Poor seat positioning to blame for van driver absences

10 April 2019

Back pain has led more than two-thirds (70%) of van drivers to take time off work, costing the UK economy around £21 billion per year, according to research by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

The study also revealed that poor seat adjustment could be to blame for the problem, with the resulting downtime costing businesses an average of £500 per day per van.

Prab Chandhok, chiropractor and member of the British Chiropractic Association, said, “Many people now point to driving as a trigger for their back or neck pain, so it’s really important that your van is set up properly for your needs, to help ease the strain that driving – especially for long periods of time – can have on your back and neck.

“The key thing to remember is that there is no single seat that is perfect for everyone, so it’s practical to test the seat out fully before you buy a new vehicle. The more adjustable it is the better.”

Michael McHale, TRL, on potholes: lessons learnt and future solutions

11 April 2019

When it comes to delivering transport solutions for the future, zero emissions electric vehicles and all manner of technical innovations spring to mind. Few people, though, will think about how improvements to the road surfaces themselves can effect real change. Michael McHale, Pavement Engineering Lead at TRL gives his opinion.

The first thing most people think of when considering the challenges for road surfaces would be the infamous pothole. In fact, while it is essential to repair potholes to keep road users safe, they are merely a symptom of the many underlying causes that effect the quality of a road’s surface.

When it comes to solving the pothole crisis in the UK, experts at TRL suggest that treating these defects is simply not enough. Potholes are a symptom of road surfaces that are not fit for purpose because of the changes transport has endured over the years and most importantly, due to a lack of funding.

Many factors come into play when identifying the real cause of poor-quality road surfaces in the modern world. Increasing populations, growing numbers of vehicles on the road, rising consumer demand and the advent of online delivery services have all had an impact on the durability of roads due to increasingly frequent use.

Consider the arrival of GPS; this innovative technology has made it easier for road users to navigate UK infrastructure, while in turn, it has resulted in heavier traffic flows with heavy vehicles utilising routes that may not have seen these levels of traffic previously or may not have been designed for this type of use to begin with.

To lay a solid foundation for the UK infrastructure, and prepare road surfaces for the future, a focussed engineering strategy is needed in the approach to potholes. Engineers and authorities must look at solving the causes of potholes, rather than treating the symptom.

Well-engineered, regularly maintained road surfaces and the use of quality materials is the only real way to defeat the notorious pothole. Strategies that focus on proper maintenance of road surfaces before they deteriorate would prevent a huge number of defects seen on UK roads.

Sealing, strengthening and renewing road surfaces are the most important ways that defects can be minimised through preventative maintenance. These may seem like disruptive and expensive measures, but in terms of whole life cost they could eradicate potholes and prove more cost effective.

Modifying road surfaces to accommodate connected and automated vehicles present a variety of challenges for the future. Installing sensors throughout the network will be the first hurdle. Roads may also become burdened with increasing wear and strain if connected vehicles all follow a set singular path.

Ultimately, the main challenge for engineers and authorities has remained the same since the 1800s, producing longer lasting, more durable road surfaces.

The road surface industry is currently developing and trialling a range of new surface materials to provide longer lasting roads. The latest innovation gaining attention is the ‘plastic road’. Surprisingly, the amount of plastic in this form of modified bitumen represents less than 0.5% of the mixture.

But while the use of modified bitumen is not a new concept, it is concerning that there are currently no standards and specifications surrounding bitumen modified with plastic. More troubling perhaps are the issues of what happens to the plastic waste biproducts when these surfaces deteriorate. The implications to the environment and surrounding ecosystems should be studied more widely before these surfaces are rolled out nationally.

With the increasing changes and challenges we face in planning the future of transport, there is a growing need for advanced engineering, proper maintenance and increased funding to ensure our infrastructure is fit for purpose.

TRL has been working alongside Transport Scotland to develop a cutting-edge new surface course material. The material, known as TS2010, has the potential to last for 20 years, twice as long as many materials currently used throughout the road surface industry, effectively doubling the life expectancy of UK road surfaces.

Introduced in November 2010, TS2010 has been through extensive development and is now well into the assessment phase. Annual visual assessments indicate the material will last twice as long as materials previously used on Scottish trunk roads.

Maintaining the UK’s extensive road network is vital for the future of transport. There are rapid changes ahead for the transport sector with the arrival of connected and automated vehicles and electric and ultra-low emission technologies set to change the face of UK infrastructure.

Advances in technology are set to change the face of transport, making it crucial to innovate road engineering principles and practices to ensure the UK’s infrastructure is fit for purpose.

BYD launches world’s longest EV bus

10 April 2019

Chinese manufacturer BYD has launched what it claims to be the longest electric bus in the world.

The K12A is 27 metres long, seats 250 passengers and can hit a top speed of 70 km/h with a maximum range of 300km.

It was designed primarily with South American markets and large cities such as Bogotá in mind, where the authorities want to replace the current extra-long buses with cleaner electric alternatives.

Passenger numbers on Bogotá’s BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) network have hit more than 2.8 million in a single day and so demand for vehicles like the BYD K12A is clearly there.

Northern Ireland operator adds Arocs to large fleet

10 April 2019

A Northern Ireland company has taken delivery of 14 8×4 Mercedes-Benz Arocs tippers as part of its fleet renewal programme.

Derrylin-based Quinn Building Products ordered the vehicles, which have been uprated to 41 tonnes, through MBNI Truck and Van.

They will be used to transport 33 tonnes of aggregate from the company’s quarries to its cement plant and join a 150-strong fleet.

Quinn opted for the ClassicSpace cab and, due to the heavy-duty nature of its work, specified the larger 12.8-litre OM471 engine generating 476hp and 2,300Nm. The bodies were supplied by C-Tec of Magherafelt and Gleesons of Tipperary.

Transport manager Brian McManus said, “Arocs is a purpose-built chassis for construction-related applications and offers the rugged build quality that we need. You can’t cut corners on specification for a job like this so we’ve specced them up in a few areas to help us over the life of the vehicle.”

City of London Corporation aiming for fully-electric first

10 April 2019

The City of London Corporation is aiming to become the first local authority in the UK to run a fully electric fleet of Refuse Collection Vehicles (RCVs).

The contract for waste collection, street cleansing and ancillary services was awarded to Veolia, and will see the full fleet of all electric RCVs come online within a year. All will be equipped with 360-degree cameras and audible warning reversal systems to improve safety.

The vehicles will use on-board weighing equipment to digitally record bin weights at residential properties, enabling recycling performance to be efficiently calculated.

All vehicles will be digitally tracked to monitor and auto-allocate cleansing tasks dependant on geographical location and capacity.

Gavin Graveson, executive vice-president for Veolia UK and Ireland, said, “The new fleet of electric vehicles will play a significant role in improving local air quality, with real-time data technologies delivering greater synergies between collections and street cleansing operations.”

More fleets sign up to Clean Van Commitment

10 April 2019

Fleet operators including Arval, Mitie, the British Heart Foundation and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets have signed up to the Clean Van Commitment.

The companies join the likes of Tesco and Network Rail in pledging to switch their van fleets to zero emissions alternatives by 2028.

Co-ordinated by Global Action Plan and supported by OLEV (Office for Low Emission Vehicles) and Engie, the Clean Van Commitment (CVC) is a public pledge to move to zero emission vans in cities over the next nine years.

The nine new CVC signatories – Arval, Mitie, Siemens, British Heart Foundation, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Novus Environmental, Commercial Group, Bywaters and Poplar Harca – take the total number of signatories to 25, accounting for 65,674 vans, or one in 60 of the current national fleet.

With London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) now in effect, small organisations can apply for either a payment of £6,000 to scrap a non-compliant van or minibus and help with running costs of a new electric vehicle, or a payment of £3,500 to scrap a non-compliant van or minibus which can be used to purchase a newer ULEZ compliant Euro 6 vehicle or hire vehicles from Zipcar, Northgate Hire, Enterprise and Europcar.

You can find out more about the Clean Van Commitment and sign up to the CVC on their website.

UK in pole position in £62 billion self-driving car race – if Brexit roadblock removed

04 April 2019

  • UK world’s number one location for mass-market potential of connected and autonomous vehicles, with £62bn annual economic opportunity by 2030, finds new report.
  • Massive safety benefits as driver assistance and self-driving tech could prevent 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives over next decade.
  • Lifestyle boost for commuters as greater productivity and faster journeys give drivers back full working week every year.
  • Success hinges on favourable Brexit agreement, with ‘no deal’ threat putting investment and safety gains at risk, warns SMMT at major industry conference.

The UK is in pole position in the global race to market for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), with a £62 billion boost to the UK economy by 2030 up for grabs, according to a major new report published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and Frost & Sullivan. Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Winning the Global Race to Market,1 analyses the wide-ranging societal and economic benefits to be achieved by gradually increasing CAVs on our roads.

The UK is in a strong position to capitalise, with more than £500 million already committed by industry and government to CAV R&D and testing. Autonomous driving trials are taking place in our major towns and cities, we are home to four major CAV test beds and three additional sites focused on highways, rural and parking, with more than 80 collaborative R&D projects underway. The next game-changing step is to move from testing CAV technologies to deployment in the real world.

Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) such as Autonomous Emergency Braking and Collision Warning are already available on the majority of new cars registered in the UK.2 Combined with the gradual introduction of automated vehicles from 2021, this will deliver massive safety benefits. Over the next decade, the technology is set to prevent 47,000 serious accidents and save 3,900 lives. At the same time, some 420,000 new jobs will be created, including in the automotive industry and other sectors such as telecoms and digital services. Driving commuters, meanwhile, will gain back the equivalent of a full working week thanks to more ‘downtime’ and smoother traffic flows during their commute.

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Winning the Global Race to Market identifies three critical areas that will help CAV rollout and in which the UK has a significant advantage: supportive regulation, enabling infrastructure and an attractive market. With the world’s first insurance legislation for autonomous vehicles already in place, the most comprehensive review of road transport underway and more miles across motorways, urban and rural roads able to be driven autonomously, the UK is already ahead of global rivals in its readiness to commercialise self-driving technology. The report ranks the UK above other major automotive countries, including Germany, US, Japan and South Korea as a global destination for the mass rollout of CAVs.

To realise this potential, however, the conditions must be right, and sustained support from government will be vital – particularly if we are to meet its ambition to get autonomous vehicles on to UK roads in 2021. The report’s key recommendations for government include updating road traffic laws, improving 4G coverage across all road networks, encouraging local authorities to work with industry to implement urban mobility services and influencing future harmonisation of international regulations to ensure these new vehicles can operate seamlessly between the UK and abroad.

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles on display at SMMT Connected – Mercedes-Benz Truck Actros 1853, Range Rover Sport, Volvo XC60, Oxbotica, Aurrigo pod, E-Cyclopic, Bird scooter, Bosch E-Bike and Conigital pod

Crucially, however, the UK’s departure from the EU must be orderly with a deal that supports both the industry and technological collaboration, especially in data. A ‘no deal’ Brexit will result in lasting damage to the UK’s reputation as a politically stable destination for inward investment, putting the benefits identified in the report at risk.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

A transport revolution stands before us as we move to self-driving cars and the UK is in pole position in this £62 billion race. Government and industry have already invested millions to lay the foundations, and the opportunities are dramatic – new jobs, economic growth and improvements across society. The UK’s potential is clear. We are ahead of many rival nations but to realise these benefits we must move fast.

Brexit has undermined our global reputation for political stability and it continues to devour valuable time and investment. We need the deadlock broken with ‘no deal’ categorically ruled out and a future relationship agreed that reflects the integrated nature of our industry and delivers frictionless trade.

Sarwant Singh, Senior Partner and Head of Mobility, Frost & Sullivan, said,

The UK already has the essential building blocks – forward thinking legislation, advanced technology infrastructure, a highly skilled labour force, and a tech savvy customer base – to spearhead CAV deployment over the next decade. However, it will require sustained and coordinated efforts by all key stakeholders, especially the government, to realise the significant annual economic benefits forecast for the UK from CAV deployment by 2030 and drive the vision of safe, convenient and accessible mobility for all.

Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: Winning the Global Race to Market, will be launched today at SMMT Connected 2019, the third automotive industry-led event to explore the future of mass transport and mobility. More than 450 leaders from across the automotive and tech industries, government and other stakeholders are expected to attend to discuss challenges and opportunities in future mobility innovation and deployment. They will hear from speakers including the Right Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy; Dr Andy Palmer CMG, President and Group CEO, Aston Martin Lagonda; and Agustín Martín, CEO, Toyota Connected Europe.

On display at SMMT Connected 2019 will be some of the latest connected and autonomous mobility solutions and prototypes in use in the UK covering four and two wheels. These include: Aurrigo pod, Bird electric scooter, Bosch powered e-bike, Conigital pod, Cyclopic folding e-bike, Mercedes-Benz Actros 1853 4×2 BigSpace, Oxbotica autonomous Ford Mondeo, Jaguar Land Rover self-driving Range Rover Sport and Volvo XC60.
Notes to editors

1: Download the report – https://www.smmt.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/SMMT-CONNECTED-REPORT-2019.pdf
2: Based on JATO data and SMMT new car registrations for 2018 – Autonomous Emergency Braking 73.5%. Collision Warning System 78.1%.

Best ever month for UK new van market as plate-change offers drive demand

04 April 2019

  • UK new van registrations increase by 10.6% to 66,123 units as new models and incentives drive demand.
  • Growth fuelled by rise in demand for medium and large vans, up 17.9% and 13.0% respectively.
  • Positive start to the year sees Q1 registrations rise to 102,743, up 8.9%.



The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market saw year-on-year demand increase by 10.6% in March, marking the sector’s best ever monthly performance, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Registrations in the month accounted for almost two-thirds of the quarter’s volumes, as business buyers took advantage of new models and strong market incentives.

More than 66,000 new vans and pick-ups hit British roads in March compared with the same month in 2018, an uplift of 6,359 units. Both medium vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes and large vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes saw double-digit growth, with demand rising by 17.9% and 13.0% respectively. Registrations of pick-ups also rose, by 6.7%, to more than 11,000. Meanwhile small vans weighing less than 2 tonnes experienced a decline, falling -10.6%.

March rounded off a positive quarter for the sector, with demand for new LCVs up 8.9% on the same period in 2018, at 102,743 registrations.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

March is typically the busiest month of the year and it’s great to see large demand for the new ‘19 plate. While the market does fluctuate with buying cycles, it appears buyers are making the most of the fantastic deals on offer. For such exceptional demand to continue long term, however, we need business confidence to improve and that means an end to the political and economic instability besetting the UK.

York introduces electric double-deckers

03 April 2019

York is set to have one of the biggest electric double-decker bus fleets outside of London, with 21 Optare Metrodecker EVs joining the First York bus fleet between now and October.

The adoption of the Yorkshire-builtdouble-decker EVs is thanks to a combination of investment from First York and funding from the City Council and Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

The zero-emission buses have a capacity of 99 passengers, and can travel more than 150 miles on a single charge – designed so that they won’t need to be recharged during a normal day’s operations. They will operate on the city’s Park and Ride routes.

Councillor Peter Dew, Executive Member for Transport and Planning, said: “I’m delighted that City of York Council has been successful in securing funding from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) towards the cost of these new buses and I welcome First York’s ongoing investment in the Park & Ride fleet.”

Optare’s Commercial Director, Robert Drewery, added: “Optare is delighted to continue its electric journey with First York. In 2014, our electric single deck Versas began operation on the city’s Park & Ride service.

“The lessons learned during the trial have been fundamental in shaping the design of the Metrodecker EV, the world’s first truly zero emissions double deck bus. Optare is particularly proud that our vehicle, designed and manufactured in Yorkshire, will be at the centre of continued air quality improvements in York.”

Feature: How connected trucks are making haulage fleets more efficient

04 April 2019

As today’s SMMT Connected event clearly demonstrates, there are huge benefits to come from connected vehicles and it’s an area where industry is making huge strides, and at a rapid rate. But connectivity isn’t just about autonomy and driverless technology – far from it. In the CV industry, truck manufacturers and hauliers have been using connected vehicles and shared date for almost a decade, and it’s saving both time and money.

The biggest leap forward in truck maintenance in recent years is not a tool or an engineering component. Indeed, traditional technology has taken a back seat to cloud and app-based services that first started to appear towards the start of the decade and are rapidly transforming the world of fleet management into one where the trucks themselves are controlling the way in which fleets are managed.

Just over two years ago, Scania introduced Flexible Maintenance contracts, whereby trucks that are connected to the internet are able to self-diagnose their service and maintenance contracts and feed information back to transport managers. It was an evolution of the company’s first connected services, which it introduced in 2011.

By the end of 2018, the Swedish truck maker had signed more than 70,000 Flexible Maintenance contracts, a 68% increase year-on-year. Scania estimates that operators get at least one extra day’s operational time per truck from the time-saving services that connectivity provides.

“This is one of several signs that connectivity is transforming heavy transport,” said Karin Rådström, Executive Vice President and Head of Sales and Marketing at Scania. “From the customer’s point of view, the results of Scania’s connectivity are becoming more and more beneficial by the year. Better uptime and smarter planning means improved bottom line and more sustainable transport,”

By the end of 2018, there were more than 360,000 connected Scania trucks and buses on the road. About 90 percent of the rolling fleet in Europe is connected. Other parts of the world are following.

The total rolling fleet of Scania vehicles drives a substantial 2.9 billion kilometres every month. In 2011, when Scania’s first connected trucks appeared, the corresponding figure was just 62 million kilometres. It’s the wealth of data provided by the vehicles’ on-board connected devices that allows Scania – among others – to provide flexible maintenance plans based on real-time operational data and actual vehicle usage.

The operational data of each truck is monitored when deciding on maintenance needs, meaning oil and filter changes can be made at the best possible time, which cuts the amount of time in the workshop.

“Connectivity is invaluable in research and development. The volume of operational data is doubled every 20 months,” said Claes Erixon, Executive Vice President and Head of Research and Development at Scania. “Engineers benefit from all this information when designing new features or improving existing functions. They can then delve into all previous data to determine, for example, component wear and durability as the starting point for an optimal design.”

As well as maintenance planning, Scania Fleet Management data gives insights into driving styles, productivity and economy, which can improve vehicle performance and enhance safety. This is vital for operating economy, road safety, and environmental impact, and allows Scania to also provide driver training and personal coaching, as well as on-board driver-focused systems.

Another truck manufacturer that’s deeply involved with data is Mercedes-Benz, whose parent company, Daimler AG, describes connectivity as the ‘third industrial revolution’.

“In the era of the internet of things, all tools and machinery will be equipped with sensors which constantly provide a real time information flow,” stated Jeremy Rifkin, author, sociologist and futurologist. “This will fundamentally change the way we do business. The internet of things is offering completely new opportunities,”

Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG with responsibility for Daimler Trucks & Buses, added: “We are connecting the truck with the internet – making [it] the mobile data centre of the logistics network. It connects all those involved in goods: drivers, schedulers, fleet operators, workshops, manufacturers and insurance companies or authorities. They receive information in real time which was previously unavailable: about the condition of the tractor unit and semitrailer, traffic and weather conditions, the parking availability at motorway service stations, rest areas and much more.”

“Our trucks fully connect with their environment, becoming part of the internet and continuously sending and receiving information. All those involved in the logistical process can use these real-time data for their needs. In the future it will be possible to reduce waiting times while loading and unloading, reduce paperwork and avoid traffic jams. With flash updates over the air or automated transfer of inbound time for trucks heading to the service point maintenance time can be reduced significantly. In this way we are considerably improving the performance of goods transport as a whole.”

Daimler, in association with subsidiaries FleetBoard and Detroit Connect, has committed to half-a-billion Euros of investment in connected technology by the end of 2020, both in developed and emerging economies.

Already, Daimler says it has 365,000 connected commercial vehicles, either as Mercedes-Benz trucks, buses or smaller FUSO trucks.

At present there are around 180,000 vehicles with FleetBoard systems in operation with around 6000 customers. And FleetBoard not only connects Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Other vehicle brands can also be retrofitted with the FleetBoard hardware at any time, and easily integrated into the logistics management system, which means that even companies with mixed fleets can keep track of their entire fleet at all times.

“When the first iPhone was introduced in November 2007, our customers had already been using FleetBoard for seven years. For over 15 years they have now been able to control their fleet and driver management efficiently both in their Mercedes-Benz trucks and in those from other manufacturers. Nobody has greater experience in this field than Mercedes-Benz Trucks,” said Stefan Buchner, Head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks.