Category Archives: Van Hire News

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

Moving house with a van

What van adventures are you planning this half term?

Moving house with a van

Moving house with a hire van

It’s already the start of February, and the half-term holiday is approaching fast. UK school half term is either 12-16 or 19-23 February 2018, depending on where your children are at school.

This early in the year isn’t always a great time to go away, but it is a fantastic time to get to grips with jobs at home so that they’re finished before the good weather arrives in time for Easter. Volkswagen Transporter HighlineHere are a few suggestions:

  • DIY projects
  • Having a clear out
  • Trips to Ikea
  • Getting to grips with messy gardens before everything starts growing

Many of these jobs need a load-lugging vehicle that you can safely get dirty.

Rather than using the family car, it makes a lot more sense to hire a van for a day or two. You might be surprised how much fun they are to drive — why not treat yourself to your own van adventure!

Hiring a van can also be surprisingly affordable.

Indeed, when you compare the cost and time required to make multiple trips in your car to get supplies or head to the tip, hiring a van might actually be cheaper.

Plus there’s the bonus of just being able to sweep out the back when you’re done, rather than having to clean and hoover dirty car seats and repair scratched plastic trim.

If you’re not sure what size of van you’ll need, then check out our van size guide. But to get you started, here’s a quick summary:

  • Medium van – ideal for smaller items of furniture, trips to the tip or smaller DIY supplies such as tiles and bags of cement. If you’re tiling a bathroom, for example, the weight of the tiles means you’d probably have to make several trips in a car, but could probably do it in one go in a van.
  • Large van – sofas, dining tables and beds should all fit easily.
  • Luton van — the best choice if you have a lot of furniture or other bulky items to shift.
  • Dropside/tipper — if you’re planning a big building or garden project, this could be the best choice. The open load bed is ideal for dirty work and means that dumpy bags of soil or sand can be lifted on. Also useful for long lengths of timber.

Whatever you’re planning, a van is bound to make shifting stuff easier. Click here to compare van hire prices in your area.

Finally, if you’re to take some time off and enjoy a big trip out with lots of family or friends, have you considered hiring a minibus or a 7/9 seater MPV? Taking one vehicle instead of two or three Renault Trafic SpaceClasshas several bid advantages:

  • Everyone can travel together
  • You only need one parking space
  • You only need one designated driver

We offer MPV and minibus hire from a range of well-known hire companies. To compare prices in your area, click here.

Eastgate Commercial Mercedes vans

New contract hire firm kicks off with 130 Mercedes vans

Eastgate Commercial Mercedes vans

Buta Singh says that he’s “a perfectionist” who will only taken on a commitment if he can deliver “a top-quality service”.

It was with this approach in mind that Mr Singh recently launched Wolverhampton-based van hire firm Eastgate Commercial Ltd with his sister, Baljit Johal. The launch event took place at Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Molineux Stadium, where Eastgate carries advertising.

The pair already run a commercial property business and say that demand from their customers prompted their decision to launch the new venture. Mr Singh is certainly starting big. Having recently taken delivery of 130 new Mercedes-Benz Vito 109 CDI vans, the firm has already placed an order for a further 100 Vito 111 CDI models.

According to the firm, the firm’s first 130 vans were all allocated to customers before their arrival. Most are now being used by contractors working as couriers for online retail giant Amazon.

All the vans carry Eastgate branding on their rear doors and are fitted with a remote shutdown facility. This will enable the vans to be disabled remotely if any are reported as being driven irresponsibly, a facility Mr Singh says his customers “have welcomed wholeheartedly”.

The company is already looking forward to the next phase in its development. “We want to grow, but in a controlled and sustainable manner,” continued Buta Singh. “We have no plans to rival the biggest players in the rental market, of course, but we are aiming to have between 500 and 1,000 vans on the road by 2019.”

Pronto Vehicle Rentals van

Cardiff-based Pronto Hire adds protection with dashcams

Pronto Vehicle Rentals van

Copyright: Pronto Vehicle Rentals / twitter.com/pronto_hire

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.

Vehicle exhaust

Why the new London T-Charge probably won’t affect van hire customers

Vehicle exhaust

The London T-Charge has now taken effect, as of 23 October 2017.

Anyone driving into the London Congestion Zone between 7am and 6pm Monday-Friday will now be required to pay an additional £10 surcharge if their car doesn’t meet certain emissions standards.

The new charge applies to cars, vans, minibuses, motorhomes, horseboxes and almost all motor vehicles except motorcycles.

Which vehicles are affected?

The good news is that anyone driving a hired van probably won’t be affected. That’s because the new charge only applies to cars and vans which don’t meet Euro 4 (IV) emissions standards.

Broadly speaking, this means any vehicle (petrol or diesel) registered before 2005, although there are a few exceptions.

You can check if your car or van is affected on the T-Charge website here.

Will rental vans be affected?

Hired vehicles are covered by the T-Charge. But the good news is that almost all rental vans are much newer than this. Most are less than three years old.

Indeed, here at vanrental.co.uk, we have never heard of a reputable van hire company offering 12-year old vans. So van hire drivers heading into London shouldn’t need to worry about the new charge.

This is one more reason to consider hiring a van for occasional use, rather than owning one.

Does this replace the congestion charge?

No! The existing London Congestion Charge is unchanged.

Drivers hit by the T-Charge will still need to pay the congestion charge, meaning they will have to pay £21.50 per day to drive into the city.

Coming in 2019

There are two further changes planned for 2019. Both will hit drivers of older cars and vans.

5 more low emission zone cities: London isn’t the only UK city with air pollution problems. Birmingham, Leeds, Derby, Southampton and Nottingham are all required to setup Clean Air Zones (CAZ) by 2019. So charges and/or restrictions are likely for drivers of older vehicles in these cities.

London gets tougher: The T-Charge is an intermediate solution that will be replaced in 2019 by the London Ultra-Low Emissions Zone. This is expected to be expanded to include more vehicles than the T-Charge. Presumably this means that vehicles will need to be Euro 5 or even Euro 6 compliant — we don’t know yet.

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.