Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Scrappage Scheme: 250,000 Vehicles So Far

The Governments car and van scrappage scheme is being haled as a success by some as it reaches the milestone of 250,000 cars scrapped. According to the SMMT 251,629 new cars where purchased via the scrappage scheme by the end of November 2009. This means that 21.6 percent of new cars sold in November had money off in exchange for the scrappage of a older model.

Commercial vehicle scrappage has been less significant accounting for 1.5% of the total vehicles scrapped. According to the SMMT 3,882 LCVs were traded in up until the end of November which accounted for 3.9% of new vans purchased. This could be down to the fact that used vans are popular with small businesses who cannot afford to upgrade even with the reduction in price provided by the scrappage scheme.

"Scrappage continues to have a positive impact on vehicle registrations ... it has helped to generate consumer confidence."
SMMT Chief executive Paul Everitt

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

The Hardest VW Restoration Ever

Volkswagen's camper vans have achieved iconic status and vintage models are loved by owners all around the world. Not many other vans can boast such devotion from their drivers who spend hours renovating and discussing their vehicles.

Norwegian VW fan Morten Lund is perhaps more dedicated than most. When he learned that a 1957 Samba had been pushed into a lake in 1974 he set to work tracking it down. Lund hired a remote-controlled submersible which he used to locate the vehicle which was at the bottom of the 15 meter deep lake. He then hired a team of divers and a crane in order to lift out the rare model.

"It took me less than 30 minutes to get both front wheels rolling, and the steering works perfectly... The cargo floor and cab are nearly rust free – just some minor holes around the edges."

If Mr Lund manages to fully restore then van he will have a very valuable vehicle on his hands. Samba's have sold for as much as £56,000 which is a lot for used vans. The model is recognizable by its 8 roof-light windows.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Used Van Prices Continue to Rise

The average resale price of used vans has continued to rise as the new vans market struggles to cope with the recession. The commercial vehicles industry is reliant on small business spending and as such has been effected by the recent economic problems. As new van sales reduce the demand for good quality used vans increases and those who are selling are able to command a higher price.

A recent survey by British Car Auctions has found that the average van is now sold for £3,902 up from £3,858 in October. This is a small rise but it shows an upward trend that is bad news for the commercial vehicles sector.

"Year-on-year values are now ahead by an astounding £1,089 - the biggest margin on record, reflecting the strong performance in November 2009 and just how weak the LCV sector was in November 2008."
Duncan Ward of BCA.

The decrease in new van sales is also providing an increase in van hire revenues. Both long term leases and short term cheap van hire are set to benefit from the stalling market as they arguably offer better value for money than buying a new van. The economic benefits of van rental are clear to anybody who has had an unreliable used van, with van hire the commitment is short and there is no drop in value.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Government Announces Tax Breaks for Electric Vehicle Fleets

As predicted Alistair Darling's pre-Budget report included proposed tax breaks for owners electric vehicles. As my last post pointed out, the best way to get people to buy more eco friendly vehicles is to keep their prices down. Most people would be willing to drive a less polluting vehicles as long as the price is right. The report also contained good news for those operating van and car fleets who will also benefit from tax breaks.

The proposed tax breaks will encourage commercial and fleet buyers to upgrade to electric vehicles where possible. By avoiding company car tax fleet owners could make big saving by going green. Those operating in London will be financially punished for running older vans within the congestion zone.

“This will make business buyers much more interested in electric cars and vans,” Paul Everitt, CEO Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

Unfortunately electric vehicles are not yet a viable alternative for many fleet operators due to their inability to travel long distances in between charges. Major technological advancements need to happen before electric vehicles can take over from traditional vans for the majority of commercial enterprises.

Monday, 7 December 2009

White Van Man Will Go Green, When The Price Is Right

With the Copenhagen Climate change conference opening today it seems like a good time to talk about the future of the commercial vehicles industry. The white van of the future clearly needs to be green. This is obviously problematic as most individuals and small businesses are hesitant to upgrade their fleets during a recession, another problem is that environmental friendly vans have yet to be perfected.

A recent survey by Swinton Insurance has shown that White Van men (and women) are keen to use more environmentally friendly vans and fuel but, as Bruce would say, the price needs to be right. Of those questioned 73% would consider buying a more energy efficient vehicle as they're next purchase and 87% would turn to more environmentally friendly fuel if doing so were cost effective.

Those with van fleets and those looking at vans for sale were happy to consider Bio Fuel, More fuel-efficient engines and Low CO2 emitting engines. They were however concerned about cost with 64% considering it the most important factor. The popularity (in a sense) of congestion zones and fines for less environmentally friendly vans may lead to green vans being the most cost effective choice.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Sainsbury's Expandes Electric Vans Fleet

Sainsbury's have invested in 50 new electric vans which to be used for home deliveries. The supermarket now has a fleet of 70 more eco friendly vehicles which they say will be used for 60% of deliveries in central London.

'This is cracking news from Sainsbury's which will help deliver to Londoners not only their groceries, but all the benefits of going electric, such as cleaner air and fewer carbon emissions.' -Boris Johnson

Whilst electric vehicles do not yet have the ability to cover as much distance as traditional vans they are ideally suited to inner city deliveries.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Volkswagen Celebrate Transporter's 60th Birthday

Volkswagen are celebrating the birthday of their iconic Transporter van this month. The van, which is their biggest seller, was presented to the press by Heinrich Nordhoff 60 years ago. While it may not be the model one first thinks of when Volkswagen are mentioned but it has been consistently popular and the latest model will be available next year.

The Transporter is Volkswagen’s best-selling model in the UK and worldwide. Over one million of the current model have been sold since introduction in 2003, making a total of over 10 million since production started in March 1950.
The most sought after Transporter model is the T1 split-screen as shown in this previous post. The new model is expected to be available for sale in January of 2010 and will feature "a new range of common rail TDI engines offering lower emissions and improved economy by an average of ten per cent across the range".

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Do You Need To Own Your Entire Van Fleet?

An interesting idea for those operating large van fleets: do you need to own your entire fleet? Not that I would recommend you steal vans, but perhaps van hire could be an option. A recent post on Fleetnews suggested that some van fleets are larger than they need to be.

The idea is that a fleet size should be dynamic and able to react to different conditions. A busy few months? Rent some extra vans. Forced to reduce outgoing due to the recession? Keep your fleet size down to a minimum.

The article also suggested that this would keep down CO2 although this isn't necessarily the case unless you are actually operating all your vans all the time. The main benefits are more likely to be in keeping costs to a minimum by only using what you need when you need it.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Smart Car Rental Launched in Texas

Texas is not the sort of place you would associate with small city cars. It is the land of giant trucks with giant cow horns on the grill being driven by giant men in giant hats. It is also the home of oil barrens so being eco-friendly is perhaps not a big priority.

Perhaps I've got the wrong idea about Texas which is apparently the home to a new Smart Car rental program. The cars are rented out by the hour and can be hired at short notice. They cost 19 cents a minute or $73.40 per day.

The scheme is being run by Daimler who ran a similar project in Ulm, Germany last year. Originally the cars were only available to Mercedes-Benz (who own Smart) employees but it was made available to all inhabitants last March.

The scheme is expected to be expanded to many more cities over the next few years. Traditional car hire and van rental companies have also shown an interest in providing small cars at their urban locations. Eventually electric cars may become the vehicle of choice for those exploring a new city. London already has several electric car hire companies and more are expected to follow.

Lorry Driving Flash Game

I found this unusual lorry driving game and figured it would make a nice break from all the serious posts of late. Unlike most truck/van games this is all about parking rather than racing. It sounds easy but if you drive a van rather than a lorry you might find yourself jack-knifing it!

*Edit: the game wont embed so go here to play it*

Monday, 9 November 2009

Stolen VW Van Recovered After 35 Years

Customs officials in Long Beach where surprised to find a mint condition 1965 Volkswagen van in a container bound for the Netherlands last week. They were even more surprised when they found out that the van had been reported stolen...in 1974.

The van was taken from an auto upholstery shop in Spokane, Washington state but was never recovered by the owner. All hope of finding the van had been abandoned and the owner's insurance company had paid out allowing him to pursue other vans for sale.

The insurance company Allstate are now the proud owners of a classic VW camper van.

"Allstate paid her $2,500 or so to settle the claim," he said. "Now it's worth $25,000. . . . It's in pristine condition. It looks like it's brand new. So Allstate wanted it."
The man transporting the van had bought it in good faith and had no idea that it had once been stolen.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Vans: Not Just for Van Drivers

A recent survey by commercial vehicles manufacturer Vauxhall has found that more drivers than ever are happy to get behind the wheel of a van. 81% of those questioned who had taken advantage of van rental 'believed driver safety had been well-catered for'. 90% were happy with the level of comfort provided.

"It's really pleasing to see that attitudes about vans are changing, we've always been committed to enhancing the performance, comfort and the safety of our vehicles."

It is not clear from the press release if people's expectations had been exceeded but the results are certainly positive. Van usage seems to have crossed over to the point where those who have not previously driven a light commercial vehicle are willing to give it a try. Van rental seems to be an increasingly popular alternative to hiring a van plus driver.

Removal companies are presumably not happy about the increase in people hiring vans to transport their belongings. There is money to be saved however and in a difficult economy that means a lot.

Perhaps this is due to an increase in comfort and safety levels for commercial vehicles or perhaps it is just because more people have tried driving a van now. apparently 40% of drivers have now driven a van. We will be a nation of white van drivers before too long!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Decline in Automotive Production Slows

More slightly positive news from the automotive industry this week: the decline in production has begun to slow down according to recent figures published by the SMMT. Whilst production levels are much lower than this time last year the deficit has reduced. Last month 16% fewer cars were produced in the UK than during September 2008. The Government's scrappage scheme is thought to have increased sales of new vehicles.

Production of vans has continued to shrink with only around 9000 commercial vehicles being built in September. This is almost half as many as during the same month last year. It seems that the scrappage scheme has been more of a success for private car sales than vans for sale.

Paul Everitt of the SMMT believes that these figures show that whilst the economy is improving businesses are hesitant when it comes to buying commercial vehicles:

"The UK economy is slowly emerging from recession, but businesses remain reluctant to commit to large capital investments and this is reflected in low demand for commercial vehicles."

Thursday, 22 October 2009

What Does Your Van Smell Like?

The designers of the new Mitsubishi's PX-MiEV hybrid concept have taken into consideration more than just the look and feel of the vehicle, they claim its interior is friendly on the nose as well as the behind.

Mitsubishi's new enhanced "cocochi" interior package offers an unparalleled array of technologies that both pamper the nose and use the olfactory capability as a tool. The PX-MiEV's upholstery is coated with an anti-allergen coating and visible light photocatalyst which Mitsubishi claims counteracts offensive odors, volatile organic compounds as well as ticks, pollen and other allergens.
In another layer of protection against unpleasant fragrances, each of the car's four seats are individually air-conditioned to increase air circulation.

Source: Independent
I can see the benefit of this for those who suffer from allergies but for the rest of us it might be a little over the top. Whilst this technology has gain Mitsubishi some good press it isn't the kind of technology we can expect to see in all vans and cars anytime soon.

I have often thought about selling a Van fragrance to try and capture the smell that weeks on the road and countless motorway pasties can produce. Whenever I have to use a hire van I find its cleanliness less welcoming than a good old lived in white van. The smell may be unpleasant to some but when you call a van home you learn to love it.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Volkswagen Vans Increase Market Share

It has been a difficult few years for those in the transport industry particularly when it comes to commercial vehicles. Most van companies have reported drops in sales, some are even down by 50% compared to last year. Van sales are often seen of a good indication of how small businesses are coping with financial hardship, most don't upgrade or expand their fleets unless they are comfortable financially.

Volkswagen have reported that despite reduced sales they have managed to increase their market share in the last five months. the company now has 10.65 percent market share, an improvement of 2.3 percent. Sales of VW vans actually rose by 9% in September compared to the same month last year. This is positive news for a market that is a cause for concern for anyone with vans for sale.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Used Vans Price Still Rising

September saw used van prices rise by on average 3 percent according to MotorTrader.com. The average price for LCVs was £3,862, £117 more than in August. This puts the year-on-year increase at £672 showing that the used van market is seeing increasing prices if not increasing sales. The rise in prices looks set to continue even as the market improves.

This is bad news for those looking to update their fleet in time for the proposed changes to the Low Emission zone in London. Those looking to invest in new vans will be hoping that an increase in avaliablility will put the power back in the hands of the consumer and decrease prices.

"With supplies of good retail quality vans remaining limited in September, prices remained very firm indeed. However, if supplies begin to increase significantly from corporate and dealer sources we could be seeing the current peak of market values - and it could be that values settle a little between now and Christmas."
Duncan Ward, General Manager at BCA

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Should Smoking be Banned in all Rental Vehicles?

Last month car rental company Avis banned smoking in all of their vehicles in order to cut down on cleaning costs. They said that customers were increasingly asking for smoke free cars and most objected to being able to smell the previous customer's cigarettes. Smoking has been banned in countless places over the last few years isn't it about time is was completely banned in hire cars?

Personally I would complain if I were to rent a hire car or hire van and find that it smelled like an ashtray. I'm no doctor so I'm not sure if there are any health risks associated with passive smoking once the smoke has disapated but I wouldn't want to risk it. At the very least those who wish to smoke in their hire car should have to pay extra for cleaning.

I don't believe in the erossion of people's civil liberties but when it comes to smoking I have very little sympathy. Making it harder for people to smoke is a positive thing and encourages people not to put their health at risk.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Boris Johnson Plans To Charge Vans Drivers

In order to avoid paying fines to the European Union Boris Johnson must cut the amount of pollution caused by motor vehicles in the nation's capital. Currently drivers of buses, coaches and other heavy goods vehicles must pay a charge of £200 in order to enter the city wide Low Emissions Zone. By 2012 these charges will be extended to also apply to van drivers if their vehicles do not meet strict emission guidelines.

In practice this means that those with older vans have two years to either convert their vehicles or buy new ones in order to be able to work in the city and still make a profit. This means van hire companies, couriers and white van men will be forced to upgrade. Black cabs over 10 years old will no longer be issued with licences after 2012.

Johnson believes that these will help to reduce the amount of pollution in London to more acceptable levels. It is estimated that 10,000 vans in the capital will be subject to the £100 daily fines. Mr Johnson has not yet explained what the money raised by the fines will be spent on although it is likely to be put towards other methods of reducing pollution. The cost of enforcing the new laws will also be significant.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Van Hire Market Still Struggling

Despite improvements in the housing market boosting their incomes van hire companies are still facing an uncertain future. The van hire market relies heavily upon the housing market afterall most people don't need to rent a van unless they are moving their belongings to a new property. It has been reported that the slowly recovering levels of property sales have bought a welcome influx of van hire customers but that doesn't seem to be enough to save some companies.

Van hire firm Northgate have had a difficult month which has seen their shares rise and fall in a dramatic fashion. First they released the news that their debt was much less than had been previously reported. The company claimed that they had managed to decrease its debt partly by selling off older parts of its fleet. This announcement saw Northgate's shares rise to higher than they had been for quite some time. the next day Northgate were forced to announce that they had 'miscalculated' the figures and they had actually reduced their debt by £173m rather than £205m since April. This had a predictable affect on their shares.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Electric vans..a viable alternative?

The Guardian as an interesting article about a new wave of electric vans aimed at the commercial market:

"Range is an issue for our customers," explains George Smith, brand manager for Harris Van Centre who, after years of selling conventional trucks and vans, is convinced electric is the future. "But not as big an issue as you might think. When we first spoke to UPS about using electric vans on their courier routes in London, they looked at their mileage and worked out that the average distance travelled in the capital was 14 miles per day." Most commercial electric vehicles can cover about 100 miles on one six-hour charge.

Whilst this is an interesting idea I don't think many companies could make use of a van with such a limited range. There are clearly exceptions (such as local deleviery companies) but it is a shame that electric vans cannot yet compete with their traditional counterparts.


Welcome to Muddy's Van News. This blog will be regualrly updated with the latest news about vans and other commercial vehicles. For more information about me visit my profile :)