Author Archives: Van Rental

ULEZ sale at BCA

Rental advantages stack up as emissions net tightens

ULEZ sale at BCA
Demand is high for ULEZ-compliant Euro 6 vans. Auction group BCA recently held its first ULEZ sale.

With less than three weeks to go until the London ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emissions Zone) comes into force on 8 April, van emissions are a hot topic at the moment.

The disruption caused by changing emissions rules doesn’t stop there. Last year’s switch to the WLTP emissions testing regime for new cars and vans caused disruption to new vehicle supplies across Europe, as the new testing system caused bottlenecks for manufacturers.

The introduction of the ULEZ in London means that anyone who isn’t driving a Euro 6 diesel will face a £12.50 daily charge for driving inside the congestion zone (the area will be expanded in 2021). Realistically, this isn’t a viable choice for daily operation — doing so five days a week would cost £3,250 per year.

Should you switch to rental?

Of course, drivers using rental vans don’t have any of these problems. The majority of hire companies are already operating Euro 6 vans. And increasingly, companies such as Europcar are also offering petrol and electric choices as well.

With cities such as Birmingham and Leeds due to introduce Clean Air Zones in the next few years, the emissions problem isn’t going away. But operators wanting to update their fleet to Euro 6 models may find that supplies are limited and prices rising, even for used models.

Auction group BCA recently held its first dedicated ULEZ van sale, where all vehicles were Euro 6 compliant or electric/hybrid vans. As part of the sale, BCA guaranteed that all vans being sold would be able to enter the Ultra Low Emission Zone without charge.

A total of 148 vehicles went under the hammer, selling an average of 104% of their CAP book price — i.e. they sold for more than their book value. Some used dealers at the auction confirmed that they are now only retailing Euro 6 models.

With such strong demand, used van prices are likely to remain high, in my opinion. I think many van operators could be better off outsourcing their vehicle supply to large rental firms and focusing on their core business.

Indeed, all of this brings to mind a famous quote from oil baron J Paul Getty, once the world’s richest man. Talking about business, Getty said:

“If it appreciates, buy it. If it depreciates, lease it”

There’s no doubt at all what category vehicles fall into. From the day you buy them, they depreciate and cost you money to maintain. If you’re still running Euro 5 or older vans, I think there’s a real risk that their used value will collapse over the next few years. I suspect that no one will want to buy vans that are effectively banned from many major towns and cities.

In my view, unless transport is a core part of your business, van operators are better advised to consider long-term flexible rental deals such as those from Europcar and Northgate.

If you’re looking for daily van rental quotes for your business, you can compare prices with our independent van hire price comparison engine.

Citroen Berlingo L2 electric van

Europcar van fleet update adds electric power and luxury

Citroen Berlingo L2 electric van
The Citroen Berlingo electric van in L2 (long) wheelbase.

It’s good to know that once in a while, I’m actually right about something. Back in July last year I predicted that “van hire companies may soon need electric van fleets“.

Fast forward eight months, and I’ve just learned that Europcar has started buying Citroen Berlingo Electric vans for use in urban areas, especially London Congestion Charging zone. When the London Ultra-Low Emissions Zone comes into force in April 2019, electric vans will qualify for a 100% discount.

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.

Vehicle exhaust

Are your vans ready for the London ULEZ on 8 April 2019?

Vehicle exhaust

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) comes into force on 8 April 2019. Vans which don’t meet Euro 6 emissions standards will have to pay a daily charge to travel within the ULEZ.

Initially, the ULEZ will cover the same area as the Congestion Charge.

Vans entering the ULEZ from 8 April 2019 onwards will need to meet Euro 6 emissions standard or face a £12.50 daily charge. This will apply 24/7/365.

Transport for London says that the charge will be applied based on the declared emissions of the van, not its age. Transport for London has provided a ULEZ Vehicle Checker service you can use to look up your vehicle’s Euro emission rating online.

You may also be able to find your van’s emissions listed on its V5C registration document.

What can I do if my van isn’t compliant?

Very little. You can’t modify your van to change its emissions rating. If your van isn’t compliant, you only have three choices:

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but even some quite new vans won’t be able to enter the ULEZ from 8 April 2019 without paying the daily charge.

ULEZ will expand to N/S Circular in 2021

From October 2021, the ULEZ will expand to include all areas inside the North and South Cricular roads. Broadly speaking, this includes all of the following areas:

  • Westminster, Tower Hamlets, Islington, Hackney, Cmaden, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith, Fulham and Haringey

Plus PARTS of these areas:

  • 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.

Man loading boxes into van

Watch the weight! Vans take longer to stop when loaded

Man loading boxes into a van.

You hire a van to move house and drive it home empty. It seems almost like a car, quick to accelerate and easy to stop.

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.

For more tips, check out our first-timers guide to driving a van.

Save 10% with Questor Insurance this Valentine’s Day [EXPIRED]

Questor Insurance logo

Hiring a van probably won’t be the most romantic thing you do this year.

But our 10% discount code for Questor Insurance excess protection means that you can protect your excess and have more cash left over to treat your loved one.

Here are the details (remember, you can book ahead for later in the year):

  • This discount code has now expired.

For the latest Questor Insurance discount codes, visit our van hire excess insurance page.

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

Moving house with a van

Are van sharing clubs a better choice than van hire?

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.

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:

  • Enterprise Car Club – Join the club and you can pick up cars or vans by the hour in towns and cities across the UK. More info at
  • 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
  • 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
  • Ubeeqo (Europcar) – at present this self-service car hire club is available for cars only, but I suspect that in time vans will also become available. In the meantime, Europcar has a very large network of UK van hire branches, so there’s sure to be one near you. (More info about Ubeeqo here)

Have you used a car or van sharing club? Do you find it cheaper or more convenient than regular car and van hire? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.

Exclusive Discount Code: Save 7.5% at Questor Insurance [EXPIRED]

I’m pleased to report that once again we have managed to secure an exclusive 7.5% discount code for Questor Insurance

Questor Insurance logo

This code can be used to save money on Questor products including minibus and van hire excess protection insurance.

Remember – you can buy now for future use, so make sure you don’t miss out on this great saving. Here are the details:

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

New vans to look for on hire fleets: Vauxhall & Volkswagen

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:

  • Luton
  • Dropside
  • Tipper

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

VW Crafter Luton ‘Engineered to Go’ conversion

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

Volksagen Crafter Dropside ‘Engineered to Go’ conversion

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

Volkswagen Crafter Tipper ‘Engineered to Go’ conversion

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

The new Vauxhall Vivaro Life MPV gives us a clear idea of how the next-generation Vivaro van will look.

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.

Vehicle exhaust

London gets £23m van scrappage scheme ahead of ULEZ

Vehicle exhaust

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced plans for a £23m van scrappage scheme to help small businesses cope with the impact of the London Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ).

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.

New Rental Vehicle Security Scheme aims to cut terror risk

Volkswagen Crafter Luton
The government’s new rental security scheme is voluntary but will require changes including compulsory electronic payment method.

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:

  1. Lawfully share data and information with law enforcement
  2. Train staff to identify and report suspicious behaviour
  3. Appoint a recognised security contact
  4. Only accept electronic payment for all or part of the transaction
  5. 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, 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 website here.