Category Archives: MInibus News

Ford Tourneo Custom

Updated Ford Tourneo Custom will offer car-like luxury

Ford Tourneo Custom

The updated Ford Tourneo Custom will be available from early 2018.

If you’re running an airport transport service or VIP shuttle (or if you have a big family), then the new Ford Tourneo Custom might be worth adding to your short list along with the Mercedes-Benz Viano.

Ford has upped its game with the latest version of this van-based people carrier, which can seat up to nine in a new “premium interior” that “combines the comfort and quality of a luxury car without standing space and practicality”. Ford says that the interior trim has been completely revised and now uses more upscale materials, with a choice of light and dark interior environments.

The new innovations build on the significant product enhancements introduced to Tourneo Custom in 2016, including the Dagenham-built Ford EcoBlue 2.0-litre diesel engine, a new six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission, and optional rear air suspension.

Powered by Ford’s new EcoBlue engine, the model will be available with a choice of 105 PS, 130 PS and 170 PS power ratings, plus a 17-inch alloy wheel option for “enhanced handling and braking performance”. A range of trim levels will be on offer, including range-topping Titanium X and Sport options, offering maximum luxury and sport styling respectively.

Ford Tourneo Custom seating

The second row of seats can be swivelled to create conference seating with the third row.

Among the features of the new model are six individual seats which can be swivelled to “conference format”, a 10-speaker sound system and no fewer than six USB ports. Up front, the driver of the new Tourneo Custom will get some of Ford’s car technology, in the firm of the Intelligent Speed Limiter and SYNC 3 connectivity.

This newish feature works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and allows you to control audio, navigation and connected smartphones with simple voice commands. You can, for example, push a button and then say “I need fuel”. The system will then identify nearby filling stations.

A choice of eight and nine-seat configurations will be available, with a choice of short and long wheelbase versions. The long wheelbase provides additional luggage space behind the third row of seats.

Production of the new Tourneo Custom model will start later in 2017, with first deliveries scheduled for early 2018.

Mercedes-Benz Vito Taxi

New Euro 6 Mercedes Vito Taxi hits London streets

The latest version of the Mercedes-Benz Vito Taxi has gone on sale in London today, after passing all the necessary tests required for it to qualify as a London black cab.

Mercedes-Benz Vito Taxi

The new Mercedes Vito Taxi

The previous model sold more than 3,000 units since 2008, which suggests that the German model may now account for up to one in seven of the black cabs in the capital.

The London edition of the new Euro 6 Vito Taxi uses the low-emission 114CDI Euro 6 engine, offering 136 hp. Power is transmitted to the wheels via Merc’s 7G-TRONIC PLUS seven-speed automatic gearbox, which is controlled by a steering column-mounted lever rather than the usual dashboard gearstick.

This London-specific model comes with a Compact body length and incorporates a rear steering axle that allows it to meet the famous 25ft turning circle rule as prescribed by the Public Carriage Office so it can execute a U-turn in London’s congested streets.

Steve Bridge, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, commented:

“We know that the London taxi fraternity has been waiting in anticipation for us to bring the new Vito Taxi to market – our previous cab took the industry by storm and has sold in excess of 3,000 units since its launch in 2008.

“After a significant period of testing, I’m delighted to be announcing the start of sales today – I know there has been a bit of a waiting period while we put the new Taxi through its paces and I thank London’s cabbies for their patience.

Standard equipment also includes fuel-saving BlueEFFICIENCY measures like the engine Start/Stop function, air conditioning for the driver and passengers, electric folding mirrors, electrically operated sliding doors on both sides and an electrical nearside and off-side step.

The new Vito Taxi comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage manufacturer’s warranty and MobiloVan back-up, which includes free, round-the-clock emergency roadside assistance. It will be supplied exclusively by Mercedes-Benz Dealer S & B Commercials at Welham Green, Hertfordshire. Visit for more information.

Mercedes-Benz Vito Taxi

Mercedes-Benz launches new Euro 6 Vito Taxi

It’s been described as more like a luxury car than a van by one taxi firm and “impressively reliable and robust” by another (whose last Vito did 250,000 miles in three years). It’s probably fair to say that the Vito minibus is popular with both drivers and operators.

So it’s no surprise that the purpose-built Vito Taxi, which is targeting the hackney cab market, is gaining a firm foothold in the market.

Mercedes-Benz Vito Taxi

The original Vito Taxi was launched in 2008 and has sold 3,000 units to date, some of them into the ultra-conservative and demanding London black cab market. To put that in context, there are currently around 21,000 black cabs in London, so while the Vito Taxi still has a way to go, it is making progress.

The German marque has now launched an updated version of the Vito Taxi. The standard National specification model seats six and is fully accessible for wheelchairs. Customers can choose from the front wheel-drive 109CDI model, with an 88 hp Euro 6 engine, or the 114CDI with a 114 hp Euro 6 engine, which drives the rear wheels. Both come with manual gearboxes (optional seven-speed automatic gearbox is available for the 114CDI models) and in Compact or Long body lengths.

This model will be sold UK-wide and isn’t the special London specification model, an updated version of which will become available later in 2016. The London-spec Vito Taxi incorporates the rear steering axle that allows it to achieve a 25ft turning circle. This is one of the rules prescribed by the Public Carriage Office, so it can execute a U-turn in London’s congested streets.

The London variant is also offered with the more powerful engine as standard together, with the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic gearbox, which is now controlled using a steering column-mounted lever.

Standard equipment on both versions includes the fuel-saving BlueEFFICIENCY measures which features engine Start/Stop function for the 114CDI models, air conditioning for driver and passengers, electric folding mirrors, electrically operated sliding doors on both sides and electrical nearside step; London versions feature an additional off-side step.

Steve Bridge, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, commented:

“We are passionate about supporting the UK’s taxi drivers, and are delighted to be offering the most fuel-efficient, modern, comfortable, reliable vehicle ever seen in the market.

Priced from £135 per week* for the Vito Taxi 109CDI National variant, the Vito Taxi comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage manufacturer’s warranty and MobiloVan back-up, which includes free, round-the-clock emergency roadside assistance. Pricing for the London variant is still to be announced.

*Business customers only

After 250,000 miles in 3 years, it’s same again for minibus firm

Arnald Cars Mercedes-Benz Vito TourerNo recommendation is more powerful than personal experience, and Dunstable-based private hire firm Arnald Cars didn’t hesitate when it came time to replace their 3-year old Mercedes-Benz Vito Traveliner, which had done 250,000 miles in just three years.

According to Arnald boss Colin Hall, the outgoing model was “impressively reliable and robust”, so Mr Hall and his wife Teresa had no doubts about replacing it with one of the first new model Vito Tourers to hit UK roads.

The Halls’ new Vito is a 9-seater, extra-long wheelbase 119 BlueTEC model, with optional rear-wheel drive and a Euro 6 2.1-litre, 190 hp diesel engine. Connecting wheels to engine is Mercedes’ 7G-Tronic Plus transmission, the world’s only automatic gearbox for vans with a torque converter and seven gears.

Despite the van’s size, however, a series of fuel-saving enhancements including alternator management, improved underbody aerodynamics and the ECO start/stop function, mean it should offer fuel economy of up to 47.1 mpg on the combined cycle.

Mr Hall says that Mercedes quality and brand image are an ideal complement to the ethos of his business:

“We pride ourselves on the quality of our friendly and reliable executive service, which explains why all of our drivers are CRB-checked, first aid-trained and fully licensed. The New Vito combines a stunning appearance with exemplary comfort levels, while the Mercedes-Benz brand image can only enhance customer perceptions of our business.”

The Halls’ new Vito is fully specced up for a high quality luxury taxi service. On the outside, the vehicle is smartly finished in metallic brilliant silver with colour-coded bumpers and 16-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, to which the customer added optional roof rails and fog lamps.

Inside, passengers don’t need to worry about summer heatwaves. The van’s range-topping SELECT specification includes comfort seating, TEMPMATIC air conditioning, and a carpeted passenger compartment, as well as a lighting package.

The driver will benefit from automatic Headlamp Assist function and a rain sensor which controls windscreen wiper frequency, along with an optional Parking Package and electric sliding doors.



You could get behind the wheel of Thatcher’s bullet-proof battle bus

As the general election gets underway, the main party leaders will be spending an increasing amount of time on their battle buses — modern, high-specification coaches with room for the media pack as well as senior politicians and their spin doctors.

Back in the 1980s, of course, things were a little more basic, as these shots of Margaret Thatcher’s armoured battle bus — thought to have been used when she visited Northern Ireland — show.

Margaret Thatcher battle bus

An armoured campaign bus, thought to have been used by Margaret Thatcher when she visited Northern Ireland in the early 1980s.

This armoured, 18-tonne Foden-based bus is now up for sale, courtesy of military vehicle dealer Nick Mead, who says that the beast has now outstayed his welcome and needs a new home.

The bus was built by military vehicle specialist Glover Webb and is based on Foden running gear. It is powered by a 12-litre, supercharged V12 Rolls Royce diesel engine that can propel the coach to a top speed of 80mph.

The cockpit: high tech it ain't

The cockpit: high tech it ain’t

The windows are made of two-inch thick, bullet-proof glass, while the two-foot thick, honeycomb macrolite floor is capable of withstanding a landmine blast.

Inside the Thatcher battle bus

With seating for 36 people and space at the rear for an office desk, the coach even had its own auxiliary, roof-mounted motor that could pump clean, carbonised air to the sealed cabin in the event of a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon being deployed.

With just 22,000km on the clock, the bus was used to ferry passengers on the dangerous Derry Airport – Belfast route during the 1980s. It was also previously owned by the Met Police, used as transport for the Royal Marines band and as a viewing platform at an MoD research facility.

The asking price for the bus is £25,000. Mr Mead plans to list it on eBay US and believes the bus might end up in America, but hopes it will stay in the UK.

Van-based Vito Taxi offers big advantages over traditional black cab

Mercedes-Benz Vito London Taxi

London cabbie Mike Fleischmann has just taken delivery of his second Vito Taxi

The van-based Mercedes-Benz Vito Tax is gaining a growing following amongst the demanding ranks of London’s black cab drivers, thanks to the superior mix of comfort, space, sophistication and fuel consumption it offers in comparison to the classic but dated black cab.

Thanks to its innovative turning rear axle the Vito Taxi conforms to Transport for London Conditions of Fitness and can seat six adults, one more than its traditional competitor.

Standard technical equipment includes the Adaptive ESP stability programme, Parktronic with visual and audible aids, and Speedtronic with cruise control and variable speed limiter.

Mike Fleischmann, who has been driving London cabs for 31 years, is a convinced advocate of the Mercedes-Benz Vito Taxi:

“It’s a ‘chalk and cheese’ comparison,” he enthused. “The Vito is a wonderful, premium quality vehicle and passengers invariably appreciate its comfort and extra space.

“From the cabbie’s point of view, meanwhile, its extra sophistication gives rise to a smoother, more relaxed driving style than you’d employ in an ordinary taxi – no-one drives like a lunatic in a Vito Taxi.

“The fuel consumption is definitely better too, while the after sales back-up is unbelievable; in the event that you’re unlucky enough to suffer a breakdown you make one call and someone comes along to sort you out. Fantastic!”

Vito Taxi owners also benefit from a comprehensive three-year/150,000 mile warranty, service intervals of up to 24,000 miles and free Service24h emergency roadside assistance as standard.

Bus operators are sabotaging urban air quality through Euro 6 emissions loophole

Car exhaust tailpipe emissionsI recently wrote about the problems caused by Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), a dangerous pollutant from diesel exhaust fumes. NOx emissions have been relatively unaffected by successive UK governments’ obssessions with carbon dioxide emissions, something that has of course been driven by the EU.

The problem should have been addressed by the Euro 5 emissions regulations, which had lower limits for NOx.

Unfortunately, lower limits on paper didn’t seem to translate into lower NOx emissions, according to a report from Transport For London, which says that Euro 5 technology didn’t work to reduce NOx emissions in urban environments*.

In other words, manufacturers designed their engines to get through the Euro 5 approval tests**, but these tests didn’t represent real-life urban driving conditions.

Enter Euro 6

The latest European emissions standard, Euro 6, should go some way to address this problem: in addition to having lower NOx limits, Euro 6 requires emissions to be measured at a range of engine speeds and loads, simulating urban driving.

In fact, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, a London bus fitted with Euro 6 techology emits 95% less NOx than older models. Good news, then?

Well no, or at least not anytime soon. Although Euro 6 was made a requirement for heavy vehicles at the start of 2014, a loophole was provided exempting bus operators from having to buy Euro 6 buses. Unsurprisingly, bus operators have decided to stick with (cheaper) Euro 5 engines, and just 20% of buses registered last year were Euro 6-compliant models.

As we’ve seen before, the government pays lip service to the importance of cutting transport emissions, but does very little to actually implement it, caving in to vested interests at every turn.


**Update 2016: Or as we now know, some manufacturers simply rigged the test results…

Nissan e-NV200 Combi scores early success with Cornish taxi firm

C&C Taxis Nissan e-NV200 Combi

C&C Taxis Nissan e-NV200 Combi

More evidence — if more evidence is needed — that electric cars, vans and minibuses are already commercially viable for business use, where usage patterns are highly predictable.

A Cornish taxi firm, C&C Taxis of St Austell, has just added a Nissan e-NV200 Combi minibus/people carrier electric vehicle to its taxi fleet, which already includes six electric Nissan LEAF cars.

The five-seater Combi – Next Green Car’s LCV of the Year – has since clocked up more than 1,000 miles across the Duchy.

Already C&C’s fleet manager, Mark Richards, is sure the company’s onto another winner, calculating that, just like each LEAF on the fleet, the e-NV200 Combi will save £10,000 in fuel bills per year.

The additional versatility and practicality the e-NV200 Combi provides has convinced him to commit to a long-term strategy of phasing out the company’s remaining diesel vehicles and replacing them all with EVs.Mark said:

“We’ve had such great success with our LEAFs we decided we were going to buy an e-NV200 the minute we learnt it was going to be launched.

“Now we have one, we’re absolutely delighted with it. It does everything the LEAF does but is much bigger and offers more space.”

“We’ll definitely be ordering more.”

Priced from £17,855 (including the £5,000 Government Plug-in Car Grant), the e-NV200 Combi is capable of covering 106 miles on a single charge and can be charged from zero to 80% full in as little as 30 minutes and offers near purchase price parity with diesel models, as I’ve written before.

Although electric vehicles are unlikely to make it into mainstream daily van and minibus rental fleets anytime soon, due to their range and charging restrictions, I’m pretty sure that we’ll be seeing more businesses adopt electric vans and people carriers like the e-NV200 in 2015.

Renault unveils new Trafic and Master Passenger minibus models

Renault Trafic Passenger

The new Renault Trafic Passenger

Minibus hire firms and anyone else needing 8-17 seater passenger vehicles have two new options from today — the Renault Trafic Passenger and Master Passenger ranges. Order books opened today for the new minibus ranges and first deliveries are expected early next year.

Both the new models are of course based on the same platforms as the firm’s latest van models, and in all. There’s plenty of choice: a total of 17 variants of the Trafic Passenger and nine versions of the Master Passenger are now on offer.

Trafic Passenger

The Trafic Passenger is available with short (3098 mm) or long (3498 mm) wheelbases, four 1.6-litre dCi turbodiesel engines – depending on version – and a choice of ‘Business’ or ‘Sport’ trim levels. All versions have three rows of three seats, although buyers have the option of deleting the third row to increase load capacity. Sport models are also available with two individual front seats as a no-cost option.

The Trafic is powered by the same 1.6 dCi used in the van, with a choice of four power levels, ranging from 90 – 140hp. The twin-turbo ENERGY engine choices (120 or 140hp) offers the best fuel consumption and lowest emissions, but do come at a slight premium to the standard dCi models, suggesting they will appeal most to higher-mileage owners.

Master Passenger

Renault Master Passenger

The new Renault Master Passenger

The Master Passenger is sold as a 6-seat Combi, 9-seat Combi, 17-seat Minibus and Trabus Glazed Panel Van. They are powered by four different versions of the 2.3-litre dCi turbodiesel engine, one of which offers the convenience of Renault’s Quickshift robotised semi-automatic gearbox.

Business trim is standard on all models, which gives DAB Radio, CD, USB and Bluetooth connectivity as well as ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with Grip Xtend, Hill Start Assist and Trailor Swing Assist.

The 6-seat Combi has a 3182 mm wheelbase, for the 9-seat Combi this is extended to 3682 mm, while for the 17-seat Minibus the wheelbase is even longer at 4332 mm. The Trabus Glazed Panel Van is offered in medium- and long-wheelbase formats.

All Master models are powered by Renault’s 2.3 dCi engine, against in a choice of power outputs from 110hp to 150hp, and including the option of one ENERGY twin-turbo model, which delivers 125hp and offers claimed fuel consumption of 44.1mpg, compared to 38mpg for the standard dCi 125.