Author Archives: Van Rental

BCA van auction

Used van prices climb but quality gap increases

BCA van auction

Average used van values hit a record high of £6,764 in October, according to remarketing group BCA.

Ex-fleet and lease vans plus older dealer part-exchange models fetched record prices, according to the auction specialist. But BCA warned that demand for used vans is dependent on specification and quality. The pricing gap between the best and worst examples grew during the month, with the firm citing “hard-worked, damaged or base specification” vans as being least desirable.

Looked at over the last year, October’s average price represented a 6% (£386) increase on one year ago. Part of this can be attributed to the ongoing decline in average age and mileage.

As I’ve commented in previous months, higher volumes of younger ex-rental stock have helped to change the age and mileage profile of vans passing through the auction halls.

Interestingly, the trend towards younger, lower mileage vans isn’t just evident at the top of the market. BCA says that the average age and mileage of part-exchange vans (typically the oldest and cheapest at auction) has also fallen versus last year. This is one reason why part-ex values have risen by 9.1% over the last year.

However, what this also means is that more and more van owners and operators are trading up to newer models. With manufacturers offering attractive deals with low-cost financing and leasing options, it’s easy to see why. But I’d imagine that this process must be finite. At some point, I’d expect that everyone who wants and can afford a new van, will already have one.

My money is on a drop in the new and used markets over the next year. Although I’ve said that before and been proved wrong, so who knows?

FUSO eCanter electric truck

HGV taxes pay for most road maintenance, says FTA

FUSO eCanter electric truck

Rapid growth in electric vehicle could spell trouble for the Treasury, as fuel duty payments could plummet. 

Here’s an interesting snippet of information about tax and spending.

Between 2015 and 2016, the UK’s central and devolved governments and local authorities spent around £4.7 billion on road maintenance.

How was this paid for? According to trade body the Freight Transport Association (FTA), one way of looking road funding is that HGV operators contributed most of this cash, as they paid a total of £4.4bn in vehicle-related taxes over the same period.

That’s three times more than the estimated £1.5bn of infrastructure damage HGVs are thought to have caused over the same period.

You might wonder how much the rest of us pay  in motor vehicle-related taxes. The answer is that the total UK tax take from motor vehicles during that period was £33.5bn. That’s more than seven times the total road maintenance budget.

Is this for real?

I should point out a couple pf things. The first is that the figures I’ve quoted above include not only vehicle excise duty (road tax) and the HGV road user levy, but also fuel duty.

Another point is that maintenance isn’t the only cost the government must bear. New roads and substantial upgrades cost many billions more. I assume this spending falls outside the scope of the maintenance budget.

Finally, I’d argue that fuel duty isn’t only intended to fund the road transport infrastructure. It’s a tax on pollution and energy consumption, and also an incentive to reduce fuel usage.

Not everyone will agree with this view. But it does seem very likely that the taxes provide by motorists make a contribution to the national budget which stretches far beyond road building and maintenance.

One thing I would point out is that if electric cars and vans do start to gain a significant market share, then be prepared for a new type of tax for these vehicles. They may be tax-favoured at the moment, but there’s no way — in my opinion — that the Treasury could afford to lose a significant chunk of fuel duty if we all start to drive electric.

RH Logistics Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

150,000 miles per year in a van: “buy cheap, you buy twice”

RH Logistics Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Where vans are concerned, if “you buy cheap, you buy twice”.

That’s the view of RH Logistics Managing Director Richard Hindle, who operates 12 Mercedes-Benz Sprinters alongside six French-built vehicles, delivering high-value hospital equipment throughout the UK and Europe.

The company’s Sprinters are a mix of panel vans and streamlined Lutons featured Eco Box bodies supplied by Manchester’s Alloy Bodies. These are built on long wheelbase Sprinter 316CDI chassis cabs and are — according to Mr Hindle — returning 32mph on long distance work that sees the vans clock up 150,000 miles per year.

That’s a lot of miles by any standards. Such a testing usage cycle has enabled Mr Hindle to sort the wheat from the chaff in the van market. He says that after giving into the temptation of buying vans with a lower upfront price, he came to regret the decision:

Where vans are concerned, ‘You buy cheap, you buy twice’. We’ve tried various other makes of van and found that we get two-and-a-half, maybe three years’ use out of them, then they die. Whereas after the same period a Sprinter is still fresh and good to go again.”

He’s also happy with the brand image provided by Mercedes vans, saying that even after three years (and perhaps 450,000 miles), “they still look new”.

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

Mercedes launches “Scrappage and Swappage” for vans

Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

The recent introduction of the London Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) has brought home the problems faced by operators of older vans.

It can now cost up to £21.50 per day to take a non-Euro 4 (pre-2005) van into the capital. And in 2019, things are likely to get tougher. A number of other UK cities are expected to introduce ULEZs, and the threshold for the ULEZ charge is expected to be lifted to Euro 5.

One way to avoid being hit by these charges is to use rental vans. But this won’t be suitable for everyone, especially operators of older vans doing low mileages but that are in use everyday.

And although we’d all like to be driving around in a brand-new, low-emission van, this just isn’t affordable for everyone, either. This reality has been acknowledged by Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, which has just launched a Scrappage and Swappage programme aimed at helping van owners to gradually move towards Euro 6, without having to switch into a new van immediately.

Commenting on the scheme, Steve Bridge, Managing Director, said:

I’m not surprised that most of the headline-grabbing scrappage schemes available to motorists have been received with a degree of scepticism by the media and the general public; it isn’t always financially viable for someone to come out of an aged vehicle straight in to a new van.

“This is why we have explored all our options in terms of genuinely supporting customers to be in cleaner, newer models as this doesn’t always mean a new van; we’ve been offering EU6 on some models since 2015. To offer a Scrappage and Swappage programme supports our commitment to having the safest and cleanest vans on the road and underpins our pledge to keep Britain’s businesses moving.”

What’s the deal?

The Scrappage element of the programme is aimed at owners of Euro 1 through Euro 4 vans. In return for scrapping their vehicle, customers will get a deposit contribution of between £1,000 and £5,600 towards buying an new or Approved Used Euro 6 van.

The Swappage programme is a little different. This targets small fleets and retail customers with up to 24 Euro 4 or Euro 5 vans. These customers can ‘swap’ their older vans for a new Euro 6 Mercedes van with the help of a deposit contribution of between £2,000 and £5,100.

This seems a sensible offer to me. By allowing you to buy used, it’s a bit more flexible and affordable than most other manufacturers’ scrappage schemes. It may also help to stimulate a little more demand for new vans, in a market which appears to be slowing.

Any restrictions? Don’t hesitate too long. Vehicles purchased under both of these offers must be registered by 31 December 2017. A maximum of 24 units applies per customer, and customers must part-exchange a pre-Euro 6 vehicle of which they are the registered keeper.

Pronto Vehicle Rentals van

Cardiff-based Pronto Hire adds protection with dashcams

Pronto Vehicle Rentals van

Copyright: Pronto Vehicle Rentals /

One of the biggest fears most customers have when hiring a car or van is that they will be stung with extra charges when they return the vehicle. It’s not unknown for rental firms to claim damage which a customer disputes.

In fairness, the blame can be on both sides. What’s needed is a solution that everyone can trust. This avoids disputes and helps cut costs and provide a speedy resolution in the event of a collision.

Solving the problem

The best way to solve an argument about a vehicle’s condition is often with a photo.

That’s why Cardiff-based Pronto Vehicle Rentals has recently invested in a number of systems aimed at providing photographic evidence that can be used to keep track of a vehicle’s condition and of any incidents in which it’s involved.

The firm’s three-pronged approach starts when a team member uses their tablet to take photos of all existing damage when checking out vehicles with a customer.

The second stage is that the firm’s yard is covered by high-definition CCTV cameras. These provide a video record of the vehicle’s appearance as it’s driven in and out, from several angles.

But the biggest change is that many of the firm’s cars, vans and motorhomes are now fitted with dashcams (dashboard cameras).

Managing Director Naunton Dickins says that these “protect both the business and the customer, they prove to be a saving grace in the event of a bump”.

The use of dashcams is certainly growing. I’d recommend one to anyone who does a lot of driving or who regularly drives in urban areas and on busy routes. By providing evidence of what happened in a collision, they can reduce or avoid costly insurance claims and provide valuable protection from fraud, such as ‘crash for cash’ frauds.

The Honest John website has a great starter guide to dashcams here.

Zipcar petrol-powered VW Transporter in London

UK van and pickup speed limits

Zipcar petrol-powered VW Transporter in London

Did you know that the speed limits for a standard rental van like this one are lower than for a car?

Most drivers know the speed limits for cars, but how many occasional van drivers realise that van speed limits are lower than for cars?

With speeding fines on the up, it doesn’t pay to get caught out — ignorance is no excuse in the eye of the law.

The UK van speed limits for the majority of vans are:

  • Single carriageways: 50mph
  • Dual carriageways: 60mph
  • Motorways: 70mph

These speed limits apply to almost all vans.

Certainly all standard ‘Transit’ type vans are covered by these limits. So are most smaller models, such as the Volkswagen Caddy/Ford Transit Connect/Citroen Berlingo.

Are there any exceptions?

Under UK law, two types of vehicle are exempt from these limits:

  • Car-derived vans
  • Dual-purpose vehicles

Speed limits for these vehicles are the same as for cars:

  • Single carriageways: 60mph
  • Dual carriageways: 70mph
  • Motorways: 70mph

But how do you know if you’ve got this type of vehicle?

Car-derived vans: Very few vans qualify as car-derived vans anymore. According to, a car-derived van must:

  • Weigh no more than two tonnes (2,000kg) when fully loaded.
  • Be based on a car design or built on a platform that was developed to be used for cars.

As a general rule, the only vehicles which qualify as car-derived vans are models such as the Ford Fiesta Van, Vauxhall Corsa Van, etc.

There are some other van models built on car platforms, but in many cases their maximum laden weight is more than 2,000kg, so they don’t qualify.

Dual-purpose vehicles: These fall into two main categories — pickups and crew vans (also known as kombi vans or double-cab vans).

The definition that applies to all dual-purpose vehicles is:

  • They must weigh no more than 2,040kg when unladen.
  • They should be designed to carry both passengers and goods
  • They must have either four-wheel drive or at least one row of seats behind the driver, complete with side and rear windows.
  • This is technical: the vehicle must have the correct ratio of passenger space to load area. For details on this, see the official government website.

As a general rule, most pickups and crew cabs vans qualify as dual-purpose, so they can be driven at car speed limits.

But there are a lot of grey areas here. For example, some vehicles weight more than 2,040kg when unladen. If in doubt, check your vehicle’s specification and measurements carefully. Seek advice from the DVLA if you’re unsure.

Article last updated: 2 November 2017

Disclaimer: This information was correct to the best of our knowledge at the date shown above. But speed limits and vehicle classifications may change. Please do your own research if unsure.

Questor Insurance logo

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Questor Insurance logo

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

Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup

Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup is now on sale in the UK

Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup

The new Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup is now available to buy in the UK.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup is now on sale at UK dealers. Prices start from £27,310 +VAT and first deliveries are now expected in January 2018.

Customers who took advantage of Mercedes’ reservation offer earlier this year will be able to get a jump on new buyers, as their vehicles are expected in November/December.

In either case, first impressions are that X-Class buyers will be treated to a high-spec pickup that’s great to drive and is far more than just a rebadged Nissan Navara.

The X-Class is available in a refreshingly small number of combinations. Only three trim levels are available, and all models will feature a crew cab. Here’s a summary of what to expect:

  • Engine: Renault-sourced 2.3l common rail diesel engine. Available with a single turbocharger and 163hp, or with a two-stage turbo setup and 190hp.
  • Payload & towing: A one-tonne payload for the load bed, plus a hefty 3.5-tonne towing capacity.
  • Trim levels: In ascending order of luxury, buyers can choose PURE, PROGRESSIVE or POWER variants. Pure is billed as being for “classic robust use” and features unpainted bumpers and steel wheels. At the other end of the spectrum, Power is “a high-end variant for urban lifestyles” and comes with leather, 18-inch alloys, chrome trim, electric seats and keyless ignition.
  • V6 / AMG model: Of course, this is a Mercedes, so a performance version isn’t optional. A V6-engined X-Class delivering 258hp is expected at some point in 2018. Expect an AMG performance version to follow a little later…
Mercedes-Benz X-Class interior

Inside the Mercedes-Benz X-Class

As you’d expect from a German car maker, there’s a fairly sizeable option list. The X-Class is available with seven option packages, tailored to different trim levels.

For example, X-Class Power buyers can opt for a Style Package with privacy glass, larger alloy wheels and running boards.

At the other end of the scale, buyers of Pure models may want to opt for the Plus Package, which adds parking sensors and a load rail securing system.

Buyers of all models who actually plan to use their vehicles off road may want to consider the optional diff lock, which is available for £495 +VAT. An extra 20mm of ground clearance can be added for £220 +VAT.

In my view, it’s clear that Mercedes is aiming squarely for lifestyle and owner/driver buyers. I don’t see corporate fleets buying many of these.

But early reviews indicate that it’s one of the best models on the market to drive and has a quality interior. Anyone who ends up behind the wheel seems likely to be fairly happy with their choice.

1979 Ford Escort van RS2000 conversion

180bhp Ford Escort RS2000 van goes under the hammer

1979 Ford Escort van RS2000 conversion

This 1979 Ford Escort Mk2 van with RS2000 conversion will be sold at auction on 2 December 2017.

Before hot hatches came into fashion in the 1980s, there was the Ford Escort RS2000.

The fast Escort had a rallying pedigree and fearsome road performance, with 180bhp under the bonnet. That may not seem all that impressive today, but back then it was pretty amazing.

Although modern vans are available with this kind of power as standard, 1970s vans were rather more pedestrian than today’s models. Until now.

Classic Car Auctions is offering for sale a 1979 Ford Escort van that’s been rebuilt to RS2000 spec, using parts from a genuine RS2000 donor car.

The project started in 2007 and took three years. Invoices totalling over £40,000 will be included with the sale. Highlights of this hot van’s spec include:

  • A modified 2.1 litre Ford Pinto engine
  • Short-shift gearbox and motorcycle carburettors
  • An original RS2000 six-pod dashboard, steering wheel and black RS seats
  • Exterior details including Minilite alloy wheels
  • Ford Modena Green paint job
Escort RS2000 van interior

The van features genuine RS2000 interior parts, such as dashboard and seats.

Since its completion, the van has been kept in storage and is reportedly in good condition. This could be an amazing collectable van for Ford enthusiasts, or a great marketing tool for a van hire company or courier business.

If you’re interested, you can find full details of the auction listing on the CCA website, here.

The auction guide price is £12,000 – £15,000 (+ buyer’s premium of 12%). The van will be sold on 2 December at Warwickshire Exhibition Centre.

Only Fools and Horses Del Boy van

Del Boy’s Reliant Regal three wheeler goes up for auction

Only Fools and Horses Del Boy van

As iconic vans go, Del Boy Trotter’s Reliant Regal must be close to the top of the pile. Instantly recognisable as one of the stars of Only Fools and Horses, this notorious three wheeler is being offers for sale at auction later this month by Silverstone Auctions.

This 1968 model has been heavily reworked and benefits from a reconditioned engine, a synchromesh gearbox, remote start, a DVD player and even a smoke machine to simulate the van’s noxious emissions.

Only Fools and Horses van interior

Notwithstanding these technical improvements, the van remains exactly as it appeared on screen and comes complete with tiger ‘skin’ plush interior, nodding tiger, “Tax in Post” window notice, nodding tiger, roof rack with suitcase, set of furry dice, personalised rubber foot mats and a set of blow-up plastic dolls.

“Del Boy’s Reliant Regal is one of the most distinctive cars of BBC comedy history! Only Fools and Horses has a fan base spanning several generations and is something of a British treasure, so to have the van from the series for auction is a real treat which will no doubt draw the crowds,” explains Nick Whale, managing director, Silverstone Auctions.

With 71,778 miles recorded, the van is supplied with its original owners handbook, an MOT until 9th June 2018 and letters in the history file from the BBC which confirm its authenticity.

It could be a brilliant marketing tool for the right business. Although maybe not van hire…

The Trotters’ van will be offered for sale with no reserve at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show at the Birmingham NEC on 11th and 12thNovember.