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.

UK van registrations June 2012 to date

Van sales fall 5.8% in June despite pickup boost

 

New van registrations fell by 5.8% to 35,182 in June, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Although the number of new pickups hitting the road climbed 4.1% to 5,019, demand for vans of all sizes was lower.

LCV registrations June 2018

LCV registrations June 2018 (source: SMMT)

Registrations so far this year are 2.3% lower than for the same period in 2017. But despite this fall demand remains close to historic highs, as this chart shows:

UK van registrations June 2012 to date

UK van registrations June 2012 to date (source: SMMT)

Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, is concerned that the economic uncertainty resulting from Brexit may be contributing to lower levels of demand:

“UK van registrations have fluctuated throughout the first half of this year, reflecting variable buying cycles which are a natural feature of the market. Despite this […] the overall trend is downwards, with Brexit uncertainty and its negative effect on business confidence threatening long-term growth.”

Ford is still top dog

One thing that hasn’t changed is Ford’s popularity with UK van buyers. The company’s Transit Custom and Transit models remain top sellers the UK’s top-selling new vans by some margin, a position they’ve held throughout the year:

LCV bestsellers June 2018

LCV bestsellers June 2018 (source: SMMT)

With no sign of a Brexit deal anytime soon, the outlook could remain uncertain for some time yet. Reports suggest this is making it difficult for many businesses to plan for growth. I suspect we may see further pressure on van sales over the next 18 months.

Vehicle exhaust

London ULEZ will expand to North & South Circular in 2021

Vehicle exhaust

The London Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for motorcycles, cars and vans will be expanded up to the North and South Circular roads from 25 October 2021.

The same rules will apply as with the central London ULEZ, which comes into force on 8 April 2019.

Buses, lorries and coaches will face an expanded scheme from 26 October 2020.

What’s the penalty?

Non-compliant vehicles will have to pay a daily ULEZ charge of £12.50, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

What vans are affected?

Diesel vans will need to meet the Euro 6 emissions standard. Loosely speaking, this means that vans made from 2015 onwards should be compliant, although there are some exceptions.

Petrol vans will need to meet Euro 4 standards from 2021, According to the official guidance, this means that petrol vehicles made from 2006 onwards should be compliant.

There are exceptions for the owners of disabled tax class vehicles and adapted private hire vehicles, who will have until 2025 to replace their vehicles. Charities will be given until 2023 to replace their minibuses.

Why is this happening?

This is all about public health. But it could also save the taxpayer money in the long run. Recent research by the University of Oxford has found that the health damage from cars and vans costs the NHS £6bn each year. Health damage caused by London vehicles costs £650m a year.

The reality is that many people living and working inside the North/South Circular roads would probably still have been using pre-Euro 6 vans in 2021. It is estimated that 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries might be affected by the expanded zone and tighter standards every day.

These changes are intended to reduce the number of older vehicles on the road and improve London’s air quality.

According to the London Mayor’s office, the ULEZ scheme should result in emissions reductions across London and will mean that more than 100,000 residents no longer live in areas with illegal levels of air pollution.

By 2021, the number of schools in areas with illegal levels of air pollution should be reduced by two thirds.

Help, my van won’t be compliant!

If you live and work inside the North/South Circular roads, then your best option will be to replace your van with a newer, compliant model by 2021. Van owners who are unable to afford this will face an extra cost of £12.50 per day. If incurred daily, this is likely to be unaffordable for many.

If you use a non-compliant van but only visit London occasionally, you may find it more affordable to pay the charge or to hire a compliant van from a local rental company for your trips into London.

Hiring a van normally means that you’re guaranteed a modern vehicle that meets the latest emissions standards. An increasing number of hire companies are also offering electric vehicles, which might be worth considering for operations in the capital.

Unfortunately these changes will come at a short-term cost. But hopefully the longer-term benefits to public health — especially for children and older people — will make it worthwhile.

UK van registrations May 2012-May2018

UK van market steady in May as registrations climb 2.4%

 

Van hire companies are among the biggest buyers of new vans each year in the UK. They’re particularly big buyers of vans in the 2.5-3.5t weight category, such as the Ford Transit Custom and Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.

New registrations of models in this segment rose by 2% to 17,349 in May, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) this week.

There was also a strong surge in demand for vans in the 2.0-2.5t weight category, where registrations rose by 21% to 4,269. This segment includes the popular Citroen Berlingo. I suspect that such a large increase was caused by a major fleet order being delivered — perhaps Royal Mail or another large user of this model.

Offsetting these gains was a 21% fall in registrations of vans with a maximum gross weight of under 2.0t. Models in this segment include car-derived vans like the Fiesta Van and compact models like the Citroen Nemo.

The overall results was that van registrations rose by 2.4% in May, providing some stability after a period of declines:

UK van registrations May 2012-May2018

UK van registrations May 2012 – May2018 (source: SMMT)

Ford is still the top seller

None of these changes had any impact on the best seller lists, where Ford continues to dominate. The Transit Custom was the UK’s best-selling van in May with 4,237 new models hitting the road — 57% more than the second-placed Ford Transit.

Best sellers UK LCV market May 2018

The UK’s best-selling vans in May 2018 (source: SMMT)

Mercedes Sprinter

Mental health issues still carry stigma, say van drivers

Mercedes Sprinter

Did you know that suicide is the leading cause of death among people age 20-34 in the UK?

For men, it’s the leading cause of death all the way from 20-49 years old.

This week is Mental Health Awareness week. It’s a topic we should be able to talk about, like heart disease. But it’s not. New research suggests that for many of us, especially those working in male-dominated industries like transport, mental health issues remain the elephant in the room.

In research published by Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, more than 2,000 van drivers were asked to give their views on mental health issues in the workplace. Of those questioned, 56% said they thought discussing mental health issues at work carried a stigma.

Of those who reported stigma, more than half said they thought that being in a male-dominated workplace was a key factor. The next biggest concern was that discussing mental health problems might affect job security or career progression.

15.8m sick days in 2017

Government data suggests that mental health conditions such as work-related stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 15.8 million sick days last year.

The Mercedes’ Business Barometer research found that 28% of managers questioned said an employee had spoken to them about mental health concerns. However, female managers were more likely than male managers to have had this experience (32% vs 26%).

Steve Bridge, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd, said:

“A key component of these tragic statistics is that men are much less likely to talk about their feelings than women – something that is compounded within a ‘macho’ industry or role.

“There isn’t a quick fix or an easy answer to the issue of mental health in the workplace, but by talking about our feelings and taking a wellbeing complaint as seriously as a physical ailment, we can all work together to eradicate the perceived stigma around mental health.”

One of the key factors which contributes to anxiety and depression is stress. With insecure ‘gig economy’ jobs on the rise in the transport sector, many drivers may feel under pressure to perform even in difficult circumstances.

Chris O’Sullivan, Head of Workplace at the Mental Health Foundation, says that “by tackling stress we can go a long way to tackle mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.”

But achieving this means getting rid of the stigma around mental health. These figures suggest that we still have a long way to go to achieve this.

Giti Racing Truck

CV Show 2018 photo hightlights – vans and racing trucks

 

Here’s my belated write-up from the CV Show 2018, which took place at the Birmingham NEC at the end of April. It was a bit of a quiet year for new van models, but there were a few highlights, including a couple of new models which made their UK debuts at the show.

We start with the Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks Stealth. Based on the 2016 D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35, only 10 examples of the Stealth will be made:

Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks Stealth

Only 10 examples of the Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks Stealth will be made. Seen here @ CV Show 2018.

The changes over the standard D-Max include an extensive de-chrome pack with black roof bars, black side steps, black radiator grille, black front fog light surrounds, black rear bumper trim, black door mirrors, door handles, black front Isuzu badge and rear D-Max Arctic Trucks badges. You can see why they named it Stealth.

Moving on, Ford launched the latest addition to its popular Sport Van lineup, the Fiesta Sport Van:

Ford Fiesta Sport Van

The new Ford Fiesta Sport Van was unveiled at the CV Show 2018

This new model will be powered by a choice of 125PS, 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol or 1.5-litre TDCi diesel with 120PS.

The load compartment offers a length of “almost 1.3 metres” and a gross payload of about 500kg. A mesh bulkhead and sidewall trim are included, along with a rubber floor and four tie-down hooks.

Upfront, drivers will enjoy Ford’s SYNC3 infotainment system as standard, which supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The SYNC AppLink feature means that lots of apps from your phone can be accessed through the vehicle’s own much larger touchscreen.

Ford Fiesta Sport Van front view

Ford Fiesta Sport Van

Naturally the new version of Ford’s star Transit Custom van also made an appearance, seen here painted in ‘hard to ignore’ orange, with Sport Van stripes:

2018 Ford Transit Custom

The new 2018 Ford Transit Custom at the CV Show

Meanwhile converter Cartwright showcased its lightweight Luton conversion, seen here in a fetching livery that riffs on the group’s own logo and emphasises its built-in-Britain credentials:

Cartwright lightweight Luton conversion

Converter Cartwright’s lightweight Luton body

One of the most memorable motorsports events I’ve been to over the years was a round of truck racing at Thruxton. Here’s one of today’s crop, the Giti Racing Truck:

Giti Racing Truck

The Giti Racing Truck at the CV Show

To be honest, this was probably one of the highlights of the show. Because there really wasn’t that much new in the van world this year. Virtually every van was a model I’d seen before, mostly at last year’s show.

One exception, I think, was this Mitsubishi Shogun Sport Van, which suggests that the Japanese firm hopes to continue dominating this small but useful niche – small vans with genuine off-road ability…

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport Van

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport Van – a vehicle with very few rivals.

… however, Japanese rival Toyota isn’t giving up without a fight. The latest version of the Landcruiser Commercial was on display. And for serious off-road use, the Landcruiser remains in league of its own:

Toyota Landcruiser Commercial

The Toyota Landcruiser Commercial at the CV Show

To round things off with a vehicle that’s on-topic for a van hire website, here’s one of car-sharing firm Zipcar’s petrol-powered Volkswagen Transporters:

Zipcar petrol-powered VW Transporter

One of Zipcar’s petrol-powered Volkswagen Transporter vans. These are used in London.

That’s it for 2018! See you next year.

1956 DKW Auto Union Schnellaster Kastenwagen

Classic 1956 Audi van goes for sale at Silverstone auction

1956 DKW Auto Union Schnellaster Kastenwagen

This 1956 DKW Auto Union Schnellaster Kastenwagen shows the inspiration for modern van designs. This model will be sold at auction in June.

The best-known classic vans is probably the Volkswagen Transporter. But whereas most modern vans have their engines at the front and have front-wheel drive, the VW had its engine at the back and featured rear-wheel drive.

One of the earliest vans built to today’s one-box, front-wheel drive design was the 1950s DKW Auto Union Schnellaster Kastenwagen. Although its top speed of 43mph may not seem impressive by modern standards, it was competitive at the time. What’s more, the Schnellaster’s large load space and loading height of just 40cm made it one of the most capacious vans in its sector.

1956 DKW Auto Union Schnellaster Kastenwagen

A load floor height of just 40cm was class-leading at the time and would still be competitive today. The front-engine, front-wheel drive design meant that load space was maximised within a compact body.

Auto Union went on to become Audi, and the firm built just 3,727 vans and pickups before it decided to focus only on cars.

As a result, the Schnellaster Kastenwagen — which translates as Rapid Transporter — was not a particularly common model and is very rare today. But if you’d like to see one in the flesh then you’ll get a rare opportunity in June, when a refurbished model goes on sale at Warwickshire-based Classic Car Auctions.

Inside the DKW Auto Union Schnellaster Kastenwagen van

Inside the DKW Auto Union Schnellaster Kastenwagen van – this model will be sold at auction at the Warwickshire Event Centre on 2 June 2018.

Finding one of these vans on the open market is unusual, but this van’s rarity is boosted as it’s a right-hand drive model. Originally exported to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), it was imported to the UK in 2017 with just 17,000 miles on the clock.

Since refurbished, it is still mostly original except for a replacement floor. The van will be sold at the Classic Car Auctions sale at the Warwickshire Event Centre on 2 June 2018. The price estimate is £12,000 – £15,000. To find out more, visit the CCA website.

New van sales fall 5.6% in March as Ford retails #1 spot

 

New van registrations fell by 5.6% to 59,674 in March, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The biggest decline was seen in the 2.5t-3.5t sector, where new registrations fell by 10.5% to 59,764 vehicles. This is by far the largest segment of the market, accounting for around two-thirds of all van sales.

Van registrations March 2018

Van registrations March 2018 (source: SMMT)

Commenting on the figures, Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said:

“A decline in the important plate change month of March is a concern and we need the right economic conditions to restore market stability and encourage buyers to invest in new commercial vehicles. The new van market is a key barometer of business confidence and while uncertainty remains, a degree of fluctuation in demand is to be expected this year.

Ford stays on top

Although new sales may be falling, Ford’s number one spot in the market remains unassailable. The Blue Oval supplied more than one in three of all new LCVs registered in the UK in March, as these figures show:

Best-selling vans March 2018

Best-selling light commercial vehicles, March 2018 & year-to-date. Source: SMMT

What’s next?

The decline in new van registrations isn’t great news for new van dealers. But looking at this chart of registration numbers since 2012, I can’t help thinking that the natural level for new van sales is probably a little lower than the current level.

UK van registrations 03/12 - 03/18

UK van registrations March 2012 – March 2018 (source: SMMT)

In 2012, the UK was coming out of a deep recession during which many van purchases had been delayed. That backlog was cleared between 2012 and 2016, resulting in a terrific surge in sales. But it now seems logical that annual sales might fall a little. My feeling is that the natural level of registrations might be a somewhere just below 340,000 per year.

Please let me know what you think, especially if you disagree!

PSA/Vauxhall van factory in Luton

Van hire fave Vauxhall delivers Brexit win with Luton factory upgrade

PSA/Vauxhall van factory in Luton

The existing Vauxhall Vivaro plant at Luton will be expanded to produce 100,000 vehicles per year by mid-2019.

The UK’s uncertain progress towards Brexit has left many of our homegrown automotive businesses concerned about the future.

But the new owner of Vauxhall and its European sibling Opel plans to increase investment in the group’s Luton plant in order to increase LCV production capacity from 60,000 to 100,000 vehicles per year by mid-2019.

The factory is currently the home of the Vauxhall Vivaro, the only volume-manufactured van that’s still built in the UK.  Many van hire firms and operators like to buy British, so it’s good news that the choice of UK-built vans is likely to increase following the changes to this plant.

More new vans built in UK

French firm PSA Group plans to invest in the Luton plant to enable it to build LCVs based on the firm’s EMP2 (Efficient Modular Platform) vehicle platform. Vans already based on this platform include the Citroën Berlingo, Vauxhall/Opel ComboPeugeot Expert and Toyota ProAce, plus various passenger derivatives of these vans.

EMP2 is a core part of the PSA product lineup and is also used for a number of popular Peugeot and Citroën cars including the Peugeot 308, 408, 3008 and 5008 and the Citroën C4 Picasso, C5, DS7.

The end of the Vivaro as we know it?

Today’s press release said the group was targeting “100,000 vehicles per year based on PSA Group’s EMP2 platform”. At present, that doesn’t include the Vivaro, which has historically been a joint venture between Opel/Vauxhall, Renault and Nissan.

However, reports suggest that the next-generation Vivaro will be built on the EMP2 platform. This should secure future production of the Vivaro at the Luton plant, maintaining its long history as “the home of the Vivaro”.

A coup for Luton?

Overall, this news seems to be a coup for the Luton plant. I believe it should guarantee the factory’s future for some years to come.

PSA says that the group’s proven expertise at building vans and its existing paint shop helped swing the deal. A “responsible social dialogue” with the Unite union is also said to have guaranteed “production flexibility”.

Peugeot Boxer Low-Floor Luton

Peugeot launches Built for Business van conversions

Peugeot Boxer Low-Floor Luton

The Peugeot Boxer Low-Floor Luton, one of six conversions that are now available to order from Peugeot dealers.

Peugeot has joined the growing band of van manufacturers offering customers the chance to order van conversions directly from its dealers.

The French firm’s Built for Business range includes six conversions on the Peugeot Boxer 335 chassis:

  • Tipper
  • Dropside
  • Luton
  • Low-Floor Luton
  • Box body
  • Curtainside

The standard specification for the conversions is likely to prove attractive to operators:

  • 160hp 2.0-litre BlueHDi engine with Start & Stop (S&S)
  • Six-speed manual transmission
  • Air conditioning
  • Uprated battery
  • Revised dual-leaf rear suspension with anti-roll bar

In this post I’m going to take a closer look at the two conversions I believe are most likely to be of interest to van hire companies and removals firms.

Luton

Of particular interest to van hire companies will be the luton model. This has been engineered to provide competitive payloads and good volume.

The luton is available on either the L3 or L4 models (L4 is longer) with a single cab.

Both models use an aerodynamic luton design to improve fuel economy. The body is built with GRP panels on a steel frame, although buyers can opt for an aluminium frame, which will provide an extra 80kg of payload.

Here are the standard weight and dimensions* for the Peugeot Boxer Luton:

Model L3 Single Cab L4 Single Cab
Wheelbase 4,035mm 4,035mm
Internal length 3,480mm 4,150mm
Internal width 2,057mm 2,057mm
Internal height 2,235mm 2,390mm
Volume 16m3 20m3
Payload* 1,147kg 979kg

Low-Floor Luton

The other model that’s likely to be of particular interest to van rental firms and removals companies is the low-floor luton, which is pictured at the top of the page. By dropping the load floor between the wheel arches, operators can get a useful increase in internal volume without sacrificing payload.

(Some van rental companies have low-floor lutons for hire — if you’re moving house yourself, it’s worth asking. They’re sometimes also known as high-cube, jumbo or dropwell lutons)

Here’s how the low-floor luton compares to the standard L4 luton model:

  • Internal length: -7cm
  • Internal width: +10.3cm
  • Internal height: +11cm
  • Internal volume: +2m³
  • Payload: +71kg

The payload of the low-floor luton can increased by a further 120kg if you opt for lightweight body panels in place of the standard 14mm GRP panels.

Here are the full weights and dimensions* for the Boxer Low-Floor Luton:

Model Low Floor Luton
Internal length 4,080mm
Internal width 2,160mm
Internal height 2,500mm
Overall height 3,200mm
Overall length 6,570mm
Payload* 1,050kg

All of the Built for Business conversions will have either European Whole Vehicle Type Approval or National Small Series Type Approvals.

All models are available to order from Peugeot Dealers and Business Centres.

*Notes on payload, weights and dimensions: All weights and dimensions were provided by Peugeot. Peugeot calculates payload (excluding driver) including oil, water, lubricants, tools, spare wheel and 90% full fuel tank. When calculating the payload, an average figure for the driver is 75kg (Please note: drivers’ weights will vary). Additional passengers and accessories must be taken into account. It is the operator’s responsibility that the plate weights are not exceeded. Please note: Masses and Dimensions are subject to 8% engineering tolerances.

MS-RT Transit Custom

MS-RT gives Ford Transit Custom rally-inspired makeover

MS-RT Transit Custom

The MS-RT conversion of the Ford Transit Custom adds motorsport styling to the UK’s most popular van.

The Ford Transit Sport vans offer a decent slug of motorsport styling for van operators. But if you’re looking for something to take your next Transit Custom to the next level, the new MS-RT Transit Custom conversion from Welsh firm MS-RT could be just the ticket.

MS-RT says it’s taken inspiration from the Ford-backed M-Sport rally team to achieve “a performance version of the country’s most popular commercial vehicle”. 

The modified van is based on the new 2018 Transit Custom, which is just starting to be delivered to early buyers. MS-RT Founding Director, Ed Davies, says their conversion creates a van owners will cherish:

“The new MS-RT Transit Custom takes an already excellent van and turns it into something really special, which owners are bound to cherish, and which businesses will use to make their brands really stand out.

Head-turning styling

On the outside, the van gets a comprehensive body kit, including a full front bumper and grill replacement with factory-fitted fog lights. There’s also an “extreme front diffuser” side sills, wheel arch extensions and matching rear spoiler and diffuser. The van also gets a British-made twin exhaust system and MS-RT branding.

In order to tighten up the van’s handling, these replacement wheels are paired with a set of Eibach lowering springs. These are paired with exclusive 18-inch Antracite OZ Racing alloys, but MS-RT has taken care to ensure the van retains its load-carrying ability.

These show-stopping wheels are shod with 103XL load-rated Hankook Ventus S1 evo2 tyres, which have been chosen to maintain the van’s 3.5t gross weight.

Impressive spec list

MS-RT’s modifications continue inside the van, which gets handcrafted nappa leather and suede seat facings, a MS-RT sports steering wheel and carbon fibre inlays. There’s even a MS-RT set of floor mats.

All vehicles come with an impressive stock specification. Vans are fitted with Ford’s SYNC3 entertainment system with sat nav, a reversing camera and parking sensors. There’s also heated seats and upgraded HID headlights, plus Ford’s ever-popular heated windscreen.

Under the bonnet MS-RT has specifies Ford’s range-topping 170PS EcoBlue 2.0-litre diesel engine This provides 405Nm of torque and can be paired with your choice of six-speed manual or automatic ‘box. A standard choice of cabin layouts is available, including five or six-seat crew cab, long or short wheel base and tailgate or twin rear doors.

Prices have not yet been announced — more information should be available in April 2018.