New heavy truck market drops -7.0% in Q3 2018

12 November 2018

  • Demand for new heavy goods vehicles falls -7.0% in Q3 to 9,853 units.
  • Declines for both rigids and artics, down -9.8% and -3.1% respectively.
  • 30,308 HGVs registered in the nine months to September, representing a -7.5% decline.

The UK new heavy goods vehicle (HGV) market declined -7.0% in Q3 2018, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 9,853 heavy trucks were registered between June and September, a result of fluctuating fleet buying cycles and ongoing falls in business confidence.

Registrations of rigid trucks declined in the third quarter, down -9.8%, with a -6.0% decrease in the >6-16T segment and a -11.9% decline in the >16T segment. Meanwhile, demand for artic vehicles also fell, by -3.1% to 4,246 units. Tractors remained the most popular vehicle, despite a -4.1% drop in demand, accounting for more than two fifths (42.8%) of the market. Skip loaders and box vans were the only segments to record growth in the quarter, up 11.1% and 2.4% respectively.

It was a similar picture in the year-to-date figures, with overall HGV registrations falling -7.5% to 30,308 units, with declines in demand for both rigids (-9.9%) and artics (-4.1%).

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

While fluctuating fleet buying cycles are a natural feature of the HGV market, given this quarter marks the fifth consecutive decline, there is no doubt that a fall in operator confidence is having an impact on registrations of these big ticket purchases. Government must address the current economic and political uncertainty if we are to get more of these high-tech, ultra-low emission vehicles on to our roads, and to ensure the sector can prosper.

UK bus and coach markets sees -8.8% fall in demand in Q3

12 November 2018

  • Demand for new buses and coaches declines -8.8% in Q3, with 1,820 vehicles joining UK roads.
  • Double-deck, single-deck and minibuses all down, -26.8%, -8.9% and -3.8% respectively.
  • Year-to-date, 5,642 vehicles registered, down -5.6% on same period in 2017.

New bus and coach registrations fell -8.8% in the third quarter of this year, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

1,820 vehicles joined UK roads in the period – 176 fewer than 2017’s third quarter – as the market continued to feel the impact of low business confidence and uncertainty over Clean Air Zone plans.

From July to September, demand in all three segments fell, with double-digit decline for double-decks
(-26.8%), while single-decks and minibuses declined -8.9% and -3.8% respectively.

So far in 2018 5,642 new buses and coaches have been registered in the UK, representing a -5.6% fall compared with the same period in 2017. Double-decks experienced the largest decline (-24.0%), followed by single-decks (-12.9%). Meanwhile, minibus registrations increased in the first nine months of the year, up 6.1%.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said

While the cyclical nature of the bus and coach market can result in fluctuating registrations, this seventh consecutive quarter of decline is concerning. Operators face political and economic uncertainty, alongside confusion surrounding the upcoming Clean Air Zones that will differ by local authority, which is inevitably affecting their confidence to invest in the latest low-emission buses. We need the right conditions that encourage businesses to commit to renewing their fleets, especially given the vital role buses will play in improving local air quality.

Edinburgh to get 131-passenger mega buses

15 November 2018

A fleet of 42 new buses with room for up to 131 passengers will enter service in Scotland’s capital city in January 2019. The double-deckers have room for 100 seated passengers and a further 31 standing, making them the the biggest buses in the UK in terms of passenger capacity.

The new buses are the first of Alexander Dennis Limited’s (ADL) new three-axle Enviro400XLB double-deckers, which have been developed in close collaboration with operator Lothian Buses and chassis manufacturer Volvo. They are manufactured in Falkirk.

The 13.4-metre long Enviro400XLB has both front and middle seats of doors to speed-up dwell times at bus stops, and features high-backed seating, Wi-Fi, USB charging, mood lighting and audiovisual stop announcements.

It is the first bus for the United Kingdom to be mounted on Volvo’s recently launched three-axle B8L chassis, powered a 350bhp Euro 6 D8K engine.

ADL Chief Executive Colin Robertson handed over the first bus to Lothian Managing Director Richard Hall last week in a ceremony at the manufacturer’s Falkirk plant, attended by Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, and representatives of Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland and CPT Scotland.

Richard Hall said: “Buses are the lifeblood of Edinburgh and the Lothians, transporting over 350,000 customers every day and are integral to the local economy. We are delighted to be able to work with other businesses who share our passion for innovation with a commitment to deliver a high quality, reliable and unique product for our operations in Scotland. ”

Colin Robertson, ADL Chief Executive, said: “Customer collaboration is at the heart of what we do at Alexander Dennis and we are proud to work with Lothian to meet their exacting requirements as they are renowned as a leader in delivering an outstanding customer experience. As a company headquartered in Scotland, building buses for Edinburgh is a great source of pride for the employees at our Falkirk factory and we look forward to further developing our relationship with Lothian.”

Feature: Urban logistics solutions at Freight in the City 2018

14 November 2018

Over 1,000 key figures from the freight, logistics, transport and sustainability industries visited the 2018 Freight in the City Expo last week at Alexandra Palace, London.

Billed as the only show to exclusively promote sustainable urban deliveries, the show was backed by five of the UK’s largest truck manufacturers, with Scania taking the role of a headline sponsor and Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, DAF and Iveco also having a significant presence.

Scania used the event to show off its CNG range of trucks, with vehicles exhibited both inside Alexandra Palace’s Great Hall and also outside the venue.

“We’re proud to be headline sponsor of the fourth Freight in the City Expo,” said Steve McLachlen, Scania Product Marketing Manager. “It’s a great opportunity for customers, manufacturers and service providers to get together and share best practice and showcase products.”

IVECO also highlighted its gas-powered range, while DAF used the event to showcase its forthcoming range of electric trucks, which it believes will be critical to urban deliveries.

Volvo focused on both gas and EV power with the show seeing the UK debut of the FE Electric, introduced in Europe earlier this year.

“With the growth in home shopping and personal delivery, rather than going directly from A to B, it will be interesting to gauge the reaction from ‘Freight in the City’ for this vehicle,” said John Comer, Head of Product for Volvo Trucks in the UK. We are now starting on our journey to electric power with the 27-tonne FE, or the more compact FL at 16-tonnes with a 300 kms (180 mile) range.”

As well as the FE Electric, Volvo also exhibited an LNG-powered FH tractor unit, alongside an FM Low Height 4×2 urban tractor with full air suspension, offering high visibility, side protection and a 270o camera system designed for built-up areas.

Meanwhile, for Mercedes-Benz there were two focus products – the Mercedes-Benz Econic range with low floor access and increased visibility, and the electric FUSO eCanter, both of which address different areas of concern around urban deliveries.

From the van side, Renault Trucks was exhibiting its ZE Master van range and LDV its latest EV80, along with GNEWT Cargo, which was using the event to promote its emissions-free courier service, using Nissan eNV-200 electric vans.

Meanwhile, Dennis Eagle used the show to promote its new Elite 6 chassis designed for waste collection vehicles; TEVVA exhibited its range-extended electric delivery truck; ULemCo showed off its Denis Eagle bin truck, Ocado Sprinter van and new Ford Transit; and EMOSS showed off its retrofit electric drivetrains for existing truck chassis.

Another new vehicle making its debut was Bradshaw Electric Vehicles’ Goupil G4, a fully electric microvan aimed at local and park authorities.

Trailer manufacturers also demonstrated clever urban solutions, with Transdek exhibiting its new short-wheelbase John Lewis-liveried double deck trailer, aimed at hauliers that need to operate in congested streets. Hiab, meanwhile, used the event to demonstrate its low-noise trailer- or flatbed-mounted lifting systems, which comply with urban noise level regulations and are targeted at city-based construction companies.

Thermoking and Frigoblock, meanwhile, used the show to promote their city-friendly temperature-controlled distribution systems, namely zero-emission refrigeration units, while the liquid nitrogen-powered Dearman engine was also on display – another emissions-free cooling option.

The show’s Technology Zone, meanwhile, allowed smaller exhibitors to show off their innovations, with surround-view camera systems, advanced telematics and battery suppliers all using the event as a way of networking with urban-based delivery operators.

Outside of the vehicles, one of the big draws of Freight in the City is its series of seminars, which ran throughout the day. The lecture theatre was packed out as key stakeholders discussed topics around legislation, emissions, future technology and upcoming legislation, such as the Direct Vision Standard and Ultra Low Emissions Zones. The programme included keynote speeches from event sponsors including Calor Gas, the Noise Abatement Society, The Freight Transport Association and the Energy Saving Trust.

Lynne Goulding from consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan gave one of the standout presentations, , looking at ‘Megatrends’ in urban delivery from across the world’s biggest cities. Frost and Sullivan predict that the urban logistics industry will have a global spend of US $5.98 trillion by 2022 – the conundrum being that expanding city populations mean an increased need for freight in urban areas; a challenge that will require even closer compliance with emissions and noise control.

Other seminars focused on Emission Control, Inspiring Change, Planning Ahead and Compliance.

Freight in the City returns to the same venue, which is situated in North London, on November 5, 2019.

Dawsongroup introduces AFV trials

15 November 2018

One of the UK’s biggest commercial vehicle leasing companies is offering customers the chance to try out alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) to ensure they are right for them before committing to a long-term lease.

John Fletcher, MD at Dawsongroup truck and trailer, said: “With so many changes to legislation and the development of AFVs, operators are keen to find ways of sensibly trialling the more practical solutions being offered.

“We are giving immediate access to the technology, to work alongside existing operations without the need to plunge into a high-level capital investment programme.”

The Dawsongroup fleet includes a 12-tonne Iveco Eurocargo powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) and a dual-compartment Paneltex refrigerated body, with a hydraulically driven fridge unit from Swedish firm Hulstein, which the company exhibited at last week’s Freight in the City expo.

Dawsongroup said it is also working with Paneltex to bring a range of electric trial vehicles to its rental line-up in the near future.

London Dial-a-Ride goes green with Mellor

15 November 2018

A batch of 90 Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)-compliant Dial-a-Ride vehicles are entering service in London, based on the Mellor Tucana II easy-access low-floor minibus.

The Tucana IIs are based on the Volkswagen T6 Transporter chassis, with a modern Euro 6 diesel engine and a stop-start system that switches the engine off in stationary traffic. They also feature Autonomous Emergency Braking.

The Dial-a-Ride service in London is a door-to-door assisted transport service around the city and provides a lifeline for those not able to travel without assistance, catering for more than a million journeys a year. There are plans to increase the fleet to 300 buses in total before the ULEZ expands to the North and South circular roads by 2021.

James Mead, General Manager of Dial-a-Ride, said: “Dial-a-Ride is part of the city’s social fabric, making sure vulnerable Londoners are not isolated in the community.”

The buses will be built at Mellor’s manufacturing facility in Rochdale, Lancs. John Randerson, Managing Director of Mellor, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with TfL on [its] Dial-a-Ride scheme. It will be great to see the Tucana II in service around London and we’re excited to be supplying one of the most recognised capital city transport operators in the world.”

Dial-a-Ride is part of an assisted transport strategy in the capital. TfL says that improving accessibility to public transport is integral to helping disabled Londoners lacking confidence in getting from A to B. It employs ‘travel mentors’ to assist people with how to use information at bus stops, stay safe when travelling and use ramps to board. The mentors have provided assistance to more than 3,000 disabled Londoners over the past 12 months.

Bibby Distribution installs in-cab safety cameras

15 November 2018

National logistics operator Bibby Distribution has invested more than £1 million to support driver safety and improve performance with the installation of in-cab cameras across its entire fleet.

Each of its 650 trucks will feature two cameras – one facing the driver and another monitoring the road ahead – enabling the company to use footage as a training tool for drivers and protect them in the event of non-fault accidents.

Adam Purshall, Head of Fleet and Procurement at Bibby Distribution, said: “We’ve invested in this new technology because it’s the right thing to do; the safety of our drivers and the goods we transport for customers is absolutely critical.

“It also allows us to set our safety benchmark even higher. The more information we have at our fingertips means we can work even more closely with our drivers to help them continually perform at the highest possible level.”

The two cameras will be integrated with Bibby Distribution’s existing full fleet telematics package from Microlise, which the company currently uses to identify and tackle driver behaviours such as harsh acceleration and braking. The information is then used to influence training programmes to help drivers hone their skills.

Purshall adds: “The footage brings to life specific instances where drivers can improve their efficiency behind the wheel, so we’re also making sure customers continue to benefit from reduced CO2 emissions in their supply chain.”

Blue Bus operates CNG minibus fleet

15 November 2018

Blue Bus Innovations has become the first company in the UK to operate a fleet of compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) minibuses, after ordering three IVECO Daily Line Hi-Matic vehicles.

The Luton-based company is taking delivery of the three 16-seater vehicles along with three 19-seater Daily Tourys minibuses, which use Euro 6 diesel engines.

Blue Bus Managing Director Tazio Puri Negri said: “We pride ourselves on being a responsible business. Whilst we strive to offer our customers the best service, we are also aware we need to minimise our impact on the environment. With emissions restrictions set to get even tougher, we will look to increase our fleet of alternative fuelled minibuses.”

Blue Bus Innovations provides seats on its shuttle coaches from pick-up and drop-off points in central London to-and-from London Luton Airport, between 7am and 11pm daily.

The CNG Buses will go into service with immediate effect.

Large vans drive growth in October UK new LCV market

05 November 2018

  • New van and pick-up registrations increase 14.1% to 28,494 units in October.
  • Growth driven by rise in demand for large vans weighing 2.5-3.5t, up 27.6%.
  • Year-to-date market down -1.6% as monthly demand for LCVs continues to fluctuate.



Demand for new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) increased in October, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). More than 28,000 vans and pick-ups joined British roads in the month, representing a 14.1% increase in registrations, as demand continued to fluctuate throughout 2018.

Growth was driven by a rise in demand for the popular 2.5-3.5t van, up 27.6% to take a 70.1% share of the market, while demand for pick-ups increased 3.2%. In contrast, small and medium-sized vehicles both experienced declines, down -24.9% and -14.8% respectively. The rise follows months of fluctuating registrations caused by variations in fleet buying cycles and business confidence.

Year-to-date, 302,741 new LCVs have been registered, representing a drop of -1.6% on the first 10 months of 2017, and in line with current forecasts. However, demand remains at a high level, up a third (33.0%) on the same period in 2013.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

While it is positive to see a boost for new vans in October, the growth comes on the back of a turbulent 10 months, with ongoing fluctuations in demand. Although the sector remains strong, we expect this trend to play out over the remainder of the year, as ongoing political uncertainty affects business confidence and hence operator investment.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles partners with Balls to Cancer

07 November 2018

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has launched a campaign to tackle testicular cancer in partnership with the charity Balls to Cancer, urging drivers to take care of themselves as they would their van.

To mark Male Health Awareness month, the manufacturer has kitted out a Crafter as a mobile clinic to tour its Van Centres, with a Balls to Cancer representative and healthcare practitioner offering advice on self-examination, or to answer any other questions on the subject.

The UK records around 2,500 cases of testicular cancer every year – equivalent to more than six a day – yet 98 per cent of cases can be cured if caught early enough.

Sarah Cox, Head of Marketing at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “Our customers’ vans are critical to their livelihoods, both professionally and personally. If there was something wrong with their van it could result in loss of work. It’s no wonder then that our customers are quick to get their van checked even at the smallest sign of an issue.

“But they don’t always apply that same urgency if they find a lump on their testicles. By partnering with Balls to Cancer we’d like men everywhere to take their own health as seriously as they take their vans. A problem with your van could result in the loss of work; testicular cancer could result in the loss of life. You get your van checked, so why not yourself?”

Mark Bates, Balls to Cancer co-founder, said: “We’re delighted to receive the support of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles during Male Health Awareness month. Traditionally men find it hard to talk about things like this but we’re proud to speak out and spread this life-saving message.”

The tour began at Volkswagen Group UK’s Head Office, Milton Keynes on 1 November, and has visited a number of Van Centres across England. Upcoming dates and locations on the tour include:

Vindis Van Centre, Northampton (12 November)
Cordwallis Van Service Centre, Maidenhead(19 November)
Volkswagen Van Centre, Manchester (26 November).

Members of the public can visit any participating Van Centre on the specified date. To find out more about the tour visit