Category Archives: Van News

News and articles about UK vans – especially information relevant to the van hire market. Coverage of new van model launches from all the major manufacturers – Ford, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Peugeot, Fiat and Citroen.

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.

The new 2019 Vauxhall Combo

New Vauxhall Combo should tick boxes for van hire

The new 2019 Vauxhall Combo

The new 2019 Vauxhall Combo

The latest version of the popular Vauxhall Combo small van will reach UK showrooms in December. I suspect it will be a popular choice with van hire companies too, albeit with tough competition from the Ford Transit Connect.

It’s new: It’s the first new Combo model since Peugeot owner PSA group brought the Vauxhall and Opel businesses one year ago. The new van is based on the same vehicle as the Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner vans, but is designed and adapted by Vauxhall to be a distinct model.

Short, long & 1 tonne: Among the highlights of the new Combo are a maximum payload of 1,000kg and a maximum loading length of 3.4m, achieved by folding down part of the front passenger seat. Crew cab and long wheelbase models will also be available.

Combo with pallet loaded

The new Combo can carry two standard euro pallets and has a payload of up to 1,000kg, depending on variant.

Petrol or diesel: As is increasingly the norm, buyers will be able to choose from both petrol and diesel engines. This gives operators using the van for low mileages or short journeys the chance to buy petrol and avoid problems with Diesel Particulate Filters, which are unsuited to such use.

Diesels will be available with 75PS, 100PS or 130PS power ratings. Buyers opting for the range-topping 1.5-litre 130PS diesel will also be able to specify an eight-speed automatic transmission for the first time.

Lower-powered models will get a 1.6-litre diesel with a five-speed manual transmission. No details were provided in the launch press kit about the petrol engines, so it seems Vauxhall isn’t expecting much interest in this model.

Plenty of tech: The new van will have the usual array of safety kit. Like its French siblings, the new Combo will be available with a sensor-based load indicator that warns the driver if the van is overloaded.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will also be available.

Vauxhall Combo interior

Inside the new Combo has been redesigned and boasts plenty of storage and modern tech, including a touch screen.

The new Vauxhall Combo is available to order now and should reach UK showrooms in December. Prices start from £15,630 +VAT.

New Peugeot Partner van

New ‘Overload’ feature could soon be standard for hire vans

New Peugeot Partner van

The new Peugeot Partner van is available with an Overload Indicator that warns when the van has exceeded its maximum authorised mass.

For hire van drivers, it’s often very difficult to know whether their van has been overloaded. This is especially true if the goods being carried are mixed, such as tools, building supplies and equipment or perhaps household possessions.

It’s all very well to say that drivers are responsible for knowing the weight of the stuff they’re carrying — although it’s true, the reality is that it isn’t always easy to find out. And finding an open weighbridge close to your route is often even harder.

This could be the solution

I’ve been writing about this problem on vanrental.co.uk since 2007!

But while our price comparison system has come a long way in that time, vans have remained far too easy to overload. Indeed, the problem seems to have worsened, and drivers can face serious fines if caught.

What I think is needed is for vans to be fitted with a load sensor that detects when the van has reached its maximum authorised mass. Aftermarket systems have been readily available for some time, but some new vans are starting to be fitted with this feature as standard.

Among the first to benefit are the new Peugeot Partner and Citroen Berlingo vans. These small vans benefit from a payload of up to 1,000kg. All-new third-generation models are now available to order. They are available with an (optional) Overload Indicator which warns the driver when the van has exceeded its maximum authorised mass (i.e. when it’s overloaded).

These models aren’t yet available from hire companies. But they will be soon.

In my view, this is such a useful feature that I expect it to become much more widely available on new vans over the next few years. It should also make it easier for employers and van operators to comply with their duty of care responsibilities.

In the meantime, if your local van hire company (or your employer) is ordering some of the new Peugeot Partner or Citroen Berlingo vans, make sure you ask whether they’re specifying the Overload Indicator!

BT Fleet 250,000 Luton Vivaro

Luton plant celebrates 250,000 landmark for Vivaro van

BT Fleet 250,000 Luton Vivaro

250,000 2nd generation Vauxhall Vivaro vans have been built at the firm’s Luton plant.

The Vauxhall Vivaro is a popular choice with van hire companies, tradesmen and fleets. Built at the firm’s Luton plant, it’s one of only a handful of mass-produced commercial vehicles that can honestly claim to be Built in Britain.

Staff at the Vauxhall plant recently celebrated the production of the 250,000th second generation Vivaro built at Luton. Fittingly, the landmark model was handed over to Vauxhall’s biggest Vivaro customer, BT Fleet Solutions.

BT Fleet has bought no fewer than 25,000 Vivaro vans from Vauxhall over the last 14 years, so it seems fair to assume that the model works well for the firm. Indeed, you’d have to assume that such a big buyer might even have had input into the design and specification of this popular model.

The next Vivaro

The current Vivaro could be the last ‘true’ mid-sized Vauxhall van. The sale of the Opel/Vauxhall business to Peugeot/Citroen owner PSA Group means that the replacement model is likely to built on a PSA platform that’s shared with other group models.

The good news is that PSA has already committed to build the new Vivaro at Luton and plans to upgrade the factory’s production capacity from 60,000 to 100,000 vehicles per year by mid-2019.

Ford Ranger Raptor

Ford Ranger Raptor makes history with Gamescom launch

Ford Ranger Raptor

The Ford Ranger Raptor will be on sale in mid-2019.

Ford has made history by launching the latest version of its Ranger pickup at Europe’s Gamescon video game trade fair, in Cologne, Germany.

The Raptor looks like something out of a computer game and the link goes further than that — the company announced that in partnership with Microsoft, the Ranger Raptor will feature in the Forza Horizon 4 racing game.

The new model will go on sale to real-world buyers in the middle of 2019. Powered by the BiTurbo versio of Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBlue engine, it packs a powerful punch with peak power of 213PS and 500Nm of torque. Drive is delivered to the over-sized wheels through Ford’s 10-speed automatic gearbox.

The Ranger Raptor’s design is inspired by off-road racing and the larger F-150 Raptor. It gets upgraded FOX shock absorbers and specially-designed BF Goodrich tyres on 17-inch alloy rims. Upgraded suspension is paired with new underbody protection to prepare the Raptor for serious off road use.

However, this won’t compromise the truck’s on-road driving quality, according to Damien Ross, Ford’s chief program engineer for the Ranger Raptor:

“The standout experience of the Ranger Raptor, hands down, is how far you can push it off-road and still ride like a millionaire on-road. Everything about the Ranger Raptor builds on the already outstanding sophisticated feel and functional capability of the Ranger, and then goes further. From a driving dynamic fun standpoint, it is really an exceptionally special vehicle.”

Inside, front-seat passengers are cossetted inside specially bolstered seats and can enjoy the full-range functionality provided by Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system.

The Ford Ranger Raptor will go on sale in Europe in mid-2019.

UK van registrations July 2012-18

Is van hire to blame for July’s 5.9% drop in van registrations?

 

New van registrations fell by 5.9% in July to 23,309 units, according to new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The fall — in comparison to July 2017 — continues a trend that’s seen the number of new vans hitting the road drop by 2.7% to 204,005 so far in 2018.

This news isn’t completely unexpected, as I’ve commented before. New registrations still remain at fairly high levels, historically.

UK van registrations July 2012-18

UK van registrations July 2012-18 (image courtesy of SMMT)

Ford is still on top

Ford retained its stranglehold on the new van market in July. Of the 23,309 vehicles registered, 5,707 were either Transit Custom or Transit models. In addition to this, the top 10 best seller list included 1,048 Ranger pickups and 1,031 Transit Connect vans.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter failed to make it into the top 10, as did several other popular models, including the Renault Trafic.

Why van hire demand could be slowing

The van hire sector remains a major buyer of new vans, helping to underpin production plans for popular models. But at least one big hire company, Northgate, has announced plans to keep vans on its hire fleet for longer than it used to before selling them.

With more than 40,000 vans on hire in the UK, any changes to Northgate’s purchasing patterns could affect overall demand, especially if its changes are echoed by other big rental firms.

Although Northgate remains a major buyers of new vans each year, it could be that this is one factor contributing to a slight reduction in demand for new vans.

Disclosure: The author owns shares of Northgate plc.

An online scammer

Buying a used van? Don’t fall for these common scams

An online scammer

Online used vehicle scams have “really ramped up” since May, according to CDL Vehicle Information Systems.

If you’re considering buying a used van, my first suggestion is that you should check whether it might be cheaper to rent! With used van prices at record highs, this isn’t as daft as it might sound.

However, my mission today is to flag up three ‘popular’ online scams being used to target used van buyers this summer.

According to Mike Bailey at CDL Vehicle Information Systems (who run mycarcheck.com), the number of online scams targeting used vehicle buyers is “off the chart this summer”.

A typical scam is designed to get you to pay out money without receiving a vehicle. It’s usually very hard to get any redress, so your cash is often lost forever. According to CDL, fraudsters will often setup fake dealer websites with stock that looks genuine and other convincing details.

However, the good news is that most of these scams fit three common patterns. They’re quite easy to spot if you know what to look for. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. It’s too cheap. If a van (or any other vehicle) is being sold much more cheaply than similar models elsewhere, you need to ask why. Clue: it’s probably because the seller has something to hide. They hope that your greed for a bargain will overrule any suspicions you have. Don’t be that person.
  2. Your calls always go to voicemail: Calling up the seller is often a good test. If your calls always go to voicemail. be suspicious. A reputable dealer is usually quite happy to talk on the phone. If the voicemail tells you to email the seller, then you should be even more suspicious. Any legitimate dealer should be available by phone.
  3. You’re offered a van that’s abroad, but can be shipped to you. This is a classic scam. You’ll probably be asked for some money upfront. Although there are some legitimate vehicle importers in the UK, most of them import stock on their own account and then sell it to you when it’s in the UK. If you’re buying a used van, then there’s no reason to buy an import unless you want something very unusual. Our advice is stick to UK vans.

Using information from police, insurers and the DVLA, CDL performs more than one million vehicle history look-ups every day. In addition to its mycarcheck.com website, the company provides used car checks for customers including CompareTheMarket, Go-Compare and Moneysupermarket.

CDL’s Mike Bailey says that since May this year, the number of fraudulent online adverts has “really ramped up”.

Mr Bailey says that if you spot one or more of the three telltale signs of scam we’ve listed above, “you are probably being lined up” for a scam. If in doubt, it’s best to walk away.

There are plenty of legitimate used vans on the market, including many thousands of ex-rental vans sold through reputable dealers each year.

X-Class 350d V6 4MATIC

Pricing announced for Mercedes-Benz V6 X-Class

X-Class 350d V6 4MATIC

Mercedes-Benz V6 X 350d 4MATIC

Prices for the keenly-awaited V6 version of the Mercedes X-Class pickup will start from £38,350 +VAT.

The German firm says that UK dealers are now taking orders for the new model, with first deliveries expected from November 2018.

As you’d expect, this flagship luxury pickup comes with a very high specification as standard. All UK models will be double cab with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic gearbox.

The range-topping POWER equipment line will be fitted as standard. In fact, the POWER trim level will now only be available paired with the V6 engine. Buyers of the 200d and 250d models will have to make do with the more affordable PURE and PROGRESSIVE trim level.

Highlights of the POWER specification LED headlights, electric mirrors and keyless entry and ignition will be standard. Buyers will also get include a painted front bumper and chrome rear bumper with built-in step.

Drivers and front seat passengers will enjoy the comforting embrace of an eight-way electrically adjustable seat, that’s wrapped in leather and microfiber upholstery. The dashboard and steering wheel both get leather coverings, which should give the V6 X-Class a genuine luxury feel.

What about the engine?

Of course, the big attraction here is the engine. Merc’s V6 is a 3-litre common rail diesel unit with 258 hp and maximum torque of 550Nm. A modern single-stage turbo with variable turbine geometry is said to provide “particularly agile engine response”.

The V6 engine will be paired with Mercedes’ 7G Tronic automatic gear box and Dynamic Select controller. This will provide no fewer than five different driving modes, including Eco, Comfort, Sport and Off-road.

For more information about the new X-Class, head on over to www.mbvans.co.uk or swing by your nearest Mercedes-Benz Van dealer.

Ford Transit Skeletal chassis cab

Ford adds low-floor chassis option for bigger removal vans

Ford Transit Skeletal chassis cab

Ford Transit Skeletal chassis cab is based on the front-wheel drive model and provides a lightweight low-floor base for conversions. It should be a popular choice for removal vans.

Anyone planning to move house with a rented van may want to check if their local rental company offers a low-floor jumbo luton, sometimes known as a dropwell van.

As their name suggests, their built like a standard luton van but with a low floor that boosts the available load space for large-but-light items. Such as furniture.

Ford already dominates most sectors of the UK van market. But the company has now decided to target this niche sector of the market with a new lightweight chassis cab model that’s aimed specifically at conversions requiring a low load floor.

The big numbers

The new Transit skeletal chassis cab offers a 100mm lower chassis height than a standard front-wheel drive Transit and weighs 200kg less than a standard chassis cab. That’s a big difference in weight.

This big weight saving means that the payload of the converted van should remain competitive, even with the added weight of a large box body. Finished models will normally be built to have a maximum weight of 3.5 tonnes, so anyone with a standard car licence should be able to drive them.

Customers will be able to choose three wheelbase lengths and the model will be powered by Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBlue diesel in 130PS or 170PS power output. A choice of six-speed manual or automatic gearboxes will be available.

BCA van auction

Used van prices near record highs: it may be cheaper to rent

BCA van auction

BCA van auction in June (source: BCA)

Used van prices remain close to record highs, according to the latest figures from auction group BCA.

The average price of LCVs sold by BCA during June was £7,463, the fourth highest on record at the group. Average used van prices are now more than £1,000 — or 15% — higher than one year ago.

A used van probably still makes sense for van operators such as tradesmen, who need their van day in day out, but may not cover much mileage. But for van users who only need their van some of the time, I think these figures from BCA suggest a strong case for renting rather than owning.

Let’s look at some example costs to see whether renting might be cheaper.

Renting a van vs buying used

If you’re buying a van from a used van dealer, you’ll be paying the auction price plus extra to cover the dealer’s costs and profit margin. But even if you’re a savvy buyer who knows vans and buys directly from auction. our average priced van will still cost around £8,000 by the time you’ve paid your buyers fees.

On top of that, you’ll need to tax and insure the van. You might need to have it delivered, too. And it might need servicing or minor repairs.

I think it’s fair to assume that the all-in cost of getting our average used van on the road will be around £8,500. That’s quite a lot of money. How many weeks’ rental might this pay for?

I’ve got some sample results from the vanrental.co.uk price comparison engine. A week’s hire of a medium-sized van (e.g. Ford Transit Custom) seems to be available for around £160. For a long wheelbase van you might have to pay a bit more:

vanrental.co.uk price comparison example

An example set of results from our independent price comparison system.

Lets assume the average rate per week for a hire van is about £175. Remember that long-term hire rates are available if you need a van for a month or more, so it may be possible to improve on this.

At £175, your £8,500 budget would allow you to rent a van for about 48 weeks, or around 11 months. If you only need a van for two weeks each month, that’s almost two years’ usage.

And if you only need a van for a few days each month — perhaps you go to trade shows or markets — then hiring a van will mean that your average used van buying budget would stretch for years.

During this time, you’d get to keep most of the cash, on paying out on a ‘pay as you go’ basis. You should also get to drive a nearly-new van all the time, rather than an ageing secondhand model.

Another overlooked benefit of renting is that you aren’t responsible for any of the van’s running costs, except fuel. You won’t have to pay for servicing, repairs (except damage), replacement tyres, MOT tests or road tax.

Most companies include insurance too, so that’s another cost off your books. Over several years, these savings can be considerable.

And while it’s true that renting often carries extra costs over and above the headline rental fee, many of these costs are optional and can be reduced. For example, instead of buying extra insurance from you hire company, you can buy an annual excess protection policy from a specialist insurer. If you’re hiring a van regularly, this is likely to be much cheaper.

If you’re in the market for a used van that will only be used for two weeks of each month or less, I think there’s a strong case for renting instead.

I urge you to run the numbers yourself before making a final decision. By renting, you could save yourself money and avoid the headaches of used vehicle ownership! Why not give it a try?