Category Archives: Van Hire News

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

Northgate VW Transporter at Nurburgring

Hire van sets new lap record at Nürburgring

VW Transporter at Nurburging

Rob Austin’s stock Volkswagen Transporter hire van has set a new unofficial lap record of the Nurburgring

A standard production model Volkswagen Transporter supplied by Northgate Vehicle Hire has set a new unofficial lap record around the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife race circuit.

The van was piloted by British Touring Car driver Rob Austin, who is normally found behind the wheel of a highly-tuned Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

Rob took some time off his day job to try and beat 10 minute 8 second time set by German racer Sabine Schmitz in a Ford Transit for Top Gear in 2005.

Northgate VW Transporter at Nurburgring

Rob succeeded and clocked up a 9m58s lap, setting an unofficial new record:

As far as I know, this is a record for a standard van. But I do remember that back in 2013, tuning firm Revo souped up an earlier VW Transporter and squeezed out a 9 minute 57 second lap at the ‘Ring:

And finally, no discussions of ‘Ring lap records in vans would be complete without including footage of Sabine Schmitz’s legendary 2005 lap for Top Gear, which she completed in 10m 8s in a rather slower Ford Transit:

You’ve got to love the footage of a Transit van passing fast cars and motorbikes on the Nurburging. Just goes to show that most of the time, speed is about the driver, not the vehicle.

Moving house with a van

Heading back to uni? Don’t leave home without renting a van

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.

It’s that time again. Students are flocking back to university with all of their ‘stuff’. If this is you — or your son/daughter — then it’s time to start thinking about renting a van.

To help you get on the road and enjoy a stress-free journey #backtouni, we’ve put together some links to help you get started with van hire:

  • To get started, check out our student van hire guide. This includes details of minimum age restrictions at popular hire companies and other useful tips.
  • One-way van hire: this can be a great solution for students old enough to drive themselves back to uni. We highlight some of the main companies offering this service and explain what you need to know.
  • Got questions about driving licence requirements or age limits? This guide should help.
  • Insurance worries? The excess on rental vans is generally £1,000 or more. So purchasing excess protection insurance can help. Most hire companies sell this by the day, but it’s sometimes cheaper to buy it yourself beforehand — see here for ideas and discount codes.
  • First time? Check out our van size guide and our guide to hiring a van for the first time.
  • Finally… if you haven’t driven a van before, don’t leave home without taking a look at our guide to driving a hire van for the first time.

Once you’re ready to book, our unique van hire price comparison engine enables you to compare prices from many of the UK’s largest and most popular van hire companies.

Please don’t leave it too late — as term starts near popular sizes of van are often booked and some companies may raise their prices…

We hope our tips will get you on the road safely, cheaply and quickly. But if you’ve got any van hire questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on Twitter @vanrentaluk, via our Facebook page or by good old-fashioned email.

Peugeot Boxer Low-Floor Luton

Tracking + geofencing stops rental vans straying too far

Peugeot Boxer Low-Floor Luton

What happens if you take your rental van abroad without getting permission from the hire company?

Firstly, you’ll be breaking the law by driving without valid documentation (a VE103 form). And you probably won’t have insurance. So you’ll be in line for a hefty fine if you’re stopped by foreign cops or involved in a collision.

But even if that doesn’t happen, you may find you have an unexpected problem. Your van may suddenly refuse to start.

Van hire companies are increasingly using tracking and telematics systems that allow them to see where their vans are at all times. These systems can also offer so-called geofencing, which means that the van’s owner can set limits on the where it can be operated and immobilise the van if it travels outside those permitted areas.

This might mean that channel ferry ports are added as restricted areas. So if you take a van into a ferry port without having arranged for European hire, you may get a call from your hire company.

If you manage to get out of the country without permission, your van may even be remotely immobilised until the rental company can contact you to find out what’s happening.

BCA LCV sale April 2018

Used van prices are rocketing – is it cheaper to rent?

BCA LCV sale April 2018

Used van prices rose to record levels in April, according to figures released by auction group BCA. As prices continue to rise, buyers may start to consider whether it might be cheaper to rent vans for occasional use:

BCA used van prices March 2017 - April 2018

BCA used van prices March 2017 – April 2018 (source: BCA)

The average LCV value rose by £108 to £7,572 in April, according to BCA’s sales data. That’s an increase of 1.4% from March and a whopping 17.7% (£1,141) more than in April 2017.

Although average age and mileage have fallen over the last year, I don’t think the decline is big enough to account for the increase in price over the last year. In my view, there’s no doubt that used vans are becoming more expensive again.

All vans Avg Age (mnths) Avg Mileage Avg Value
Apr 2017 50.89 67,196 £6,431
Apr 2018 49.64 64,837 £7,572

Source: BCA

Cheaper to rent?

The increase in used values isn’t necessarily matched by strength in the new van market, where sales have been falling this year. Because the big van hire companies buy new in bulk, I suspect that any weakness in new van sales is likely to help big rental buyers to secure even better prices on new models.

Given this, we think it’s worth costing out whether renting a van might be cheaper for your business than buying used. When you rent, you don’t have to worry about the residual value of the van in the future. And you’re normally guaranteed a nearly-new van with no maintenance costs.

If you only use a van for some of the time, renting a new van when you need it could be cheaper and much less hassle than buying used.

Small van

How the van hire business really works

Compact van

How do van hire companies make money?

It might seem logical to think that most of their profits come from hiring out vehicles. But that’s not the whole story.

The big van rental companies are really trading operations that buy and sell thousands of vans each year. Last month’s 3.9% increase in new van registrations was almost certainly influenced by deliveries to hire companies.

The income from hiring each van covers its depreciation, insurance costs and corporate operating costs. But corporate profits depend on minimising the buying price and maximising the sale price of each vehicle.

Here’s a quick overview of the life cycle of a rental van:

Buy: Large van rental companies buy vans in bulk, directly from manufacturers. They’re able to secure big discounts on list prices in return for regular large purchases. Care is taken to choose popular models with good specifications as these will be easy to sell on when they are de-fleeted.

Hire: The vans are then hired out to customers, usually on daily rental rates, but sometimes on weekly or monthly rates. This is a very competitive business, so these basic rental rates are kept quite low. The aim here is to cover the company’s insurance and operating costs plus the depreciation on the van.

Extras, such as more comprehensive insurance, sat nav hire or baby seat hire tend to be profitable. They’re a useful way for hire companies to improve the profitability of each rental.

Sell: This is where profits are made or lost. Big hire companies buy and sell thousands of vans each year. A lot of effort goes into maximising the sale price of each van, which is dependent on age, mileage, condition and the choice of sale channel (e.g. auction or retail).

A good example of this is a recent policy change at van hire specialist Northgate, which operates more than 97,000 rental vehicles in the UK and Spain. In February, the company announced plans to operate its vehicles for between three and nine months longer than previously. Their analysis suggests that doing this will improve the profit generated by each vehicle when it’s sold.

What about smaller companies? Big companies tend to own their fleets, using debt to fund part of the purchase costs. But smaller hire companies sometimes choose to lease their vans. They then aim to make a profit from the difference between their lease costs and the rental income generated by their vans.

Why we think you should compare van hire: Not all companies offer the same rental rates for the same vehicles. Some companies are cheaper for one type of van but may be more expensive for a different size van.

Another complication is that hire rates change regularly throughout the year. So the company that was cheapest in February might not be in June.

Our unique van hire price comparison engine helps you find some of the cheapest vans available across the UK. We think it’s the best on the market. Why not give it a try and see what you think? Just click here to get started.

One final comment – we often get asked if you should buy an ex-hire van.

Should you buy an ex-hire van? Popular legend has it that ex-hire vans are knackered wrecks that have been abused by drivers. The reality is somewhat different. Although rental vans are often worked hard, they usually have many different drivers, most of whom are careful to make sure they don’t damage the vehicle — as they or their employer will have to pay for it if they do.

Ex-hire vehicles are generally seen by trade buyers as very attractive. They’re always popular models, are relatively new and have normally been correctly maintained in-line with manufacturer requirements.

In our view, buying an ex-hire van can make good sense.

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.