Friday, 29 October 2010

Volkswagen Van Gets Olympic Champion On The Road To 2012

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is supporting Bryony Shaw, the Team GB Olympic windsurfer, as she goes for gold at the 2012 Olympics in London. Bryony, who won a bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics 2008, has been provided with a new Volkswagen Transporter Kombi to carry all her equipment as she competes at championships across Europe in preparation for 2012.

Bryony is Britain's number one female windsurfer and second in the RS:X world rankings. She has recently won silver in the 2010 World Cup Series and a proven medal winner over the last four years at the Weymouth World Cup event, which as the 2012 Olympic venue means she will be sailing on her home waters!

‘This is the perfect vehicle for my lifestyle and an extremely valuable tool in my bid for gold in 2012. The Transporter is great to drive, really comfortable over the long distances I have to travel, and has plenty of space to carry all my equipment – plus it looks cool,’ said Bryony.

The Volkswagen Transporter has evolved during its 60 years of production to become the most popular and iconic vans used by surfers and windsurfers, and in the tradition of surfer vans, Bryony’s has been customised with a roof spoiler, alloy wheels, tinted glass and bespoke, colourful graphics featuring her sport.

Her van is also fitted with a towbar, as she often needs to tow equipment, including a rib, and as it is a Kombi, it also has the added versatility of a second row of seats which fold forward to create a longer load length when needed.

David George, Head of Marketing for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles said: ‘We are delighted to be able to support Bryony as she strives to achieve her target of gold in 2012. Bryony is a great ambassador because she’s so passionate about our brand, and just like many of our customers, uses the van to carry the tools of her trade.’

Video: Two Wheeled Van Driving

The star of this video is a man named Michele Stuntman. With a name like that it's no wonder he ended up in this line of work! Here he demonstrates the correct technique for two wheeled van driving.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Evolution of Van Man

by Elena Price

To mark the launch of the new version of the iconic Transporter van earlier this year, and celebrate how it has evolved during five generations and 60 years of production, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has commissioned research to take an in depth look at how the modern van driver’s interests and habits have evolved during this time.

The research sheds light on the stereotype of the modern van driver, sometimes known as ‘white van man’, and shows that today’s van drivers are now fitter, better read, healthier and more tech savvy than ever before. The study also found that an increasing number (over a third) are women.

Key to the research was how van drivers are perceived and how they perceive themselves. Over 53 per cent of the public feel that van drivers suffer from outdated and outmoded stereotypes of the 80s and 90s ‘white van driver’.

Over 65 per cent of the van drivers questioned take some form of frequent exercise, with over a third exercising more than three times a week. Keeping fit and healthy is also not a premise of just young van drivers with a large proportion (70 per cent) of van drivers over 55 exercising regularly. Staying healthy doesn’t just mean exercise either, as diet is important for the modern van driver with over 40 per cent passing on a pasty or packet of crisps in favour of an apple or a salad whilst on the road.

Whilst keeping fit is important to the modern van driver, a healthy and active mind is now also important. Over a third (37 per cent) regularly support the arts, enjoying great films, plays, and exhibitions - maybe even an opera or two.

Today’s van drivers are also keen to stay abreast of current affairs with over 80 per cent of respondents following the news agenda, with Scottish drivers being the biggest newshounds at 91 per cent. Whilst the modern driver is a great fan of traditional media, social online sites now play an increasingly important role in their lives – with over 60 per cent using a social network and nearly 20 per cent regularly tweeting .

Technology plays an integral part in both a van driver’s home and professional life with 72 per cent owning a laptop so they can now take their office on the road with them, while 57 per cent own a Smartphone or iPhone, and over half have already embraced HD TV.

David George, Head of Marketing, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles commented:

‘Our research looked to challenge some of the more outdated perceptions of modern van drivers and it certainly has. Van drivers, much like the iconic Volkswagen vans over the last 60 years, have most certainly kept up with the times.’

The research also looked at how ‘van proud’ modern drivers were with over a third taking pride in their vehicles and regularly cleaning them. Indeed younger drivers are the proudest with 62 per cent regularly taking to the chamois and polish to keep the dirt away, whilst across the country those in the East Midlands are the most proud of their van’s appearance.

Looking at van drivers across the country:

The fittest van drivers by region:
1. South West
2. North West
3. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Greater London
4. West Midlands
5. East of England

The biggest news fans
1. Scotland
2. North East
3. South East
4. West Midlands and South West
5. Yorkshireand North West

The most ‘van proud’ drivers
1. East Midlands
2. West Midlands
3. Greater London
4. South East and Scotland
5. North East

Friday, 15 October 2010

Automotive Markets Show Improvement in September

The automotive industry witnessed a slight revival through the September period, following the disappointing figures of August. The stronger sales in September are not expected to be a sign of long term rebound after the recession however, but instead more of a positive note in a long term slump.

Brian Johnson, an analyst at BarclayCapital said on Monday that an upturn in those sales at retailers would be coupled with lower sales to those who buy in bulk, such as car hire and van rental companies. However this would be a positive nod to automotive manufactures as individual sales yield a much higher profit margin then fleet sales to larger firms or companies that deal in car and van rental, leasing, or other fields.

“We continue to expect sales to remain around current levels for the remainder of 2010,” he wrote, adding that he is sticking with his forecast of 12 million in sales for next year.

September sales numbers were predicted to be in the area of 11.7 million cars, vans, and trucks, a small but still increased margin from 11.5 million in the August period.

Brian Johnson went on to say “This would make September the best retail month in two years except for August of 2009, which was artificially boosted by the government’s Cash for Clunkers rebates. The numbers will be far higher than last September, which was a depressed month because Cash for Clunkers drew out buyers who would have otherwise waited until September.”

Across the nation this week is when the automakers report their figures for the month and on a year to year ratio. These results show that although sales are down the average price of of vehicles per is on the rise which means a higher profit. It seems although less people are buying those who are value paying the price for a quality reliable car van or truck.

The general consensus over low sales volumes is that consumers are still shaken in the economy, and employment, debt, and financial security are still issues. They believe that there are a large number of people that are stepping back and waiting for prices to fall before buying.However, automotive manufactures are now reducing their overheads and still profiting even with a lower sales volume. Those waiting for lower prices might be waiting a long time.

Van News Roundup

Here are some Van and Commercial Vehicle related stories from around the internet this week:

30 Van's I'd Be Tempted to Get Into

30 Vans with crazy paint jobs including the Scooby Doo themed one below.

Mobil 1 Announces Britain's Best and Worst Roads.

"“The Mobil 1 Mission was a grueling test, travelling a long distance across a variety of terrain. But there were some real adrenaline-fuelled highlights. I experienced some phenomenal drives through scenery I didn’t even realise we had in this country.”"

Tyre safety campaign receives Highways Agency backing

"Organised by TyreSafe, tyre safety month will educate drivers about the importance and simplicity of checking tyre tread depth. With the Highways Agency’s endorsement, campaign materials will be distributed across the UK"

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Video: World's Most Amazing Limos.

This features the ultimate Limousine collection, From the 1960 VW Beetle to the Rolls Royce Phantom & Maybach 62S Stretch Limo's
Also Includes: Ferrari F40, F360 Lamborghini Diablo, Countach,
VW Passat, Beetle, Porcshe Cayenne,
BMW 760Li, Hummer H2, The worlds longest Limo at 100 FEET!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Who Let The White Van Man Out?

If you are queuing in traffic and somebody is waiting to pull out do you let them in front of you? Chances are, if you are a decent human being and not in a hurry, you would let them out. you know what it's like to have people drive past ignoring your plight and you know what is the right thing to do. You might however base your decision on whether to let someone out on what car they are driving.

A recent survey has shown that people are least likely to let out from junctions those driving a white van. Why is it that people in commercial vehicles are our least favorite road users? Is a man driving a used van less deserving of the 'after you' hand wave? Perhaps it is because we assume that these people are being paid to drive rather than spending their leisure time trying to get somewhere?

Those driving Lorries, BMWs, Land Rovers and sports cars were also near the bottom of the list. Those most likely to get let out were Peugeot 207 and Vauxhall Astra drivers and good looking drivers in any vehicle. I wonder if good looking women in white vans get let out at junctions?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Driving a 100 Tonne Logging Truck

Ever wondered what it's like driving a 550 hp 100 tonne logging truck?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Strong sales for Volkswagen across the board, and more for the future says CEO

Volkswagen continue to prove that their ambitions for title of world largest car and vans manufacturer is not simply empty boasting. CEO Martin Winterkorn has even gone on to claim that as soon as 2018, we could see VW leading the world in both sales and innovative automotive design. VW hopes that its wide range of cars and vans for sale are set to dominate the market.

Its not hard to see why Winterkorn is so optimistic about VWC's future. A record of the first half of this year shows that Volkswagen sold well over 4 million vehicles across the periods of January to July. It only adds to the steam of good news previously attributed to its European divisions. Already the largest European automaker, their performance output rose again by 13 percent for the first half of the year. While in the month of July alone, Volkswagen had sold over 570,000 cars and vans worldwide.

“After a very successful first six months we got off to a good start in the second half of the year. Over the coming months we will continue on our growth path with our model range and will perform better than the competition. However, this will be a challenge, given an operating environment that is again becoming difficult. Now that incentive programs have come to an end, the global automotive market is expected to decline in the second half of the year. There will not be a return to the high pre-crisis levels this year,” - Group Board Member for Sales Christian Klingler

Sales figures for VWC were most significant in the Asia & Pacific regions, with a reported growth rate of 42 percent percent totalling 1.23 million vehicles. China, did well with its own substantial growth of 42 percent. However, pales in comparison to India, with an increase of 121%. The home European markets were no slouch either, with figures totalling 2 million vehicles sold, maintaining its already strong holding with a rise of 2.2 percent. In the Western Europe regions there were gains of 18.4 percent to 1.15 million vehicles. However the home German market remain very low key due to the diminishing returns of the cash for clunkers schemes that took place last year.

The models which preformed the best for VWC were the various people carrying cars/vans as well as Volkswagen's more commercial oriented vehicles. The core brands went on to sell 2.6 million passenger cars and vans during the first half of the year (January to July), at an increase of 14 percent. Demand in China for the already popular models such as the Lavida, Passat Lingyu, Jetta and New Bora only increased as well.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Video: The Biggest Truck in the World

This week's video doesn't technically feature a van but it is about a commercial vehicle albeit not one you are likely to see during your daily commute. This is the kind of truck that many of us dreamed about driving when we were younger, it's huge and powerful. The description says that it is the world's biggest truck, I don't know if that is true or not but it is gigantic. The wheels appear to be about 12 feet high!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Volkswagen Provides British Gas with a New Fleet

British Gas have begun the process of replacing their fleet of 10,000 vehicles with the help of Volkswagen vans. VW have so far provided 2,000 vans to the energy supplier including Caddy, Crafter and Transporter Shuttle models in a rather fetching shade of blue as shown below.

“Our on-going strategic relationship with Volkswagen is very important to our business. It enables us to provide our engineers with safe and reliable vehicles, which meet highest quality standards and offer excellent value in terms of whole life costs."
-Colin Marriott, General Manager for British Gas fleet

The vehicles Volkswagen are supplying are not the normal vans for sale. For improved safety the vans are fitted with speed limiters and racking to help control any load if the vehicle has to brake heavily. In addition, the new livery includes high visibility chevrons on the rear doors. Externally, the vans still feature the iconic British Gas flame, but the new livery is also designed to have more space to communicate information and features to keep customers, and potential customers, informed.

The replacement of their existing fleet is part of British Gas’ modernization plans. The new vans feature the pale blue that British Gas now use in their branding, replacing the dark blue many associate with the brand.

“We are pleased to see that the quality, durability and cost effective running costs of Volkswagen vans have passed the formidable British Gas acceptance criteria, and above all, proud to have our vans delivering such great service to British Gas and its customers.”
-Simon Elliott, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Video: Yeti Concept Truck

This is one weird looking truck, the wheels are taller than the cab! It might look a little ungainly but it seems to be pretty agile - handy if you live in the frozen north.

Master fabricator Rex Bailey used the Samson™ CNC machine to build the "Yeti" (the abominable snowman), a monster truck that drives through snow more than 3 feet deep. The 76-inch tractor tires, Unimog portal axles, and modified Dodge 3500 Cummins diesel truck are all joined together by custom-designed plates that Rex made with the machine.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Volkswagen Unveils New Race Touareg 3

The Volkswagen Race Touareg 2 has dominated the Dakar rally for the last two years. After winning in 2009 they went one better this year and secured an all Volkswagen podium in positions 1 - 3. The Touareg 2 was the first ever diesel powered vehicle to win the historic race but it has now been retired.

The Race Touareg 2 has now been replaced by the Race Touareg 3 (who thought that one up?). The new version has had a number of improvements which VW believe will stand them in good stead to win in 2011.

Beneath the bodywork the twin-turbocharged 2.5-litre TDI engine has been optimised to allow greater economy while still producing 300 PS and 442 lbs ft of torque. It has also been revised to cope with the severe altitude changes incurred on the Dakar with the vehicle climbing to heights of over 15,000 feet above sea level. The Race Touareg 3 can now adapt to these conditions, meaning the performance doesn’t suffer despite the thinner air encountered at such altitudes.

In order to maintain these speeds in extreme off-road conditions the Race Touareg 3 needs to be able to withstand the rigours passing over sand dunes, through deep mud, and across gravel and broken tarmac roads. As a result the Race Touareg 3 is based on a high-strength steel spaceframe chassis with a pair of springs and damper units fitted to every corner in order to protect the vehicle against severe impacts. A set of specially developed BF Goodrich 235/85 R16 tyres provide the grip while a pair of wheels and tyres are carried by the vehicle at all times.

Volkswagen have also launched their new Amarok pick up which was the Official Support Vehicle of this year's Dakar rally. The Amarok will join Volkswagen's range of vans and used vans later in the year.

300mpg Electric Car Built by School Kids

A class of children from the DeLaSalle Education Center in Missouri have worked with experts to produce an electric car which can achieve 300mpg. As the video below explains the kids built the car from scratch with expert guidance as part of their Automotive class. During the build they learned about the science of electric vehicles as well as incorporating maths and history lessons.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Video: How Not To Drive

I didn't think it was possible to crash a van in a completely empty car park free of obstacles but people always manage to exceed my expectations. Lets hope this guy wasn't driving a rental van otherwise this video might be used to prove his liability!

Perhaps the driver of the van thought he was staring in The Fast and the Furious or maybe he was suffering from a bouffee delirant. Either way I don't believe that it was a woman driver as the title says - women just aren't that daft.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Monitor Your Fleet with Smart Cameras

Each UK citizen is caught on CCTV camera around 300 times on an average day. Cameras cover much of our road network and you aren't hidden from view in your van (so stop picking your nose at traffic lights). There are still some areas where your actions go unrecorded however and chances are if you have an accident it will be in one of these blind spots.

Many fleets already using tracking software to keep tracks on where their vans have been but is this enough? What happens if you have a crash and the blame is unfairly attributed to you? Smart Witness sell vehicle CCTV systems which can record the movements of your fleet at all times.

The camera is backed up by an on-board GPS system which records the vehicle's location as well as the speed and direction of travel. The video below shows the results, note the speed and location in yellow text at the bottom of the image.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Volkswagen Launches New Van Maintainance Scheme

Volkswagen have announced the release of a new used van and car maintenance scheme designed to simplify pricing in order to provide clarity for customers. Volkswagen hopes that its new pricing system will be provide peace of mind and easy budgeting to its customers in a time when finance is a concern for many.

“We’re launching this fixed price servicing programme as an extension of the Service Promise we introduced last year, allowing customers of older Volkswagens to enjoy the same standards of aftersales care as owners of newer cars. When we asked customers what they wanted, transparent servicing costs were top of the list. We’re confident that by introducing these and offering service and maintenance by Volkswagen experts with the latest training who have instant access to the right tools and technology, there will be no reason for owners of older vehicles to look outside the network for aftersales care.” - Stephen Butt Head of Customer Services, Volkswagen.

Volkswagen cars or vans aged between three and ten years, with an engine up to and including 2.0 litres in capacity will now cost £30 to MOT, while minor services are priced at flat rate of £119. Other services will fall into one of three categories:

  • Maintenance covers major issues such as air conditioning services, replacement of brake pads, and a cambelt change.
  • Convenience includes a courtesy lift, collect and deliver service or a loan car while the service is taking place.
  • Car Care for small dents, chips or alloy wheel refurbishment, enabling a professional repair to the vehicle.

Full details of the new fixed price servicing scheme can be found here or by visiting your local participating Volkswagen Van Retailer.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Van News Round Up

Right I've been away for a few days so here is a quick catch up with what has been going on in the world of vans and commercial vehicles...

Tata Motors Registeres 41% Growth In July 2010

India's largest commercial vehicle maker, Tata Motors registered a growth of 41% selling 67,799 vehicles in July 2010

Gentex strikes SmartBeam deal with Volkswagen

Gentex Corporation has announced that its SmartBeam high-beam assist system is now available on nine Volkswagen models...

Mercedes-Benz Vario undergoes a facelift

The Mercedes-Benz Vario is undergoing a facelift and is set to receive a new drivetrain...

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Driverless Van Travelling from Italy to China

Driverless cars have been around for quite a few years now, you've probably seen them on the television navigating test tracks with ease. They are normally like full sized remote control cars or have on board systems which can be pre programed for a set journey. Some are more sophisticated and feature on board cameras and lazers to help them avoid obstacles.

A team of Italian engineers have designed two driverless vans which are so advanced that they are capable of driving on public roads. The team are from VisLab who create artificial vision and intelligent systems at the University of Parma. They have set out on a journey from Italy to China to prove the road worthiness of their robotic vehicles.

The team are expecting to experience problems during the 8,000 mile trip stating ""We will definitely need some help by humans. It is not possible to have 100 percent driverless. This is why I call it a test, not a demonstration." There is no need to worry though, there will be operatives in the drivers seats of the vehicles ready to take over in the event of any technical issues. Each driverless van will follow a traditional human controlled van in convoy.

The Worst Van Advert Ever?

This advert for the 1985 Toyota Van is pretty cringe-worthy particularly the bit where the driver sticks his head out of the sun roof with a drink in his hand. Clearly these were simpler times when a sun roof was something worth mentioning in a commercial.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Kent Police Get Stuck Rescuing Man from Security Van

How many Police officers does it take to free a man trapped in a security van? Well according to recent events in Kent at least three officers are needed: two to get trapped themselves and one to phone the security company.

The man in question became trapped in his secure van after accidentally setting off the van's security system designed to protect it from potential armed robbers. As if that wasn't embarrassing enough there was a crowd of eyewitnesses:

"At first we didn't realise what had happened, the alarm on the van was shouting out 'this van is under attack, please call the police, please call the police'. Me and a colleague just thought it was a malfunction, but then I could see the van moving and knew someone was inside."

Things took a turn for the worse once the local police turned up. Two officers managed to get themselves trapped inside the van also without even freeing the driver much to the amusement of the crowd and fellow police officers:

"One managed to find a way into the escape hatch and got inside to see if the guard was OK, but then shut the hatch and got stuck himself. His colleague then somehow managed to get to the front of the van to try and free the pair, but she got stuck in the driver's seat as the doors would not open.

Then lots of coppers turned up and started laughing, but after about 15 minutes one of them had managed to get through to the security company and I believe some sort of pass code was activated to disable the alarm and all were then able to get out. The guard was fine and the police left laughing their heads off."

The fact that nobody managed to free themselves until the security company had provided the pass code goes to show just how secure these vans are. The police are probably just glad that they got trapped inside with the driver and not with an armed robber!

Amazing Solar/Wind Powered Van

Friday, 25 June 2010

World Cup Fever Strikes Volkswagen Van Centres

Flag of EnglandImage via Wikipedia

During the World Cup we expect to see countless cars with England flags attached on the roads showing their support for the national team. What are less common are cars and vans which are completely decorated. You may however of spotted some VW vans on the road with complete bumper to bumper designs in red and white.

With World Cup fever gripping the country, Volkswagen Van Centres are joining in with appropriately themed liveries for some of their display and demonstrator vans. In order to show their support for the England team several vans have been customized using the traditional red and white colours of the flag of St George.

Robinsons Van Centre in Norwich has turned a white Volkswagen Transporter van into a mobile England flag with a red cross on the bonnet and sides to replicate the St George cross, plus the England ‘three lions’ shield.

On a bigger scale, Abridge Van Centre in Essex has given Volkswagen’s biggest van, the Crafter, an even more striking makeover with an England flag and images of some of the players. This seems to have really captured the attentions of the locals due to it’s attention-grabbing design.

‘The Crafter is really eye-catching and people actually stop and point at it when you drive down the street,’ said Wendy Williamson, Brand Manager, Abridge Volkswagen Van Centre. ‘It’s amazing how many people are asking to drive it, and we’re sure somebody will want to buy it as it is,’ she continued.

‘These vans show our Van Centres are creative and on the ball. We hope the England team will be as clever and successful on Sunday,’ said David George, Head of Marketing, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

Hopefully the England team will put in such a good performance on Sunday to defeat the German team. If not and we go out on penalties the fact that Volkswagen is a German brand may be remembered by those who were so keen to buy the fully decorated Crafter van!
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Video of the Week: Joystick Controlled Van

This guy has customized his Ford E150 Van so that it is controlled using a joystick. The driver doesn't appear to move his right arm during the video so I'm wondering if this van conversion is due to a disability or just for fun?

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Volkswagen SA Celebrate the World Cup

It can't have escaped your attention that there is a bit of a football tournament going on in South Africa at the moment. The England goalkeeper Rob Green's cack-handed antics have made him a national punch line. Everyone is somehow remaining positive despite the overwhelming evidence that England will go out on penalties once again. What though does all this have to do with vans?

Volkswagen South Africa's 6000 employees have been getting involved in the world cup which is the first to be played on African soil. The staff are lucky enough to be able to watch games as they happen:

"Volkswagen of South Africa is making the World Cup accessible to all its employees by installing big screen TV’s in all the production areas so staff can watch the South African games. A further 6 000 South African National Team t-shirts and 7 000 vuvuzelas have been handed over to staff with 1,636 soccer tickets up for grabs as employee incentive programmes and lucky draws."

I can only imagine what effect the constant buzz of the vuvuzelas is having on productivity. The VW South Africa staff need to keep their head in the game as they are required to produce 600 VW vans and cars a day. The plant is doing well providing vehicles for South Africa and beyond, if you've ever been to SA you will have seen plenty of vans for hire and sale.

Volkswagen South Africa has arranged four roadshows for staff at their Uitenhage plant in the run up to the world cup. The events, which took place at lunch time in order to keep productivity at a maximum, featured Diski Dancers(Diski meaning football. The dancer performed moves based on football maneuvers such as the “sandwich”, the “shuffle”, the “heada” and the “shoe-shine”.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Transit Van Tops Most Stolen List

The humble white Transit van has topped the list of most stolen vehicles for the second year in a row according to the Association of Chief Police Officers Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS). It is thought that the Transit is most likely to go missing due to its potential contents.

“The rise in thefts of vans demonstrates their potential value in terms of spare parts, scrap metal and the prospect of stealing extra ‘booty’ within the contents of the van. Often, these stolen vehicles are dismantled quickly, so our advice to vehicle owners is to ensure that their security is as tight as possible.” - Detective Chief Inspector Mark Hooper."

The only other van to feature on the list was the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter which shows that commercial vehicles require tough security features. Commercial vans are like kinder eggs to thieves hence the prevalence of sticks stating 'no tools are left in this vehicle overnight' etc.

The list in full:
1. Ford Transit
2. Ford Fiesta
3. Vauxhall Astra
4. Volkswagen Golf
5. Vauxhall Corsa
6. Ford Focus
7. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
8. Ford Mondeo
9. Ford Escort
10. Vauxhall Vectra

So if you drive a commercial van remember to make sure your van is secure at all times. Empty the contents whenever possible and don't advertise to thieves by leaving the doors open unnecessarily. When looking at vans for sale consider the security measures in place to prevent your van from becoming a statistic.

Minivans In Japan

Wow, the Japanese seem to love their minivans!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Van Art by Kevin Cyr

These painting by Kevin Cyr reminded of of the series of photos which I wrote about here last week. Like Joe Steven's Vans and the Places They Were, the paintings feature lots of classic American vans documented side-on. The vans, which were from Brooklyn, New York, are all heavily graffitied and most are in a state of disrepair with rust visible around their edges.

Kevin Cyr painted the vans in a simple style which gives them the look of miniatures or zoological studies. Their plain, single colour backgrounds show them divorced from reality although their customized paint schemes show that they are anything but.

Cyr seems to have a preoccupation with vehicles - his other work includes paintings of lorries and campervans. He even creates die-cast miniature vans with an amazing eye for detail. Cyr says that he sees beauty in vans which to others may look unkempt:

In a culture in which people are easily lured by the appeal of status-enhancing symbols, I find beauty in derelict cars and unkempt landscapes. I have always been interested in painting vehicles and scenes that have defined the evolution of the American landscape.

Cyr has exhibited around the world and his work has been featured in numerous magazines. He has paintings of vans for sale with who specialize in affordable art in editions of 200. See more of his work at his site

Van Racing Video

Our video of the week features some classy Banger Van racing in the sea-side resort of Skegness. This proves that we also have rednecks here in the UK!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

The EU Considers Manditory Speed Limiters for all Vans

A recently leaked draft report indicates that the EU is considering making speed limiters mandatory for all vans and light trucks in Europe in order to reduce emissions. The report, which found its way to Reuters details a possible 120km per hour(74.6mph)limit.

The report is part of a larger dialogue on the practicalities of introducing mandatory fuel efficiency standards for all vans for sale. This comes two years after the introduction of such standards for new cars. the report is expected to recommend reducing emissions to 150 grams of carbon dioxide per km by 2020 despite the European Commission recommending a limit of 135g.

The proposed changes have received some criticism here in the UK despite a national speed limit of 70 mph. The EU report states:

"These vehicles are almost exclusively used for commercial purposes and do not need to exceed 120 km per hour. The technology is available to do this; it is a cheap and effective way of immediately lowering emissions and many commercial organisations retro-fit them to their vehicles."

British politician Chris Davies believes that limiting the speed of vans is a good idea but doesn't go far enough: ""Vans are a tool for business and commerce, and we should be trying to reduce the costs for business," he said. "If we don't do better, we will leave business less efficient."

Vans And The Places Where They Were

Vans and the places they were is an art project by the photographer Joe Stevens which features beautiful photos of some classic vans. The photos are all shot on medium format 120 film giving the images a warm often lacking from digital prints. Stevens began the project in 1996 and plans to finish it by shooting "the last remaining van on the final frame of photographic film in existence."

For more information and to see all the images visit Joe Steven's page at Arlo artists.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Post Election Environmental Legislation Expected to Boost Electric Van Sales

The predicted rise in environmentally focused legislation following the general election is being seen as good news by electric vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. They are hoping it will lead to an increase in the take-up of electric vehicles. It is expected that the move towards lower emission vehicles will be encouraged by whomever wins the election.

Labour has previously proposed tax breaks for electric vehicle fleets in order to encourage the transition to electric vehicles where possible. There are of course many obstacles to going electric for a lot of van users such as the reduced mileage and lack of topping up points. Those who cannot update to an electric fleet until these issues are worked out will be looking towards vehicles with lower emissions and low running costs.

Boris Johnson has warned of his plans to charge vehicles with excessive emissions which wish to enter the congestion zone in central London. This plan was designed to encourage those still running older commercial vehicles to upgrade to new vans or even new fleets. This move is also being welcomed by van manufacturers as it is expected to speed up people's plans to upgrade to newer vehicles.

Bizzare Volkswagen Beetle/Camper combo

Check out this weird Beetle/Camper combo from 1974. The trailer section attaches to a latch on the roof of the car in a slightly dubious manner. It's nicely colour matched to the Beetle though!

The great thing about this set up as opposed to using a traditional tow bar is that the range of movement is expanded. The driver is able drive freely without worrying about jackknifing the trailer. It hard to explain but it all makes sense if you see a video of the trailer in action.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Volkswagen extend hire and leasing finance offers on Vans

Volkswagen have extended their van hire and leasing finance offers until the end of September. The finance offers are available on both the passenger carrying and van ranges. Customers are now able to get new Caddy Van from £189 a month, a new Transporter from £239 a month or a new Crafter from £349 a month.

We still offer traditional hire purchase and lease purchase finance, but more and more customers prefer the convenience and affordability of contract van hire and finance lease as it helps to improve their cash flow, manage their budgets and instead of having to sell the vehicle at the end of the term they can simply hand it back and start a new agreement for a new vehicle. -Simon Elliott of VWC

All vehicles purchased are eligible for free insurance for seven days and nights from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle Insurance. Volkswagen Van Centres also offer fixed-cost maintenance packages to suit individual requirements. More information available at the Volkswagen Vans site.

Drag Racing Plumbers Van

This guy might be the only Plumber to ever arrive on time:

Monday, 12 April 2010

Van Sales Increase for 3rd Successive Month

Today I am glad to be the bearer of glad tidings. Not only is it actually sunny outside for the first time in months, I also have good news about Van sales: They are up for the third month in a row. It seems that the van industry is slowly but surely recovering from the Recession and regaining growth.

New van registrations have been growing month on month since the beginning of the year with 34,691 registered in March. Whilst this is clearly a good sign the commercial vehicles industry is still not back where it once was. The first quarter of 2010 has seen 192,917 registrations which is a decrease of 22.4% on last years figure.

Those trading new or used vans, or operating van hire services will no doubt be feeling positive about the statistics. Whilst there is a long way still to go it is heartening to see things moving in the right direction. As the economy begins to recover the demand for vans is set to rise. Increased production will also be a positive step for the commercial vehicles industry.

What the industry needs now is continued, constant growth. The best way to return to previous levels is slowly, this will reduce the risk of supply outgrowing demand. Hopefully in three months time I will be able to report on six months of continued growth!

Video: Extreme Motorhome Racing

From the crazed minds that bought you the 'Man with Van Challenge' comes a new video: Extreme Motorhome Racing:

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Duck Survives Journey from Belgium to England in Van Grille

This story might seem like an April Fools joke but I think that it is genuine, the Telegraph have done their ridiculous joke article elsewhere. Apparently a couple of guys were driving through Belgium in their white van when the struck a duck. The driver Paul Murphy, from Leeds took a look at the damage and discovered a hole in his radiator grille. He assumed that the duck had flown off (although perhaps not in the direction he was hoping) and thought no more about it.

500 miles later Paul stopped at a service station on the M1 to further inspect the damage and was surprised to see the body of the duck inside the grille. Assuming the duck was as dead as a dead duck he used a screwdriver to open up the grille and get the body out. Just when he was about to go and buy some plum sauce he noticed that the duck was actually breathing.

"All of a sudden I saw this green head behind the radiator. I couldn't believe it. My first thought was 'Oh dear, it's dead, what am I going to do here?' because it wasn't moving. When its feathers moved I put it down to the wind, but then I saw it was breathing. I couldn't believe it."

Plucky, as he was later named, only suffered from a broken wing and a bleeding beak. He is now recovering at the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals hospital in Leeds. Let this be a lesson to you - next time you hire a van in London make sure it doesn't have a Belgian duck wedged in it anywhere.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Commercial Vans Likely to Dominate Electric Vehicle Market

So far electric vehicles have made little impact on the commercial market. Excluding the humble milk float few commercial vehicle fleets feature electric vans or cars. A new report by Frost & Sullivan predicts that the commercial sector will account for "70 per cent of the electric vehicle market in the EU and North America by 2015".

The limitations of the current crop of electric vehicles have so far prevented them from being widely used in the commercial sector. so far they are less reliable and harder to run than the traditional vans for sale. Improvements are expected as the technology advances over the coming years and this is likely to have a big effect on popularity. With this in mind Frost & Sullivan see the commercial sector leading the way and accounting for well over half of all new electric vehicle sales.

Proposed tax breaks for electric vans may make those operating traditional vans consider investing in new fleets. Buses are also prime candidates to be replaced: their repetitive routes mean that charging could be less of an issue. Bus routes tend to begin and end at the bus station which means that they can be charged on a day-to-day bases unlike long haul trucks and lorries.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

How Not to Drive a Van Part #256

Hint: vans with a tiny wheel base don't tend to take jumps well.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Volkswagen Lauches Free iPhone App

Volkswagen clearly understand the appeal of the iPhone app, they have just released their 4th game to the App store. The latest game has been launched to promote the new Polo BlueMotion so it isn't your typical driving game. The Volkswagen Think Blue Challenge surprisingly has nothing at all to do with Avatar...

The new Polo is part of VW's BlueMotion range which aim to be highly fuel efficient in order to be more environmentally friendly and cheaper to run. This explains why the aim of the new game is to drive as fuel efficiently as possible. It might not sound terribly exciting but it is at least different, there are hundreds of driving games and as far as I know only one focuses on fuel efficiency.

"Fishlabs [who designed the game] has implemented the concept of fuel economy not only creatively, but also in an entertaining fashion, it shows that fuel economy can also be virtual fun." - Cornelia Lenz of Volkswagen.

As mentioned earlier, this is the 4th game VW have created although they have yet to create a game featuring their vans. I would like to see a game which allowed you to customize a classic old split screen van or at least something showing all of their vans for sale. Then again maybe I'm just a van nerd!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Is This The Van Of The Future?

Is this what the camper van of the future will look like? I found this video on Youtube but I can't find any details about who created it, does anybody know the its origins? I'm not sure if this is based on actual inovation taking place or not but it is certainly interesting and prompts us to ask the question what will camper vans look like in the future?

Aside from debate about what might power the van of the future it is clear that it will need to fit a lot of features into a small space. Improvements in product design and materials will allow us to build lighter, more economical van which still feature everything plus the kitchen sink.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Van Registrations Remain Low

New figures released by the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers) have shown that new Van registrations are predictably low. The stats show that January 2010's registrations were significantly lower than those for January 2009.

A total of
13,099 new commercial vehicles were registered in January down 34.5% year on year. These figures will come as no surprise to most in the new or used vans markets, although they are by no means totally bad news. It is hoped that the worst January since 1992 will encourage the Government to offer more support for van sales companies and those who rely upon them.

Paul Everitt of the SMMT is cautiously optimistic:
“New van and truck registrations continue to reflect a weak economic recovery and businesses reluctant to commit to new investment. These are the lowest January truck registrations since 1992, leaving most truck makers very disappointed at the slow start to the year. It is extremely important that government uses the upcoming Budget to encourage new investment in capital goods and help re-build business confidence."

Top Gear Man With a Van challenge

The presenters of Top gear attempt a series of challenges in order to become a bona fide Man With A Van.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Campervans to be banned in New Zealand?

Members of the Otago Conservation Board are concerned about the amount of litter found in their scenic tourist hot-spots are are willing to do anything to overcome the problem. That believe that Camper van driving visitors are to blame for the roadside litter and they have banded together to put it to an end.

The board thinks that 'freedom campers' should be banned if they are not willing to clean up after themselves. They have "voted unanimously to draft a letter to their Department of Conservation superiors calling for the Government to ban campervans." It has also been suggested that companies offering van hire should be made legally responsible for the actions of their customers.

This seems outrageous to me, if the campervan contains a bin it is up to those driving it to use it. Why should van hire be banned rather than action taken against those who litter?

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Mercedes-Benz To Lauch Electric Van

Mercedes Benz have announced their plans to manufacture an electric van this year. The van will be based on the Mercedes Benz Vito and will be 'world’s first with electric drive system ex factory' which means it will come off the production line battery powered rather than being converted. The initial deployment will be limited, around 100 vans are expected to be sold in 2010 to 20 fleet customers.

Mercedes announced their plans this week in San Sebastian says that they will make up to 2000 of the electric vehicles. They will have the same load carrying capabilities as the non-electric Vito although they will require recharging every 130 km. This makes the van ideal for urban use but not long distances.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Rat Look Vans

Normally I try and keep this blog informative by covering all the latest news in the commercial vehicles sector but sometimes that can be hard work. Although we are starting to see some slight improvement in sales and manufacturing figures sometimes it all seems to be doom and gloom! I have decided to try and include some more light-hearted posts (hence the Youtube videos)in order to lighten the mood.

You might not be familiar with the term 'rat look' when it comes to describing vans and cars but you will have seen them on your travels. A Rat van will look deliberately distressed and at first sight may appear to be falling apart. If you were offered one of these by a van hire company you would think they were winding you up but these vans can actually be worth a lot of money.

It is normally classic older vans and cars which people choose to customize in this way in order to emphasize their age. Despite their appearances these vehicles are normally in great working order and normally a lot cleaner inside than out! The amount of time that goes into making a van look old and decrepit can be surprising. In fact the owners of these vans will have spent a lot of time and money on the look of their vehicles in order to cultivate this look.

Some car owners will rust one panel section which I always think looks a bit daft. If you are going to reject the idea that cars should look shinny and new then you might as well go all the way and have a car which gets complaints from the neighbours!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Crazy Van Jump

I found this video on Youtube of a guy jumping his van over a bump in the road. Not the best way to treat your van but it looks like good fun!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Is the Worst Over for Van Sales?

The news this morning that the UK has finally exited the recession (let's all agree not to say credit crunch) will be welcomed by many. Whilst we wont be expecting everything to return to normal just yet it is a clear sign that recovery is on its way. Those in the commercial vehicles industry will be pleased to hear that the economy is growing again after a difficult year.

Sales of used vans and new vans were badly hit by the recession as personal and business spending was greatly reduced. Most businesses kept outgoings to a minimum in order to secure jobs so increasing fleet size or investing in new vans wasn't an option. It is now hoped that sales of new vehicles will increase. This would most likely lead to an increase in used vans sales also.

Sales across Europe dropped by almost a third in 2009 although this eased towards the end of the year. The government's 'bangers for cash' scheme was criticized for focusing on private vehicles rather than supporting the commercial vehicles industry. Despite this sales have improved as spending has increased with December of 2009 only seeing a drop in sales of about 10% compared to 2008.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

VW to bring SmallCars to the European Market

Volkswagen have continued their plans to expand buy purchasing a 20% stake in the Suzuki Motor Corporation. This was a calculated move on Volkswagen's part which reflects the changing face of motoring. As fuel become increasingly expensive (despite the drop in the price of oil) and ecological concerns become heightened smaller cars are becoming more popular. Volkswagen are hoping to combine their knowledge with that of Suzuki who have a reputation for building high quality small cars.
“Europe is shifting to compact and small cars due to rising petrol costs as well as concerns of climate change. Suzuki has the expertise to make small cars, Volkswagen does not. The German company has the expertise in environment friendly technology and has invested large sums. Combining the two will reduce cost of making new cars. Volkswagen, which has a stronger dealership network in Europe compared to Suzuki, could source small cars from India and sell them under its own brand name,”
R C Bhargava, Chairman of Suzuki

Between them Volkswagen and Suzuki are aiming to create the first small car with widespread appeal. The Mercedes Smart Car is the most common small car in the UK thus far but Volkswagen hope to be able to provide something even more popular. It is not yet clear what will be produced but given recent events it can be assumed that a more environmentally friendly car is likely to emerge.

The Suzuki-Volkswagen collaboration is also expected to target the Indian market. Suzuki currently sell 20% of their vehicles to India where the small car market is booming. India is developing at such a pace that car and van manufacturers are seeing it as a vital market with thousands of potential new customers.
“VW’s presence in the Indian market is fairly at a nascent stage, while Maruti (Suzuki) has over 25 years of experience. When you develop new cars, you need to tune them to the needs of the local market. Suzuki will bring about a number of such intangible resources that can greatly benefit VW operations in India,”
Abdul Majeed, auto head, PricewaterhouseCoopers