Highways England and Transport for Greater Manchester partner up

Posted on: May 18, 2015

Two of the North West’s key transport organisations are joining forces to create a “world-class” road network for Greater Manchester.

Highways England and Transport for Greater Manchester have signed a memorandum of understanding on a long-term vision for the region’s motorways and key roads.

The agreement follows the formation of Highways England earlier this year, a government-owned company that will oversee a five-year budget of £11 million to invest in England’s motorways and major A-roads.

Graham Dalton, Chief Executive of Highways England and Jon Lamont, Chief Executive of TfGM, both signed the memorandum.

Dalton said, “Greater Manchester is one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the country so it’s vital that we work together to ensure it has a world-class road network to support the economy.

“Over £200 million is already being invested on creating a smart motorway on a section on the M60 and M62, and we need to ensure the work taking place there complements other improvements on local roads.”

Lamont added, “Having a clear, strategic approach to the management of highways across a city-region as large and complex as Greater Manchester is absolutely essential to keep it growing and moving.

“It is excellent news that we have agreed this new partnership, which represents a key piece of the jigsaw in terms of making travel easier in Greater Manchester and allowing the region to fulfil its economic potential.”

DRIVEit@ event returns to Bruntingthorpe

Posted on: May 21, 2015

The UK’s only dedicated light commercial vehicle show returns to Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Leicestershire this summer, promising to be bigger and better than ever.

The free event takes place on 7-9 July and includes six miles of test routes for van drivers and fleet managers to sample the very latest LCV models. So far 13 manufacturers have signed up, including Ford, Vauxhall, Mercedes-Benz, Isuzu, Renault, Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat. It is also being supported by SMMT.

Test routes will include simulations from town driving to motorway use, rough terrain and a challenging off-road course for 4×4 vans and pick-ups.

Event Director Rob James said, “Our event is the only one of its kind in the calendar and is rapidly becoming recognised as an essential day in the diary for light commercial vehicle buyers.

“If you’re about to spend a significant sum of your company’s money on vans, be it just the one or a whole fleet, it’s great to know you can try them for size first and help that decision process, as well as meet the key people you’ll need to know when you do decide to buy.”

More information and pre-registration is available at www.driveitat.com.

90% of replacement tyres are illegal, claims ATS Euromaster

Posted on: May 20, 2015

ATS Euromaster says that nearly 90% of the tyres replaced by its tyre and vehicle maintenance centre in Manchester in 2015 were in an illegal condition.

“Tyre safety has got a lot worse in this area during the past five years,” said multi-site manager Paul Duff, who cites a recent example in which the tyres on a customer’s vehicle had worn so badly the steel cords were showing through, but still didn’t want to replace.

“I wish I could say it’s an isolated incident, but it’s become commonplace,” said Duff. “As the only part of a vehicle in contact with the road’s surface, it’s a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.”

As well as posing a danger to lives, damaged or extremely worn tyres put the driver at risk of fines, points on their driving licence and invalidating insurance.

Vehicle tyres must be fit for purpose. This means being compatible with the tyres fitted to the other wheels, not having any lump, bulge or tear caused by separation or partial failure of the structure; not having a cut or tear in excess of 25mm or 10% of the sectional width of the tyre, whichever is the greater, and which is deep enough to reach the ply or cord. Furthermore, no part of the ply or cord can be exposed.

Remaining tread depth on cars and vans must be at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band in the centre three-quarters of the tread and around the entire circumference, and for trucks and buses it must be at least 1mm.

New Partner van brings Euro-6 engines

Posted on: May 15, 2015

Peugeot is updating its best selling Partner van, with the introduction of Euro-6 engine options, a redesigned front end and improved connectivity for the driver.

There are four diesel vans on offer, all using the firm’s 1.6-litre BlueHDi engine. They start with a 75hp model boasting 110g/km of CO2, a drop of 21g/km over the previous HDi 75 model.

Three versions of the new 100hp engine are available: the standard five-speed manual; a five-speed manual with Stop & Start; plus Stop & Start with a six-speed automatic transmission. Peugeot expects up to 50% of Euro-6 sales to be the 100hp engine, with around 30% of customers opting for the 75hp model.

The company will continue to offer Partner with the previous HDi 75 and HDi 90 Euro-5 engines in the UK, until June 2016. It is also considering a 98hp 1.6-litre for the UK, that is already offered on the Continent, and there may also be a 1.2-litre PureTech petrol engine available in 2016. European markets also get a 120hp version of the diesel engine with a six-speed manual gearbox, but as yet this is not intended for UK customers, other than in the Partner Tepee people carrier.

The Euro-6 diesel vans come with a 17-litre AdBlue tank, with a cap in the same filler flap as the diesel tank. The AdBlue, which helps reduce NOx emissions, is expected to last for up to 12,500 miles, and needs to be topped up between services.

The additional weight of the AdBlue tank and dosing system has in part been offset by fitting a smaller diesel tank and Peugeot claims there has been no loss of payload on any Partner model. The smaller fuel tank is possible thanks to improved fuel efficiency, with Peugeot claiming up to 68.9mpg for the people-carrying Tepee version.

The increasingly popular Professional trim level will include a touchscreen infotainment system, that can be used as a monitor for a new reversing camera. Peugeot will also offer Active City Braking on Partner from November this year.

Andrew Jones replaces Claire Perry in DfT freight role

Posted on: May 18, 2015

Andrew Jones has replaced Claire Perry as the minister responsible for freight and logistics at the Department for Transport following a post-election reshuffle.

Perry has been the incumbent for the past six months but remains part of the DfT line-up with responsibility for rail.

Jones, Conservative MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough since 2010, has previously worked as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Transport Secretary Justine Greening, and then to Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell.

The DfT has also welcomed Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon in place of Liberal Democrat Baroness Susan Kramer. He will combine his responsibility for skills and the supply chain with a yet-to-be-specified role in the Home Office.

The new line-up follows the reappointment of Patrick McLoughlin as Secretary of State for Transport.

Butcher chops bad driving with Masternaut

Posted on: May 20, 2015

Catering butcher Price and Fretwell says installing a Masternaut telematics system has improved driver behaviour across its fleet.

The Derbyshire firm is using Masternaut Connect across its fleet of 10 vehicles to educate drivers and reduce bad habits. With real-time reports available at all times, the firm says it has achieved a decrease in harsh driving by more than 60% and reduced speeding by 73%, in the three months since installation.

As well as providing drivers with the quickest routes to reduce fuel costs, Masternaut Connect allows fleet managers and customer service advisors to identify customer locations with precise updates on time of arrival and provide advice on delays.

Price and Fretwell General Manager Kevin Chappell said, “We pride ourselves on delivering a quality service to the restaurants, hotels and pubs we serve. Masternaut Connect has helped us improve how we operate, our driver’s road safety and ensure we give our customers 100% accurate information on when to expect their orders.

“We’re a small team, but Masternaut has helped make us even more efficient and safe, and has provided us with fuel cost savings, ensuring the system pays for itself.”

Feature: Interview with Simon Elliott, MAN UK

Posted on: May 20, 2015

Transport News Brief spoke to MAN UK Managing Director Simon Elliott about the challenges ahead.

A revised used truck sales plan and more Authorised Testing Facility (ATF) lanes are among the items on MAN UK Managing Director Simon Elliott’s to do list.

Used truck sales will be redeveloped under the company’s Top Used Customer Charter. The plan involves setting up a retail team, as well as developing three ‘super sites’ and five smaller sites dedicated to used vehicle sales. Refurbishing lanes will be included on each site.

“One super site will be in Manchester, one will probably be in Felixstowe and the other one along the M4 corridor, potentially in Swindon,” says Elliott. “The important thing is that they have to be large scale sites, obviously where the market potential is. The other five locations will be owned by MAN, in areas such as Nuneaton, Northampton or Bells Hill in Edinburgh.

“Then there will be Private Capital Dealers (PCDs) – individual dealers independently owned. At the moment we are looking to recruit six of those and we’ve got 13 interested parties. So we’re still fleshing those out but at this point, we haven’t decided or agreed where those locations will be.”

More jobs are on the way at MAN too. “We’re looking to increase the number of sales staff that we’ve got both in Top Used, fleet and in our new vehicle sales area as well,” he says. “Like every truck organisation, we’re desperately looking for more technicians to offer better customer service and satisfaction. We also need workshop controllers and administration people, so pretty much across the board we are looking to recruit at the moment. That’s not just in the 16 dealerships that we own, but right across our 70-strong dealer network, including PCDs.”

Elliott says no new MAN dealership will be built without ATF lanes. “Where’s there’s an opportunity for an obvious development of an ATF site, we’re engaging with our dealers right now. There’s a new site we’re looking at in Grangemouth, which will have an ATF lane as well as in Exeter, so all the new sites that we build will have an ATF.

“Where there’s the potential and an opportunity in terms of the building today, we’re engaging with our dealers. If they are building an extension to a workshop, we’ll talk about ATFs then. In terms of the final number, it’s fairly flexible at the moment.”

Around 100 apprentices begin training across the MAN dealer network every year. “We do an awful lot with them and we’re going to boost that this year, we’re going to do a lot more with our apprenticeships and we’re looking at taking more on next year.

“If we’re struggling with taking fully-fledged mechanics, you have to grow your own. We’re going out of our way to try and attract younger people into the industry.”

Ford Transit range the perfect match for Vanfridge

Posted on: May 18, 2015

Vanfridge and sister company Pola Van Rental have seen a 25% year-on-year boost in orders for Ford vans, chiefly Transit Connect and Transit Custom.

The Midlands-based company puts the sales upturn down to Ford’s comprehensive CV range, which covers the diverse needs of customers looking for refrigerated vans.

Vanfridge Managing Director Mark Foster said, “The majority of our clients have small fleets, up to five vans, and they come to us because they want specialist advice and a good deal.

“The Ford range has a model to suit every requirement and Ford’s service and aftersales support, and competitive cost of ownership, make the Transit range an unbeatable proposition.”

Vanfridge is a major supplier to frozen meal home delivery market leader Wiltshire Farm Foods.

Foster adds, “We always have between five and 10 Ford Transit Connect and Ford Transit Custom models to Wiltshire’s specification either in stock, undergoing conversion or at some stage of factory order; so an existing or new franchisee can be supplied with the appropriate specification refrigerated vehicle within a couple of weeks.”

Associate firm Pola Van Rental has a fleet of 57 refrigerated vans, 40 of which are Ford Transit models, on long-term rental with customers ranging from ice-cream vendors to a water authority requiring refrigerated transport for water samples.

Euro-6 performance secures 10 new DAF XF models

Posted on: May 15, 2015

Logistics firm GBA Services has added 10 DAF XF 460 FT Super Space Cabs to its UK and European ‘time critical’ operation fleet. The firm chose the trucks as it has seen an 8% increase in fuel consumption over Euro-5 vehicles with its current Euro-6 DAF XF models. GBA Managing Director David Birkbeck says there are “compelling reasons” why the fleet is now nearly 100% DAF. “Fuel efficiency from our first Euro-6 DAFs saw an improvement over equivalent Euro-5 models and that’s been very encouraging. Crucially, however, and for the wellbeing of the operation, our drivers love to work in their DAF XFs.

“Our customers demand a modern, time-critical logistics operation and if an issue arises, we demand an appropriate response that absolutely minimises downtime.” He says DAFaid roadside assistance shows a willingness to go the extra mile. “It’s that commitment that gives us peace-of-mind, we know DAFaid is all over the problem straight away. It’s a safety-net that DAF provides – and it really works.”

The company says its new DAF XF fleet will operate in part on its European routes to ‘maximise fuel consumption’, while a number of XFs will be utilised on contracts around the Midlands serving GBA’s automotive client portfolio.

With a 25% year-on-year increase in business, GBA has enjoyed impressive growth – especially due to the automotive sector in the West Midlands. Last year GBA opened a secure 50,000ft2 warehouse in Minworth where it has established a European Automotive Hub, created in partnership with Birmingham City Council through the Green Bridge Supply Chain Programme – a regional incentive scheme to stimulate SME growth.

Mercedes-Benz Citan Tourer gets Euro-6 compliant engines

Posted on: May 20, 2015

The Mercedes-Benz Citan Tourer is now compliant with Euro-6 emission regulations thanks to the use of selective catalytic reduction technology.

As from June all Citan Tourer models will comply with the standard. Citan van variants will have to wait until later in 2015 for the option.

All Citan Tourer models will come with the firm’s BlueEfficiency package as standard, which adds a stop/start function and improved fuel consumption of up to 65.7mpg combined.

The move to Euro-6 has the benefit of increasing maximum torque by 20Nm for each diesel engine, to figures ranging between 200Nm and 260Nm. In real world terms, this increases the Citan Tourer’s pulling power by around 10%.

The upgraded models will also come with a raft of new equipment, including a panoramic roof for long wheelbase versions, and a new navigation system designed specially for the Citan.