Alongside this change, the company has also ordered 100 new Citroen Berlingo vans in Enterprise specification. This high-end spec includes the kind of equipment list that’s more usually found on cars.
Standard spec for the Berlingo Enterprise includes air conditioning, rear parking sensors, cruise control, speed limiter, automatic electronic parking brake, alarm, one-touch electric windows, heated and electrically-operated folding door mirrors, front fog lights with cornering function and tyre pressure monitoring.
Europcar says that private rental customers increasingly expect the comfort and convenience features of a modern car. Meanwhile business customers, who increasingly use rental vans for long periods, want to ensure that their drivers are well-supported and able to do their job comfortably and efficiently.
Brent, Barnet, Enfield, Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Newham, Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Richmond Upon Thames, Hounslow and Ealing.
For van operators who drive regularly in central London, the obvious conclusion from these changes is that the best way to stay ahead of tighter regulations is to get a zero-emision vehicle — an electric van.
If this isn’t practical, perhaps because you also do longer journeys, then I’d suggests short-term leases of 2/3 years or long-term van hire, which is usually available on a rolling one-month contract.
These choices mean you can avoid the risk of being stuck with a van that becomes unviable to operate in your working territory.
What you may not be prepared for is how much longer it will take to stop when you’ve loaded it up with the contents of your house.
New research by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles have shown that a mere 500kg of weight will increase braking distances by up to 36%.
At 30mph, VW found that braking distances increased by 33% with a 500kg load. That’s an extra two metres, which is a lot in heavy urban traffic.
At 60mph, the braking distance only increased by 19%, but because of the much higher speed VW found that their vans needed an extra five metres to stop. That’s roughly the length of a medium-sized van.
Even that may not be enough. If you’re moving house, you might find your load weighs considerably more than 500kg. A typical 3.5t luton van or long wheelbase Transit will carry around 1,000kg. And you might be surprised how the weight of your furniture and other belongings adds up.
With this extra weight on board, I’d expect your stopping distance to be considerably longer than the figures suggested by Volkswagen.
As a rule of thumb, the more heavily loaded your van is, the more space you should leave to the vehicle in front, especially when in town or on busy high-speed roads like A-roads and motorways.
When you hire a van, there are times you only need it for a couple of hours.
Some companies do offer van hire by the hour, but in major towns and cities hourly van hire is increasingly being replaced by a much more flexible and simple service — van sharing clubs.
The idea is that hire vehicles are left dotted around the city, sometimes in allocated parking spaces. Anyone who is a club member can reserve a van online and then use it for as long — or as little — as they want. Charges are low and often start with a one-hour minimum.
You can pickup and dropoff vehicles 24/7, unlike at traditional rental branches
This concept is probably more familiar for self-service car hire users – car sharing clubs have been around for a while now. But its also increasingly popular with vans. A number of the big hire companies now operate their own van sharing club services. Here’s a quick overview:
Hertz 24/7 – locations are mainly self-storage facilities, B&Q sites and other similar locations. Very practical for shifting large items such as furniture, DIY supplies or stuff for storage. More info at www.hertz247.co.uk/
Zipcar & Zipvan – one of the original dedicated car-sharing services, now expanded to offer vans. In the UK, Zipvan operates in London and a handful of other major cities. More info at www.zipvan.com/
Volkswagen and Vauxhall have both announced details of new van models in recent days. I’d expect at least some of these to become popular choices with the van rental companies featured in our van hire price comparison results, so I thought I’d run through the new models briefly to introduce them.
Ready to rumble
Volkswagen’s Engineered to Go range of off-the-shelf van conversions are available to order directly from the firm’s standard price list. This avoids the need for buyers to order a chassis cab model from VW and then arrange for a converter to add an aftermarket body conversion to the van.
The convenience of this approach is obvious and most of the big van manufacturers now offer similar services. VW’s range of conversions by specialist Ingimex has recently been revamped following the introduction of the all-new Crafter in 2017.
Customers can now order the following models direct from VW commercial vehicle dealers:
In due course, additional models will be available, including fridge/freezer conversions and minibuses. Here’s some more information about each of the new conversions.
VW Crafter Luton
The Luton body benefits from a unique four-tier load restraint system that can be used for deck lashing, standard load lock lashing or with an optional Ingimex telescopic load pole. This 3.5t conversion is available as a single cab only.
VW Crafter Dropside
The dropside conversion can be ordered in single or double cab specification. The dropside itself comes prepared for the addition of fall arrest rails or tail lifts.
VW Crafter Tipper
The Crafter Tipper conversion is also available as a single or double cab model. Tipping functions can be controlled with a wander lead, improving safety and visibility for the operator when tipping.
Vauxhall Vivaro Life MPV
Back in April last year, I reported that the Vauxhall Vivaro plant at Luton had secured an investment package from new owners PSA Group that would see the factory upgraded to produce the next-generation Vivaro van. At the same time, the plant’s production capacity would be upgraded from 60,000 to 100,000 vehicles per year by mid-2019.
This image from Vauxhall shows us the first results of this substantial investment in British manufacturing. The Vivaro Life is the first variant of the new Vivaro range and is an MPV model which will seat up to nine people.
Vivaro Life will have a single wheelbase but be available in two lengths, 4.95m and 5.3m. This will increase the MPV’s ability to compete with models such as the Transporter and Vito. It will also be available in a wide range of trim levels.
Buyers looking for an executive shuttle will be able to choose from four, seven or eight leather-covered seats. Those wanting an urban workhorse or minicab can opt for five, six, eight or nine cloth-covered seats.
In either case, the driver-focused specification promises to be generous and include a wide range of systems to boost safety and driver comfort.
A 100% electric model will be launched in “early 2021”.
The Vivaro Life will be premiered at the Brussels Motor Show on 18 January 2019. UK dealer order books will open in February.
The ULEZ comes into force in Central London on 8 April 2019 and will levy a charge of £12.50 per day on vans which don’t meet the Euro 6 emissions standard.
The scrappage scheme will be available to “micro businesses” — those with less than 10 employees. Business owners will be able to apply for funding to help them meet the cost of scrapping non-Euro 6 vans and replacing them with compliant models.
Details of the scrappage scheme have not yet been announced, so it’s not known how much cash will be provided to owners wishing to update their vans. However, the Mayor’s office has said that the scheme should be in place “ahead” of the introduction of the ULEZ in April.
Given that this is now less than four months away, time seems tight to me. Applying for funding and buying a suitable new vehicle could soon become difficult within the time period. But it’s good to see that something is being done to help meet the cost of replacing older vans that are driven into central London.
Another concern is that even with the scrappage allowance, buying newer vans could be unaffordable for many small businesses. Used van prices remain high — according to auctioneer BCA, the average used van fetched £7,146 in November, an increase of 5.1% compared to the same month in 2017.
As I’ve written before, for van operators with older vans who only drive into the ULEZ area occasionally, hiring a van could be cheaper than buying a newer one. It’s certainly worth crunching the numbers yourself before rushing out to buy a new van. You might be surprised.
To learn more about the ULEZ, including vehicle and post code checks, click here.
Terror attacks in London last year saw rental vans used to attack pedestrians in attacks at Westminster, London Bridge and Finsbury Park.
As we discussed last year, the government has now launched a Rental Vehicle Security Scheme aimed at increasing awareness of terror risks among rental firms and reducing the risk that vehicle will be used in attacks.
The vehicles used in all three terror attacks were vans, so this is something that could affect van rental customers. I should point out that at this stage the scheme is voluntary. Rental firms aren’t required to sign up.
However, those which do choose to follow the new code will be required to meet a set of requirements outlined in a 10-point Code of Practice, including:
Lawfully share data and information with law enforcement
Train staff to identify and report suspicious behaviour
Appoint a recognised security contact
Only accept electronic payment for all or part of the transaction
When ‘handing over’ commercial vehicles to customers, additional security checks should be undertaken
These changes are unlikely to have much impact on customers, from what I can see. The only obvious change might be that customers who pay for rentals in cash will no longer be able to do so. In my experience, this is fairly rare and is not usually allowed by rental firms in any case.
Welcoming the scheme, BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney said:
“The BVRLA has been instrumental in leading the sector’s response to the emerging and increasingly present threat of vehicles being used in acts of terror. During the past two years we have worked closely with government and law enforcement organisations and although there is no single panacea for combatting terrorism, the vehicle rental sector is committed to doing all it can to deter those seeking to inflict harm on our communities.
Here at vanrental.co.uk, our view is that this scheme is a good idea, in principle. However, as it’s voluntary, it’s not yet clear how many rental firms will actually sign up to the scheme and implement the required steps.
In addition to this, I suspect that many of the larger van rental firms may already have put in place procedures designed to reduce the risk of their vans being used for criminal or terror-related activity.
If you’d like to know more about the scheme or how to apply, you can find full details on the gov.uk website here.
Did you miss out on our great Black Friday discount code?
Great news! It’s Cyber Monday and we have another 10% discount code for Questor Insurance car and van hire excess protection policies.
This is a great chance to lock in a low rate and save £££, even if you’re not planning to hire a van for another few months. This fantastic discount is valid from 25November 2018 until 28 November 2018.