British HGV market down -4.3% in 2018 but demand for tippers and skip loaders bucks overall trend

11 February 2019

  • New HGV registrations decline -4.3% in 2018, with 43,103 vehicles joining UK roads.
  • Demand grows for tippers, skip loaders and flat lorries, bucking overall trend.
  • Markets for both rigid and artic trucks decline, down -6.7% and -1.1% respectively.

The UK new heavy goods vehicle (HGV) market declined for a second year in 2018, down -4.3%, despite an uptick in the fourth quarter, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 43,103 heavy trucks were registered on UK roads last year, almost two thousand fewer than in 2017.

Registrations of rigid trucks declined -6.7%, driven by a double-digit fall in the >6-16T segment and a smaller -3.8% drop in demand for trucks >16T. Elsewhere, the market for articulated heavy trucks also declined, down -1.1%, as 19,287 models joined UK roads, while 2-axle artics enjoyed a +2.4% boost in popularity.

In 2018, tractors remained by far the most popular segment, taking 44.5% of the market, with demand staying broadly stable year-on-year, down just -1.3%. While box vans ended the year down -16.7%, tippers, skip loaders and flat lorries bucked the overall trend, with all seeing single digit growth.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Despite the natural fluctuation in fleet buying cycles, the second consecutive annual fall in new HGV registrations is a significant concern. Business confidence is absolutely critical if companies are to invest in the latest, low-emission trucks in 2019, and with ongoing political and economic uncertainty and fewer than 50 days until we leave the European Union, we need stability now more than ever.

Second year of decline for UK bus & coach market

11 February 2019

  • Demand for new buses and coaches declines -5.6% in 2018, with 7,236 vehicles joining UK roads.
  • Minibus registrations grow 5.0% but can’t offset substantial declines for single and double-deckers.
  • 1,594 units registered in Q4, down -5.6% on same period in 2018 and marking eighth quarterly fall.

The UK new bus and coach market fell by -5.6% in 2018, with annual registrations falling for a second consecutive year to 7,236 units, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). A -5.6% drop in the final three months of the year marked the eighth straight quarter of decline as local authority budget cuts and uncertainty over local Clean Air Zone plans continued to affect operator confidence.

Quarter four performance saw a steep fall in demand for double-decks, down by more than a third (-34.6%), although the minibus and single-deck segments both grew, by +0.9% and +14.3% respectively.

Rising minibus registrations were the market’s good news story for 2018, with demand for these smaller vehicles growing by +5.0% in the year to 4,023 units as operators downsized and downscaled investments. However, this was not enough to offset significant declines in demand for single and double-deck buses, falling by -8.5% and -26.8% respectively.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

A second year of decline for the bus and coach sector is extremely concerning. While the market is cyclical, there’s no doubt that a squeeze on local government spending, general economic uncertainty, and confusion surrounding a patchwork of differing Clean Air Zones have taken their toll on operator confidence.

While the recently announced ultra-low emission bus fund is a step in the right direction, wider incentives aligned with the right business conditions are required to encourage fleet renewal and get more of the latest, lowest emission buses and coaches onto local roads.

Mitsubishi launches Outlander PHEV Commercial

13 February 2019

Mitsubishi has launched a commercial vehicle variant of its Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid SUV, on sale now in the UK.

The PHEV is based on the mid-range Outlander Juro SUV and is fitted with a floor-to-ceiling bulkhead located behind the front seats, which is solid at the base with the top half comprising a protective metal mesh. The load area measures 1,650mm in length, 1,000mm in width (measured between the wheel arches), 800mm high at the tailgate and has a maximum payload of 510kg.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial, eligible for the Plug-In Van Grant, uses the same 4WD set-up as the passenger car, with an electric motor on each axle. The electric drivetrain runs alongside a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, with automatic transmission.

Five minutes with: Carl zu Dohna, Director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK

13 February 2019

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) is the UK’s second best-selling LCV brand, with a portfolio of vans ranging from the compact Caddy to the 3.5t Crafter, along with multiple conversions. Transport News Brief caught up with the brand’s Director, Carl zu Dohna, to talk about the sector and what VWCV is up to in the near future.

What are the challenges and opportunities for the LCV sector over the next 2-3 years, and how is VWCV preparing for them?

In the past it was enough to build and sell great vehicles. We are now in a fast-paced world and need to see ourselves as a provider of mobility solutions for our customers. As their businesses evolve, we need to evolve. And we’re doing it: preparing for the arrival of electric vehicles across our range to allow customers to respond to low emission zones and the challenges of operating LCVs in cities; opening extended hours across our network and increasing our mobile servicing offering because our customers need support beyond 9-5; developing smart digital solutions from vehicle configurators and finance calculators, through online service booking to live chat; to name but a few.

It’s exciting, the challenge is to understand their business and their future requirements; the opportunities come from living up to our brand’s Working With You promise and building bespoke packages and solutions for each and every commercial vehicle operator.

You recently announced a strategic alliance with Ford. What benefits will this bring to the market and to VWCV’s products?

Efficiencies of scale will come from the co-development of products, but also in collaboration on autonomous vehicles, mobility services and EV. We’re in an era of rapid change and this alliance will boost competitiveness and allow us to serve customers better.

What do you think the biggest developments in the LCV market will be over the coming months and years?

There’s no doubt there’ll be an increase in the sales of electric vehicles to respond to policy changes – and this will also bring a change in use. Fleets will start to look for smarter last mile delivery solutions for example, matching a vehicle to a requirement rather than a broader ‘one size fits all’ policy. We’re also likely to start to see a change in ownership models with customers wanting vehicles when they need them.

I think it’s important to think about the macro trends as well: what are consumers demanding? And in turn what will our customers demand? What is the government calling for? We have to be ready to react to these changes with a great suite of products and support packages, a stable and professional network, and a team of forward-looking people who aren’t afraid to adapt a model which has been in place for many years.

Where does VWCV see its opportunities to grow and develop the business?

Our Engineered for You and Engineered to Go conversions – largely on Crafter but also on Transporter and Caddy – offer us new opportunities in market sectors where our sales have not matched our overall performance. I’m talking not only in the traditional Luton, dropside and tipper markets, but for example in emergency vehicles, home delivery and refrigerated conversions, breakdown and wheelchair access. We also have opportunities to do more with Caravelle in taxi and chauffeur transport. Last year we also grew our share of the Motability market with products including the Shuttle. Plus, as I’ve said earlier, there’s profitable growth to be gained from a suite of support and aftersales products, as well as in used vehicles.

With the Engineered for You range of conversions, are we likely to see more off-the-peg conversions in the near future and if so what types of vehicle are they likely to be?

Yes – our new recognised converter scheme is running well now and a real focus for the network. We’ve just launched a new range of Engineered to Go Luton, dropside and tipper, and a refrigerated van and minibus will be on sale around the middle of the year.

What about EVs – is there a plan to sell more of VWCV’s E-models in the UK, and how will they come to market?

Yes – at the IAA in September we showed an electric Caddy, Transporter and Crafter as well as the ID Buzz Cargo and eCargo Bike. The first to come will be the ABT eCaddy, developed in co-operation with ABT, followed by the Crafter and ABT eTransporter in 2020/1 and ID Buzz products from 2022. The collaboration with ABT is a great way to be able to bring electric products to market quickly and cost-effectively; longer term with new generations of vehicles we’ll be able to benefit from the Volkswagen Group’s MEB electric platform as well.

They will be sold through our traditional network, and we’re working with our Van Centres now to make sure they’re ready to sell and service EVs. It’s not just about importing the vans – our customers, network and wider team also need to be prepared.

How important is the CV Show to VWCV?

It’s a really important date in the calendar and we’re looking forward to being there again this year. We returned to the show three years ago after an absence and it’s been hugely successful. Our ‘house’ concept provides the perfect backdrop to meet and do business with customers. We’ve sold vehicles and set up long term fleet partnerships as a direct result of being at the show – what could be more important?

What is VWCV doing to ensure its retail and service network is positioned for the future, both in terms of customer support and dealer development and training?

Over the past few years we’ve reviewed our entire people strategy, to make sure we attract, develop and keep the right forward-looking people to make our dedicated Van Centre network viable and successful for the short, medium and long term.

At the top end we’ve had a big focus on leadership, with new programmes in place for senior and emerging leaders, and at the other end we’re boosting our apprentice intake to make sure we ‘grow our own’ as we know this is a great way to develop future talent. We’ve also refreshed all our qualification paths and are using more efficient and engaging training methods such as online and remote modules, as well as face-to-face.

Ultimately, our people are key to our future success: and this will come from entrepreneurial leaders with an eye on the changing market and a willingness to respond and innovate.

UK’s first Liquefied Natural Gas IVECO Stralis 6×2 trialled by Calor

13 February 2019

Gas supplier Calor has taken delivery of the UK’s first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)-powered IVECO Stralis NP, in the popular 6×2 tractor cab format.

The truck has been supplied by IVECO dealer Guest Truck and Van and will be trialled by Calor – an LNG supplier itself – with a view to introducing more gas-powered trucks to its fleet.

David Brown, Calor’s fleet asset manager, said: “We believe LNG can help hauliers improve their operational efficiency, delivering a lower cost fuel to diesel with good availability.

“It is important to practise what we preach and introduce low-carbon, low-emission technology into our own fleet… We are looking forward to seeing the benefits of the new IVECO truck for ourselves and to enjoy the efficiencies it will deliver to our fleet.”

The IVECO Stralis NP (Natural Power) LNG 460BHP 6×2 tractor has only recently gone into production, and Guest Truck and Van is the first UK dealer to offer the model as a demonstrator.

Guest Truck and Van’s Shaun Taylor said: “Until this point, gas-powered truck technology had only been available for operators of 4×2 tractor units. IVECO has now introduced a real contender to change the landscape of 6×2 fleets.”

Cartwright wins Hermes contract

13 February 2019

The Cartwright Group has won a major fleet contract with parcel delivery company Hermes to supply 244 box vans and seven tractor units, 40 using Euro 6 diesel engines and 30 using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

The deal is part of Cartwright’s ambition to expand its fleet management and contract hire business – Cartwright Fleet Services (CFS) – and comes with ongoing maintenance for five years.

As well as the 244 specialist parcel vehicles, the agreement represents one of the largest orders in the UK for natural gas-powered vehicles with 30 of the Iveco tractors fuelled by Compressed Natural Gas.

The fleet will be maintained by CFS through its nationwide network of service centres.

Lawrence Todd, Director of CFS, commented: “We are delighted to have won this contract to supply Hermes with a complete package from design and build through to finance and ongoing fleet management.”

Martin Colloff, Head of Client and Network Distribution at Hermes, said: “Working with Cartwright enables us to receive an end-to-end managed solution for our fleet, which is efficient and helps us to manage our vehicles through one dedicated point of contact. We deliver more than 330 million parcels each year to customers across the UK and Cartwright’s support enables us to continually improve and exceed our standards.”

New Ford trailer fleet to raise awareness for mental health campaign

13 February 2019

Ford is adding 10 liveried trailers to its UK transport operations fleet to mark this year’s ‘Time to Talk’ day.

The trailers each feature the message: “Don’t let mental health be the elephant in the room”. The trailers will travel thousands of miles a year, acting as mobile billboards to raise awareness of the Time to Change campaign, which aims to end mental health discrimination.

Last year, Ford partnered with Time to Change, producing a national awareness film called Elephant in the Transit, promoting the front seat of a vehicle as a safe space to talk after research, conducted by Ford, found that over two-thirds (67 per cent) of people said they were more comfortable talking about personal concerns when in a vehicle.

“One in four of us go through mental health issues at some point in our lives, so it really affects everyone, be it through personal experience or through people we know,” said Ford of Britain managing director, Andy Barratt. “As the market-leading van brand in the UK, Ford is an important part of society and we want to use that relationship to reach as many people as possible and encourage them to talk about mental health.”

“We’re delighted that Ford continues to be committed to improving attitudes towards mental health,” said Director of Time to Change, Jo Loughran. “We’ve come a long way in recent years but still, too many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, worthless and ashamed. Time to Talk Day is an opportunity to break down barriers and have real and meaningful conversations about mental health – however you do it. As Ford’s public awareness film highlights, talking about mental health doesn’t have to be the elephant in the room.”

Fully electric DAF refrigerated truck enters service

13 February 2019

The first pure EV truck with a fully electric refrigerated trailer has gone into service in the Netherlands.

DAF Trucks has delivered a CF Electric truck to Tinie Manders Transport to trial the viability of the technology. Tinie Manders Transport volunteered to participate in the testing phase of this development project, where they will combine the fully electric truck with a fully electric refrigerated trailer. This combination made them eligible for the region’s subsidy for sustainable transport.

Jos Habets, DAF Operations Director, said: “It is clear that the transport sector is on the cusp of a major transformation.

“The electric truck is set to become the norm in more and more urban areas in future.

“I am extremely proud that we are now in a position to broaden our experience with electric trucks in collaboration with Tinie Manders Transport.

“The data that we collect about both the technology and the operational deployment will feed into the specifications for the final production models, thus ensuring that they fit seamlessly with the requirements of the market.”

Eveline Manders, of Tinie Manders Transport, said: “We are very proud to be one of the first to drive this pioneering DAF.

“We have been involved in its development from the outset and we are, of course, curious to see the results in practice.”

New van market grows 8.6% in January

05 February 2019

  • New light commercial vehicle (LCV) market posts 8.6% increase in first month of the year.
  • Double-digit increases in demand for small vans and pickups, up 31.7% and 13.4% respectively.
  • New models and deals help January bounce-back following weak December.



The new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market grew 8.6% in January, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). More than 22,000 new vans and pick-ups joined UK roads in the first month of the year, an uplift of 1,761 compared with January 2018.

All segments saw growth in the month, except medium vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes, where demand fell
-3.9%. Car-derived vans weighing less than 2.0 tonnes and pickups both saw double-digit increases, by 31.7% and 13.4%, boosted by new model introductions and sales campaigns. Demand also grew for large vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes, increasing by 7.1%, to 13,268 vehicles.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

January’s positive performance follows a mixed 2018, which finished on a particularly poor December, so some bounce-back was to be expected. Further fluctuations in demand are predicted over the coming months as the UK’s post-Brexit future remains uncertain. Operators need stability to invest and renew their fleets, which now depends on government providing the right conditions starting with removing the threat of ‘no-deal’.

Dennis Eagle provides dual-purpose solution for Doncaster

06 February 2019

A Dennis Eagle Elite 6 chassis is proving itself as a multi-purpose solution for Doncaster Borough Council, by operating as a construction vehicle during the daytime and in warmer weather, but by doubling up as a gritting wagon on winter evenings.

The British-built vehicle is equipped with a demountable tipper body and a crane, while an Econ QCB system enables a range of attachments to be fitted, including a snow plough and a six cubic metre gritting unit.

The truck has a Volvo engine and air suspension on both the front and drive axles, which can be raised at speeds of up to 10mph for an easier approach to off-road sites.

Charlie Everitt, Sales Support Engineer for Dennis Eagle, said: “It was an exciting new project for Dennis Eagle – it’s the first time we’ve fitted a gritter, snow plough or demountable body to an Elite 6 chassis.”

Doncaster Council’s highways operations manager Gary Willmot added: “We have been proud to be able to work together and create this vehicle, and hope it will benefit other service providers in the future.”