Archive for the ‘Van Hire News’ Category

Budget UK launches new van rental service

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Budget van rental in LondonWell-known car rental firm Budget has launched a new van hire service in London, extending its existing national van rental operation.

The new service is aimed at small and medium business users and is backed by a new fleet of 100 Volkswagen Transporters, based across London.

The vehicles will be packed with handy features including Bluetooth, folding mirrors and parking sensors; making it the perfect partner for moving large loads with minimal stress through the busy capital.

Mark Servodidio, Managing Director, Northern Europe, Avis Budget Group, commented:

“We’re confident the new service, which will offer small and medium businesses across the capital a truly flexible and cost-efficient alternative to a permanent fleet of vehicle, will further strengthen our position as a partner to London’s businesses using Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.”

Budget also offers a van rental service to personal customers from branches across the UK, and as part of a wider fleet renewal, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles will also supply a further 300 Transporters and 100 Caddys to bolster this national van rental fleet.

Major rental firm adds hybrid cars to London fleet: will vans be next?

Monday, March 16th, 2015
Avis Toyota Yaris Hybrid cars

Avis has just added 100 Toyota Yaris Hybrid cars to its London car rental fleet

Car rental giant Avis has added 100 Toyota Yaris Hybrid cars to its London fleet, flagging up the growing acceptance of hybrid and electric vehicles among major fleet operators.

The Yaris Hybrid cars will initially be available at Heathrow and Stansted airports, plus major central London locations. Availability will gradually be extended to Gatwick, Luton and other key south-east locations.

As full hybrids, the Yaris Hybrids are currently exempt from the London congestion charge and boast CO2 emissions of just 75g/km. At low speeds, the cars automatically switch to full electric mode, with the engine firing up as needed at higher speeds.

Will the Avis example encourage any van hire operators to make the switch?

One problem is that with the exception of the 4×4-derived Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV hybrd (plug-in electric vehicle hybrid) — which isn’t really a normal van — there aren’t currently any production hybrid vans. All the available models are either all-electric or petrol/diesel, not hybrids.

However, given that PSA Peugeot Citroen has a diesel hybrid system which is available on cars such as the 3008 and 508, it’s not an impossible stretch to imagine that this system could be adapted to fit the Peugeot Expert van, improving its urban emissions credentials.

There’s also the Ashwoods Hybrid Transit, an aftermarket hybrid conversion for the Ford Transit that’s won widespread acceptance and makes a credible claim to reduce emissions and fuel consumption by around 15%.

Hybrid technology seems to be gaining widespread acceptance in the car world, and overcomes the core objections which face electric cars — they aren’t suitable for long distances or as an only car. I don’t see any reason why hybrid technology can’t start making in-roads into the van market, especially as cost-wise, hybrid vehicles are increasingly on a par with non-hybrid alternatives, especially when fuel and emissions costs are factored in.

Winter offer: Europcar van hire from just £16 per day

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Europcar winter van hire from £16 per day

Although the weather seems to have warmed up slightly, winter is still with us — and to help you save money during the cold season, Europcar is currently offering van hire from just £16 per day.

This is a generous and long-running offer that’s available on bookings made by 29 March 2015 for checkouts until 30 June 2015 (some dates excluded, see website for details).

Europcar is one of the most flexible van hire firms around, too — hourly van hire, one-way van hire and overnight options are all available.

All Europcar rental vans includes 24-hour roadside assistance, and a choice of short wheelbase, long wheelbase and luton box vans with tail lift are available — ideal for small moves or big DIY jobs!

Europcar van hire from £16 per day





Terms & conditions apply, see Europcar website for details.

Van rental firm counts on Ford for ongoing growth

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

T.O.M. Vehicle Rental Ford vansT.O.M. Vehicle Rental has seen remarkable growth over the last five years, growing from 1,500 on one site to 8.500 vehicles across seven sites.

Serving customers from sites in Manchester, Nottingham and Scotland, T.O.M. has added increasing numbers of Ford vans to its fleet in recent years.

T.O.M. has ordered more than 1,000 Ford vans over the last year, and the hire firm’s latest order was for 330 new model Ford Transits, which T.O.M. says is the current van of choice among many of its customers. Ford vans now account for 35% of the firm’s fleet.

James Rafferty, T.O.M.’s group sales and operations director, says that the firm buying is influenced by customer preferences and requirements:

“We adapt to what our rental customers want. We find out what they are planning to do with a vehicle to ensure we provide them with the right one.

“Ford has a great range, from small vans to large, so there is something for everyone, and our customers like them. Ford is a manufacturer which stands by its products, which gives us peace of mind, with ease of maintenance a key strength of the Transit range.”

As a long-time Transit fan myself, I’m not surprised by the success of the marque’s sophisticated all-new van range and am looking forward to getting a chance to drive the new ‘big’ Transit in the near future.

Save up to 20% on Europcar Van Hire in January sale

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015
Europcar van hire

Save up to 20% in the Europcar January sale

Europcar is currently offering discounts of up to 20% on van hire as part of its January Sale.

This is valid for bookings made by February 1st and completed by 30th June, with certain exclusions.


If you need a van for a trip to the tip, to move furniture or for a big DIY project, this could be a good opportunity. Europcar has also provided some helpful tips for driving and load a van (we have more tips on driving and loading vans):

All you have to do to benefit from the Europcar January sale discount is book online as normal*: click here to visit the Europcar website.


Tips for driving a van

  • Vans are bigger than cars – Be aware of the width, length and height of the vehicle when hiring a van, especially if you’re not used to driving one
  • Take corners slowly – it is possible for a heavy loads to move around if you take the corner too fast
  • Space for corners – Remember that larger vans need more room to turn so give yourself plenty of time and space when taking corners.
  • Stopping distance – Remember that the larger or heavier the vehicle, the longer it takes to stop, especially in icy or wet conditions.
  • Blind side – Watch out for cyclists and bikers who might be tempted to overtake on the blind side.

Tips for loading a van

  • Start loading your items at the front of the van and work your way to the back.
  • Spread the load evenly across the base, uneven loads can have a massive effect on a van’s stability.
  • Keep all items stacked as tightly as possible to keep everything from shifting during the drive.
  • When loading a van, place heavy items on the floor of the vehicle, and plastic and lighter things on top of the heavier ones.
  • You may have to take apart things like tables and desks in order to load everything tightly and to ensure safe transport.
  • Be careful not to scoot or drag furniture in the van as damage may occur to sofas, table legs and dresser bottoms.
  • When lifting a heavy load bend your legs not your back.

*Terms and conditions apply. See Europcar website for details.

Driving licence paper counterpart to remain in use until June 2015

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

The government has announced that the paper counterpart of UK driver licences will now remain in use until 8 June 2015, extending the previous removal date of 1 January 2015.

What do I need to do?

For anyone planning on hiring a van, this means you will still need to produce both parts of your driving licence — the photocard and the paper counterpart — when you hire a vehicle, until at least 8 June 2015.

What’s happened?

Back in November, I wrote about the government’s plan to scrap the paper counterpart that forms part of UK driver licences, leaving only the photocard. The change was due to come into force from 1 January 2015.

At the time, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) was flagging up concerns about the cost and practicality of this approach, as the planned new online system was, of course, running late, and was unlikely to be ready until the new year.

The plan was that the information contained on the paper counterpart to be available online, instead, so that individuals and businesses such as vehicle hire firms and transport operators, with a legitimate need for the information, could access it online instead. However, with hire companies needing to check thousands of licences per year, and many transport operators and staffing agencies needing to run hundreds of checks, the extra costs for businesses forced to use the DVLA’s existing driver data service would have been significant.

Lobbying from the BVRLA and the Freight Transport Association appears to have convinced the government to put back the deadline — hopefully, the extra six months will be enough for the government’s IT contractors to get their act together and finish the planned new Share My Driving Record system.

Jargon buster: van weights and payloads when moving house

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Let us show you how to move house with a hire van

If you’re thinking about hiring a van to move house, there’s lots to get your head around. Not only have you got to be aware of the maximum weight that your van can carry, but you’ve also got to understand the jargon that goes along with hiring a van.

We’ve put together a jargon buster to help you get on the road and answer the most commonly-asked questions.

Jargon buster

Large van / long wheelbase van: this is a typical large panel van that you might hire to move house, such as  long

Luton van: This is a van with a box body on the back. These are popular with small removal companies as they offer more space and a wider, flat floor with no wheel arches in the loadspace.

3,500kg or 3.5 tonne: These are the same thing, as 1 tonne = 1,000kg. Most big hire vans are described as 3,500kg vans. This means the maximum permitted weight of the van itself plus the load and any passengers is 3,500kg.

Payload: This is vital — the payload is the maximum load weight you can put in the van, including passengers.

  • For a 3,500kg panel van, the payload is typically around 1,200kg – 1,400kg
  • For a 3,500kg luton van, the payload will be a bit less, maybe 1,000kg – 1,200kg
  • These numbers vary between models. Any reputable hire company should be able to tell you the maximum payload for the van you are hiring

Overloaded: This is what happens if your 3,500kg weighs more than 3,500kg when you are stopped by the police — whether in the UK or Europe. Depending on how much over the weight limit your van is, you will be fined and/or forced to remove the surplus weight from the vehicle before being allowed to continue.

Ignorance is no excuse if you’re overloaded: you, the driver, are always liable, regardless of circumstances.

I don’t know how much any of my stuff weighs…

If you’re shifting boxes of wine or bags of cement (for example), it’s easy to know how much your load weighs. Each item is labelled with its weight, and they’re all the same.

Unfortunately it’s not so easy with household goods. You can’t realistically weigh your furniture, for example.

The solution, if you want to be sure, is to take your loaded van to your nearest public weighbridge before setting off. You can usually find details of these on your local council website (or try your nearest major recycling centre).

Vehicle rental and leasing generates £5.2bn in tax revenue each year

Monday, December 8th, 2014 vanAccording to a new report from the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), the impact of the vehicle rental and leasing sector  on the UK economy was around £25bn in 2013, including £5.2bn in tax revenue.

The report, which was commissioned by the BVRLA from research foundation Oxford economics, measures three types of economic impact:

  • Direct: the activity of the rental and leasing companies themselves;
  • Indirect: the activity of their UK-based suppliers;
  • Induced: economic activity generated by the payment of wages to staff employed by the rental and leasing industry.

The scale of the rental and leasing industry in the UK becomes clear when you consider that in 2013, BVRLA members had 3 million vehicles on lease and 400,000 vehicles available for rental.

The main areas of direct and indirect economic activity are the businesses involved in the industry itself, manufacturers of UK-made vehicles and engines, the used car and van market, and the activity of the UK automotive dealers which supply rental companies.

It’s a people business

The report estimates that the rental and leasing industry itself employs 53,600 people directly and 263,400 indirectly, through the wider supply chain and through consumer spending.

If accurate, this claim is quite impressive, as it means that the rental and leasing industry accounts for the employment of 1 in every 88 workers in the UK!

Vehicle supply

A sizeable part of the industry’s contribution to the economy comes via its purchase of British-built vehicles, along with foreign vehicles with British-built engines. Rental and leasing companies are amongst the biggest buyers of new vehicles each year, and purchased an estimated 308,000 UK-made vehicles in 2013, which is thought to have generated £4.3bn in GDP and £1.4bn in tax revenue, as well as 90,000 jobs.

Overall, the industry purchased 80% of the British-made vehicles that were sold in the UK last year, and 20% of all British-built vehicles, including vehicles made for export.

Who needs vehicle rental and leasing?

A great many people, it seems: one of the reasons the leasing and rental industry has such a big impact on the UK economiy is that so many other businesses are dependent on its services. As a result, the sector’s gross value added (the sector’s contribution to the UK’s GDP) of £13.3bn was comparable to that of the electricty generation and distribution indsutry in 2013, which had a gross value added of around £18bn.

This kind of illustrates my point — virtually 100% of UK businesses require electricity, so the electricty generation and distribution sector is going to have a big impact on GDP, rather like the leasing and rental sector.

Putting it in perspective

However, before we get too carried away, it’s worth rembering that even the BVRLA’s £25bn headline figure is just a drop in the ocean in the scheme of things, and accounted for just 1.6% of UK GDP in 2013, when UK GDP totalled £1,606bn!

Northgate flags rising demand for van hire

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Northgate Vehicle Hire logoDemand for UK van hire is rising, according to business hire giant Northgate, which operates a fleet of 57,000 vans and minibuses in the UK, along with 40,000 in Spain.

In its half-yearly results, Northgate reported that utilisation of its UK fleet had risen from 88% to 89%, despite the number of vehicles on hire rising by 1,800 since 30 April 2014.

Growth story?

The company has opened five new sites since the end of April, and plans a further three before the end of April 2015. These new sites accounted for 1,100 of the 1,800 new vehicles on hire, suggesting that Northgate’s growth is largely being driven by expansion, rather than organic growth.

This conclusion is backed up by the firm’s admission today that all of its growth so far this year has been driven by its regional sites — i.e. those away from the London area. Growth at existing branches was a relatively modest 1.3%, and although the company believes this can be increased, I reckon this low number highlights the intense competition between van hire suppliers, especially in large urban areas around major cities.

Bumper profits

Northgate reported a 33% rise in operating profit for the first half of the year, despite revenue only rising by 5.6%.

How do they do that, you might ask? Well, one area where the firm has made big improvements is in reducing the holding cost, or depreciation, of each vehicle — the difference between its purchase price and its eventual resale price. Northgate says that it has managed to improve residual values over the last five years, with an emphasis on several key areas:

  • Van Monster retail network expanded from 7 to 11 branches — ex-rental vans sell for more at retail than through auctions or trade sales;
  • Using “customer profiling and pricing” to target rental customers who won’t trash their vans;
  • Increased marketing, especially online;
  • Using expert in-house sales professionals to select the most appropriate disposal channel for defleeted vans, rather than obeying a fixed formula.

As a result of these changes, 29% of Northgate’s ex-rental vans are now sold through the Van Monster network, up from 18% in the year ending April 2009.

Of course, this rate of profit growth is unlikely to last forever — as a general rule, profits can only grow faster than sales for a limited time, before the two come back into line. It’s also worth noting that if used van prices weaken, Northgate could be affected.

However, despite these risks, Northgate’s near-term outlook does appear to be pretty healthy.

DVLA to abolish paper element of driving licence in January 2015 — before substitute is ready

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Update 22/12/2014: The deadline for the removal of the paper counterpart has now been extended until 8 June 2015. See here for more details.

The current UK driving licence consists of a photocard, together with a paper counterpart — but this is set to change in January 2015, when the paper counterpart will be abolished.

Although this has been known about for some time, I haven’t seen a lot of publicity about it. For car and van rental customers, however, it is relevant.

Here’s why.

You will no longer need to provide the paper counterpart of your driving licence when you pick up a hired van or car. That’s the good news, and  in the long run, this seems like a sensible move.

However, as you might expect, the replacment solution involves a new DVLA online service. As you might also expect, from a government-funded IT project, it may not be ready in time.

If the new service, known as Share My Driving Record (SMDR), isn’t ready in time, the hire company may need to use the DVLA’s existing driver data service to check for details of points on your licence, recent convictions, and entitlement categories. This is quite expensive — current costs are 51p/minute by telephone or £1.50 per enquiry via a dedicated electronic connection.

Given that there are 10 million rentals a year in the UK, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Asssociation, this could add up to a sizeable cost for hire companies, until the DVLA gets it IT act together.

What do I need to do?

Let’s hope I’m wrong, and SMDR is ready in time. However, as it probably won’t be, then if you are planning to hire a van (or any other vehicle) early in 2015, I’d suggest three things:

  1. Take your paper counterpart along regardless of whether it has been abolished, just in case it’s still useful.
  2. Be prepared for some delay and confusion while the hire company checks your driver data.
  3. Be prepared to pay any of the resulting licence verification costs.

Although abolishing the paper counterpart seems like a good idea in principle, this looks set to be yet another poorly-planned piece of government red tape cutting that could actually cause more hassle for customers and small businesses, rather than less. Let’s just hope I’m wrong.