Category Archives: Van Hire News

News and special offers from other UK van hire and rental companies.

Volkswagen Crafter Luton

Van hire drivers must be aware of low bridge risk

Vehicles which get stuck under low bridges are most commonly lorries. So it’s tempting for drivers of hire vans to think they don’t need to bother about this risk.

However, as a Bristol driver found out last week, low bridges pose a real risk to van drivers too. As you can see in the video footage above, this luton van got stuck under a low bridge in the Brislington area of Bristol.

The bridge in question was labelled with an 11′ height restriction. That’s about 3.3m.

Although this is high enough for most vans to pass under safely, some large box vans such as the Luton model shown in the video do exceed this height.

What to do: If you hire a van with a high roof, it should have a height sticker in the cab area. If it doesn’t, ask the hire company how high the van is — or measure it yourself.

If you get stuck under a low bridge or suffer any other height-related damage, you will usually be liable for the cost of the resulting damage. So it’s worth taking care to avoid a hefty repair bill.

Zipcar petrol-powered VW Transporter in London

Car-sharing firm Zipcar adds 10 petrol vans to London fleet

Zipcar petrol-powered VW Transporter in London

Car sharing network Zipcar is trialling 10 petrol-powered Volkswagen Transporters in London.

Car-sharing network Zipcar has added 10 petrol-powered Volkswagen Transporter vans to its London-based fleet.

The 10 new Transporter models, all T28 Trendline panel vans with a 2.0-litre TSI 150 PS engine and manual gearbox, will be available to hire from Zipcar’s London-based fleet locations. They join the 400+ diesel-powered vans currently on offer to those who need a vehicle on a flexible basis, from an hour to a day or more.

Zipcar petrol vanThe new vans will be operated on a year-long trial in the capital, as part of a move to re-introduce petrol power to the van market.

Commenting on the petrol van pilot, Jonathan Hampson, General Manager of Zipcar UK, said:

“The Mayor of London recently outlined plans to actively reduce the use of diesel in the capital. We have already completed the removal of diesel from our car fleet, and whilst this is significantly more complex in the commercial vehicle market, we’re delighted to partner with Volkswagen to continue with this process.

The vans have been wrapped with a special livery which makes it clear that they aren’t diesel — including a graphic reminder on the fuel flap.

Changes are coming

Petrol power was once commonplace on vans, but the torque and efficiency of modern turbo-diesels means that petrol engines have more or less disappeared from the European van market since the early 1990s. But in the face of concerns about diesel pollution and the unsuitability of DPF-fitted vans for low-mileage operation, manufacturers are starting to reverse this situation.

Commenting on the shifting market, VW Commercial Vehicles Head of Marketing Sarah Cox said:

“The van market is currently dominated by diesel, but we know that customers are aware of changes to legislation and looking for other options.”

“They’re scanning the market for guidance on what will be right for their fleets not just today or tomorrow, but in three or five years’ time. We’re pleased to be able to offer customers, in collaboration with Zipcar, the chance to try something new.

Zipcar is owned by car rental giant Avis Budget, so it has significant purchasing power and access to major corporate hire customers. Feedback from this trial could well result in petrol vans gaining a larger presence in daily van rental fleets over the next few years.

One potential advantage is that they’re cheaper to buy. As we reported in July, the new petrol-powered models are around £1,000 than equivalent diesel models. Although fuel consumption will be higher and residual values are — for now — less certain, petrol already makes a lot of sense for low mileage drivers in my opinon.

Given the strong performance of the latest generation of petrol turbo engines, I expect to see a lot more petrol vans on the road in the next 3-5 years.

New Europcar Volkswagen Crafter

Europcar adds 170 new Volkswagen Crafter vans to UK rental fleet

New Europcar Volkswagen Crafter

Two of Europcar’s new model Volkswagen Crafter vans.

Europcar has added 170 new model Volkswagen Crafter vans to its UK rental fleet. The new vehicles will be available at Europcar locations from this month.

The firm has used Volkswagen vans before but the new Crafter is an important model for the German manufacturers, as it’s an all-new in-house design, rather than a re-badged Mercedes-Benz Sprinter like previous models.

The new model features a raft of safety features including City Emergency Braking and Front Assist, both designed to minimise or avoid frontal collisions in traffic. Parking sensors are also a useful addition for drivers who may not be used to driving a van.

Commenting on the new vans, Stuart Russell, Specialist Vehicles Director at Europcar UK Group, said:

“The Volkswagen Crafter is a welcome addition to the Europcar commercial fleet. The new model is one of the most practical, economical and safest vans currently on the market and was designed from the ground up to appeal to businesses across various industries.”

Europcar’s new Crafters are powered by the 140 PS version of Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine, which the firm says has been specially designed for commercial vehicles, not simply transposed from its car range.

Information update: Terror attacks and van hire

 

This year has seen a number of terror attacks where hired vans have been deliberately driven into crowds with the intention of causing harm.

Such attacks are obviously difficult to prevent. There are around 150,000 vans operated as short-term rental vehicles in the UK. Isolating one or two suspect customers will never be easy. And of course, the vast majority of hire customers are completely genuine.

However, you may have seen press reports suggesting that the government, police and van hire companies are working together to find ways of identifying suspect rental customers.

What’s being suggested?

If you’ve hired a van before, you’ll know that you are always required to provide proof of ID and your home or business address, along with a valid driving licence.

What you may not know is that some hire companies already have access to watch lists to help them identify potential customers with links to vehicle theft and fraud.

The suggestion seems to be that this system could be expanded to include watch lists of possible terrorist suspects. It’s not clear to us whether this is already happening or not. If and when these changes and others are made, they won’t necessarily be made public.

Whatever happens, we wouldn’t expect changes of this kind to have any effect on genuine van rental customers. We certainly don’t expect much change in the procedure for hiring a van for UK use from any of our van hire partners.

Customers will continue to have to provide driving licence details (including a DVLA check code), personal ID and proof of address. We’d expect stricter enforcement in all three areas, where necessary.

If and when any changes are made public, we will post further updates on this site and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Back to uni in a van

University van hire: the best way to get home from uni

Moving house with a van

Are you (or your children) about to head home from uni for the summer?

Hiring a van could make your journey a lot easier. If you rely on the family car, you may end up damaging the inside of the car or overloading it.

Worse still, you may find that not everything will fit in. Having to make two trips will be costly and time consuming, even if it’s relatively local.

One-way hire is available from a number of big companies, so you needn’t fear the cost and hassle of returning the van to the original pickup location.

Most vans seat three up front, so you may be able to pool resources with another student heading back to the same area of the country. Doing this is usually cheaper than using two cars for the same journey.

 

 

If you’re unsure about the practicalities of hiring and driving a van, check out our new beginner’s guides:

Hiring a van for 24 hours could save a huge load of hassle and stress. Why not give it a go?

 

BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney

Van hire trade body calls for yearly MOT tests for large vans

BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney

BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) says that evidence of poor maintenance on large vans means that yearly MOT tests should be required.

This is a topic we covered here on the vanrental.co.uk blog back in March 2016, when we flagged up government figures showing that 49% of vans fail their first MOT at three years old. Worryingly, almost 25% of failures were the result of brake  defects. That’s a potentially dangerous problem on a heavily laden 3.5t van.

The rules haven’t changed yet.

But the government has been consulting on plans to extend the MOT period for new cars to four years, up from the current three-year requirement. The BVRLA says that it supports this proposal, but does not believe it should be extended to class 7 vans (3,000kg – 3,500kg) due to safety concerns.

The BVRLA’s view, which I share, is that the date of the first MOT test for large (class 7) vans should be cut to one year after first registration, in order to address the potential safety concerns resulting from the current high test failure rate.

Commenting on the government’s plans, BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney said:

“Modern cars are safer than ever, and rental and leasing vehicles are typically checked, serviced and repaired on a regular basis. As such, we believe the proposed extension before the first MOT test is required can be implemented without risk to public safety.

“However, van traffic is growing, and these vehicles’ average annual mileages are significantly higher than the average car on UK roads. At a time when the government’s own data shows large vans have appalling first time pass rates, the BVRLA believes these vehicles should be getting tested every year, not every three or four years. Many large vans fail their first MOT because they have not been well maintained and have substandard brakes, so they pose a real risk to road safety.”

The BVRLA says that it has met with the Department for Transport to discuss the proposals and intends to continue engaging with the Department after the consultation period has ended.

Trade bodies are often criticised for lobbying for changes that will cut costs or boost growth for their members. But in this case I think the BVRLA should be applauded for focusing on safety, even though it will increase the regulatory burden for its member companies.

BCA van auction

How do rental companies buy and sell so many vans?

One of the benefits of renting a van is that in most cases, you can be sure that the vehicle will be under two years old. Obviously this means that rental companies have a near-constant need to acquire new vehicles and dispose of old ones.

BCA van auction

Vans going under the hammer at BCA Blackbushe, where 540 vans were recently sold in a single day (source: BCA)

Rental companies are often among car and van manufacturers’ biggest customers. They will often agree deals to take a certain number of each type of vehicle each year in return for heavily-discounted pricing.

This helps the manufacturer to guarantee a certain level of production demand — essential for efficient planning.

What happens when the vans must be sold?

Whereas small companies might part-exchange their old vans when buying new models, this approach isn’t viable for big rental companies. They tend to buy direct from vehicle manufacturers and may take delivery of tens or even hundreds of new cars or vans at a time.

Remarketing — or selling — the old vans has become a major business in its own right. Vehicle auction group Manheim and BCA are the market leaders in the UK. Both companies operate on an impressive scale.

For example, BCA’s Blackbushe centre offered nearly 700 vans for sale in one day on 2 February 2017. These came from a mixture of fleet, lease, rental, local authority and dealer groups. A total 540 vans were sold on the day, setting a new one-day record for the firm.

And that’s just from one auction centre on one day. BCA has 24 auction centres in the UK and sells more than one million vehicles every year. According to BCA’s LCV Operations Director, Duncan Ward, the group is seeing high levels of van sales across its network:

“This is a significant result that underlines that BCA generates the buying power to remarket huge numbers of vehicles, swiftly and efficiently.  It also reflects activity elsewhere within BCA, as we have seen rising volumes around the group, notably at our multi-lane specialist LCV remarketing centres in Measham and Belle Vue Manchester.”

So now you know. To buy and sell thousands of vehicles every year, rental companies depend on careful planning and support from both manufacturers and large auction groups.

Will tough new London emission zone plans affect you?

In a bid to reduce air pollution in the capital, London Mayor Sadiq Khan is hoping to accelerate and expand the creation of a new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for London.

What was the plan?

The original plan was for ULEZ to apply to the congestion charging zone from September 2020. All vehicles operating inside this area during congestion charging hours (0700 – 1800, Mon-Fri) would have to meet raised standards.

For diesel vans and cars, the standard would be Euro 6.

What’s being changed?

Mayor Khan is now hoping to get agreement to bring forward the introduction of the ULEZ by one year to 2019.

He’s also hoping to introduce a £10 emissions surcharge on pre-Euro 4 vehicles entering London from 2017. That would generally affect diesel cars and vans registered before 2005.

In a more ambitious move, Mayor Khan is also proposing that from 2020, the ULEZ should be expanded to cover the whole area inside the North and South Circular roads for motorcycles, cars and vans.

Why is this needed?

Car exhaust tailpipe emissionsRecent government health statistics make it clear that this is a serious problem:

  • 443 schools in the capital are in areas where pollution exceeds safe air quality levels.
  • Nearly 10,000 Londoners die from long-term exposure to air pollution every year.
  • The health impacts of air pollution in London are estimated at £3.7bn each year.

It’s clear that something needs to be done, in my view. Simply waiting for natural attrition to eliminate older, more polluting vehicles, may not be enough.

Commenting on the proposals, Mayor Khan said that the current situation is the modern equivalent of the smog problem seen in London in the 1950s:

“It is the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act of 1956, which was passed following the great London smogs of the 1950s.  The legislation made a huge difference to life in London and saved countless lives.  British politicians at the time did an amazing thing and responded on the scale that was required.  Today we face another pollution public health emergency in London and now it’s our turn to act for the good of Londoners and for future generations to come.

“Just as in the 1950s, air pollution in London today is literally killing Londoners.  But unlike the smoky pollution of the past, today’s pollution is a hidden killer.”

What’s the problem with cutting pollution?

I’ve discussed the failure of the Euro 5 emissions standard before on this blog.

Euro 6 should provide a significant real-world reduction in NOx emissions, but the number of Euro 6 vans on the road remains very low. Although Euro 6 models have been available from some manufacturers for the last year or so, customers were mostly opting for cheaper Euro 5 alternatives.

If Mayor Khan goes ahead with a plan to expand the ULEZ, then van operators who typically use secondhand vehicles could find themselves unable to buy compliant vans ahead of the 2019 deadline.

This is because the majority of the used van market is supplied by fleet and lease firms, who usually keep their vans for between three and four years. Euro 6 vans have only started selling in volume over the last 6-12 months. This means that relatively few are likely to enter the secondary market before 2019/2020.

For van operators who can’t afford or to buy or lease a new van, operating in London could become difficult.

Mayor Khan is lobbying the government to introduce a diesel scrappage scheme to help address this issue, but comments so far from ministers suggest this is unlikely to be adopted.

It may be that operators will be forced to rely on daily and long-term rental vans to bridge the period between the introduction of the enhanced ULEZ and the widespread availability of used Euro 6 vans.

These proposed changes are currently under consultation. If you’d like more information or want to have your say, visit: www.london.gov.uk/cleanair

Bayfield Vehicle Hire

Jolly Good Shrewsbury and Telford is now Bayfield Vehicle Hire

Bayfield Vehicle HireIf you rent vans (or cars) in the Shrewsbury or Telford areas, then you may have used Jolly Good Vehicle Rentals before.

This company has changed name and is now trading as Bayfield Vehicle Hire.

Nothing else has changed and Bayfield’s staff, phone numbers and bank account details remain the same.

The reason for this post is that you may have heard that the company operating the Wrexham branch of Jolly Good Vehicle Rentals has ceased trading. Bayfield is a seperate company with no connection to the Wrexham firm, so is not affected by this event.

You can find more information about Bayfield Vehicle Hire on our Shrewsbury and Telford pages.

Alternatively contact the Bayfield team directly:

  • Shrewsbury: 01743 770035 / shrewsbury@bayfieldgroup.co.uk
  • Telford: 01952 570057 / telford@bayfieldgroup.co.uk
  • Web (coming soon): bayfieldvehiclehire.co.uk
Back to uni in a van

Heading to University? There are still a few vans left!

Moving house with a van

You just can’t get all of this into a car!

The ‘university commute’ is now gathering speed.

Even as I write, many of the UK’s 1.7 million undergraduate students are moving out of their parents’ homes and into university accommodation.

Each year, we see a big surge of demand for rental vans at this time. But availability is limited.

Renters who wait until the last minute to book may be disappointed, or forced to rent a van that’s much bigger or smaller than they want.

If you or your children are heading to university this autumn and you’re planning to hire a van, act now! The big hire companies still have some availability in most areas, but popular vans and locations are selling out fast!

To make sure you don’t miss out, start now. To compare quotes from leading UK van hire companies, click here now.

If you’re not sure where to start, then here are a few suggestions:

Finally, if you’ve got any questions about anything to do with van hire, leave a comment or get in touch and we’ll do our best to help: