London Low Emission Zone sign

Hiring a van is easiest way to cut emissions

London Low Emission Zone sign

The London LEZ already covers most of the area inside the M25 and is set to become stricter, with a new Ultra-Low Emission Zone planned inside the North/South Circular from 2021.

I’ve often talked about the cost advantages of renting a van for occasional van users. But the environmental gains are equally exciting.

Data released by the British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA) to mark Green GB Week show that 56% of the UK’s van rental fleet already meets the latest Euro VI emissions standard.

In contrast, just 13% of the UK’s van fleet as a whole is Euro VI. Of course, one reason for this is that the leasing and rental sector is one of the biggest buyers of new vans in the UK. After 2-4 year, most of these vans are then sold into the secondhand market.

But the reality is that buying a cheap, old van seems to be a poor choice, environmentally, compared to occasionally renting a nearly-new van.

This has implications for drivers wanting to travel into the expanding London ULEZ and potentially into other planned Clean Air Zones. Keeping an old van parked up for occasional use in cities could cost you dearly if planned charges are introduced. Plus it’s likely to cost you more to run (and more headaches) than an occasional rental.

Even if you don’t venture into our major cities, you’ll probably be concerned about minimising your impact on air quality, which is already dangerously poor in many areas of the UK.

Our independent van hire price comparison engine allows you to compare van hire prices from most of the UK’s main rental firms. If you’re considering the cost of van hire, why not take a look?

New Peugeot Partner van

New ‘Overload’ feature could soon be standard for hire vans

New Peugeot Partner van

The new Peugeot Partner van is available with an Overload Indicator that warns when the van has exceeded its maximum authorised mass.

For hire van drivers, it’s often very difficult to know whether their van has been overloaded. This is especially true if the goods being carried are mixed, such as tools, building supplies and equipment or perhaps household possessions.

It’s all very well to say that drivers are responsible for knowing the weight of the stuff they’re carrying — although it’s true, the reality is that it isn’t always easy to find out. And finding an open weighbridge close to your route is often even harder.

This could be the solution

I’ve been writing about this problem on vanrental.co.uk since 2007!

But while our price comparison system has come a long way in that time, vans have remained far too easy to overload. Indeed, the problem seems to have worsened, and drivers can face serious fines if caught.

What I think is needed is for vans to be fitted with a load sensor that detects when the van has reached its maximum authorised mass. Aftermarket systems have been readily available for some time, but some new vans are starting to be fitted with this feature as standard.

Among the first to benefit are the new Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo vans. These small vans benefit from a payload of up to 1,000kg. All-new third-generation models are now available to order. They are available with an (optional) Overload Indicator which warns the driver when the van has exceeded its maximum authorised mass (i.e. when it’s overloaded).

These models aren’t yet available from hire companies. But they will be soon.

In my view, this is such a useful feature that I expect it to become much more widely available on new vans over the next few years. It should also make it easier for employers and van operators to comply with their duty of care responsibilities.

In the meantime, if your local van hire company (or your employer) is ordering some of the new Peugeot Partner or Citroen Berlingo vans, make sure you ask whether they’re specifying the Overload Indicator!

BT Fleet 250,000 Luton Vivaro

Luton plant celebrates 250,000 landmark for Vivaro van

BT Fleet 250,000 Luton Vivaro

250,000 2nd generation Vauxhall Vivaro vans have been built at the firm’s Luton plant.

The Vauxhall Vivaro is a popular choice with van hire companies, tradesmen and fleets. Built at the firm’s Luton plant, it’s one of only a handful of mass-produced commercial vehicles that can honestly claim to be Built in Britain.

Staff at the Vauxhall plant recently celebrated the production of the 250,000th second generation Vivaro built at Luton. Fittingly, the landmark model was handed over to Vauxhall’s biggest Vivaro customer, BT Fleet Solutions.

BT Fleet has bought no fewer than 25,000 Vivaro vans from Vauxhall over the last 14 years, so it seems fair to assume that the model works well for the firm. Indeed, you’d have to assume that such a big buyer might even have had input into the design and specification of this popular model.

The next Vivaro

The current Vivaro could be the last ‘true’ mid-sized Vauxhall van. The sale of the Opel/Vauxhall business to Peugeot/Citroen owner PSA Group means that the replacement model is likely to built on a PSA platform that’s shared with other group models.

The good news is that PSA has already committed to build the new Vivaro at Luton and plans to upgrade the factory’s production capacity from 60,000 to 100,000 vehicles per year by mid-2019.

Northgate VW Transporter at Nurburgring

Hire van sets new lap record at Nürburgring

VW Transporter at Nurburging

Rob Austin’s stock Volkswagen Transporter hire van has set a new unofficial lap record of the Nurburgring

A standard production model Volkswagen Transporter supplied by Northgate Vehicle Hire has set a new unofficial lap record around the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife race circuit.

The van was piloted by British Touring Car driver Rob Austin, who is normally found behind the wheel of a highly-tuned Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

Rob took some time off his day job to try and beat 10 minute 8 second time set by German racer Sabine Schmitz in a Ford Transit for Top Gear in 2005.

Northgate VW Transporter at Nurburgring

Rob succeeded and clocked up a 9m58s lap, setting an unofficial new record:

As far as I know, this is a record for a standard van. But I do remember that back in 2013, tuning firm Revo souped up an earlier VW Transporter and squeezed out a 9 minute 57 second lap at the ‘Ring:

And finally, no discussions of ‘Ring lap records in vans would be complete without including footage of Sabine Schmitz’s legendary 2005 lap for Top Gear, which she completed in 10m 8s in a rather slower Ford Transit:

You’ve got to love the footage of a Transit van passing fast cars and motorbikes on the Nurburging. Just goes to show that most of the time, speed is about the driver, not the vehicle.

Moving house with a van

Heading back to uni? Don’t leave home without renting a van

Moving house with a van

Shifting your stuff is much easier in a van than in your parents’ car! Think about sharing with an older driver to avoid age restrictions.

It’s that time again. Students are flocking back to university with all of their ‘stuff’. If this is you — or your son/daughter — then it’s time to start thinking about renting a van.

To help you get on the road and enjoy a stress-free journey #backtouni, we’ve put together some links to help you get started with van hire:

  • To get started, check out our student van hire guide. This includes details of minimum age restrictions at popular hire companies and other useful tips.
  • One-way van hire: this can be a great solution for students old enough to drive themselves back to uni. We highlight some of the main companies offering this service and explain what you need to know.
  • Got questions about driving licence requirements or age limits? This guide should help.
  • Insurance worries? The excess on rental vans is generally £1,000 or more. So purchasing excess protection insurance can help. Most hire companies sell this by the day, but it’s sometimes cheaper to buy it yourself beforehand — see here for ideas and discount codes.
  • First time? Check out our van size guide and our guide to hiring a van for the first time.
  • Finally… if you haven’t driven a van before, don’t leave home without taking a look at our guide to driving a hire van for the first time.

Once you’re ready to book, our unique van hire price comparison engine enables you to compare prices from many of the UK’s largest and most popular van hire companies.

Please don’t leave it too late — as term starts near popular sizes of van are often booked and some companies may raise their prices…

We hope our tips will get you on the road safely, cheaply and quickly. But if you’ve got any van hire questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on Twitter @vanrentaluk, via our Facebook page or by good old-fashioned email.

Questor Insurance logo

Exclusive discount code: Questor Insurance van hire excess protection [EXPIRED]

Questor Insurance logo

It’s hard to believe it’s September. The kids are heading back to school and students are thinking about heading back to university.

Whatever your reason for hiring a van, you may want to consider purchasing extra cover to reduce the excess liability on your hire van. The standard excess is typically £1,000 or more, so spending a few pounds on extra insurance often makes sense.

Our exclusive discount code for Questor Insurance should help you to save a few £££ on your van hire excess protection insurance. This code is exclusive to vanrental.co.uk, so you won’t find it anywhere else!

*** THIS DISCOUNT CODE HAS NOW EXPIRED ***

Please check our van hire excess insurance page for the latest discount codes.

 

 

Terms and conditions may apply — see Questor website for details.

Van parking

How to stay safe when parking and reversing your hire van

Van parking

Van parking (image courtesy of Volkswagen)

If you’re hiring a van for the first time, there’s a good chance that one of your top driving worries will be reversing and parking the boxy beast.

Figures released by the Department for Transport suggest that you are probably right to be concerned. In 2016, there were 1,350 parking and reversing accidents involving vans that resulted in death or injuries to drivers, passengers, cyclists or pedestrians.

In addition to this, there were many more minor reversing shunts where damage was limited to property, not people.

The human cost of these accidents can be terrible. But even if no-one else is involved, costs can be high. Volkswagen estimates that having a van off the road costs companies an average of £550 per day. Average UK car repair bills — after a collision — clock in at a weighty £1,678.

How to reverse your hire van safely

There are a few things you can do to make reversing and parking much safer.

The first is to ensure that your mirrors are correctly adjusted to provide a clear view down each side of the van. Make sure you familiarise yourself with what’s visible and any blind spots.

Don’t be afraid to get out and have a look. I can’t emphasise this enough. Get out and look! Even the most experienced drivers do this sometimes. There’s no substitute for eyeballs.

If at all possible, make sure you have a friend or colleague to help when you’re reversing into an enclosed space.

Of course, if your hire van has a reversing camera, this will help reduce the risk of a collision. Unfortunately most rental vans don’t have this feature, which is usually an extra-cost option on new vans.

Whatever the situation, make sure you are moving dead slow when you reverse and park. That way, if you do hit something the potential damage to life or vehicle will be limited.

What if I damage the van when reversing?

Any damage to the van when reversing could leave you with a hefty repair bill. Our research suggests that the excess on hire vans is typically upwards of £1,000.

Unless you’ve purchased excess protection insurance to reduce this liability, you’ll be liable for all repair costs up to the full excess amount.

Our top tip

The vast majority of van reversing is completed successfully and without any damage. It’s not that difficult to do if you take care and go slow.

Get a reliable friend to help if possible.

If you’re on your own, take as much time as you need. Don’t hesitate to get out and look.

By following these tips, you should be able to enjoy a safe, damage-free van rental.

Ford Ranger Raptor

Ford Ranger Raptor makes history with Gamescom launch

Ford Ranger Raptor

The Ford Ranger Raptor will be on sale in mid-2019.

Ford has made history by launching the latest version of its Ranger pickup at Europe’s Gamescon video game trade fair, in Cologne, Germany.

The Raptor looks like something out of a computer game and the link goes further than that — the company announced that in partnership with Microsoft, the Ranger Raptor will feature in the Forza Horizon 4 racing game.

The new model will go on sale to real-world buyers in the middle of 2019. Powered by the BiTurbo versio of Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine, it packs a powerful punch with peak power of 213PS and 500Nm of torque. Drive is delivered to the over-sized wheels through Ford’s 10-speed automatic gearbox.

The Ranger Raptor’s design is inspired by off-road racing and the larger F-150 Raptor. It gets upgraded FOX shock absorbers and specially-designed BF Goodrich tyres on 17-inch alloy rims. Upgraded suspension is paired with new underbody protection to prepare the Raptor for serious off road use.

However, this won’t compromise the truck’s on-road driving quality, according to Damien Ross, Ford’s chief program engineer for the Ranger Raptor:

“The standout experience of the Ranger Raptor, hands down, is how far you can push it off-road and still ride like a millionaire on-road. Everything about the Ranger Raptor builds on the already outstanding sophisticated feel and functional capability of the Ranger, and then goes further. From a driving dynamic fun standpoint, it is really an exceptionally special vehicle.”

Inside, front-seat passengers are cossetted inside specially bolstered seats and can enjoy the full-range functionality provided by Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system.

The Ford Ranger Raptor will go on sale in Europe in mid-2019.

Questor Insurance logo

Bank Holiday Discount Code: Questor Insurance [EXPIRED]

Questor Insurance logo

Just a quick one, as I know you’re all busy preparing for the August Bank Holiday weekend.

We have a 10% discount code for Questor Insurance van hire excess protection.

This code is valid from 21 August 2018 until 31 August 2018.

Remember, as long as you purchase the insurance during this period, you can use it to cover a hire period later in the year (or even next year). So if you’re moving house or planning a trip back to university, it might be worth booking this weekend in order to save some £££.

*** THIS DISCOUNT CODE HAS NOW EXPIRED ***

Please check our van hire excess insurance page for more great discount codes.

Driving in France

Taking a hire van to France? Don’t fall foul of these driving laws

Driving in France

Driving in France (courtesy of Shutterstock / Alfio Finocchiaro)

The French government is determined to reduce the number of accidents on France’s (excellent) road network and has introduced a number of new laws this year.

Most of these don’t apply in the UK, so you may want to read on if you’re planning a quick trip over the Channel in a rented van (or in your car).

Here are some of the main highlights:

  • Speed: The speed limit on secondary (‘D’) roads has been cut from 90kph to 80kph. This is equivalent to a reduction from 56mph to 50mph. According to the RAC, drivers could face fines of up to £670 if caught speeding. And EU speeding fines will now follow you back to the UK, so you can’t leave them behind in France.
  • Mobile phones: French rules ban the use of any kind of hands-free headset or headphones while driving. If you want to use a handheld mobile to make a call, you must park in a designated parking space and switch the engine off.
  • Emergency services: If you need to call the emergency services while in France (or anywhere in the EU) the number to call is 112.
  • High viz, warning triangle & breathalyser: When travelling in France you need to carry a high viz vest/jacket for each person in the vehicle. You are also required to carry a warning triangle and an alcohol breathalyser. This must be an approved ‘NF’ type.
  • Documents: If you’re in your own vehicle, you will need proof of ownership (V5C) plus current MOT and insurance certificates. If you’re in a hire or fleet vehicle, you’ll need a VE103B ‘vehicle on hire’ certificate to prove you have the owner’s permission to take it out of the UK. Your rental company should provide this if you’ve booked a van to take abroad. If not, ask. You may need to arrange this in advance.
  • Glasses: If you’re like me and require glasses for driving, make sure you carry a spare pair with you in the car.
  • Low emission zones: Finally, like Germany, France has set up low emissions zones in a number of cities. At the time of writing these include Paris, Lyon and Grenoble. Even if your vehicle is compliant, you’ll still need a Crit’Air vignette to prove it. Otherwise you could be fined. You can find full details of the Cirt’Air scheme here: https://www.crit-air.fr/en.html

These aren’t the only rules that apply to driving in France, but they are among those which might not be familiar to UK drivers. For more comprehensive guide, check out the AA Driving in Europe guide.

You might also want to check out our driving tips for Europe.