Archive for the ‘Van Hire News’ Category

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

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.

Are younger drivers unfairly penalised by van hire firms?

Friday, September 12th, 2014 vanAge limits remain a problem for car and van hire customers: anyone under 25 is likely to pay a surcharge, while anyone aged 20 or under is unlikely to be able to hire a car — or van — at all.

The problem means, for example, that students are not able to hire a small van to return themselves to university with their belongings (on a one-way hire) but instead must enlist their parents’ help, in most cases.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has been looking into this issue in more depth and believes that the traditional justification given for this discrimination — that young drivers are too high risk — has been overused and is not backed up by statistics.

The organisation points out that while teenagers are a documented high-risk group when it comes to accidents, the risk drops considerably after six months of driving experience and even more so for drivers in their early 20s.

And according to existing government data*, reported killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties in accidents involving young car drivers have decreased at steady rate since 2000. In 2011, compared with the 2005-09 average, the numbers of KSI casualties in young car driver related accidents in 2011 was 35 per cent lower, and the number of fatalities was 46 per cent lower.

Neil Greig, IAM Director of Policy and Research, points out that car clubs are opening their doors to younger drivers, without problems, and that a sensible, measured approach could actually help drive new business for the hire firms:

“We are not suggesting that inexperienced or teenage drivers should be let loose with a powerful hire car. But younger 20-somethings shouldn’t be penalised to such a degree with expensive premium charges. Safe young drivers could be a potentially fruitful market as the economy picks up. The rise in the popularity of City Car Clubs which do allow 19 year olds to drive shows that demand is out there.”

“Car hire companies should be commissioning research and looking at their real world claims history to see if the age limit can be reduced. It’s a small part of the overall traffic mix on our roads but reviewing the age limit would remove what appears to be a fundamental unfairness for safe young people in their early twenties.”

You can find more information on age limits for van hire here, although do be aware that these conditions sometimes change and that the young driver surcharge can sometimes double the daily rate for a small van!


Rental companies demand police action on vehicle thefts

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Did you know that nearly half of all new vehicles sold in the UK each year are bought buy hire companies?

That may not be so surprising when you learn that the UK vehicle rental industry has a total fleet of around 400,000 cars, vans and trucks — of which an estimated 1,500 are stolen every year.

Against this backdrop, it’s not hard to understand why the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) is calling for more aggressive police action on vehicle crime, in the light of damning findings in a new report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The report — which describes policing as a ‘postcode lottery’ — concluded that car crime is “on the verge of being decriminalised” because forces have “almost given up”, a finding with which Gerry Keaney, BVRLA chief executive, wholeheartedly agrees:

 “Vehicle theft or fraud is one of the biggest problems facing the rental industry, but our members are largely being left to fend for themselves.”

“We need police forces to take cases of vehicle crime seriously and adopt a much more ‘joined-up’ approach to working with other constabularies.”

UK vehicle rental Operators undertake rigorous training of frontline staff and share access to an industry-wide database of ‘problem renters’, but the sector still suffers an estimated 1,500 vehicle thefts each year, according to the BVRLA, which says that vehicle rental operators are often targeted on a national basis by organised gangs.

“Rental companies are not time-wasters – they know when a vehicle has been stolen and are prepared to work closely with police to solve these crimes”, Keaney added.

To help address this problem, the BVRLA has developed its own Stolen Vehicle Reporting Guidelines to help members report thefts and ensure that police forces are provided with the right evidence and information to conduct an investigation.

The Association of Chief Police Officers and forces up and down the country have been made aware of this information, but it is falling between the cracks as more and more crime-reporting and administrative functions are outsourced, says the organisation.

You can access the full HMIC report into crime here.

Sold #2: Practical Car and Van Rental changes hands

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Practical Car and Van Rental has been sold, according to a report on the Business Car website.

The website reported that Practical, which has 136 UK hire outlets and a total of 3,000 vehicles, has been purchased by a UK firm called Tudor Holdings, which also owns a Kent and Sussex-based firm called Kent Auto Panels, a car dealership group.

The deal is the second sales of a large independent vehicle hire group to be announced this week — on Wednesday, I reported on the sale of Burnt Tree Commercial Vehicle Rental to Enterprise, a deal that will create a combined fleet of more than 25,000 commercial vehicles.

In both cases, the amounts paid for the acquisitions have not been disclosed, as both deals were between two privately-held companies.

Enterprise buys Burnt Tree Vehicle Rental

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Enterprise Rent-A-Car today announced the acquisition of Burnt Tree, one of the UK’s largest providers of commercial rental vehicles to companies and public sector organisations. The purchase increases the breadth of vehicles and services that Enterprise can provide to its customers under its flexible commercial vehicle hire division, Flex-E-Rent.

The agreement includes Burnt Tree’s diverse commercial fleet of 17,000 vehicles, including commercial vans, HGVs, refrigerated trucks and accessible minibuses, its proprietary fleet management technologies, as well as its network of 20 branches and a team of 400 employees.

In the immediate short-term, the Enterprise Flex-E-Rent and Burnt Tree businesses will continue to operate as two separate brands, with a view to creating a combined entity that will be headquartered in Shrewsbury. The acquisition, for an undisclosed sum, significantly increases Enterprise’s value proposition in the flexible commercial vehicle rental sector and will take its fleet of commercial vans and trucks to more than 25,000.

Enterprise UK and Ireland managing director, Mike Nigro, said:

“We are committed to the growth of our flexible commercial vehicle business, which has grown organically in recent years.

“We could immediately see the potential of Burnt Tree to give our customers access to skills and services that are particularly suited to the needs of commercial vehicle customers. Burnt Tree also has the same culture of delivering outstanding customer service as Enterprise and shares a rich heritage of conducting business in the UK.

“Burnt Tree has some unique expertise that it can bring to Enterprise and it will also benefit from becoming part of a truly global organisation. The combined business post-acquisition will be far stronger with greater economies of scale and better technology, while the transfer of knowledge will allow us to better serve our customers.”

The new business will be led by Danny Glynn, Director, Enterprise Flex-E-Rent. Burnt Tree chief executive, Richard Metcalfe, will remain in an advisory capacity to help steer the direction of the combined business.

Richard Metcalfe said:

“Last year we stated our ambition to become the leading and largest business in our industry. In time, this agreement will allow Burnt Tree to achieve its full potential to become the market leader. It will become part of the world’s largest vehicle rental company, which, like Burnt Tree, is privately owned.

“I know that there is both the vision and resources to grow the business over the long-term, which means there will be opportunities for people here. I would like to thank everyone sincerely at Burnt Tree for all their hard work and for making the business such a success. This agreement marks the next phase of growth for the business.”

Shrewsbury-headquartered Burnt Tree has been operating for more than 30 years, while Enterprise is celebrating its 20th anniversary in the UK this year. As well as its Flex-E-Rent division, Enterprise also operates a fleet of more than 60,000 vehicles from the UK’s largest network of car hire branches.

Glass carrier specialist Supertrucks launches rental service

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014
Supertrucks Rental Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

One of the Supertrucks Rental Mercedes-Benz Sprinter glass carrier vans

Hiring a standard van is enough for many jobs, but when it comes to carrying glass, a standard van isn’t much good.

That’s why glass carrier specialist Supertrucks has launched a rental service offering 3.5t Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans which have been converted to carry sheets of glass up to 3.2m x 2.5m in size.

The latest initiative from Merseyside-based Supertrucks is aimed at those needing an extra truck or van to help them cope with increased customer demand, or to replace a vehicle which is off the road as a result of accident damage or mechanical failure.

As Supertrucks Manager Dave Hill explains:

“Anyone whose business entails transporting big pieces of glass know well that when an urgent requirement for additional transport arises, the local van hire outlet is not an option because their vehicles are not fit for purpose.

“Glass is a fragile product so what’s needed is a specialised vehicle, built to do the job. And that’s where we come in.”

Supertrucks Rental’s new Sprinters are available for short- or long-term hire and are fitted with anodised external racks capable of carrying sheets of glass up to 3215mm x 2540mm in size, along with roof racks with drop-down ladders at the rear. Inside, there are two more racks, one running the full length of the body, the other shorter to allow for the side door.

“There’s definitely a demand for this new service,” continues Dave. “It’s been welcomed by several customers and we’ve already taken bookings for rental vehicles. Looking ahead, if Supertrucks Rental takes off as we’re confident it will, we also intend to offer rigid trucks for hire.”

The UK’s number one manufacturer of specialised glass carrying commercial vehicles, Supertrucks was acquired earlier this year by the fast-growing Bevan Group. Since then the business has gone from strength-to-strength. The factory at St Helens has been working flat out, with new staff recruited and overtime and weekend shifts introduced.

Save 10% on Questor van hire excess insurance – EXCLUSIVE

Friday, July 18th, 2014

**This great discount code offer has now been extended until 31st October 2014**

Hiring a van this summer?

Don’t forget to plan for the cost of insurance — van rental companies’ standard insurance excess levels for vans are usually several hundred pounds and normally exclude glass, tyres and roof damage.

For a limited period only, you can SAVE 10% on Questor van hire excess insurance — EXCLUSIVE to

Van hire excess insurance provides cover for the excess on your van rental insurance policy, protecting you from a big payout in the case of any accidental damage.

Here are the details:


Valid from: 16th June 2014

Expires: 31st October 2014


Visit the Questor website for more information on excess insurance.