Demand for new vans and pick-ups grows 9.6% in November

05 December 2018

  • New light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations increase by almost 10% in November.
  • Demand for large vans weighing 2.5-3.5t and pick-ups drive growth.
  • Year-to-date market on par with last year, down -0.7%, with 331,776 vehicles registered.

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The new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market grew 9.6% in November, as more than 29,000 vans and pick-ups joined UK roads, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). This increase represents 2,549 more pick-ups and vans registered in the month compared to November 2017.

Demand for pick-ups and 2.5-3.5t vans increased by 15.8% and 12.9% respectively, as new model introductions took off, counteracting falls in other segments of the market. Small and medium vans experienced declines, both falling -4.1%.

Throughout 2018 the market has seen the number of new registrations fluctuate with fleet buying cycles and business uncertainty. Demand for new LCVs is broadly stable year-to-date, down -0.7% compared with the same period last year, with 331,776 new vans and pick-ups registered in the UK – 2,357 fewer than the first 11 months of 2017.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

The rise in demand for new high-tech, low emission vehicles in November is certainly good news. However, overall, the LCV market has been affected by weaker business confidence caused by economic uncertainty, reflected in fluctuating demand throughout the year. Operators need stability to invest and renew their fleets, which now depends on government providing the right conditions.

Volkswagen unveils new e-mobility last mile concept

05 December 2018

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles unveiled a new cargo bike alongside the I.D. BUZZ CARGO all-electric delivery van at last week’s Los Angeles Auto Show in the USA.

The retro-styled electric van was first seen as a styling study at the IAA Hannover Commercial Vehicle Show in September, but at LA VW took the concept further by adding a last-mile delivery option in the form of the CARGO e-BIKE – an electric cargo three- wheeler for urban use.

Dr Thomas Sedran, Chairman of the Brand Board of Management for VW Commercial Vehicles, said: “With the I.D. BUZZ CARGO, we are ultimately launching Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles into the new age of electric mobility and autonomous driving. This car has great potential for global success as a zero-emission transporter. This design icon is also giving electric mobility an unmistakable face.”

“The new CARGO e-BIKE also illustrates how Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles takes a comprehensive view of electric mobility and the transformation of the automotive industry. In the future, our electric programme will range from this ingenious, compact three-wheel cargo bike to models like the autonomously driving I.D. BUZZ CARGO and the e-Crafter, which has already been introduced in Europe and offers a maximum payload of 1.75 tonnes.

“The world is in motion. But what remains constant is the need for safe, efficient and convenient transportation of people and goods. That is what we want to provide.”

World’s largest biogas bus fleet enters service in Nottingham

05 December 2018

The world’s largest fleet of biogas-powered buses has just gone into service in Nottingham. A total of 53 double-deck buses using Scania chassis and ADL bodies have gone into service around the city, each with an 84-seater capacity.

Each bus has a minimum range of 250 miles on a single fill, and contributes to improved air quality through lower emissions.

Martin West, New Bus and Coach Sales Director for Scania (Great Britain) Limited, said: “Nottingham is one of pioneers of biogas double-deckers in the UK and is now deservedly reaping the benefits of its foresight and commitment. The successful introduction of the fleet, backed by an installation of an in-house gas refuelling station, is redefining sustainability and demonstrating a new and exciting model of bus operation.”

Richard Matthews, UK Sales Director for ADL, added: “We are pleased to have partnered with NCT and Scania on this momentous project. Not only does this fleet deliver biogas, it also provides a premium, passenger-centric specification. Transparency, trust and mutual respect between all three partners involved has been key in bringing this to life and we are looking forward to continuing to build on this strong foundation in 2019 and beyond.”

Based on Scania’s 280 horsepower N 280 UD4x2 chassis, the Nottingham biogas fleet is equipped with ADL’s Enviro400CBG City body. The vehicles have an overall length of 11.5-metres, midway between Nottingham’s existing 10.9- and 12-metre buses.

Feature: Using big data to enhance van safety

05 December 2018

From autonomous emergency braking to overload indicators, recent developments in the van industry have seen light commercial vehicles become increasingly safer. Now, big data is set to play a critical role in making the roads safer for all.

For the past 12 months, Ford has been tracking fleets of vans in London, using telematics and connected vehicle data to track driver behaviour and record vehicle data.

Using geolocation technology, the systems were able to detect areas that were not only already hazardous, but also potential future accident blackspots – data that will not only help vehicle manufacturers and fleet managers, but will also help town planners and highways agencies to identify particular junctions or stretches of road that are problematic for drivers, cyclists or pedestrians before a serious accident occurs.

Ford tracked the vans over a total of one million kilometres (618,000 miles) and logged highly detailed data from driving events such as braking, the severity of that braking, and even where hazard warning lights were applied. This helped to identify “near-misses”.The company then cross-referenced this information against existing accident reports and built an algorithm to determine the likelihood of where future incidents might occur.

“Our insights have the potential to benefit millions of people,” said Jon Scott, Project Lead at City Data Solutions, Ford Smart Mobility team. “Even very small changes could make a big difference – maybe cutting back a tree that has obscured a road sign – whether in terms of traffic flow, road safety or efficiency.”

This opportunity was identified in the Ford City Data Report, using data that was obtained and analysed with the consent of participants, which took its findings from more than 15,000 days of vehicle use, from 160 connected vans in the city.

The fleet of vans covered more than 1 million kilometres, the equivalent of 20 times around the earth, delivering 500 million data points.

“We are committed to delivering smart vehicles for a smart world – and each vehicle in the study was equipped with a simple plug-in device that recorded the journey data and then sent it to the cloud for analysis,” added Scott. “Data scientists from our Global Data Insight and Analytics team were then able to analyse the information through an interactive dashboard. This technology could be applied in any road environment, not just in cities.”

The report also investigated other opportunities, such as how scheduling delivery van journeys for earlier in the day, before peak times, could benefit all road users, and how using journey data could help to identify the best locations for electric vehicle charging points.

“The Ford City Data Report is a showcase of what we can do with connected vehicle data, smart infrastructure, and our analytical capabilities. We are calling on cities to work with us to collectively solve problems that they can become even better places to live and work in,” said Sarah-Jayne Williams, director, Ford Smart Mobility. “We understand that any data-driven solution depends upon the willingness of drivers to share their data, but believes that where there is a clear benefit, that consumers will be more open to supporting such a service.”

Meanwhile, active safety systems have also been providing big benefits to van fleets, backed up by a recent survey carried out by the insurance industry. Using data from its clients, insurance comparison site GoCompare established that van drivers are involved in 3.8 times fewer accidents per 100,000 miles than cars.

Telematics play a part, as does improved driver training, but there’s no argument that improved safety tech on the vehicles themselves is also a key driver behind of the vastly improved safety data.

Last year, for example, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles made Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) a standard feature across its van range. AEB works by intervening if a vehicle or obstacle is detected ahead of the van and the driver hasn’t made any manual intervention.

Carl zu Dohna, director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “Autonomous emergency braking systems mean safer vehicles, fewer accidents and therefore reduced downtime and lower costs for fleets – as well as the potential to save lives. These are vital goals for any vehicle manufacturer.”

Vehicles fitted with autonomous emergency braking also benefit from an average insurance premium saving of 10 per cent compared to those without – the insurance rating of the VW Crafter was reduced by four groups, for example, thanks to standard fitment of AEB.

The latest innovation that makes today’s vans even safer comes from PSA – the parent company behind Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall.

Its ‘Overload Indicator’ is blindingly simple, yet at the same time extremely useful to van drivers and fleet operators alike, as it sounds warning alarms when the vehicle is close to its payload, and a separate alarm for when it is overloaded. The Overload Indicator’s measurement of load weight is triggered in two ways: automatically, when the engine is started or manually, when parked, by pushing a button located in the load area. The system then remains active for five minutes.

The technology was cited by judges as one of the primary reasons that the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall/Opel Combo were jointly awarded the 2019 International Van of the Year Award, announced at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover in September.

New senior appointment at Renault Trucks

05 December 2018

Renault Trucks UK and Ireland has appointed James Charnock to the role of Commercial Trucks and Services Director, reporting directly to Managing Director, Carlos Rodrigues.

In his new role, James is responsible for driving growth across the company’s product portfolio of new trucks, LCVs and transport services.

James previously held the role of Used Truck Director, Volvo Group, driving its used truck business across both the Renault Trucks and Volvo Trucks brands. As well as extensive knowledge of the business, James has wide-ranging experience across the automotive sector gained in roles including Fleet Parts Sales Director at DAF Trucks, as well as positions at Lex Auto Logistics and TRW.

Carlos Rodrigues said: “I am delighted to welcome James to the Renault Trucks executive team. His skills, experience and track record speak for themselves, whilst his drive, enthusiasm and inclusive approach will invigorate and accelerate our growth in the UK & Ireland.”

Commenting on his appointment, James Charnock added: “This is such an exciting time to be joining Renault Trucks. I am looking forward to working with the team to take the brand to the next level, building on its strong reputation for delivering efficient, reliable and cost-effective solutions for our growing customer base to achieve our ambitious sales targets.”

Fleet Hero awards for Bibby Distribution

05 December 2018

Logistics provider Bibby has won Freight Hero and Ecodriving Hero awards from the Energy Saving Trust’s Fleet Heroes awards, in partnership with the Department of Transport.

Awarding the Freight Hero accolade, sponsored by Highways England, judges commended Bibby Distribution’s investment in lower-emission vehicles, which has seen particle emissions reduced by two thirds and nitrogen oxide emissions cut by 80 per cent.

The panel was also impressed at how Bibby Distribution has substantially reduced the number of journeys it makes through widespread use of longer semi-trailers, high-cube trailers and bespoke triple deck trailers – in some cases increasing a single truck’s capacity by 35 per cent.

In the Ecodriving Hero category, Bibby Distribution stood out for its tailored driver training programme which centres around telematics reports and continuous coaching. The focused initiative has seen drivers increase their average MPG figures by seven per cent, substantially reducing fuel costs and emissions for the business.

Andrew Mawson, Bibby Distribution’s Head of Safety, Health, Environment and Quality (SHEQ), said: “We have a responsibility to protect the environment while at the same time giving our customers the best performance possible, which is why we have put such focus and investment into our fleet and our team.

“Our long-term goal is zero harm, zero waste and zero environmental impact and we’re making progress towards that goal all the time. We’re extremely grateful for this recognition from the Energy Saving Trust.”

Transaid 20th anniversary gets off to a right Royal start

05 December 2018

The Patron of the international development organisation Transaid, HRH The Princess Royal, kicked off celebrations for the charity’s 20th anniversary at a special showcase event in London, attended by more than 150 industry supporters, partners and development organisations.

The event, held in late November, highlighted Transaid’s achievements in sub-Saharan Africa, which have been made possible thanks to the extensive support of the transport and logistics industry and key funding partners.

Addressing assembled guests, The Princess Royal said: “Thank you for being part of the first 20 years of Transaid. I hope you can all see what has been achieved and what is yet to come. Your industry expertise and knowledge has driven this success, which is making a real difference in places where people are looking for change.”

Commenting on the importance of one of Transaid’s major initiatives, she added: “Evidence suggests that increasing driver training across sub-Saharan Africa has improved lives across the board – Transaid’s programmes have been proven to work and I hope the industry recognises the value they add.”

Caroline Barber, CEO of Transaid, took the opportunity to announce the imminent scale up of the MAMaZ against Malaria programme, in which Transaid has demonstrated how a functioning supply chain can save children’s lives.

Speaking about the successes during Transaid’s first 20 years, Barber said: “It’s been an incredible journey for us and we have made real progress in transforming people’s lives in Africa. We’re stronger than ever and we have a clear vision to guide us, with 32 faithful corporate partners by our side. Together we can make the world a better and safer place.”

SM UK Conversion Centre opens in Leeds

05 December 2018

A company that designs and installs high-tech road safety CCTV and security systems for commercial fleets has invested £2m in a new facility in Leeds.

SM UK’s new 10,000 sq ft specialist vehicle conversion centre , staffed by the firm’s team of engineers, provides bespoke fit-out and conversion services for customers ranging from commercial vehicle manufacturers and distributors to individual tradespeople with a single van.

In addition to fitting on-board safety technology, including the firm’s own award winning ‘Halo’ cycle warning system, the conversion centre is equipped to kit out vehicles with custom-built equipment. Contracts range from full van fit-outs, to security systems for large HGVs, and communications equipment for NHS ambulances and first responder emergency vehicles.

Managing director Steve MacDonald said: “As a business we pride ourselves on providing the best service for our clients and our new facility means that we can work on vehicles in a purpose built, clean and well-lit environment, with state of the art tools and equipment.

“Clients see swift turnaround times and, with room for up to 15 large HGVs in our new workshop, our team of skilled engineers have a modern, high-tech environment to work in.”

He added: “Our new vehicle conversion centre will equip us to meet rapidly growing demand for both top quality safety systems and professionally delivered vehicle fit-outs and conversions. We are looking to duplicate the model in the coming months with new facilities in the Midlands and the South East and will inevitably be recruiting further skilled engineers to staff those new centres.”

SM UK employs 55 people across its Leeds headquarters and nationwide fleet of mobile engineers. In 2018 its Halo cyclist awareness system was shortlisted for the Brake Fleet Safety Awards.

‘No deal’ Brexit catastrophic blow to British auto industry, warn businesses in new survey

27 November 2018

  • Three quarters of UK automotive firms warn of ‘no-deal’ Brexit catastrophe, finds new industry survey.1
  • Half already hit by uncertainty, with one in five having lost business and a third cancelling or postponing UK investment decisions.
  • Impact on profitability, ability to win overseas business, investment in UK operations and workforce cuts cited as biggest ‘no deal’ concerns.
  • Withdrawal agreement offers breathing space to negotiate ambitious future relationship and frictionless trade – essential to safeguard UK automotive industry and jobs.

Three quarters of UK automotive businesses fear a ‘no-deal’ Brexit will threaten their future viability, according to a new member survey announced by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) at its 102nd annual dinner in London this evening. The results highlight the critical need for a Brexit withdrawal deal and transition to prevent the industry falling off the cliff-edge on March 29 when the UK leaves its largest and closest trading partner, the EU.

Mike Hawes, CEO SMMT, speaks at the SMMT Annual Dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.

74.1% of companies with UK operations responding to the survey said that a ‘no-deal’ scenario would damage their business, with fewer than 9.0% foreseeing any positive impact. More than half said their operations have already suffered as a result of uncertainty about future trading arrangements. Almost a third said they had postponed or cancelled UK investment decisions because of Brexit, with one in five having already lost business as a direct consequence.

More than half of firms said contingency plans are now being executed, with over one in 10 (12.4%) relocating UK operations overseas and the same proportion already reducing employee headcount. Many have also made alterations to logistics and shipping routes, investment in warehousing and stock and adjustments to production schedules.

SMMT members also outlined the further and long-term damage that a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would do to their businesses. Almost seven in 10 (68.5%) said their profitability would be negatively affected, with 53.9% concerned about their ability to secure new overseas business and a similar number worried about maintaining investment in their UK operations. A further half said a ‘no-deal’ scenario would undermine their ability to maintain their existing workforce.

Automotive is one of the UK’s most valuable assets, employing 856,000 people and delivering £20.2 billion to the economy. Since 2010, car production alone has risen by a third, with 1.67 million cars leaving production lines in 2017 – 80% bound for export, most to the EU. Over the same period, the number of jobs supported has risen by 120,000. This growth has been dependent on free and frictionless trade afforded by the single market and customs union. A no-deal Brexit would bring an immediate end to the seamless movement of goods, resulting in disruption at the border and delays, throwing Just-in-Time manufacturing into chaos and undermining the competitiveness of the sector – ultimately putting profitability and jobs at risk.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Frictionless trade as part of the EU single market and customs union has driven the success of the UK automotive industry so the fact we are leaving is already painful, and already causing damage.
Leaving without a deal would be catastrophic – plants will close; jobs will be lost. Leaving is not what we wanted, but we recognise that the withdrawal agreement has been hard-fought and, crucially, delivers a transition period which steps us back from the cliff-edge.

We need a deal now, and we need an ambitious deal for the future that guarantees frictionless trade with our most important market – nothing else will do, and we urge all parties to remember what’s at stake.

Tony Walker CBE DL, SMMT President and Managing Director, Toyota Motor Europe – London Office, said,

No deal is not an option. In the short term, crashing out of the EU would have immediate and devastating impacts, with border chaos disrupting the Just in Time basis on which our business depends.
Disruption could last for weeks – even months. It is unimaginable that we could implement full WTO import and export procedures overnight. For the longer term, a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would harm our competitiveness, undermine sales and cost jobs… We need the certainty of a deal, not more uncertainty, and we need the smooth transition period based on current trading conditions.

It is vital we have free and frictionless trade with common technical standards. Without these, we risk losing all we have achieved in building a world-class automotive sector.

Notes to editors

1. SMMT Brexit impact survey, November 2018

What impact do you think a ‘no deal’ Brexit will have on your business’ future prospects?

  • Very negative 39.16%
  • Negative 34.97%
  • No impact 9.79%
  • Positive 6.99%
  • Very positive 1.40%
  • Don’t know 7.69%

Overall, what impact has Brexit had on your business to date?

  • Very negative 10.49%
  • Negative 45.06%
  • No impact 32.10%
  • Positive 4.32%
  • Very positive 3.09%
  • Don’t know 4.94%

Have you planned, made, postponed or cancelled UK investment decisions because of Brexit?

  • Planned investments 10.49%
  • Made investments 9.26%
  • Postponed investments 25.31%
  • Cancelled investments 6.79%
  • None of the above 46.91%
  • Don’t know 7.41%

Have you won or lost new or existing business because of Brexit?

  • Won 6.17%
  • Lost 20.37%
  • Both 9.26%
  • Neither 44.44%
  • Don’t know 19.75%

What steps have you already taken or plan to take to prepare for Brexit and mitigate any risks

  • Expansion of overseas footprint 26.14%
  • Expansion of UK footprint 15.03%
  • Investment in UK operations 20.26%
  • Divestment from the UK 3.92%
  • Relocation of UK operations to new/ existing overseas sites 12.42%
  • Adjustment of UK production/ operations 26.14%
  • Diversification across other sectors 9.15%
  • Investment in UK warehousing and stock holding 22.22%
  • Investment in skills base 22.22%
  • Investment in customs infrastructure and systems 16.99%
  • Adjustment to logistics and shipping routes 22.88%
  • Reduction in overheads 15.69%
  • Reduction of employment headcount 12.42%
  • Re-financing of business operations 7.19%
  • Adjustments to regulatory compliance approach to mitigate risks (eg type approval) 20.92%
  • None of the above 18.95%
  • Other 11.11%

Are you actively preparing for the UK to withdraw from the EU on 29 March 2019, with ‘no deal’ having been agreed?

  • Yes 54.55%
  • No 28.67%
  • Don’t know 16.78%

What do you think the impact of a ‘no deal’ Brexit will be on your business’ profitability?

  • Very negative 20.98%
  • Negative 47.55%
  • No impact 18.18%
  • Positive 11.19%
  • Very positive 2.10%

What do you think the impact of a ‘no deal’ Brexit will be on your business’ ability to secure new overseas business?

  • Very negative 21.68%
  • Negative 32.17%
  • No impact 35.66%
  • Positive 8.39%
  • Very positive 2.10%

What do you think the impact of a ‘no deal’ Brexit will be on your business’ ability and appetite to invest in your UK operations?

  • Very negative 16.08%
  • Negative 34.97%
  • No impact 32.87%
  • Positive 13.99%
  • Very positive 2.10%

What do you think the impact of a ‘no deal’ Brexit will be on your business’ ability to maintain the existing workforce?

  • Very negative 11.19%
  • Negative 38.46%
  • No impact 36.36%
  • Positive 12.59%
  • Very positive 1.40%

Survey results based on the responses of 182 SMMT member companies to an online poll conducted in November 2018.
Media coverage

Three quarters of UK carmakers fear no-deal Brexit – Reuters
Car industry warns of ‘catastrophic’ impact of no-deal Brexit – Telegraph
UK carmakers warn no-deal Brexit would be ‘catastrophic’ – FT
Three quarters of UK carmakers fear no-deal Brexit – Daily Mail

UK CV manufacturing up in October as demand grows home and abroad

29 November 2018

  • CV production in the UK rises 31.0% in October, to 9,066 units.
  • Demand from both export and home markets grows, 7.7% and 61.9% respectively.
  • Year-to-date performance broadly stable, up 2.5% on the same period last year.

British commercial vehicle (CV) manufacturing grew 31.0% in October, with 9,066 vans, trucks, buses and coaches leaving production lines, according to figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders (SMMT).

Production for the UK saw a substantial 61.9% boost, with increased demand for UK-built models resulting in 4,815 units built. Meanwhile, 4,251 CVs were built for export, a 7.7% increase compared with the same month last year.

In the year to date, output remains broadly stable, up 2.5% on the same period in 2017 to almost 70,000 units. Manufacture for both the home and global markets has grown overall, by 3.5% and 1.8% respectively. UK manufacturing continues to rely on customers across the world, with production for export making up 61.2% of factory output so far this year.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Caution is always advised when making monthly comparisons in the CV sector, as naturally variable buying cycles can make a big impact. However, it is positive to see growth, albeit moderate, over the year so far. The proportion of CVs built for global markets remains at almost two thirds of UK output, with the majority destined for the EU. If growth is to continue, maintaining frictionless trade with our largest customer will be essential.