BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney

Van hire trade body calls for yearly MOT tests for large vans

BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney

BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) says that evidence of poor maintenance on large vans means that yearly MOT tests should be required.

This is a topic we covered here on the vanrental.co.uk blog back in March 2016, when we flagged up government figures showing that 49% of vans fail their first MOT at three years old. Worryingly, almost 25% of failures were the result of brake  defects. That’s a potentially dangerous problem on a heavily laden 3.5t van.

The rules haven’t changed yet.

But the government has been consulting on plans to extend the MOT period for new cars to four years, up from the current three-year requirement. The BVRLA says that it supports this proposal, but does not believe it should be extended to class 7 vans (3,000kg – 3,500kg) due to safety concerns.

The BVRLA’s view, which I share, is that the date of the first MOT test for large (class 7) vans should be cut to one year after first registration, in order to address the potential safety concerns resulting from the current high test failure rate.

Commenting on the government’s plans, BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney said:

“Modern cars are safer than ever, and rental and leasing vehicles are typically checked, serviced and repaired on a regular basis. As such, we believe the proposed extension before the first MOT test is required can be implemented without risk to public safety.

“However, van traffic is growing, and these vehicles’ average annual mileages are significantly higher than the average car on UK roads. At a time when the government’s own data shows large vans have appalling first time pass rates, the BVRLA believes these vehicles should be getting tested every year, not every three or four years. Many large vans fail their first MOT because they have not been well maintained and have substandard brakes, so they pose a real risk to road safety.”

The BVRLA says that it has met with the Department for Transport to discuss the proposals and intends to continue engaging with the Department after the consultation period has ended.

Trade bodies are often criticised for lobbying for changes that will cut costs or boost growth for their members. But in this case I think the BVRLA should be applauded for focusing on safety, even though it will increase the regulatory burden for its member companies.

Winton Engineering

Should you consider a van with on-board power?

Winton Engineering

On vehicle power eliminates the need for costly and inconvenient generators (image: Winton Engineering)

Does your van need more power? I’m not talking about the kind of power that could get you an increased speeding fine from Monday.

I’m asking about the kind of power that forces you to carry or tow a generator to provide power for tools and equipment. Examples include road drills, hand tools, pumps, compressors and welding gear.

Although portable generators are a workable solution, they’re not ideal. Freestanding generators need fastening down in the back of the van and require you to carry fuel. Towable generators also need fuel and create licence restrictions for younger drivers. Hired equipment sometimes turns up late, or not at all.

If you’re using a daily rental van, you’ll have no choice but to use a standalone generator.

But if you’re specifying a van for long-term hire or leasing you may be able to have an on-board power system fitted to the van. Doing this means that your vehicle will be converted to take power from the engine. This can be used to provide compressed air, electricity, hydraulic power or high pressure water jetting.

Although these systems may add to the upfront cost of the van, it should also benefit the van’s residual value. Recent auction reports suggest that highly-specified and specialist vans remain in strong demand at auction. As a result, leasing a van with onboard power may not cost all that much extra on a monthly basis.

Any increase will be partly offset by savings on generator purchase or hire. And as with any convenient facility, on-board power tends to be used more because it’s always available. That tends to improve productivity.

Reputable providers of on-board power systems will install systems in line with manufacturers’ guidelines and with EU Whole Vehicle Type Approval and UK National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA). This is often essential on new vehicles, in order for them to be compliant with all current legislation.

Specialist converters such as Winton Engineering are able to provide on-vehicle power conversions alongside extra equipment such as racking and external lights. A one-stop shop can be an advantage as the converter takes responsibility for ensuring that all work done is compliant with any relevant regulations.

BCA van auction March 2017

Record used van prices mask changing market conditions

BCA van auction March 2017

BCA Blackbushe van auction March 2017

Used van prices fell slightly in Marcn but remain at near-record levels, according to the latest auction sales figures from BCA.

The average priced achieved for a light commercial vehicle at auction was £6,526 in March, down by just £23 from £6,549 in February.

March’s average sales price is the second highest on record and means that used van values are 11% (£647) higher than they were one year ago. Of course, part of this is due to falling average age and mileage. Buyers today are getting a new van than they were one year ago.

On a year-on-year basis, average age was down by five months in March, while average mioleage was down by about 7,800 miles:

All vans Avg Age (mnths) Avg Mileage Avg Value
Mar 2016 55.50 73,838 £5,879
Mar 2017 50.95 66,037 £6,526

Source: BCA

“Weakened” market

Duncan Ward is BCA’s LCV Operations Director. He struck a surprisingly downbeat note when discussing the figures for March:

“Average selling price data might suggest a buoyant market, but the reality is the market has weakened and conversion rates have been under pressure. BCA’s profile of stock is becoming younger and lower mileage and this is a significant driver of the increasing values we report.”

Ward emphasised that variations in quality and specification are leading to a two-tier market:

“Well specified commercials in retail-ready condition are making exceptional values, while vehicles with an unusual configuration or special equipment will always attract attention from buyers.  In contrast, any LCV available in high volumes, perhaps with damage and a basic specification will have an uphill battle to attract interest.”

It sounds to me as though the market is starting to be more favourable for buyers than sellers. Competitive deals and cheap finance on new models mean that some buyers will be tempted to trade up to new rather than paying over the odds for used.

In the meantime, sellers hoping to dump sub-standard stock in to the market will have to accept lower prices, giving buyers who need a cheap workhorse another option to consider.

Fiat Doblò Euro NCAP crash test 2017

Fiat Doblò scores just three stars in latest Euro NCAP tests

Fiat Doblò Euro NCAP crash test 2017

Fiat Doblò Euro NCAP crash test 2017 (image: Thatcham Research)

Panel vans don’t get Euro NCAP safety ratings, but their people carrier equivalents do. So it was disappointing to see the Fiat Doblò score just three stars out of a possible five in the latest round of Euro NCAP tests.

The version tested was the 2015 facelift version, but this generation of the Doblò van was first introduced in 2010, and it shows. The 2015 update only included minimal safety upgrades and these are not enough to compete with newer models.

Commenting on the results, Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, said:

This is another FIAT doing the absolute minimum from a safety perspective, with no AEB fitted. There are family vehicles out there which offer far greater levels of protection.

It’s worth noting that while the Fiat Doblò is outdated, the Vauxhall Combo is even more so. Although the Combo is based on the Doblò, Thatcham Research says that Opel/Vauxhall has not applied the 2015 Doblò updates to the Combo. Thatcham believes the Combo “would be expected to end up with even fewer stars” if tested.

I should stress that these comments and test results apply to the MPV version of the Doblò, not to the panel van model. But I think it’s probably fair to assume that the same test results apply to the van model, as far as pedestrian safety and front passenger safety are concerned.

You can see the full Euro NCAP test results for the Fiat Doblò here: http://www.euroncap.com/en/results/fiat/doblo/26657

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Van registrations 03/2011 - 03/2017 (SMMT)

March van registrations edge lower but auction sales climb

Registrations of new light commercial vehicles fell by 0.9% in March, despite the third month being the longest of the year so far in terms of trading days.

According to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), new van and pickup registrations fell by 0.9% to 63,316 units in March, compared with the same period last year.

Van registrations 03/2011 - 03/2017 (SMMT)

Van registrations rolling year totals Mar 2011 to-date 2017 (source: SMMT)

Big slides were seen in vans under 2.0t (-31.6%) and 4x4s (-91%). Sales of LCV-type 4x4s have largely been replaced by the pickup category, where registrations rose by 23% to 9,660 in March.

Looking at the other categories, heavy vans (2.5-3.5t) remained strong. This is always the largest segment in the LCV class and remained so in March, with new registrations up by 3.6% to 40,237 units.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, remains bullish about market conditions:

“The new van market has experienced strong levels of demand in recent years and this dip in registrations represents a natural rebalancing of the market. Despite the decline, demand remains at an historically high level with year-to-date registrations matching 2015’s performance, which was only exceeded by demand in 2016.

We expect demand to remain stable at this high level throughout the year.”

As head of the automotive industry trade body, Mr Hawes would be positive. But I think it’s fair to say that the figures for new van sales still look good. New data from auction group Manheim suggests that this strength extends into the used market, too, despite concerns last month that ex-rental vans were flooding the market.

Manheim logoManheim says that the group offered 20% more vans for sale during March 2017 than in March 2016, and 6% more than in February 2017.

Despite this increase in volume, conversion rates rose by 3% compared to February. This indicates that a greater proportion of vans offered for sale were sold.

And while selling prices dropped by 3% to £5,298, average age and mileage also increased, by 3 months and 2,000 miles respectively. So average pricing looks pretty firm, if not positive, to me.

Manheim expects buyer demand to remain strong in April, but says that lower de-fleet volumes may reduce the number of vans for sale, providing further support for prices.

Our view

The overall picture presented by the SMMT figures and the sales data from Manheim suggests to me that the UK van market remains healthy and stable.

History suggests that this is a reasonable barometer for the state of the economy, so let’s hope for more such ‘boring’ updates over the coming months.

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Vauxhall Race Van concepts at 2017 BSB

Vauxhall rolls out wheelie good concept vans

Vauxhall has unveiled two new concept vans targeting motorcycle racers. The two new vans made their debut at Donington Park race track last weekend, to mark Vauxhall’s sponsorship of the 2017 MCE British Superbike Championship.

Vauxhall Race Van concepts at 2017 BSB

Vauxhall Race Van concepts at Donington Park, at the opening round of the 2017 British Superbike Championship.

Both vans include workshop space suitable for a range of trade users. But the vans’ specialist appeal is that they can also be easily equipped for use as race vans — with space to transport one bike securely within the load bay.

The Vivaro Race Van Concept and the Movano Race Van Concept will be on display at all UK BSB race meetings this year.

Vivaro Race Van concept

The Vivaro Race van is based on the range-topping Vivaro Limited Edition NAV L2H1 F2900 145PS BiTurbo Start/Stop model.

Vauxhall Vivaro Race Van concept

Features include:

  • Dual passenger bench with fold-flat centre section
  • Air conditioning
  • Cruise control and rear parking sensors
  • NAVI50 Intellilink
  • Auto-lights
  • Auto-wipers
  • Black alloy wheels

Inside the van is racked and panelled with quality equipment, based around racking that’s provided and installed by Sortimo UK. Features include:

  • Sobo Grip+ crash tested safety floor (9mm)
  • Sowa Flex wall, door upper and ceiling linings
  • Pro-Safe lashing rail with Pro-Safe straps (on bulkhead)
  • Drivers Side racking features:
    • Pro-Safe lashing rail on wall
    • Light Weight Globelyst Racking including – fuel can shelf to end of rack; component S-Boxes; Integrated front load fridge; lift up base cover; work top with two drawers; First-Aid kit and document holder to end of racking. All racking includes full Pro-Safe Lashing System with Pro-Safe Straps.
    • WorkMo mobile workstations include drawers; L-Boxes; PPE cupboard; tool holder trays on top
  • Passenger Side racking features:
    • Two-tier Flex Rack unit with full integrated Pro-Safe lashing system

All of this kit adds 220kg to the weight of the van, eating into its payload. But it’s probably worthwhile for the safety and utility it provides. In addition to this, the Vivaro Race Van concept is also fitted out with a number of creature comforts that are likely to be popular with anyone camped up by a race track for the weekend:

  • 32-inch flat screen TV with wall bracket
  • BikeTek wheel chock with quick release baseplate
  • Upholstered bench seat on bulkhead
  • LED lighting
  • Small Breville 800W Microwave
  • Shore Power electrical system Including 2000 Watt isolation transformer, 240v-12v DC transformer, consumer unit & ancillaries
  • TRP688S Motor Cycle Ramp

Movano Race Van Concept

The Movano is kitted out in a similar way to the Vivaro and is based on the Movano F3300 L2H2 model, powered by a 2.3-litre CDTi 130PS BlueInjection engine. Specified with the Premium Pack, it includes NAVI50 Intellilink, rear parking sensors, air conditioning, trip computer and a perimeter alarm.

Vauxhall Movano Race Van conceptHere are the details of the racking an interior kit, which is again provided and installed by Sortimo UK:

  • Sobo Grip+ crash tested safety floor (9mm)
  • Sowa Flex wall, door upper and ceiling linings
  • Pro-Safe lashing rail with Pro-Safe straps (on bulkhead)
  • Driver side racking features:
    • Light Weight Globelyst Racking including – drop front shelf; fuel can shelf; tyre space with Pro-Safe Strap; open top shelf with matt & dividers; component S-Boxes; small open shelf; drawer with integrated wash basin and cupboard with waste/clean water containers; integrated front load fridge; lift up base cover; work top with 4 drawers; 2x LT Tool Boxes & lift-up base cover; First Aid kit & document holder to end of racking. All racking includes full Pro-Safe lashing system with Pro-Safe straps.
  • Passenger side racking features:
    • Two-Tier Flex Rack Unit with fully-integrated Pro-Safe Lashing System

Weight of Sortimo equipment (including fridge) = 240kg

Awning

  • Provided by Camperlands UK
  • Fiamma F65 320 awning with single end panel (Side W Pro). This gives a shaded area 3.1m in length along van, and extends 2.5m in depth

Other Equipment

  • Installed by Sortimo UK
  • 40″ flat screen TV and wall bracket
  • BikeTek wheel chock with quick release baseplate
  • Upholstered bench seat on bulkhead
  • LED lighting
  • Small Breville 800W Microwave
  • Shore power electrical system Including 2000Watt isolation transformer, 240v-12v DC transformer, consumer unit & ancillaries
  • TRP688S Motor Cycle Ramp

Both bike sound like cracking conversions, similar to models available from specialist converters. I suspect they’re PR projects only and unlikely to go into production, but weekend racers might hope to prove me wrong.

Harrods Nissan e-NV200 electric van

Harrods offers electric delivery with Nissan e-NV200 vans

Harrods has made history by adding an electric van to its fleet — 100 years after the iconic London department store’s first electric vans hit the road.

Harrods Nissan e-NV200 electric van

Harrods’ Nissan e-NV200 electric van alongside its historic American Walker electric van

The new van is — of course — a Nissan e-NV200. But it’s incredible to realise that back in 1919, Harrods delivery drivers were motoring around London in American Walker electric vans. The company then went on to build its own fleet of 60 electric vehicles to deliver to London customers.

It was only when the petrol engine became increasingly popular that Harrods dropped electric power and switched to the internal combustion engine.

Guy Cheston, Media Sales Director at Harrods said:

“It’s wonderful to see an electric Harrods van on the roads of London again. As one of Britain’s largest established department stores, we are committed to reducing our carbon emissions and mitigating our environmental footprint. As part of our carbon and energy management policy, we have identified transportation as a key area where we can make a real impact.

Harrods Nissan e-NV200 — a single van so far — has been wrapped in the store’s unmistakable green and gold livery and fitted out inside with shelving units and refrigeration to enable it to deliver fresh groceries in perfect condition.

According to Nissan, the e-NV200 can cover up to 106 miles on a single charge, meaning that it may only need to be charged once a week by Harrods.

SsangYong Musso pickup

SsangYong Musso towing capacity increased to 3.5 tonnes

SsangYong has increased the towing capacity of its one-tonne Musso pickup to 3.5 tonnes. This is comparable with the best in the class and adds to the appeal of the Musso, for which prices start from just £16,395 +VAT.

SsangYong Musso pickup

The updated SsangYong Musso has a one-tonne payload and a 3.5 tonne towing capacity. (Image: SsangYong)

The Musso is powered by a 2.2-litre Euro 6 diesel engine which provides peak power of 178PS. Maximum torque of 400Nm is available from 1,400rpm all the way up to 2,800rpm. A combination of multi-link rear suspension and progressive rear coil springs is said to give a smooth, car-like ride that can still handle the weight placed on the back end by the Musso’s one-tonne payload and — potentially — a 3.5 tonne trailer.

The Musso is the best value pickup in the sector and while it may not compete with the likes of the VW Amarok in the kerb appeal stakes, it’s about 30% cheaper than the premium European and Japanese brands,

For farmers and rural workers who want a load-lugger that will get some hammer, buying a SsangYong potentially makes very good sense. The current Musso was originally launched in Autumn 2016, since when sales have “really taken off” according to Paul Williams, CEO of SsangYong Motor UK.

There are two models in the range. The SE includes a new-look front grille and dashboard, as well as silver finish 18” alloy wheels and hard wearing ‘leather look’ TPU seat upholstery. It is priced from just £16,395 ex VAT.

EX trim gets you black 18” alloy wheels, roof rails, front LED daytime running lights, leather with heated front seats, power operated driver’s seat, automatic air conditioning, automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, 7” touchscreen RDS radio with iPod and Bluetooth. The EX with manual transmission is priced at £18,395 ex VAT, and with a six speed Aisin automatic £19,395 ex VAT.

All new SsangYong Musso models come with a 5-year, unlimited mileage warranty that covers all major mechanical components.