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 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.