StreetScooter WORK XL

StreetScooter unveils Work XL electric Transit van

StreetScooter WORK XL

The StreetScooter WORK XL, a Ford Transit-based electric van built for Deutsche Post DHL

Back in June, I reported on plans by Deutsche Post DHL to develop an electric version of the Ford Transit. The German group’s StreetScooter subsidiary would build the van, with plans for 2,500 units to be in service by the end of 2018.

Progress has been rapid and plans are now underway for 150 early production vans to be produced by StreetScooter’s Aachen plant during the remainder of 2017. Pictured is one of the first examples of the new model.

Charging the StreetScooter WORK XL

Charging the StreetScooter WORK XL

The Work XL is based on a Ford Transit chassis, with a battery-electric drivetrain and a body designed and built to Deutsche Post DHL specifications.

According to the firm, each van could save around five tonnes of CO2 and 1,900 litres of diesel each year. So the planned fleet of 2,500 could reduce the company’s fuel usage by as much as 4.75 million litres per year.

The WORK XL will have a load volume of 20 cubic metres and provide stowage space for more than 200 parcels. The e-van is fitted with a modular battery system delivering 30 kWh to 90 kWh of power, giving it a range of between 80 km and 200 km.

The Work XL is the largest of the three electric vans developed so far by StreetScooter. The other two are the WORK (4 cubic metres load space) and the Work L (8 cubic metres load space).

Deutsche Post DHL is already the largest electric fleet operator in Germany, with more than 3,000 StreetScooter WORK and WORK L vehicles in service, plus around 10,500 pedelecs (presumably these are electric bicycles).

Ford Model TT loaded with straw

From Model TT to Transit: Ford celebrates 100 years of vans

Ford Model TT van in 1917

The Ford Model TT van was launched in 1917 and was the company’s first purpose-built van.

Did you know that 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the first purpose-built van made by Ford? I didn’t either, but it turns out that back in 1917, Ford launched the Model TT.

The TT was a purpose-built one-tonne van, making it the direct equivalent of today’s Transit Custom. Obviously much has changed. But as these pictures from the Ford archives make clear, in some ways very little has changed. Like the Transit Custom, the TT provided a flexible and highly customisable way for businesses to transport more or less anything.

Ford Model TT loaded with straw

The Ford Model TT loaded with straw. Obviously wide loads weren’t such an issue then as they might be now…

The TT had solid tyres and was started with a crank handle. Operators wanting more comfort could specify air-filled rear tyres, which were something of a luxury at that time.

Ford Model TT with caged rear body

A Ford Model TT with a caged rear body — as used by gardeners and scrap dealers today!

I’ll leave you with this fascinating titbit. According to a study commissioned by Ford, 46% of Britons believe that a “Transit” refers to a specific size of van. Almost a quarter of those questioned used the word “Transit” to describe a typical panel van.

Like it or not, the Transit really is part of the fabric of life in the UK.

Back to uni in a van

Heading back to uni? You need a van

Back to uni in a van

The end of the summer holiday is approaching. The dreaded return to university is almost upon us.

Impossible amount’s of ‘stuff’ that just won’t fit in your family car, even if everyone but the driver travels by train.

The solution is simple. By hiring a van, you can fit everything in comfortably. You may even be able to share the journey and the costs with a friend.

The extra cost in fuel and hire charges could easily be cancelled out by the cost of making two trips by car if you don’t fit everything in the first time.

Nevermind the risk of damage to the inside of your prized motor…

Demand for van hire is sky-high at this time of year. But prices are still reasonable and our suppliers are still showing some availability.

However, I’d recommend booking now if you need a van, as popular locations and van sizes are in limited supply and may soon be booked up.

The university run is a lot simpler and less stressful if you go by van. Why not give it a try this year?

Questions?

What’s the minimum age? Van hire is not generally available to drivers under 21 and those under 25 may incur a surcharge.

Can I hire one way? One-way journeys also normally cost more, and your choice of pickup and dropoff may be more limited.

The solution: The best way to do #backtouni van hire is to get a parent or home-based friend to hire the van. That way you won’t have to worry about one-way charges or young driver fees.

Still got questions? Get in touch with us on Twitter @vanrentaluk or through our Facebook page.

Ferry sailing away

UK commercial vehicle exports drive 11.6% higher in H1 2017

 

Exports of UK-built vans, trucks and buses rose by 11.6% to 27,818 units during the first half of 2017, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The industry trade body said that the EU continued to account for 94.7% of all CV exports, although noted decent demand for UK buses from Asian and Australiasian markets.

In total, 63.5% of commercial vehicles built in the UK were exported. This has obvious implications for manufacturers concerned about the detail of how Brexit will be implicated. Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, says that the government needs to give due consideration to the needs of the automotive industry:

It’s positive to see such strong growth in CV exports, however, with almost every British-built van and truck destined for Europe, this reiterates the critical need to secure a new trading relationship that ensures this important sector can remain competitive.

The British and European vehicle manufacturing industries are highly integrated, and a beneficial relationship will take time to negotiate. This is why we need government to seek an interim arrangement that will maintain our place within the single market and customs union until this can be achieved.

The reality of modern manufacturing is that parts are made in many countries and brought together on a just-in-time basis at the point of final assembly. As such, it’s clear that the close integration of automotive supply chains across Europe depends on rapid, frictionless movement across multiple borders.

Whether Brexit can deliver this for UK manufacturers remains to be seen. Although I suspect the government will be aware of how much employment and inward investment is tied to automotive manufacturing.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Beginner’s guide to van hire: the round-up

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

We’ve recently been running a beginner’s guide to van hire here at vanrental.co.uk. For many of you, we know that it’s your first time renting a van.

So we’ve tried to put together a series of short articles covering all the questions you might have.

In order to make sure these new articles easier to find, I’ve put together this round-up post with links to all the beginner’s articles we’ve published.

Of course, if you still have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch:

Nissan Navara Trek-1°

New Nissan Navara Trek-1° takes Tekna up a notch

Nissan Navara Trek-1°

Only 400 examples of the limited edition Nissan Navara Trek-1° will be available in the UK.

At the start of this year, I flagged up the impending arrival of the Nissan Navara Trek-1° pickup. It’s a well-specified limited edition model of the firm’s popular pickup truck.

The Navara Trek-1° is now on sale in the UK. Just 400 units will be available to UK buyers, so if you haven’t already put your name down you may want to do so soon. Pricing will be an extra  £3,435 above the range-topping Navara Tekna model.

The Trek-1° is powered by the Navara’s usual 2.3 dCi 190 engine, which boasts a official combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 44.9mpg for the six-speed manual, and 40.1mpg for the automatic. All versions offer Nissan’s on-demand four-wheel drive.

Among the extras included in the Trek-1° specification are:

  • Black sport styling bars
  • Forward-facing LED spot lamps
  • Black 18-inch, six-spoke alloy wheels
  • A colour-coded load bed cover

Two colours are available, Black Metallic or Storm White. Both versions come with Trek-1° decals.

Inside, the Trek-1° bets the NissanConnect infotainment system, which includes sat nav and DAB radio, plus 360° Around View Monitor, rear parking sensors and LED headlights. Leather seats, heated front seats and a full-size spare wheel are also included.

It’s a loaded model that’s bound to appeal in the current market. For more details, take yourself to your local Nissan dealer.

LCV registrations July 2011 - July 2017

New van registrations stack up with 1.1% gain in July

 

A grand total of 24,766 new vans hit British roads in July 2017, 1.1% more than during the same period last year.

The new figures — from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) — suggest that the van market remains stable and is not yet suffering from the slowdown being seen in the new car market.

So far this year, we’ve seen a 3.1% fall in the total number of new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) registered, compared to last year. Here’s how this looks compared to performance since 2011:

LCV registrations July 2011 - July 2017

Van registrations for rolling years from July 2011 – July 2017 (courtesy of SMMT)

The top-performing sectors have been the 2.0t-2.5t van market (+9.2% YTD) and the pickup market (+14.8% YTD).

The highest-volume sector of the van market is the 2.5-3.5t segment. Sales here have declined in line with the market so far this year, falling 4.3% to 129,871 units.

The weakest sector has been vans with a maximum laden weight of under two tonnes. Registrations have fallen by 19.6% to 17.817 so far this year. In fairness, I suspect that the main reason for this decline is simply that there are now very few new vans which fall into this category.

July’s top sellers

There are few changes from last month in July’s list of top-selling van models. Ford continues to reign supreme. The Transit Connect, Transit Custom and Transit accounted for 27% of all vans sold in July, and occupy the top three slots in the bestseller list.

It’s a similar story for the year as a whole:

SMMT LCV best sellers 07-2017

Best selling vans in July 2017 and for the year-to-date (courtesy of SMMT)

Ferry sailing away

Beginner’s guide to van hire: Driving abroad & one-way hire

Ferry sailing away

Taking hire vans on ferries to Europe is perfectly possible, but needs advance planning and permission from your hire company.

Can you take rental vans abroad from the UK?

In many cases the answer is yes, and on our European Hire page we list companies which provide this service.

However, in all cases you must have the right paperwork and get permission from your hire company in advance.

This really is important. Failure to follow the rules could see you fined or result in your vehicle being confiscated while abroad. If you haven’t followed the right procedures, you could also end up driving without valid insurance — another offence.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Before you book your hire van, check if the hire company you plan to use allows overseas usage. Specify which countries you will be visiting and what type of van you want to hire, as these factors may affect whether an overseas hire is possible.
  2. When you make the booking, make sure that you make it clear you need to take the van abroad.
  3. Ask about extra costs, insurance, breakdown cover and paperwork.
  4. The most important piece of paperwork is a VE103 document. This shows that you have the owner’s permission to take the vehicle out of its home country.
  5. Make sure you know the total height and length of the van before you book your ferry/Channel Tunnel crossing. Depending on the size of your van and the purpose of your trip, you may need to book as a commercial passenger, not a private/leisure customer.
  6. Finally, make sure you have all the accessories you may need for driving in other countries, such as spare bulbs and reflective vests. Check out the driving rules and speed limits for the countries you’ll be visiting. In my opinion, the best source for this information is The AA’s Driving in Europe guide.

Once all that is done, plan your route and look forward to driving on roads that are often more scenic and less busy than those in the UK.

One-way van hire abroad

People often ask if they hire a van one way to go abroad. In general, this is only possible between the UK and Spain.

The reason for this is that in general, hire vehicles need to be hired out in their country of registration. Returning a hire van in — say — Germany would probably mean that the hire company would have to pay to return the vehicle to the UK. That’s a lot of money lost as a result of transport costs and several days’ of lost hire revenue.

Spain is an exception to this rule, simply because so many British expats live in the popular coastal areas of Spain. There is regular demand for hire vans to transport possessions between areas such as Alicante and Malaga and the UK.

On our Van Hire to Spain page, we list several specialist companies which offer this service from depots in Spain and the UK. If you need to move stuff between Spain and the UK, then take a look.

Note: This isn’t a service that’s offered by regular hire companies. If you need to move to or from Spain and want a one-way hire, you’ll probably need to use one of these specialist hire companies.

Questor Insurance banner

Save 10% on Questor Insurance with August discount code

Questor Insurance banner

Excess insurance specialist Questor Insurance is 10 years old in August.

To celebrate the company’s 10th birthday, the good people at Questor Insurance are offering customers a 10% discount code for August only.

This discount is available on all of Questor’s motor and travel excess insurance policies. This includes car hire excess insurance as well as van and minibus excess insurance.

Here are the details of this great discount code:

  • Offer: Save 10% on Questor Insurance motor and travel excess insurance policies
  • DISCOUNT CODE: BDY2195
  • Valid from: 1 August 2017
  • Expires: 31 August 2017

Get the deal button

 

 

Terms and conditions may apply. See Questor website for details.

Northern Lighthouse Board Mercedes-Benz Vito

Buying proves cheaper than van hire for lighthouse keepers

Northern Lighthouse Board Mercedes-Benz Vito

Very few van operators reach as many remote locations as the Northern Lighthouse Board, which operates more than 206 lighthouses around the coasts of Scotland and the Isle of Man plus a similar number of navigation buoys and beacons.

This demanding operating environment means that reliability and safety is even more important than usual. The NLB has recently taken on five long-bodied Vito 114CDI vans, which are based at the organisation’s operating centre in Oban, on the west coast of Scotland.

These vans are used by technicians who service lighthouses, to ferry supplies to lighthouses accessed by roads and to transport crew members for the NLB’s ships, Pharos and Pole Star.

Three of the five vans are crew van models, with a second row of seats and extra side windows. These allow up to five passengers plus the driver to be carried.

Ewen Mackerchar, its Marine Operations Manager, explained:

“We considered other options but decided on the Vito as it offered a far higher level of specification for the money, and the delivery lead time was shorter. Western Commercial provided a very professional service and handled all of our requests with the utmost efficiency.”

“We’re delighted with our new vans and can see we definitely made the right choice. The Vito is very comfortable for drivers and passengers alike, extremely well appointed and comes with a comprehensive array of safety equipment – as lighthouse operators we spend our lives helping to prevent accidents, so this is an attribute we value very highly.”

Like all Vito models, NLB’s vehicles are fitted with systems including the ADAPTIVE ESP® anti-skid programme, driver and passenger airbags and ABS anti-lock brakes.

They also benefit as standard from Mercedes-Benz Crosswind Assist technology, which ensures stability in the event of a sideways gust, Hill Start Assist — which prevents the vehicle from rolling back when setting off on an incline — and Attention Assist, which detects and warns against driver drowsiness.

Buying cheaper than renting?

Interesting, the NLB used to hire their vans. However, they found that based on planned usage scenarios, owning and operating their own vans would be cheaper.

This is a useful reminder that while renting vans is often the most cost-effective solution, this isn’t always the case, even when other benefits such as fixed rates including servicing and maintenance are taking into account.