It is not a good time to be an ice cream vendor in London these days. Transport for London has a new legislation regarding larger vans and minibuses taking effect from 3 January 2012. I am a self-employed vendor and have made numerous enquiries along with my colleagues struggling with what to do regarding updating our ice cream vans or purchasing and fitting an approved filter that complies. Most of us found it very hard to afford to convert a new van as they can cost tens of thousands of pounds or more especially if you were to buy a professionally built conversion.
We have spoken to exhaust suppliers listed on the TFL’s website and we had a great deal of conflicting and technical information. We were also told from many sources that there is no perfect application for an ice cream van and that we were probably better off selling the vans out of London and replacing them with ones that are Euro 3 or above which would then comply. The filters can cost up to five thousand pounds, £5000, for a system and most if not all of these systems have not been tried and tested on the vans that are idle for up to ten hours a day. Our applications are pretty unique as we are often in one place and idle for a whole day (i.e events and pitch’s). Ice cream vans need to have their engines on in order to power a soft machine or the option would be to turn the engine off and just serve scooped vanilla ice cream.
Some cheaper and basic systems would most probably block up while trading and there were some regenerating systems that should clear themselves whist driving but you would need to go for a good old drive down the motorway in order to clear. There were a few that could regenerate while stationary but we felt that we were not completely convinced and could find ourselves in trouble come the summer months either looking to replace an exhaust again or to replace the van completely. We have not had a great season and the rounds had really been depressed this year but we felt that we would probably be much safer to invest in a new conversion rather going down the road of chancing an exhaust installation.
In a few years, we may have to comply with Euro 4 applications so it only made sense to buy a van that would be compliant when the next legislation is applied. The legacy of this is that there will probably be quite a few less ice cream vendors trading within the TFL zone or within the M25. I know of a few of the older generation of ice cream vendors who have decided to put their vans for sale and have call it a day.