Category B licence change for alternative-fuel vans

17 January 2018

The government has confirmed plans to raise the weight limit of alternatively-fuelled vans that can be driven on a standard category B driver’s licence.

Under the previous regulations drivers of vans exceeding 3.5 tonnes GVW required a C1 lighter goods vehicle licence. With alternative-fuelled vehicles usually weighing more than conventionally-powered versions this meant many cleaner options were unavailable to operators with a standard licence.

Following the amendment the category B limit for vans with powertrains that are battery electric, fuel cell powered or run on CNG, LNG and LPG will be increased by 750kg to 4.25 tonnes. The current vehicle excess duty charge which taxes vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and HGVs will not be affected by the change.

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said, “Vans have become essential to our economy and are vital for our builders, small businesses and delivery drivers. We have more of them on our roads than ever before. That’s a good sign for the economy, but our challenge is to try to tackle their impact on air quality. We want to make it easier for businesses to opt for cleaner vehicles, and these proposals are designed to do just that.”

Head of Fleet at Ocado Stuart Skingsley said, “At Ocado, we are very keen to incorporate the latest low-emission technologies in our vehicle fleet, but we have been unable to do so, due to the extra weight of the technology and category B licence restrictions. This vital derogation would allow us to field the latest alternatively fuelled vans, reducing harmful emissions and improving the UK’s air quality.”

CitySprint trials hydrogen van

17 January 2018

CitySprint, the London-based delivery company, is trialling a hydrogen powered van and has doubled its fleet of cargo bikes with the aim of having an emission-free fleet by 2020.

Developed in conjunction with Renault, the new van has a hydrogen fuel cell to generate electricity which is fed to the electric motors via a battery pack. The trial is being conducted in partnership with facilities management company Mitie who will run the vehicle for six months on CitySprint’s same-day delivery service. With a range of 200 miles on a tank of hydrogen the Kangoo-based vehicle will be able to perform a whole day of duty without refilling.

In addition CitySprint has added 12 cargo bikes to its existing fleet of 10 following a successful trial. Electric assistance allows them to carry up to 50kg and the company claims on average the bikes can complete delivery routes 50 percent faster than an equivalent van as well as saving four tonnes of CHG emissions per year.

CitySprint CEO Patrick Gallagher said, “Since the launch of our green fleet this August, we’ve already cut back on our CO2 emissions by as much as 10 tonnes. The trail of a hydrogen van is on a long list of environmentally friendly vehicles we have tested over the years. We hope that along with our growing cargo bike fleet, this can prove to be a sustainable option and continue our commitment to reducing air pollution across the UK cities we operate in.”

Bibby concept trailer delivers perfect record

17 January 2018

A concept trailer designed and developed by Bibby Distribution and Don-Bur has eliminated all ‘wet claims’ for paper manufacturer Saica Paper.

The bespoke-designed curtainside trailer was introduced by Bibby Distribution to reduce the number of water-damaged paper reels, a significant cost to the manufacturer and a potential cause of lost customers. Since its introduction the new design has reduced the number of wet claims to zero, thanks to features such as a triple-layered floor and armoured wraparound curtains. The trailer is based out of Saica Paper’s Manchester depot, particularly relevant as the city sees 152 rain days on average per year and the fourth highest rainfall in the UK according to the Met Office.

Chris Johnson, Saica Paper’s UK Logistics Manager commented, “To say there hasn’t been a single wet claim on deliveries made by the concept trailer is incredible. Deliveries made by this concept trailer removes any worry for us and gives us total confidence that we can deliver full customer satisfaction. Bibby Distribution has raised the bar and truly set themselves apart. We’re looking forward to seeing greater use of this trailer type, which could all but eliminate the problem of wet claims.”

Bibby Distribution transports over 500,000 tonnes of paper reels per year for Saica using a fleet of 90 vehicles, and the savings achieved on lost reels exceeded £8,000 in 2017.

Feature: Gas is go for Volvo trucks

17 January 2018

These are interesting times for the transport sector when it comes to what is – and will be – the ‘fuel’ of choice for operators. It may have taken a while, but the electric vehicle phenomenon that has hit the passenger car industry is beginning to cross over to the HGV sector. Tesla has introduced details of its battery powered semi-truck and Fuso has debuted the eCanter – the world’s first series production fully electric truck.

With these battery-based developments, it’s easy to think that electric power is the only alternative to the tried and tested diesel for trucks. However, that’s not quite the case, as has been evidenced in a few product introductions in recent months proposing gas as a credible option. Scania has been talking up CNG (compressed natural gas) for some time and the first vehicles with new specially designed gas-fed powertrains went into service in November. Meanwhile Iveco has also released details of its CNG and LNG (liquefied natural gas) vehicles, with a lot of demand expected, given the growing demand for gas.

More recently there is Volvo Trucks, which has invested a lot of resources into LNG power and firmly believes it to be a route to significant reductions in CO2 emissions from heavy trucks. With its new, gas-powered FH and FM LNG variants, the Swedish believe that not only will CO2 be reduced, but that the same level of performance will be retained. Volvo states that LNG can be a viable alternative to diesel and – in light of reported incoming legislation calling for further reductions to emissions from vehicles – potentially save operators when it comes to overall running costs. Having researched European prices for diesel and the LNG diesel equivalent price, Volvo believe that there is the opportunity to make savings of up to 40%.

“Many of our customers and their customers already work hard to reduce their environmental footprint. This regulation will drive the development of lower emissions, where we see a clear possibility for increasing LNG market shares as a vital part of the solution,” believes Lars Mårtensson, director of environment and innovation at Volvo Trucks. “Our vision is that trucks from Volvo will eventually have zero emissions, although the way of achieving that is not by one single solution, but rather through several solutions in parallel.”

Volvo is certainly no stranger when it comes to alternative fuels. Ten years ago, the Swedish manufacturer demonstrated seven trucks that ran on seven different fuel sources. Many of these innovations did not come to large-scale production, but the company believes that now the time is right for LNG to realise its potential. While it is still classed as a fossil fuel, LNG can produce 20% less CO2 emissions than diesel (tank-to-wheel) and, if biogas is used instead, the reduction could be as much as 100%. In addition, 1kg of LNG has the same energy of 1.39 litres of diesel, meaning less fuel overall could be used on a journey.

In Europe, nearly 80% of goods are transported by road and over 70% of those journeys use long-haul or regional transport. As a result, Volvo sees a major opportunity to take LNG vehicles from the city and urban environments, where they have typically operated, to rural surroundings. There are already 3,000 LNG-powered trucks in Europe – a figure that has doubled in the last three years. Further afield there are 100,000 such vehicles in China, while the US has 5-10,000 units in operation. The trend is set to continue, given the search for alternatives to diesel; the potential cost savings; and reduction in emissions.

In terms of infrastructure, it is very much work in progress, but things are moving quickly. Manufacturers are working with suppliers to enable a routes to be established that would link the UK and Portugal, with filling stations in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain, for example. Other countries with established – or planned – fuel stations include Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Sweden, Finland and Germany.

Volvo claims that an operator who covers 120,000km (75,000 miles) and chooses natural gas for fuel will emit 18-20 million tonnes less CO2. Making the case for natural gas, the manufacturer states: “Bearing in mind that last year alone more than 264,000 heavy trucks were registered in the EU, there is immense potential for significantly reducing emissions globally from heavy commercial traffic. There is excellent availability of natural gas, it is competitively priced in many countries, and LNG infrastructure is currently being expanded throughout Europe in accordance with the European Commission and member states’ action package for securing Europe’s long-term energy supply.”

For drivers, Volvo has aimed to make things as straightforward as possible with the new LNG models. The refuelling process is described as ‘different, but simple’ and cleaner because there is no grease. From start to finish (including putting on and taking off safety clothing) it takes between five and 10 minutes, using equipment that is universal throughout countries and filling stations. There will be three types of refuelling possible with the Volvos: stationary, via a traditional fuel filling station; moveable, a smaller unit that can be situated on different parts of the company’s premises or elsewhere; and mobile, a tanker with filling station at the rear. In the event of a driver running out of fuel, there is a 50bhp diesel engine on-board, which enables drivers to reach safety or somewhere to refuel.

The performance curves for LNG models versus diesel are similar, with marginally lower torque at lower rpm (800-1,000) for the gas models, which then have slightly higher figures between 1,900 and 2,000rpm. It’s a similar situation for power output, the peak 460bhp in the range-topping diesel version coming at 1,300rpm and 1,800rpm in the gas unit.

Volvo insists that the FH and FM LNG models mark just the beginning of its journey into gas-powered regional and long-haul trucking. The two models use a number of advanced technologies such as the emergency braking technology VEB+ and I-See, the company’s predictive cruise control system. Production begins at the start of 2018 and Europe is the initial target market for sales.

Department for Transport consider wider trial of national lane rental scheme

17 January 2018

The government is considering a national roll out of the lane rental scheme, which would see utility companies charged up to £2,500 per day by local councils for carrying out roadworks during peak hours.

This follows a successful trial of the scheme by Kent County Council and Transport for London that reported significantly reduced delays, encouraging works to be carried out in quiet periods and for utilities to collaborate in order to reduce disruption.

The initial trial showed a 55 percent decrease in serious and severe congestion caused by planned utility works in the period 2015-2016 and a 616 percent increase in collaboration on roadworks, compared to the baseline of 2010-2011. The average number of days when disruption was avoided rose from 110 to 353, an increase of 353 percent during the same period. Kent County Council reported similar improvements.

Initially scheduled to end in March 2019, the Department for Transport has announced both trials will continue indefinitely and that it is considering rolling out the scheme to other areas in England from 2019.

Record average van price at auction

17 January 2018

Manheim has reported a record average van selling price of £5,398 for the period covering November and December last year.

The company also said that 86 percent of LCV sales during the same period attracted an online bid, with 38 per cent of all vans sold to an online bidder. All vans sold in the reporting period had an average age of 59 months, three months younger than the same period in the previous year. As well as increased interest from online, attendance at LCV auction events was also reported as increasing, with a 16 per cent rise in physical auction attendance.

Matthew Davock, Head of LCV at Manheim, said, “Against the pressure of a record breaking 2016, and an expected market decrease in volumes, 2017 figures have been incredible. We have reported an annual growth of 5% for our overall sold volume, and our van buyer base has also grown by a further 18 per cent, extending our industry leading position in the van remarketing arena.

“As predicted in our Q4 outlook, both average age and mileage figures increased as we approached the end of the year, yet our average sale price continued to exceed expectations. In addition, and despite the decrease in volumes as we headed into the final months of the year, performance and overall first-time conversion rates were both staggering and is further proof of a healthy marketplace.”

Driver shortage key challenge for 2018

17 January 2018

A driver shortage is the biggest challenge facing the transport industry in 2018, according to a UK customer survey by Paragon Software Systems.

The annual survey revealed that almost half of respondents (46 percent) state that the lack of drivers and other skilled workers across the industry was the biggest hurdle to success. This was an increase by more than a third compared to the previous year, and significantly ahead of other factors such as rising transport costs (13 percent) and Brexit (2 percent).

When asked what the logistics sector should be doing to attract young talent into the industry, more than a third said more education and training initiatives were needed, while a quarter thought that improvements in pay and conditions were the most important factor.

Respondents were also asked what planning pressures were affecting their transport operations and 46 percent cited the need to compare planned routes against actual performance, and another 45 percent saying a demand for more accurate time windows were the most significant factors.

“The findings of our customer survey highlight the importance of using routing and scheduling software to help manage all available drivers and vehicles at an individual resource level,” said William Salter, Paragon’s Managing Director. “This means that logistics operations can mitigate the impact of driver and skills shortages, as well as meet the increasing expectations of customers.”

Full electric trucks drawing support from US industry

17 January 2018

Logistics and parcel carrier UPS is one of several US firms supporting the development of full-electric trucks, following a reservation for 125 of Tesla’s Semi tractors to join its 8,500-strong worldwide fleet.

The company is working towards its target of reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions from global ground operations by 12 per cent by the year 2025, which will be advanced significantly following the introduction of the Tesla vehicles.

Further goals for UPS include 25 per cent of its electricity consumption to come from renewable sources by the same year, 25 per cent of its new vehicles to be alternatively-fuelled by 2020 and 40 per cent of all ground fuels to be from sources other than petrol and diesel by 2025, an increase of over 19 per cent compared to 2016. UPS has also supplied Tesla with real-world data in order to assist the firm in assessing expected vehicle performance over the UPS duty cycle.

The American brewer Anheuser-Busch is another firm that has committed to full-electric trucks in the future, having ordered 40 Semis from Tesla. The company has announced that the integration of the Tesla vehicles will help to reduce its operational carbon footprint by 25 percent within seven years.

New LCV market falls in 2017 but overall demand remains at high level

05 January 2018

  • New light commercial vehicle registrations fall -3.6% to 362,149 units in 2017 – the first decline since 2012, but market still third highest in a decade.
  • Demand for pick-ups continues to grow – up 7.8% in 2017 as large van registrations fall -3.1%.
  • December van registrations increase 2.9% to 28,016 vehicles.



The new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market declined in 2017, a -3.6% fall on 2016, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It is the market’s first decline since 2012 but with 362,149 new vans and pick-ups driven off forecourts in the year, demand is still at its third highest in a decade.

The markets for vans under 2.0 tonnes and heavy vans weighing 2.5-3.5t drove the overall annual decline, falling
-20.3% and -3.1% respectively. However, demand for pick-ups and smaller vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes saw uplifts of 7.8% and 2.3% respectively, compared with 2016.

December, meanwhile, saw LCV registrations increase 2.9% to 28,016 units. Pick-ups were particularly popular, with demand rising 6.0% in the month, while registrations of larger vans weighing 2.5t – 3.5t grew 7.5%. Demand for car-derived vans weighing under 2t and smaller vans weighing 2.0t – 2.5t fell by -20.4% and -5.7% respectively.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

While the market has slowed in 2017, this was in line with expectations and demand remains at a high level. In fact, LCV registrations have increased 62.5% since 20101. For 2018, however, we expect the economic and political uncertainty to continue to affect the market so government must rebuild business confidence and encourage operators to invest in new vehicles given fleet renewal is fastest way to reduce overall emissions.

Visitor registration now open for CV Show

10 January 2018

The CV Show, the UK’s biggest event for the road transport, distribution and logistics industries, is now open for visitor registration at the official website

Taking place at the NEC in Birmingham from 24-26 April, show attendance has already been confirmed by a number of leading names in the industry; including truck, van and trailer manufacturers, insurers, tyre companies, telematics, training providers, fuel and lubricant suppliers.

In 2017, the CV Show exceeded 20,000 visitors and this year’s show retains the larger floorplan to accommodate the rising numbers of exhibitors and visitors. Full information for visitors is available on the CV Show website, including the stand floorplan, exhibitor list and product locators.

Returning for 2018 will be the popular Innovation Hub and Twitter walls, while the Workshop and Cool zones will also feature again, bringing the latest innovations in workshop logistics and temperature-controlled goods management.

CV Show Director, Rob Skelton, said: “Once more the CV Show is providing the best opportunity of the year for visitors to meet all of their sourcing needs under one roof. From truck, van and trailer manufacturers through to ancillary service providers, there is no better business-to-business environment for any individual or company involved in the road transport industry.

“The bigger show area in 2017 was a huge hit and saw over 400 exhibitors and more than 20,000 visitors yet again. To get the most from the event and all the latest information we encourage visitors to register now for a free entry pass, ensuring they receive important updates in the run-up to the event.”