UK heavy truck market declines in Q3 but 2017 registrations remain steady

UK heavy truck market declines in Q3 but 2017 registrations remain steady
14 November 2017 #CV News #CV Sector #Registrations #Truck

  • Demand for new HGVs declines in Q3 2017, falling -5.7% on the same quarter in 2016.
  • Both rigid and arctic segments see decline, down -7.4% and -3.3% respectively.
  • Year-to-date market remains steady, up 0.3% with 32,774 units registered.

The new heavy goods vehicle (HGV) market declined -5.7% in the third quarter of 2017, with 10,597 units registered, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The fall mirrors similar recent declines in the new van and car markets, as ongoing political and economic uncertainty begins to knock business confidence.

Demand for rigid vehicles declined -7.4% in quarter three, with a -5.5% fall in the >6-16T segment and a -8.4% decrease in the >16T segment. Meanwhile, registrations of artic vehicles also experienced a fall, down -3.3% to 4,383 units. Tractors continued to be the most popular body type for HGVs in quarter three, accounting for 41.4% of the heavy goods vehicle market.

Year-to-date figures show the overall market remains steady, currently up 0.3%, with 32,774 trucks featuring advanced low emission and safety technology joining British roads in 2017. Although demand for rigid vehicle registrations declined -2.4% in the first nine months, this was offset by a 4.6% rise in demand for arctic trucks.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Fluctuating fleet orders are a natural feature of the HGV market, so this drop in demand is not altogether unexpected. However, economic and political uncertainty is undoubtedly also having an effect. It is vital that government tackles this to give operators the confidence to invest in renewing their fleets with the latest, cleanest Euro VI vehicles – and to ensure this important sector’s ongoing success.

Bus and coach market continues to decline in Q3

14 November 2017

  • Demand for new buses and coaches declines in Q3, down -14.2%.
  • Minibuses, single-decks and double-decks all experience falls, with 1,996 total units registered.
  • Year-to-date registrations fall -11.7% to 5,978 units.

Registrations of new buses and coaches fell -14.2% in the third quarter of 2017, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Demand in the market declined for the third time this year, with 1,996 units registered in the period.

Double-deck demand fell by -24.4% between July and September after a prolonged period of double-digit growth.1 Meanwhile, minibuses and single-decks also experienced declines, down -11.1% and -13.6% respectively.

Year-to-date figures show overall registrations of buses and coaches in the first nine months of 2017 were down -11.7%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

After a sustained period of significant spending by UK bus and coach fleets, the market is now experiencing considerable decline. To encourage future long-term investment, operators must have both economic and regulatory certainty. This is especially important given the need to encourage the uptake of low emission Euro VI diesels, hybrids and zero emission electric buses, which represent the fastest way to improve air quality in our towns and cities.

Scania to build new UK HQ

16 November 2017

Scania GB Limited has confirmed development and construction of a new UK headquarters and support centre in Milton Keynes.

The development, designed and built by UK construction firm Kier, will be based on the existing site where Scania has been present for 36 years, and the current office facilities and car park will be joined by a new 54,754sq ft three-storey HQ with a 4,718sq ft facilities building. Work is expected to be completed by the summer of 2018, and when finished the outgoing facilities building will be demolished to leave a modern and welcoming work environment. The building will be mostly open-plan, with steel and composite metal construction and a three-storey open atrium.

Scania currently employs more than 230 people in Milton Keynes and the ongoing relationship with the city as one of its major employers is one of the key reasons for the firm retaining its existing location.

Claes Jacobsson, managing director for Scania GB Limited commented, “As one of the UK’s leading commercial vehicle suppliers and one the longest established companies in Milton Keynes, this development reconfirms our commitment to both our industry and the area in which we are based. The premises are being constructed to an extremely high environmental standard, and as such will serve us for many years into the future as we continue to support our customers with an ever-growing and developing range of innovative and sustainable transport solutions.”

Feature: How silica compounds, lighter weight and aerodynamic designs will shape the fuel-efficient truck tyres of the future

16 November 2017

Since 2012, EU tyre labels have rated the fuel economy, wet grip and noise level of all new tyres sold, providing a handy point of comparison for customers and spurring competition between new and established players. But in the CV world, where fuel costs have a huge impact on the bottom line, fleet operators and other customers are often the ones driving improvements in fuel economy from new tyre technology.

Reducing rolling resistance to improve fuel economy has been the major trend in truck tyre development for some years. The adoption of so-called ‘green tyre’ compounds in passenger cars, pioneered by Michelin in 1992, has led to the increasing replacement of carbon black with silica as the principal filler in car tyre compounds, leading to better wet grip and lower rolling resistance.

Silica is used to some degree in truck tyres, too, but where car tyres can use predominantly synthetic rubber-based silica compounds, the situation in trucks is complicated by their reliance on the extra strength and durability that natural rubber provides.

“Historically, low rolling resistance tyre tread compounds have tended to wear out faster and be more susceptible to tread cutting and chipping than their ‘standard’ counterparts,” confirms Gary Schroeder, Director of the truck and bus tyre business at Cooper Tyres. “Thus, when a tyre design achieves lower rolling resistance, it can result in undesirable side effects if the tyres are not carefully engineered.”

“Another typical difference is that low rolling resistance drive tyres tend to have shallower tread depths. The disadvantage can be fewer overall miles to removal, although many have been engineered to achieve a reduction in rolling resistance without compromising other areas of performance. Compared to passenger tyre treads, truck tyre treads are very lightly loaded with fillers of any kind, and we are unlikely to see compounds that resemble passenger tyre compounds in the near term.”

One of the leading scientists working to bridge the divide between natural rubber and silica is Dr Anke Blume, professor of elastomer technology and engineering at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. She begins by explaining how natural rubber offers the extra strength needed to make durable truck tyres capable of carrying heavy payloads.

“Natural rubber crystallises when it stretches, adding strength,” she says. “When the strain is released, the crystallization immediately disappears – it’s completely reversible and happens very fast.”

“You can try to use very pure, synthetic polyisoprene as a replacement for natural rubber, but you can’t simply add the broad variation of proteins required to make it behave in the same way. But while we cannot replace rubber [with] other synthetic polymers, we also know that the silica/silane system that is normally used with synthetic rubber in passenger car tyre treads cannot be transferred as-is to natural rubber. We have to find new ways of making it work with silica.”

Blume’s team is looking at ways to modify the natural rubber polymer in such a way that it interacts better with the silica during mixing, resulting in a strong, even mix rather than clots of one material or the other. Experiments using epoxy rubber have shown some promise but the temperature window where effective mixing occurs is very narrow, between 135-150°C. Another goal for future studies will be modifying the silica to find the right coupling mechanism to suit the structure of the natural rubber polymer.

“We have to consider the chemistry behind it, modify the polymer or the silica, and test it,” adds Blume. “It’s a lot of testing. There’s a lot more potential there and I think we can go much further, but it’ll be years of work.”

“If we can reduce the rolling resistance of truck tyres then the fleet owners will save a lot of money, but the abrasion resistance has to work well and this is always a weak point with silica inside. If we can find a way to maintain abrasion resistance while reducing rolling resistance by 10-20%, as it has happened in passenger car tyre treads, then there will be a big step forward.”

Blume points to weight reduction as a parallel stream of research being explored by the tyre industry to reduce rolling resistance, with Aramid or other fiber materials being lined up to replace some of the heavy steel cords within the tyre structure. This of course reflects a wider trend in the automotive and commercial vehicle industries for replacing parts that were previously metal with weight-saving plastic or composite alternatives. Key factors to consider are always that strength must be maintained and costs must be kept down.

Tyre aerodynamics can also play a part in saving fuel, according to Rick Shock, Senior Director of Aerodynamics at Exa, which has just added a rolling tire simulation function to its PowerFLOW computational fluid dynamics software.

The new Worldwide harmonised Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) regulations mean that car and van manufacturers now have to declare the impact of individual wheel and tyre combinations on emissions performance and fuel economy. Car and LCV makers are therefore paying increasing attention to the aerodynamic impact of tyre designs, which can be up to half a percent of the total vehicle drag. WLTP doesn’t apply to heavy trucks, but the customers’ focus on fuel mileage means that Exa’s new tool is being applied there, too.

“European truck manufacturers are not beholden to WLTP but to something much stricter – their fleet operators,” says Shock. “It doesn’t matter to the operators what the OEM puts on the sticker or advertises as the drag value. They just want to know in actuality, as they’re operating their vehicle, what the consumption is going to be. Simulation gives the manufacturer the ability to know that a particular set of tyres can meet the on-road target that their fleet operators are aiming for, to accurately predict the on-road condition.”

Exa has worked with Class 8 commercial truck customers in North America to evaluate the impact that different treads can have on the aerodynamics of a heavy vehicle, with some surprising results.

“The aerodynamics are very complex as the air goes through the tread and around the shoulder and is then accelerated down toward the contact patch,” he explains. “You might have some tyres that are nobblier than others but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have more drag, it might be less! The interaction of the airflow around the grooves, with the rest of the vehicle, is very non-intuitive.

“We’re finding that on the drive tyres, the impact of the rotating tread is not a huge contributor to linear drag – how much drag the truck experiences by the wind flowing over it,” Shock continues. “But it does impact the rotational drag. When you’re rotating the tyres there’s a torque component, a resistance to the air due to the rotation, that can manifest itself as equivalent drag. You have to give the vehicle more power to overcome that aerodynamic torque resistance.”

It’s thought that aerodynamic studies such as these will help to shape new, low-drag tyre designs to add to fleet operators’ fuel savings. In combination with other incremental changes such as weight reduction measures, plus the promise of a large fall in rolling resistance if the challenge of using more silica in tread compounds can be overcome, the future’s bright for fuel-efficient truck tyre technology.

Volvo wins Sustainable Truck of the Year award

16 November 2017

Volvo’s natural and biogas trucks have been awarded the title of ‘Sustainable Truck of the Year’ by Italy’s Vado e Torno magazine.

The Volvo Truck’s FH LNG range, introduced in Europe this year, has the same performance and fuel consumption as a comparable diesel truck but with far lower emissions. When fueled by natural gas CO2 emissions are reduced by 20 per cent, and when powered by compressed natural gas mixed with hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) it can reduce emissions by up to 100%. The judging process also included other environmental factors such as recyclability, and also safety and comfort.

“Our new generation of gas-powered trucks marks a milestone in our sustainability work and in our long-term aim to achieve zero emissions. We are delighted that our efforts are receiving such attention. By putting the spotlight on sustainability issues and by rewarding signficant progress, the Sustainable Truck of the Year award helps drive the development of the transport sector in a sustainable direction,” said Lars Mårtensson, Director Environment and Innovation at Volvo Trucks.

The panel of judges, comprising of journalists from Vado e Torno magazine and in collaboration with the Italian university Politechnico di Milano, praised the new range, saying, “With the launch of the new LNG range,Volvo is definitely raising the level of natural gas-powered trucks.”

Cartwright introduces new apprenticeships

16 November 2017

Cartwright, the leading UK bodywork and trailer manufacturers, have announced two new apprenticeship schemes.

This year the Cartwright Group has taken on 33 apprentices, with 24 inducted onto the existing highly-successful two-year programme which has been running since 2012. In addition, five apprentices will be embarking upon the new welding course, and a further four beginning the new paint programme, including the first woman to join the scheme, organized in conjunction with Trafford College. The additional schemes have been created to support the growth of the company but also to address a skills gap in these areas.

This year the Cartwright Group was named as one of the UK’s top 100 apprenticeship employers by the National Apprenticeship Awards, and its apprenticeship programs have been specially designed to encourage school and college leavers into a profession and learn essential work and social skills to prepare them for a career in engineering.

Cartwright Chairman Peter Cartwright has played a significant role in introducing the programmes, recognising the importance of providing on-going engineering excellence and developing the skill sets within the company.

He commented, “We take great pride in the fact that our apprenticeship programme provides our young apprentices with the necessary skills to pursue a career in engineering. We are equally delighted to be able to launch two new training programmes to further expand our offering. We are confident that both the paint and welding programmes will continue to grow in popularity as has our original apprenticeship programme.”

Cargotec presents world’s first electric skiploader

16 November 2017

Hiab, part of the Cargotec group, displayed the world’s first electric skiploader at the Freight in the City Expo in London.

Developed in conjunction with Dutch electric vehicle manufacturer EMOSS, the fully electric vehicle matches the load handling capability of an equivalent diesel skiploader truck. It features the latest generation MULTILIFT Futura 12 skiploader and an electric Power Take-Off solution (ePTO), ensuring zero emissions and significantly reduced noise levels during operation.

“Rules and regulations to limit noise and exhaust emissions have already been established in some cities. Congestion charges are already a reality, and additional fees for exhaust emissions are likely to be set in the near future” commented Henri Janhonen, Director, Sales and Product Business Management for Demountables at Hiab. “Furthermore, limitations exist for nigEmissions (noise or pollution). These limitations will steer truck operators towards the usage of electric vehicles in densely populated areas. At Hiab, we want to be fully prepared for the growing popularity of electric trucks, and also be the preferred partner for load handling solutions in the future.”

Hiab also presented the HIAB loader crane with an ePTO as well as the MOFFETT E-Series truck-mounted forklift, the world’s first lithium-ion powered truck-mounted forklift which is completely emission-free. Hiab, together with its UK-based customer Pets at Home, has recently been awarded the Noise Abatement Society’s Quiet Logistics Award, also known as the ‘Noise Oscars’, for their partnership in reducing noise with out-of-hours deliveries, due in part to the near-silent operation of the MOFFETT E-Series.

LCV registrations decline in October as business confidence falls

06 November 2017

  • Demand for light commercial vehicles falls -7.4% in October, with 24,968 units registered.
  • Declines across almost all segments, but pick-ups remain stable, up 0.5%.
  • Year-to-date van registrations down -3.5 %, with 307,647 joining British roads so far this year.



The new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market declined in October, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 24,968 new LCVs joined British roads last month, a -7.4 % fall compared with the same month last year.

Demand for pick-ups remained stable, with registrations growing 0.5%. However, it was a different picture across all the van segments, with demand for smaller vans, vehicles weighing 2.0-2.5T, and large vans falling -20.2%, -14.6% and -5.2% respectively.

Overall year-to-date figures saw a decline of -3.5% on 2016, with 307,647 registrations. Although the van market remains at a very high level, a recent decline in business confidence caused by ongoing political and economic uncertainty has resulted in further declines in the market, causing SMMT to revise its new van forecast for 2017.1

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Following the recent revision to the new van forecast, this month’s decline is not unexpected. While the market remains at a very high level, the recent decline in business confidence, caused by economic and political uncertainty, is now having an impact on van registrations. Government must therefore address these concerns and create the conditions necessary for the market to prosper.


1. 2017 van registrations are expected to decline -2.8% on 2016 levels.

Renault Trucks launches competition to create new livery

08 November 2017

Renault Trucks has launched an exciting competition to create a new livery for its first 10 right-hand-drive Range T High demonstrators.

Running across Renault Truck UK’s social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram, it is open to anyone aged 18 or over. Entrants should make a suggestion for a theme via social media, and the winner will see their idea turned into reality on 10 of the demonstrator models. More details can be found on the competition page.

“The new right-hand drive Range T High will be a real head-turner on the roads, but we want to give our new flagship vehicle demonstrator fleet the full ‘red carpet’ treatment with a statement livery that announces their arrival in the UK,” said Alex Williams, Marketing Communications Manager, Renault Trucks. “By involving the wider Renault Trucks community in this competition on our social media channels and beyond, we hope to inspire a striking suite of liveries that will create even greater stand out.”

A panel of expert judges will select five finalists from the entries submitted, all of whom will receive an exclusive Renault Trucks goody bag. The overall winner will be invited to attend an event early in 2018 where their idea will be brought to life on the Range T High demonstrators, as well as winning a Renault Trucks jacket and £200 to spend in the Renault Trucks Reward store.

The right-hand drive Range T High with flat floor will be available from early 2018.

Howard Tenens takes delivery of CNG Scanias

08 November 2017

The UK’s first two gas-powered rigid trucks have gone into service with Howard Tenens, one of the country’s largest privately-owned logistics companies. The firm has taken delivery of two 26-tonne Scanias, powered solely by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

The trucks are entering service as a part of the Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial, funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles in partnership with Innovate UK. Howard Tenens is a participant in the trial and the new Scania vehicles will be the first dedicated gas trucks to be included in the study.

Although based in the Swindon area the vehicle will deliver to a range of customers in urban areas including London, and will be measured over the course of 18 months on factors such as operating cost, range, reliability and emissions. During the trial the vehicles will switch to biogas for a further 75% reduction in carbon emissions.

Ben Morris, executive director at Howard Tenens, commented, “Howard Tenens’ aim is to be a leader in sustainable logistics and actively embrace innovation and new technologies. This project clearly demonstrates our commitment to this aim and that we are constantly striving to find new ways to reduce our carbon footprint and that of our customers.”

Howard Tenens worked closely in collaboration with Don Bur, who supplied a teardrop design body to reduce aerodynamic drag, and Scania, who developed and provided the vehicle chassis in a short timeframe.

David Burke, Specialist Sales Executive, commented, “By delivering a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, dedicated gas-fuelled operation forms a key part of Scania’s strategy to drive the shift towards more sustainable transport solutions. In addition to being exceptionally clean, gas vehicles are considerably quieter than their diesel counterparts and are therefore ideally suited to operating in urban environments.”