Oxford Tube has big order in the pipeline

19 March 2020

Oxford Tube, Europe’s most frequent coach service, has placed a huge order for 34 new Plaxton Panorama coaches.

The new vehicles were replace all of the Stagecoach-owned company’s current vehicle fleet and will operate a service that connects Oxford with the capital with departures as often as every 8-10 minutes during busy times.

It is the biggest order yet for the double deck coach which is built at the Plaxton factory in Scarborough on a Volvo B11RLE chassis.

The new coaches will offer the latest in passenger comfort with on-board features including wireless and USB charging, reading lights and extendable tables complete with mobile device and cup holders throughout, in addition to extra leg room and reclining seats.

The coaches have also been designed to improve the service for those with additional accessibility needs with a more seamless boarding process for wheelchair users.

Five of the new coaches will be fitted with roof-mounted solar panels in a trial designed to reduce auxiliary energy loads on the engine, bringing down emissions and delivering greater fuel efficiency. The energy harvested in solar panels can be used to power electronics on board the new coaches.

Mark Ballam, Coach Commercial Manager at Alexander Dennis, said, “This new order is a resounding confirmation of the concept of the Plaxton Panorama, which has been designed to offer operators unrivalled flexibility.”

Chris Coleman, Managing Director at Stagecoach in Oxfordshire, added, “The new solar panels are an innovative way to look to other sources of energy to power the on-board features and part of our overall strategy to offer more sustainable travel options for our customers.”

VW study finds van drivers are still flouting phone rules

19 March 2020

A study by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has found that fewer than half of van drivers use handsfree or Bluetooth technology while driving and instead risk a £200 fine and six penalty points for using their phones at the wheel.

The finding is made all the more shocking given that the average van driver makes seven calls a day while driving and spends an average of 37 minutes on the phone each working day.

The study found that just 41% of drivers use handsfree and Bluetooth technology on a frequent basis*.

In addition, 17 per cent of drivers in the UK admitted to sending and receiving texts, checking e-mails or posting on social media while driving**.

Last year, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles revealed 23 per cent of drivers don’t even have a handsfree kit in their van.

Claire English, Head of Fleet at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “Mobile phone use behind the wheel is a topic that we’ve been monitoring for the past couple of years and the recent statistics show it is still a huge safety problem on UK roads. Despite carrying a hefty punishment, it lacks the taboo of other offences such as drink-driving and this needs to change.

“As part of our Working With You promise, we’re committed to improving safety on UK roads for both our customers and other road users, always ensuring we provide the right equipment for the job, for example offering Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and a handsfree kit as standard across the range.”

* Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles survey, December 2019, 1,000 UK van drivers
** RAC Report on Motoring 2019

Electric DAF begins real world refuse collection trial

19 March 2020

The first DAF CF Electric 6×2 refuse collection truck has entered operations in a real world field test with Dutch public waste disposal firm ROVA.

The vehicle features a zero-emission VDL electric powertrain alongside a fully electric VDL refuse collection superstructure.

During a trial period it will be operated by ROVA in the Dutch city of Zwolle.

DAF CF Electric 4×2 tractor vehicles have been in operation for inner city distribution at leading Dutch and German transport companies and supermarket chains since 2018.

Only now though is the model entering the field test stage for refuse collection applications.

The 3-axle vehicles provide high payload (GVW up to 28-tonnes) and – thanks to a steered trailing axle – excellent manoeuvrability; a huge advantage for waste collection vehicles operating in dense urban areas.

Member Profile – Labcraft

19 March 2020

Tell us a bit about your business? When were you founded, where are you based and how many people do you employ?

Labcraft is a family owned UK designer and manufacturer of low voltage LED lights based in Saffron Walden, Essex. Established in 1956, Labcraft has a World-wide reputation for innovative, high performance LED products for the commercial and emergency vehicle sectors.

All aspects of technical and product design are carried out in-house, with 100% of Labcraft LED products manufactured in our own factory. With a team of 42 people across all departments, we also have a strong environmental ethos running through the whole business, reinforcing the manufacture of LED lighting.

What does the business do?

Labcraft design and manufacture LED lighting for the emergency and commercial vehicle markets, including interior and exterior lighting for vans, trucks and trailers. Our low voltage LED lighting products are also used in many other applications such as commercial, industrial, marine and leisure.

As the manufacturer, we have total management over component specifications, the manufacture process and the end-product, which gives us tight control over quality and consistency of supply to our customers.

How is business? What’s the outlook for the year ahead?

Business has been very good with successive years of growth in Sales, and also growing product ranges and staff numbers. We have seen sales growth not only in the UK but in Europe and on a World-wide basis, and we are now supplying into more countries than ever before.

The outlook for the year ahead is currently still very positive after a great start to the Year, although we are cautious of the potential, and yet unknown, impact of Covid-19.

What are the big issues or technological advances that fill you with positivity?

Labcraft has been using Cree LED devices in all products for over 10 years and therefore have formed an established relationship with Cree. This allows us access to the latest updates regarding the advances in LED technology and enables us to continue offering our customers the best value for money in terms of light v cost. This, together with Labcraft’s technical expertise, ensures that all products are thermally well managed and built for longevity.

Labcraft Technical Director, Jamie Pettit

Budget: Investment in better roads vital for logistics and freight productivity

12 March 2020

Yesterday’s budget saw a raft of announcements of investment in road infrastructure, this is both welcome and long overdue. Investment in our roads is vital for boosting productivity in the logistics sector, so critically affected by congestion. According to research we conducted in 2019, LCVs represent only 15.4% of total UK traffic but are actually the sector the most affected by congestion. The estimated price tag for operators is £6.5 billion, a significant drain on national productivity.

Some 3.4 million people rely on vans for their job – with a combined annual wage bill of £56 billion, or 11% of the country’s GDP. As the backbone of British society, the importance of the LCV sector cannot be underestimated.

A lot more needs to be done to maximise the opportunities as we transition the UK to new technologies. The extension of the plug-in van grant until 2022-23 and the decision to take more time to assess the introduction of a new VED system are steps in the right direction. The promised spending review and an Autumn Statement, will be a crucial moment for government to set out a long term vision for transport infrastructure investment in the UK among other things.

Our report on LCVs can be found here.

Aberdeen records hydrogen first

11 March 2020

A fleet of hydrogen-powered double decker buses will enter service in Aberdeen within a matter of weeks, it has been revealed.

First Aberdeen, part of the multinational company First Group which originated in the city, will introduce the 15 buses along one of its most popular service routes in the Granite City.

After a period of final testing and driver-training, the fleet should be fully operational by the summer.

The new £8.3 million project has been funded by Aberdeen City Council, the Scottish Government, and the European Union (FCH JU), with an investment of about £500,000 per vehicle.

The buses have been manufactured by Wrightbus and each is as efficient as its electric equivalent. Refuelling takes less than 10 minutes and offering a greater range. Water is the only emission from the vehicles which reduces carbon emissions and the new buses continues to contribute to the city’s commitment to tackling air pollution.

The UK’s first hydrogen production and bus refuelling station was opened in Aberdeen in 2015, as part of a £19 million green transport demonstration project. The Aberdeen City Council-led project tested the economic and environmental benefits of hydrogen transport technologies and aims to drive the development of hydrogen technologies.

Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said, “Aberdeen is at the forefront of developing green technologies and our continued innovative commitment to hydrogen truly puts us on the global map.

“The new buses come with even better technology helping to tackle air pollution in the city and further makes Aberdeen an entrepreneurial and technological leader by pushing boundaries for hydrogen.

“We are really proud to be the world’s first city with hydrogen double-deckers and we look forward to seeing them on the city’s roads.”

David Phillips, Operations Director for First Aberdeen, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Aberdeen City Council to deliver these state-of-the-art and ground-breaking new buses to the people of Aberdeen.

“We are in the process of adapting our depot to accommodate these environmentally friendly zero emission vehicles and are upskilling all our staff to accommodate this next generation of buses.

Mellor delivers new electric fleet for Glasgow community transport

11 March 2020

Community Transport Glasgow (CTG) has taken delivery of five Mellor Orion E fully-electric, zero-emission, low-floor small buses.

The order forms part of the operator’s strategy to go fully electric and is in line with Glasgow City Council’s overall ambition to become the UK’s first carbon neutral city.

CTG is a charity committed to providing high quality, accessible, door-to-door transport to vulnerable individuals and groups throughout the city, transporting 75,000 passengers each year.The Mellor Orion E was first launched in 2017, with an enhanced model introduced last year. It is the world’s first completely electric, low-floor small bus designed to operate effectively in both the commercial bus market and with parallel services, such as welfare and dial-a-ride demand-responsive services.

Graham Dunn for Community Transport Glasgow, said, “We decided two years ago that the time had come to take the plunge and start integrating electric vehicles into our fleet with a view to being all-electric by the end of 2020.

“At the time our fleet was made of old diesel minibuses, some with more than 300,000 miles on the clock and with the advent of the Glasgow low emission zone, we needed to take action. We sought funding which was provided from Scottish Power Energy Network (SPEN) through the Green Economy Fund to initiate the change. This is already transforming our organisation and the services we provide to our passengers.

“Our first Orion E entered service last December and we will have all five delivered by the end of February. It is great to see these exciting new buses which operate on the latest electric technology as part of our fleet. They will make a massive contribution to improving air quality in the city as well as contributing to Glasgow’s ambition to be carbon neutral ahead of 2030.”

John Randerson, managing director for Mellor Bus, added, “As a city Glasgow has really ‘thrown down the gauntlet’ as part of its drive to achieve carbon neutrality before many other UK cities and at Mellor, we are pleased and proud to be supplying electric buses that will form such an important part of this strategy. ”

DAF begins Dutch hybrid trial

11 March 2020

DAF Trucks has started field testing its CF Hybrid, a truck which uses100% electric power in urban areas and clean diesel technology out of town.

The trial involves Dutch transport operator Peter Appel operating two of the models to supply supermarkets in the heart of the Netherlands.

It will explore how the truck performs in daily, real-world operations.

The DAF CF Hybrid is powered by an efficient 10.8 litre PACCAR MX-11 diesel engine (330 kW/450 hp) and ZF electric motor (75 kW/100 hp, peak power: 130 kW/175 hp), coupled with a special ZF TraXon gearbox for hybrid powertrains.

The electric motor gets its energy from a 85 kWh battery pack, which recharges when the diesel engine is being used. During diesel operation the electric motor functions as a generator and delivers energy to the battery pack. In the future it will also be possible to charge the battery at a (fast) charging station.

When the battery is fully charged, the DAF CF Hybrid –– has an electric range of 30 to 50 kilometres, depending on the total weight of the truck-trailer combination, which is more than enough to drive into and out of urban areas without producing any tailpipe emissions.

Ron Borsboom, Executive Director of Product Development at DAF. Said, “With a cleaner future in mind, for DAF there is no one single technological solution for the broad spectrum of transport requirements.

“That’s why we are testing different technologies. Fully electric is a good alternative for urban distribution, clean diesel technology an excellent option for longer distances – partly due to new types of fuel – and for the long term we are having a closer look at hydrogen as well. With the field test of the CF Hybrid, we want to assess not only its electric/diesel technology performance but also how suitable it is in terms of daily use by our clients.”

Member Profile – Tevva Motors

11 March 2020

Tell us a bit about your business? When were you founded, where are you based and how many people do you employ?

Tevva Motors Ltd, established in 2013, is a world leader in the development and production of technologies that have the capability to electrify almost any medium duty (7.5t-14t) commercial vehicles today. Based in Chelmsford, Essex and with a workforce of around 60 people, it boasts a range of unique, easily deployable proprietary technologies. These technologies comprise products and software systems that provide the ability to switch to pure electric battery power, optimise power, minimise fleet running, repair and maintenance costs eliminating range anxiety via its game-changing range extender.

Not many automotive businesses can say that the inspiration for their existence began under miles of icy water. But that is where Tevva founder Asher Bennett first conceived the idea of an electric truck technology company. In a former life, Asher was an officer on submarines and he realised that the diesel-electric hybrid technology used was a perfect solution for the medium duty, urban distribution industry, which faces similar challenges of range, payload and cost efficiency.

The electrification of the medium duty, urban delivery industry is all but inevitable, given UK government’s ambition and EU Parliament regulations. However, the scale, economics and timeframe for achieving this is still largely unclear across the commercial vehicle OEM sector.

Perhaps most importantly, Tevva’s offering is available immediately and has already been proven to be entirely viable thanks to existing in-service vehicles taken on by global logistics giants such as UPS, Kuehne + Nagel and CEVA Logistics. The certainty of these technologies and the real-world proof that it works means that the future of electrification is already here.

What does the business do?

Tevva is a true pioneer in the back-to-base, urban distribution commercial vehicle sector. Since its inception in 2013, the company has developed a range of products, software and technologies that can be integrated into any OEM vehicles. These proven technologies are available immediately and offer economic, commercial and environmental benefits for fleets, operators and OEMs alike. At the heart of Tevva’s unique offering are its four-core proprietary technical innovations. These are patented and protected technologies that deliver superior performance with no compromise on cost, range or payload.

Tevva Power is our battery module and packs, which meets the rigorous safety standard of UNECE Reg 100 Rev2 Part 2, as well as our bespoke battery management system. This governs the flow of energy back into the battery under regenerative braking, how the battery is discharged under load and how it is recharged and balanced between shifts – this is the key to battery cell longevity and therefore operational economics.

Tevva Drive is our intuitive drive system. Our e-motor takes inputs from the driver and translates that input into seamless and accurate torque delivery at the wheels, with high energy efficiency, reliability and safety. This makes for an intuitive driving experience for the operator that is both less tiring and easy to master

Tevva Link is our embedded, cloud-based control system that is cleverly connected to the vehicle’s communication network; the Vehicle Control Unit allows for bi-directional data transfer and works autonomously to control Tevva Drive and Power technologies onboard. The Predictive Range Extension Management System software ensures optimal energy usage and constantly monitors the vehicle and the environment it is in to maximise use of the Rex range extender. Because this is all done autonomously, there is less pressure on the driver to make decisions. Tevva Link captures all vehicle data to provide detailed performance diagnostics; this telemetry allows fleet managers to not only see where their vehicles are, but also to view dozens of other information points. This allows for proactive planning and predictive action in case of any potential vehicle issues and for pre-emptive maintenance

Tevva ReX is an optional range extender which is autonomously controlled to engage pure electric mode when the vehicle is in an urban area, Clean Air Zone or ULEZ, meaning that electric only power is deployed where it is most required. Tevva ReX is engaged only where necessary and when the vehicle is in a non-urban environment in order to eliminate range anxiety for back-to-base operations with out-of-town depots or warehouses. The PREMS system ensures that battery power is maximised, meaning that no capacity is wasted.

How is business? What’s the outlook for the year ahead?

We have eTrucks in service with UPS, Fedex, Kuehne+Nagel and various other customers. We are rolling out vehicles with many customers. The need for electrification of the CV market is growing and we are working with a great number of bodies and organisations – such as ALICE, CALSTART and TDA to accelerate the adoption of the technologies we provide. We expect to produce in the order of 100-150 vehicles next year, but at least 1,000 in 2021, double that in 2022, and double again in 2023.

What are the big issues or technological advances that fill you with positivity?

This is always a little difficult to predict.

The logistic companies are already setting the pace, often by making their own investments and commitments to emerging electric commercial vehicle manufacturers – as in the case of Amazon and Rivian, and UPS and Arrival.

This will put further pressure on the OEM’s to move more quickly or face the same dilemma that the passenger car industry is facing with the success of Tesla. Other logistics companies are going to need to react to the moves made by Amazon and UPS to stay competitive on a delivery cost per mile basis.

We predict that future deliveries will be made predominately by electric commercial vehicles.

The logistics companies will utilise vehicle platforms that are different and appropriate to each stage of the delivery process – low speed electric vehicles for inner city last mile for example.

New distribution models will emerge- there will be a greater level of consolidation and shared last mile deliveries to specific streets, hydrogen will also play a greater role in extra urban and long-haul transport.

Taking UK CV sector on the road

05 March 2020

February’s light commercial vehicle registrations figures released today by SMMT show a slight dip in numbers, down 2.0%. Although this follows two previous months of growth, any decline is always concerning and we hope that next week’s Budget will reflect our calls for supportive measures to bolster domestic business confidence and encourage fleet renewal.

Another key part of our mission is representing our 800+ members on the world stage. Automotive is the backbone of our economy, delivering billions to the economy each year and, as the country’s biggest exporter of goods, it is critical to the UK’s global trading status. The trucks, buses, vans and components we build are in demand in major markets all over the world and this week sees SMMT take a delegation of CV sector companies to the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis, USA.

The Work Truck Show is an exciting opportunity for UK companies to grow their existing partnerships and make new connections in this major market, and we look forward to seeing how business develops further after the show.

We still have some opportunities for companies to join us later in the year at Automechanika Frankfurt, one of the world’s leading global aftermarket trade shows. Whether you’re new to or experienced in exporting, all British companies are welcome to take a space on the UK pavilion. Please contact our International team to get involved.