little storage space and therefore order fresh cut vegetables late at night, which they receive promptly the next morning from Miedema-AGF. Director Marcel Hillaert does not yet dare to say whether this will be possible with electric trucks from 2028. They are one and a half times more expensive and much heavier, which means that drivers suddenly have to have a large driver’s license. “Drivers who aren’t there.” It is also questionable whether there will be enough charging points, given capacity issues on the electricity grid.
Family businesses Jabr. de Mooij brings potatoes, vegetables and fruits from all over the Netherlands and abroad to the food hub. This long-distance refrigerated transport is done by trucks. There are currently no electric trucks available for this purpose, according to Roel de Mooij. However, the food center is only about 800 meters from the Ring via the future exit on the Haarlemmerweg. “For those 800 metres, transport companies have to buy another car that is twice as expensive, and they can’t even charge it in the city.”
“2035 will work out”
The same problems arise when transporting from the food center to the region – from Almere to the coast. Several kilometres, which, according to De Mooij, will not be possible in the coming years using electric transport, the range of which is still too small for that. “Amsterdam is big these days.” De Mooij therefore calls for the creation of a food hub corridor to the loop where transport does not yet have to be emissions-free. “Just like at RAI.”
Nice idea, but this does not reduce air pollution on the way to the food center. Shouldn’t there be some pressure to get companies to act? “With so much pressure on the boiler that everything explodes, you won’t have anything,” De Mooij says. “The 2030 limit comes too early. It will be possible in 2035.”
Andris Wessels, of the vegetable shop of the same name in Koninginneweg, can continue with his truck until 2028, but he has no idea yet what to do next. He says that thanks to the electric bus currently available, he can only travel 150 kilometers thanks to the trailer he also needs. This is not enough, because his company is also on the market and the bus has to go home at the end of the day.
“I can’t do anything with her right now.” However, he is not concerned about committing to zero emissions within five years. “Either there’s a pickup truck on the market that I can handle, or there’s going to be another postponement. I think it’ll work out.”
For now, many entrepreneurs are simply ignoring the situation. So the municipality sends warning letters to companies and holds consultation evenings, although things are not going well there either. And the entrepreneurs who appear there, such as a printing company, a theater maker, a fishmonger, a film designer, and a gardener, all argue that electric transportation is not yet of use to them. Other entrepreneurs – the parcel delivery person, the shopkeeper, the market seller – still stressed that they could not afford to invest so soon after the outbreak of Corona.
“There is no electric car yet that can tow 3,500 kilograms,” say window cleaners Jan and Luc Verhoek, which is what they need for their ladder truck. “We don’t know if this truck will be available in 4 years.” Like many professionals, they started talking about the unintended consequences of zero emissions rules. “Contractors, plumbers and craftsmen will soon be saying: ‘We’re not going to the city anymore.’
They say they have no other choice: they make all their sales in Amsterdam. But contractors currently have to arrange the work, so it’s a bit of a challenge for them to handle jobs outside the Ring or out of town. Jan Verhoek: “If you need a builder in Amsterdam, you will pay the highest price.”
MKB Metropool Amsterdam calls for a “slightly broader transitional arrangement”. The trade association for small and medium-sized businesses does not want any further delay, as that would be at the expense of “early adopters” who have already invested at times in electric trucks in recent years. Vice Chairman Guido Frankfurter cites the Hulshoff Transport and Transport Company from Amsterdam West as an example.
The region’s major transportation and maintenance companies say that with some trial and error, they can work around zero-emission rules, but does that also apply to solo motorists and other small out-of-town entrepreneurs? “This is not possible for small entrepreneurs with one to four vehicles,” says Edwin Schön of BQ Duiker, a somewhat larger transportation company. “Transportation to the city will become more expensive anyway.”
Charging stations and buckets
Dennis Bernhard of Purmerend and his maintenance company are just one man with a lot of jobs in Amsterdam. He doubts aloud whether he would continue to work within the eco-zone if he had to have a zero-emissions truck to do so. “It doesn’t seem possible to me. How can you afford such costs for so many freelancers who have work in Amsterdam? I have a minivan from 2016. It’s not old at all and it’s still very nice, but I won’t get much for it anymore .
He can imagine that professionals will avoid the city and that Amsterdam residents will become dependent on companies that can invest in electric transportation. “They can then set the price.”
Fellow freelancer Hans van Dort from Amsterdam switched to an electric bus two years ago. This works well, but finding a charging station close to work is not easy. He also heard from his colleagues that they will no longer come to Amsterdam if they are no longer allowed to enter the city with their diesel bus in 4 or 5 years. He could already hear them saying, “Sorry, we’re not coming anymore. Just put the bucket down.”
“Lifelong zombie fanatic. Hardcore web practitioner. Thinker. Music expert. Unapologetic pop culture scholar.”