Record-breaking quarter for VW global van sales

17 April 2019

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has enjoyed its strongest first quarter ever, with global deliveries up almost 10%.

The company delivered 125,600 LCVs since the start of the year, with European markets accounting for the bulk of volumes.

The news comes just days after SMMT figures showed March 2019 was the strongest month ever for new van registrations in the UK, with a 10.6% year-on-year rise rounding off a strong Q1.

VW LCV sales in Western Europe hit 87,600 in Q1, up 13.3% on the previous year (77,350), while in the German market registrations jumped 15.8% to 32,700.

In Spain meanwhile, VW LCV sales were up 51.2% to 4,800 units.

T series vans were the brand’s biggest seller globally, with 49,100 units sold (+21.3%), followed by the Caddy with 40,000 sales (-6.3 per cent), Amarok with 18,900 sales (-4.3%) and Crafter with 17,600 registrations (+47.2%).

Oxford’s on-demand bus hailed a success

17 April 2019

A demand-responsive bus service operating in Oxford is set for expansion after enjoying greater than expected success.

The PickMeUp on-demand bus operation exceeded all expectations during its first nine months of operation and will now add more vehicles and additional staff.

More than 100,000 journeys have been made since launch in June 2018 with over 22,000 registered users signed up to the app and an average of 3,500 journeys now completed each week.

PickMeUp, managed by the Oxford Bus Company on behalf of the Go-Ahead Group, is the largest scheme of its kind to be launched by a UK bus company. It enables passengers to request a mini-bus pick-up within 15 minutes at a virtual bus stop using a mobile phone app. The service provides the flexibility to choose both the start and end point of journeys within the Eastern Arc of the city. Matching technology enables passengers to be grouped with others making similar journeys to enable ride-sharing.

PickMeUp operates in an area with a high concentration of car use, with more than nine out of 10 commuters travelling to work in their own vehicles. The initiative is intended to tackle worsening traffic congestion and a shortage of parking as Oxford’s economy grows.

Katy Taylor, Commercial and Customer Director at Go-Ahead Group, said, “Passengers have embraced this new idea and we’re looking at ways to introduce demand-responsive bus services elsewhere in the UK. We’re always keen to find ways to meet customers’ needs through better use of transport and innovation. Passengers and local businesses have told us they want more flexibility and greater connectivity and we’re working to deliver on those.”

Vito Compact enters service with smart meter company

17 April 2019

A major smart meter installation company has taken delivery of the first batch of major order of Mercedes-Benz Vito vans.

UW Home Services – part of the Utility Warehouse Group – ordered 200 Vito 111 CDI Compact models through Midlands Truck and Van.

The first 50 vehicles have now entered service, with the remainder due to come online at the rate of 25 per month.

The vans will be used by the company’s engineers who install smart meters as part of a nationwide roll-out.

They will be fully maintained under Mercedes-Benz Service Care packages and have been racked out by Van Liners of Bolton.

The company’s head of supply chain Matt Barker explained, “The Compact version of the Mercedes-Benz Vito is perfectly sized for our operation. It combines a driving experience which is more akin to a high-quality car than a van, with a reputation for bullet-proof reliability and safety.”

CV innovation to look forward to in 2019

18 April 2019

This week, Transport News Brief asked a number of senior figures from across the industry to look forward and share the things that their brands are working towards during the year ahead.

Robert Grozdanovski, Managing Director, Volvo Trucks UK and Ireland, sees much to celebrate for the brand, its dealers and their customers over the weeks and months ahead.

Robert said, “Despite the uncertainty, 2019 will largely be business as usual for Volvo Trucks and its dealer network in the UK and Ireland.

“There are several products that we have launched over the past 12 months that are now coming on stream that will benefit our customers during 2019 and beyond.”

Among the most exciting developments at Volvo Trucks is the recently-launched Volvo FH with I-Save option featuring the new D13TC Euro VI Step D engine and new, state-of-the-art pistons with a patented wave-shaped crown that improves combustion and increases efficiency by guiding heat and energy to the centre of each cylinder.

“Every aspect of I-Save is tailored to suit long-haul operators, especially those that typically drive more than 160,000 km per year, as the engine now produces up to an additional 300Nm of extra torque.

“This means less acceleration and fuel is needed to keep a steady speed in motorway traffic. So, the longer they drive, the more they can potentially save with an engine which delivers a highly fuel-efficient and smooth driving experience.”

The brand is also excited about its new long-haul fuel-saving tech, the introduction of a new generation of fuel-efficient rear axles and the arrival of its revolutionary external steering interface, EXSTER.

Robert added, “Finally, with the launch of our FL and FE electric chassis coming at a time of London’s ULEZ and various proposed Clean Air Zones, together with the increasing network of charging points, we think that there is a pretty strong business case for going electric this year!”

For Mike Belk, Managing Director at Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK, the recent launch of the new Actros and the impact it will have in market is one of the most exciting things happening this year.

He said, “The new Actros is a truly remarkable vehicle which, among its other achievements, heralds the demise of conventional driving mirrors and replaces them with safer and more aerodynamically efficient camera-based systems.

“Our MirrorCam system – available on the Actros – is a hugely impressive piece of technology and has contributed to the new truck being hailed as a ‘total game-changer’.”

MirrorCam improves road safety by giving drivers greater visibility both in front of the vehicle and to the rear, greatly reducing blindspots. Offering improved aerodynamics, the system can help the brand’s new Predictive Powertrain Control system improve fuel efficiency by between 3-5%.

Meanwhile, Ford of Britain Managing Director, Andy Barratt, pointed to the brand’s sales success in the first quarter of 2019 as a reason for positivity.

Now in its 54th consecutive year as the number one brand for commercial vehicle sales, Ford enjoyed its best-ever month for commercial vehicles sales in the UK in March, with more than 24,000 registrations.

The Fiesta van, Transit Courier, Transit Custom, Tourneo Custom and Transit 2.0-tonne, were all number one in their respective segments.

Andy expects strong sales to continue in 2019 and, such is the brand’s optimism, that it has just extended its stand space to create its biggest ever presence at the CV Show later this month.

The additional space will be used to demonstrate Transit’s semi-autonomous parking feature.

“Ford had a good start to the year, especially in higher value market segments, such as commercial vehicles sales, and despite uncertainty, we continue to expect a strong sales year for Ford in the UK,” said Andy.

He continued, “I want to thank our customers for again putting their trust in the Ford commercial vehicle range. Our CV sales success has already provided us with a great base to build upon in 2019, and with Transit we are ready to reach further new heights this year.”

Swedish Ambassador opens new Scania service centre

17 April 2019

Scania’s new commercial vehicle service centre has been officially opened by Sweden’s Ambassador to the UK.

His Excellency Mr Torbjörn Sohlström, was joined for the opening ceremony by around 150 transport operators, Scania executives and representatives of the site developer/owner, Gallagher Group.

Housed on a three-acre greenfield site just off junction 11 of the M23 motorway south of Crawley, West Sussex and adjacent to the Pease Pottage Service area, the site is home to the latest in a series of strategically-located, £6m purpose-built premises constructed in accordance with a global template created by Scania to serve operators’ needs well into the 21st century. As such, Scania Gatwick will provide an extensive range of services.

Commenting on the development, Martin Hay, Managing Director of Scania (Great Britain) Limited said, “Located on a prime site and equipped with the very latest specialist tools and diagnostic technology, Scania Gatwick sets a new standard for commercial vehicle service in the Gatwick area. The premises are staffed by an established and experienced Scania team with expertise in-depth. On behalf of the entire Scania organisation, I would like to wish them every success as they set about delivering the highest possible levels of service to the region’s transport operators.”

Scania Gatwick features four drive-through workshop bays, including facilities for gas-powered and Petroleum Regulations vehicles and a DVSA Authorised Testing Facility (ATF) lane. The branch will provide a full aftersales service for bus and coach operators and the users of Scania engines. A full Scania parts service will also be available.

Sustainability is major factor in the design of Scania Gatwick, which incorporates automatic lighting, an in-house recycling station, a sustainable water drainage system and photo-voltaic roof panels. The premises provide a bright and modern work environment and are equipped with the very latest specialist tools and diagnostic equipment.

Last mile delivery success for Gnewt

17 April 2019

Gnewt by Menzies Distribution has delivered its 500,000th parcel for online retailer ASOS through a trial using a combination of electric vans and human porters.

The partnership sees parcels bulk delivered by Menzies to the Gnewt hub in Bow, East London, before onward deliveries to customers are made using EV vans and human porters.

Working in this way, the company is now delivering more than 4,000 parcels per day.

Sam Clarke, head of business development at Menzies Distribution, said, “Air pollution is a major issue in London and Gnewt is proud to provide a service which is emission-free at the last mile, reduces congestion and doesn’t compromise on speed and quality of service.”

New Chief Exec for Confederation of Passenger Transport

17 April 2019

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive.

Graham Vidler will replace the current Interim Chief Executive, Peter Gomersall, who will return to the role of Deputy Chief Executive.

A graduate of the University of Kent, Graham, who takes up his new role on May 7, joins from the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, where he was Director of External Affairs.

Previously he held roles in marketing, policy and research at Aviva, Which?, The Association of British Insurers and the House of Commons.

Graham said, “I am delighted to be joining CPT during these critical yet exciting times for the industry.

“There has never been a better time for coach and bus operators to join together and demonstrate the vital role they have to play in helping governments, local authorities and stakeholders meet our shared objectives – improving air quality, reducing road congestion and supporting the economic prosperity of our towns and high streets – while also continuing to provide a first class service to passengers.

“I very much look forward to meeting with CPT members across the UK to learn first-hand about the many challenges they face and the changing operational landscape which lies ahead.”

Renault Trucks introduces new safety systems for vulnerable road users

17 April 2019

Renault Trucks is offering a suite of new technology designed to enable construction vehicles to integrate better in the city or on-site.

The measures are part of the brand’s continuous focus on improving the safety of city-dwellers, drivers and their loads.

Available across Renault’s C and K ranges, the new features will work alongside existing safety systems to further improve safety for vulnerable road users, such as cyclists.

The new measures include an emergency parking brake application with anti-runaway mode, the addition of a passenger-side vision door that gives drivers greater sight of other road users, surveillance cameras linked to the vehicle’s main Roadpad+ screen and external presence detectors.

Ford develops algorithm that could support greater EV use

10 April 2019

A study to determine the best places to install new charge points, to assist fleets using electric vehicles, has been completed by data scientists at Ford.

The project team looked at more than one million kilometres of driving data in Greater London, particularly the locations where vehicles stopped, to pinpoint the places that could help drivers integrate charging within their operating patterns.

Following in-depth analysis, the team concluded it would be possible to significantly improve access to on-the-go charging through deploying a relatively small number of strategically positioned rapid-charging stations.

“Being able to harness, analyse and leverage the huge amounts of data that is available through existing vehicle use can make a real difference to how easy we find it to get about in the cities of the future,” said John Scott, project lead, City Data Solutions, Ford Mobility.

As part of its far-reaching Ford City Data Solutions Report Ford fitted 160 connected vans with a simple plug-in device to record journey data. With the consent of participants, this generated more than 500 million data points, from more than 15,000 days of vehicle use.

It was from this data, captured over an eight-month period, that Ford’s Global Data Insight and Analytics team were able to identify where charging points would be most useful to a fleet. Although the vehicles in the trial were not electric, it was possible to understand their operation and forecast their ability to access charge points as if they were.

By seeing where vehicles travelled, where they parked and for how long, they could identify ways in which charging could be integrated within regular journeys, especially for businesses whose drivers might make multiple stops, for example, to make deliveries. It is an approach that Ford envisages could be extended to further cities, the data coming from connected vehicles, and enabling those cities to more effectively plan how to spend their infrastructure budget.

DAF launches new technician recruitment campaign

10 April 2019

DAF Trucks has launched a new campaign designed to recruit new commercial vehicle technicians to its dealer network.

The ‘Join the Winning Team’ campaign targets newcomers to the industry as well as existing mechanics and technicians by highlighting the diversity of fulfilling, long-term careers available in a modern commercial vehicle workshop.

The DAF Dealer Network comprises 136 Sales, Service and Parts locations, with another 14 dedicated TRP Shop outlets. It employs around 1,500 fully-qualified DAF Technicians, with many having ‘graduated’ through DAF Trucks’ Apprentice Programme.

Once qualified, DAF Technicians receive regular in-depth training at the company’s new training centre at DAF Trucks head office Haddenham.