Vauxhall celebrates a quarter of a million Vivaros

10 October 2018

Vauxhall’s UK van manufacturing plant is celebrating a quarter of a million milestone after the 250,000th second generation Vivaro rolled off the production line in Luton last week.

The milestone Vivaro was handed over to BT Fleet Solutions, Vauxhall’s biggest Vivaro customer.

The milestone brings the total number of Vivaro vans built at Luton to 1.2 million since production began in 2001.The second generation model has been built at the UK plant since 2014.

“As a British brand since 1903, we are very proud to celebrate this milestone at our Luton manufacturing plant and handover the landmark vehicle to BT Fleet Solutions, our biggest Vivaro customer,” said Stephen Norman, Vauxhall’s Managing Director. “Our hardworking and dedicated workforce produce vehicles of exceptional quality so it is no surprise these British-built Vivaro vans are so successful in the marketplace.”

“I’m delighted to take delivery of the 250,000th Vivaro on behalf of BT” said Henry Brace, Managing Director of BT Fleet Solutions.

“We have purchased 25,000 Vivaros from Vauxhall over the past 14 years and they have served us well.”

“As with all the 30,000 plus commercial vehicles on our fleet, we work very closely with manufacturers like Vauxhall to source the right product that is able to meet the needs of our people today and for the next five to seven years.

“Key to us when deciding which product to buy is working very closely with the people who will be driving the vans, manufacturers and converters to get the right product aligned to our business needs and strategy.”

Earlier this year, Groupe PSA announced its plan to produce a brand new, next generation Vivaro at Luton next year. Groupe PSA’s plan includes investment in the plant to increase its production capacity to 100,000 vehicles per year.

Bosch reveals electric trailer axles

10 October 2018

Automotive technology supplier Bosch has revealed a concept e-axle for semi-trailers, which helps improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

The axles retain electricity created through kinetic energy developed during use and also through braking, which is then transferred to a power module and can be used to assist with a truck’s overall movement when needed.

The e-axle can help by powering the trailer separately from the cab, so can reduce fuel use when coupling and decoupling in a haulage yard, or in heavy traffic where it can reduce the energy required by the truck cab to pull it forward.

Though the technology is two or three years away, “all of the components are ready right now,” said Jason Roycht, Bosch’s head of commercial and off-road vehicles. “We’re looking at new applications of our standard motors, our standard inverters, our standard controllers with the same logic.”

The Bosch system will use electric motors developed for passenger cars because the e-axle is only needed for certain tasks a few times an hour.

Timing will depend on trailer buyers, Roycht said. “What we’ll see is a transition period where for certain users, it’s going to make sense. For certain ones it’s probably never going to make sense.”

The Bosch system can be retrofitted on the center axle of an individual trailer. On the road, the trailer would tell the tractor how much recaptured energy was available for use from storage in a high-voltage battery. The motors in the electrified axle start only if they can recover energy, such as during downhill driving.

New entry-level minibus from Iveco

10 October 2018

IVECO has introduced a new entry-level version of its Daily minibus – named the START – aimed at sports clubs, schools and community groups as well as short distance, high volume fleet operators.

Iveco dealer David Fishwick has become the first supplier in the UK to take delivery of the new Daily START as a demonstrator vehicle.

The 6-metre long minibus is also aimed at operators requiring a simple and functional vehicle with low running costs – such as airport parking services and local taxi work.

Mark Barlow, Fishwick’s Dealer Principal, said: “This new Daily model offers excellent value for money, thanks to IVECO’s pedigree in the minibus and minicoach market, plus its 24/7 aftersales and maintenance support. With this new vehicle on the market, operators can be confident of a long service life, even for high-mileage applications.”

Capable of seating up to 16 passengers and with the possibility of wheelchair access in certain configurations, the bus has a manual side sliding door and retractable step. Optional features include CCTV, an electric sliding door, reverse cameras and USB charging points.

Abdi Ali, Product Manager, IVECO BUS UK, said: “The Daily START’s functional configuration offers fleets the opportunity to make their vehicle operations even more profitable. We’ve designed the Daily Start to be a highly competitive minibus in its class, and we are expecting strong demand – particularly from fleets carrying a large volume of passengers over short journeys, where the added comforts of our higher specification vehicles simply aren’t necessary.”

Feature: Vans and mileage – choosing the right powertrain to suit your business

11 October 2018

With electric vehicle market share increasing in the passenger car sector, you may wonder if the story is similar in the LCV market. For vans, the advances are less rapid with a number of complex issues affecting their development. While these issues are constantly being worked on, high on the agenda includes load space and payload, as incorporating battery packs can impact on load capacity, with extra weight impacting range.

For companies balancing budgets and assessing when to invest in their fleets, it can be difficult to know which powertrain is best.

Range is a most common question associated with electric vans; quite simply, how far will they go on a single charge? Advances in battery technology have seen the figures rise, with further innovation on the way, but despite the capability of modern alternatively fuelled LCVs, , there is still a belief that they are confined to low-mileage duties.

Some of the market-leading pure electric vans quote real world ranges of just over 100 miles on a single charge, which may not sound a lot but, research by Renault suggests that the average van driver covers around 70 miles a day.

Range anxiety is one identified barrier to the adoption of alternatively fuelled vehicles, especially for van drivers travelling over 100 miles, who must plan ahead to ensure their destination or a stop on the way will have charging facilities, and factor the charge time into a delivery schedule.

David Watts, senior consultant at leasing company Arval, believes, assuming drivers can chanrge overnight: “If you take something like the Renault Kangoo ZE.. If you do 80 miles a day, five days a week for 48 weeks a year, that’s just under 20,000 miles – that’s not a low-mileage vehicle in any meaningful sense. So this idea of EVs being low mileage is one thing that people need to get away from.”

To decide whether electric vans suit the needs of the business, Watts says companies should forget the idea of annual mileage and instead focus on journey profiles, which he believes provide a realistic illustration of an EV’s suitability. “It’s not annual mileage that’s the issue; it’s the journey profile. From a commercial vehicle perspective, organisations need to understand what the journey profile is, and they will have a variance across their fleet. They will have some people who are routinely doing 150 miles regularly – not necessarily every day, but regularly – and they’ll have other people who, on average, are only doing 80 or 100 miles a day or less.

“It’s a case of understanding the daily profile of vehicles and, therefore, if that will fit with the electric capabilities of the vans, taking into account weather and load – because load impacts the electric range on vehicles, unsurprisingly, in the same way that it impacts mpg on a vehicle – and identifying the pockets [where EVs are suitable]. Those pockets will grow as the products change and get better, but at the moment, it’s about identifying drivers where, potentially, the vehicle fits from both an operational use perspective and from a daily mileage perspective.”

Another consideration for a business, according to Watts, is where and when the vehicles are charged, “Then you’ve got the question about where it goes at night. If it goes home, then can the driver charge at home? If it’s staying on site overnight at the depot or base … you can potentially install your own charging points.

“It really comes down to: is the product available that meets the [company’s] basic requirements? Have you got then pockets of drivers where the mileage profile fits the capability of the current technology? And then how are you going to physically charge those vehicles?”

For some businesses, transitioning to ultra-low emission vehicles can be made easier by hybrid technology. Plug-in hybrid vans combine an internal combustion engine (ICE) with an electric motor and batteries, which work to enable the vehicle to drive a certain number of miles on electric power only, then for longer distances, or for higher loads, the ICE takes over. Expected future technology for plug-in hybrids includes the prospect of using geo-fencing to change the power source, for example, when a van is about to enter a city’s zero-emission zone, the battery power could be put to use.

While the case for alternatively fuelled vans is certainly building, the commercial vehicle sector is heavily reliant upon diesel. The latest Euro 6 diesel vans are still the most appropriate engine option for higher mileage and frequent long-distance work. This strengthens the case for journey profiling rather than focusing purely on the mileage figure. Fundamentally, businesses must establish the exact tasks for which their vehicles will be used before they commit to a particular powertrain.

“I think it’s really important that fleets recognise that diesel absolutely is the right solution for some of their users – certainly for the time being,” says Mark Jowsey, director of manufacturer liaison at fleet specialist KeeResources.

“If you’ve got petrol, diesel, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles, and if you’re going to run a cost-effective policy, you need to be able to interrogate those operating costs and assess the appropriate solution for the user. We are going to have to think more carefully about what the right powertrain solutions are for different user types, based on their use. You can’t do that unless you’re interrogating all areas of cost.”

Bus and coach makers gear up for Euro Bus Expo

10 October 2018

The biggest names in the bus and coach industry are gearing up for the UK’s largest show for the sector, which takes place at the end of this month.

Euro Bus Expo takes place at the NEC , Birmingham, from October 30 to November 1, and will see all of the major names in the bus industry exhibiting their latest products.

Optare will exhibit its Euro 6 single deck range fitted with Allison xFE transmission along with a reveal of the next generation of Optare EV bus.

ADL is showing its Enviro400 double-decker in multiple drivelines, including 48V SmartHybrid system, as well as in a biogas version on the Scania stand. On the coach side, products include the flagship Plaxton Panorama double-decker, which has a large seating capacity and extra accessibility options.

Scania says its stand will be entirely populated by vehicles capable of operating on renewable fuels, including options for biodiesel, biogas and HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil), as well as hybrid power. “Two years ago, Scania declared its intention to drive the shift to sustainable transport systems,” said Martin West, its Bus and Coach Sales Director “In the medium to long term, electrification will play a key role in meeting emissions targets.”

Representatives from leading bus and coach operators, government and industry organisations will also be appearing in the Master Class theatre.

Claire Mann, Director of Bus Operations at Transport for London, is one of seven new speakers for 2018. In her session (on 1 November), she will discuss TfL’s new Bus Safety Standard, which will be incorporated into bus operator contracts from the end of this year.

“Euro Bus Expo provides a great opportunity for collaboration and to share new and exciting developments within the industry. I’m really looking forward to talking about our world-leading Bus Safety Standard as we look to revolutionise bus safety in London,” she said.

Also confirmed (for 30 October) is Steven Salmon, Director of Policy Development at the Confederation for Passenger Transport, who will discuss the potential implications of Brexit for UK and European bus and coach operations.

Other topics covered in the Master Class theatre will include open government data, air quality, driver recruitment and retention, and the DVSA’s Earned Recognition scheme.

Wrightbus lands Hong Kong orders

10 October 2018

Wrightbus has secured two major contracts from overseas customers in Hong Kong.

Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) has ordered 150 buses from the Ballymena manufacturer, while its sister company, LongWin Bus, is taking a further 10. All are double-decker vehicles with Wrightbus bodywork and Volvo chassis.

The company has also received an order for seven buses for New World First Bus (NWFB) and 46 from its sister company City Bus Ltd.

The new contracts bring the total number of bus bodywork orders won by the company in Hong Kong to 484 units over the past two years.

The vehicles will be manufactured at the new Wrightbus campus in Gracehill, Ballymena, and will be among the first to be produced and delivered from the renovated factory.

In announcing the Hong Kong orders, Group Business & Product Development Director John McLeister, said: “We are honoured to receive these two new orders from our long-standing customers in Hong Kong. Working closely with our partners Volvo, we have supplied almost 1500 double-deckers for operation in Hong Kong since we shipped the first bus in 2001.

“The Hong Kong double-deckers will be manufactured at our facility in Ballymena and will provide a real boost for our workforce and the local economy.”

Volvo Buses wins digital communications award

10 October 2018

Volvo has been awarded top honours for its digital communications on the back of a campaign to raise awareness of electric buses.

The company’s“Light the Lights” campaigntook the overall prize in the 2018 Digital Communications Awards, against competition from major international firms in all business sectors.

The awards have been rewarding innovative communication in digital channels since 2011, and the Volvo entry beat 700 other award nominees.

“We’re delighted that the international jury recognised our strategy for reaching a broader audience in our drive to increase knowledge about and generate interest in electric city bus traffic,” said Stefan Nerpin, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Volvo Buses. “We wanted more people to feel they were involved in the global development of a quieter and cleaner urban environment.”

The campaign was built around the true story of an unknown struggling artist from Gothenburg, Sweden, who interacts with Volvo’s electric buses in film format. In the film she sings a song she wrote herself, “Light the Lights”. The film and the song went viral across multiple digital channels such as Facebook, YouTube and Spotify. After just two weeks more than 3.5 million people had listened to the song or watched the film.

During and after the campaign, both the artist and Volvo Buses received praise from a wide range of target groups, and the song has become a consistent theme for the success of Volvo’s electric buses, of which 4,000 have been sold to date.

Cartwright Group extends apprenticeship programme

10 October 2018

Altrincham-based trailer and commercial vehicle body manufacturer, Cartwright Group, has developed its apprenticeship programme to include new modules and an induction week with a focus on support and team-building.

The trailer and body building company is introducing new modules on the programme including business administration and design to add to positions across the range of manufacturing processes on Cartwright’s 38-acre manufacturing site.

The induction process has been further developed to include group activities and sessions with key staff.

At the time of its launch in 2012, Cartwright’s trailblazer apprenticeship programme was recognised as a ground-breaking scheme and it is now entering its sixth year, with over 200 apprentices walking through its doors since the scheme was first launched.

The scheme was the brainchild of Cartwright chairman, Peter Cartwright who wanted to drive a stream of young talent into the engineering sector, a goal that has been the core to continuing the Cartwright success story.

This year saw the highest number of apprentices recruited since the scheme was launched, with 29 new starters inducted onto the scheme.

Mark Cartwright, Group Managing Director at the Cartwright Group commented: “It’s a pleasure to enforce the development of young talent by giving them the opportunity to learn from some of the best talent in British manufacturing and thrive in a successful career with Cartwright.

“We are constantly looking to invest and expand our apprenticeship programme as it continues to play a pivotal role in our continuing success.

“Introducing these new modules to our apprenticeship this year is a testament to how quickly the scheme is evolving. Each year we have listened to the course leaders and feedback from apprentices to develop the course into what I believe is the strongest apprentice programme in the industry.”

Cartwright’s four-year apprenticeships are tailored to the company’s requirements and are designed to encourage school and college leavers to develop a range of both work and social skills, including working in a team, to lay the foundations for a future career in engineering. As part of the course, apprentices are able to earn further higher education qualifications in their respective fields as part of their extensive training and development, in partnership with SETA Training and Advisory Services.

MAN reveals innovative urban delivery concept

03 October 2018

MAN Truck and Bus has revealed a 15-tonne delivery vehicle designed for urban last-mile delivery work.

The CitE is described by MAN Truck and Bus Chairman Joachim Drees as “our answer to transporting goods in the cities.”

MAN says The CitE, which has a lithium-ion battery pack designed and integrated into the chassis frame of the truck, would offer an operational range of 100 kilometres (62 miles) on a full charge. Its ergonomic cab offers wider doors than a standard MAN truck, a walk-through cab and the lowest entry step height in its class, designed to accommodate urban drivers who would move in and out of it up to 30 times a day.

The cabin of the truck is also designed with urban deliveries in mind, featuring items such as a built-in clipboard for delivery sheets, a docking station for tablets, a work surface for the driver and multiple USB sockets, along with an integrated fridge for the driver’s lunch and drinks.

The design features also include a heated steering wheel, fully digital dashboard display and 360-degree cameras that allow the driver full visibility of the sides and rear of the truck.

“Our industry is on the brink of change,” added Drees. “Let me make one thing very clear. As a commercial vehicle manufacturer we are not part of the problem, we are part of the solution.”

Bluestar ‘air-filtration’ bus launched

03 October 2018

One of the nation’s largest bus and rail operators – Go Ahead Group – has launched what it claims to be the country’s first bus that cleans the air around it as it travels.

The air-filtering ‘Bluestar’ bus uses a filtration system produced by British firm Pall Aerospace, attached to the top of the vehicle, which picks up and traps airborne particles as it moves around the city centre of Southampton, where it has gone into service.

Steve Simpson, senior director of marketing for Pall Aerospace, said: “Our team is proud of the results on the filtering bus project, and we are excited to see it in action with our partner Go-Ahead.

“We used our knowledge of aerospace filtration to design and build a product that will help clean the air of the cities in which we live by removing the particulates that are a major component of air pollution.”

Go Ahead chief executive, David Brown, said: “We are going a step further in the potential for our buses to actively clean the environment. It’s a huge development in our environmental leadership and we are also proud to be pioneering the prototype in the UK.”

The diesel bus is fitted with a filter that its inventors say will remove ultra-fine particles from the air and trap them as the bus moves through the streets. The filter then allows the bus to blow out more pure air so that the air behind it is cleaner than that in front of it.

Brown said Southampton had been chosen for the prototype as the World Health Organization revealed that the city is one of the worst in the UK for air pollution.

He added that if the trial is successful it could be rolled out to Go Ahead’s entire fleet of more than 5,000 buses.