TfL retrofit programme ensures older buses will be ready for ULEZ

Posted on: July 22, 2014

More than 1,000 London buses have undergone Transport for London’s retrofit programme in a step to ensure that the fleet is compliant ahead of the new Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

The scheme had 1,015 buses that run on 50 of the highest nitrogen dioxide-concentrated routes across the capital – including Elephant and Castle, Marylebone Road and Oxford Street – fitted with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) devices to reduce the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions produced.

The £10 million retrofit project, funded by TfL and the Department for Transport (DfT), should ensure that London’s public transport fleet is compliant for the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) that will come into force in 2020.

Mike Weston, Director of Buses at TfL, said, “Fitting this innovative equipment to older buses in our fleet is making a significant contribution to improving London’s air quality and complements the other measures we are taking to improve the environmental performance of our 8,700 strong bus fleet. Retrofitting buses with SCR equipment is the quickest and most cost-effective way to cut NOx emissions from the exhaust systems of older buses.”

Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor’s Senior Advisor for Environment and Energy, said that the Mayor of London has driven this comprehensive programme to help improve air quality for residents and visitors to the capital.

“Greening the capital’s bus fleet is one of the Mayor’s top priorities,” said Pencharz. “As well as completing the retrofit of over 1,000 older buses with this pollution busting equipment, we continue to expand the city’s fleet of hybrid buses, including the roll-out of the new Routemasters, and trialing the use of electricity, hydrogen and bio-diesel to power the capital’s fleet,” he continued.

This retrofit programme has now seen the majority of buses in the capital meet Euro-4 targets, with the remaining Euro-3 vehicles set to undergo a similar programme or be replaced with Euro-6 variations. By 2015, TfL says that all the buses in its fleet will meet or exceed Euro-4 regulations for the amount of particulate and NOx emissions produced.

TfL also is beginning a trial with Euro-6 versions of the new Routemaster on selected passenger routes, with a wider implementation scheduled for later this year.

Earlier this month, Merseytravel announced that 59 of its buses have been scheduled for an upgrade on their exhaust systems to lower emissions, which is set to cost in excess of £800,000. In 2013, more than 390 buses in Brighton and Hove, Durham, Oxford, Sunderland, Swale and York, were fitted with SCRs and other emission reduction devices after receiving funding from the DfT’s Green Bus Fund.

Investment for low emission vehicles needs to focus on the CV sector, says Transport Minister

Posted on: July 22, 2014

More than £500 million is being pledged by the government to support the development of low emission vehicles, including improving the technology used in the transport and commercial vehicle sectors.

In a speech at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) Annual Conference, Baroness Kramer, Minister of State for Transport said that the focus in the UK on reducing emissions has helped the automotive sector out of decline, which is why the government is granting additional investment to stimulate growth.

She added, “In the past, choosing an alternatively-powered vehicle meant making a compromise – a compromise on convenience, a compromise on speed or a compromise on range. That’s increasingly no longer the case.”

From the £500 million being made available, more than £30 million will be assigned to advance the developments of low emission buses, continuing the success already experienced by Alexander Dennis, Optare and the Wright Group in this sector.

There is also £25 million set aside to build three advanced bio-fuel plants in the UK, to help stimulate the production of low carbon gas fuels.

Andy Eastlake, Managing Director, Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, said, “Experience over the last 10 years shows that a consistent policy approach based on collaboration between all stakeholders can deliver dividends. This represents the first strides on the road to meeting the environmental imperative of decarbonising road transport by 2050.

“There are, however, no grounds for complacency and the job is far from done. We urgently need to repeat the success seen in our passenger car and bus sectors in all aspects of road transport, such as truck and commercial vehicle industries, and, of course, the supply of low carbon fuels and energy to power all forms of transport.”

A report produced for the LowCVP by E4tech and the Centre for Automotive Industry Research at Cardiff Business School, suggests that improving greener technology has stimulated both the UK economy and automotive research and development. It also highlighted that some issues still exist in the CV sectors when developing greener technology for vehicles.

The findings indicate that progress in the bus sector is being hindered by use of truck components used, which it claims may not be the best starting point. It points to one operator who had to remap the bus’ gearbox to ensure it could meet the emission targets for its bus duty cycle.

The truck sector is cutting its emissions in line with Euro-6 legislation, meaning many manufacturers are focusing solely on achieving these stringent limits. The report from the LowCVP claims that while funding is available for the development for hybrid truck technology, the current demands placed on VMs by Euro-6 legislation means the venture needs to become commercially viable and that a market support mechanism should be put in place to stimulate the uptake in technology.

Eastlake added, “For example, if hybrid trucks were given preferential access to central London it would have made a difference. As it is, technologies were successfully developed but the precise nature of the cost, complexity or emissions reduction equation meant it was insufficiently attractive to fleet operators.”

London Councils to allow the Mayor’s Safer Lorry Scheme to stipulate safety regulations

Posted on: July 22, 2014

Authority body London Councils has stated that trucks in London need side guards and extended mirrors, but won’t be amending its London Lorry Control Scheme policy to reflect this.

The organisation, which represents 32 borough councils and the City of London, made this assessment in its Transport and Environment Committee meeting to discuss the findings from its consultation on making trucks safer in the capital.

The decision, which has met approval from the Freight Transport Association (FTA), was made as these safety regulations have been incorporated as part of Boris Johnson’s Safer Lorry Scheme set for implementation across the city in the coming months.

London Councils said that while it is not making any amendments to the LLCS, many freight and haulage companies that took part in its consultation process believe these safety features are necessary.

The London Council’s report shows overwhelming support for side guards to be fitted (93%) and extended class V or VI mirrors (92%) from those who took part, with 70% of companies running HGVs supporting both proposals.

The support from freight and haulage companies is reflected by Transport for London’s research, which shows the amount of investment need to make these safety additions is minimal. Those who took part in the consultation process felt they could be compliant with six months.

Christopher Snelling, Head of Urban Logistics at the FTA, said, “London Councils has reached the only sensible decision it could, as its planned changes were due to be overtaken by the Mayor’s Safer Lorry Scheme only a few months later.

“To have two regulatory regimes in London trying to control the same thing would have been unnecessary red tape.”

Another issue raised in the consultation was a change to allow more out-of-hours deliveries to ease congestion on the roads during busier times. However, London Councils came to the conclusion that the current scheme in place is adequate and has no future plans to amend it.

The FTA’s Snelling believes the councils have missed an opportunity to improve safety on London’s roads, and he disappointed that it refuses to revisit the regulation. The FTA also claims the regulation is based on 1980s rules to deter nighttime deliveries and forces hauliers and freight companies to take longer routes to do so.

Snelling added, “Out-of-hours deliveries have safety, emissions and congestion benefits that London could really use. The boroughs that make up London Councils should look again at this out-of-date regulation.”

Counting the costs of electric vans

Posted on: July 23, 2014

Electric cars can be found buzzing around every large UK city, but the commercial vehicle sector has yet to see a significant take-up. So far this year there have been 284 new registrations of commercial vehicles joining almost 1,000 already on the road. From the vehicleNissan e-nv200 manufacturer’s point of view there have been major technical hurdles to jump, as well as the task of persuading operators that the ROI is worthwhile.

Nonetheless, there is movement towards all-electric LCVs from large fleet operators keen to reduce energy consumption on local runs – and this year’s Commercial Vehicle Show was proof that a number of VMs have developed commercial EVs that meet the brief. Citroën’s experience with electric vans dates back nearly 15 years, and more recently it’s been joined in the sector by products from companies like Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Peugeot, and Renault. There have been automotive casualties along the way – such as Ford’s partnership with Azure Dynamics – however this time around, manufacturers seem to be better prepared for all eventualities when it comes to battery-powered CVs. These manufacturers are also keen to work with operators to ensure the total cost of ownership (TCO) remains as low as possible – a factor largely affected by the choice of battery acquisition.

There are two schools of thought: sell the battery outright with the vehicle or have the operator lease it. Looking at options available from vehicle manufacturers, there doesn’t seem to be a simple answer.

Mercedes-Benz, which produces the Vito E-Cell, doesn’t offer the option of a separate battery. “Our approach has been to give the customer peace of mind by offering the vehicle on an all-encompassing Contract Hire package via Mercedes-Benz CharterWay,” says the company. “This [deal] ensures that the only remaining TCO variables are the cost of charging and insuring the vehicle, allowing the customer to know from the outset what the vehicle will cost them.”

Since the launch of the first generation Citroën electric van in the late 1990s, the French manufacturer has adopted a policy of selling the vehicle as a complete package. Peace of mind, experience and simplicity for transport operators were all taken into consideration when Citroën decided to continue with this approach for its latest electric van, the Berlingo Electric.

Renault goes against the grain and offers a lease deal for its battery-powered offerings, but partner Nissan is planning yet another variation on the theme with its e-NV200, which went on sale in June. “We know that, for battery requirements, different manufacturers have different outlooks on which way is best,” says David Hanna, National Corporate Sales Manager at Nissan. “We decided to go for flexibility and offered both options to the customer. So, the same vehicle can be purchased both ways –either lease the battery or buy it outright with the van.”

Nissan’s experience with cars is, according to Hanna, “heavily skewed towards buying the whole package,” and he says the company expects the e-NV200 van to be the same mix when operators buy them.

He does, however, understand the appeal of separating battery and vehicle. “Leasing the battery is a good option, but it is not very widely accepted by leasing companies –they find it difficult to place a residual value on something that you don’t wholly own, especially from a repossession point of view,” states Hanna. “Customers and leasing companies are used to owning the whole vehicle and while the leasing option is a good model, I don’t think the market is ready for it on a large scale just yet.

“The difference in costs of operation for leasing versus outright purchase will depend on how long you are going to keep the vehicle, and the mileage you are planning to do,” Hanna adds. “If you are going to keep it for a long time, the advantage of leasing the battery is that it is guaranteed for the whole life of the vehicle. The vehicle, if you buy the whole package, does have a five-year warranty, which is good if you are planning on low mileage and keeping the vehicle for a while.”

In its launch materials for the e-NV200 van, Nissan claims that it can save operators up to £2,500 in fuel costs, with running costs of 2p per mile possible. Maintenance costs can be reduced by £575, based on servicing parts, and wear and tear. These are all details that Hanna says are covered in the initial discussions about orders for new vehicles.

“With electric vehicles, we will write a bespoke TCO model with the customer. We have corporate sales managers who have a lot of experience with EVs, and they know how best to help operators,” he explains. “We work out how long they are going to keep it, how many drivers there will be, what is the maintenance schedule, where it will be charged, whether it will be charged at on/off peak times, and then we calculate what is best for them – either buy/buy, or buy/lease.”

Hanna admits that EVs don’t look appealing when you look at the capital cost; prices for the e-NV200 start at £13,393 for the base van model (including the grant), rising to over £30,000 for the top-of-the-range model. But he remains confident that these costs stack up from a TCO point of view, and explains that is how they look at the situation. “British Gas is a good example,” he explains. “We did an EV van trial for six months, and the dataloggers that were fitted onboard told us that they’d covered 60,000 miles across all of the vans. When we worked out how it compared against its current fleet of Volkswagen Caddy vans, British Gas was happy to place an order for 100 vehicles.

“We are looking at it on a case-by-case basis – British Gas keeps its vans for five years, and covers about 7,000 miles a year. We looked at it from all angles, but the company decided that buying the battery was the best option,” he states.

One further consideration is charging options, says Hanna. “There are different capabilities, but the best way to decide on what is best is to look at vehicle downtime,” he says. “We’ve got LEAFs in with West Midlands police, and they are also looking at the van. They have four hours downtime between shifts, so have fitted a quick charger onboard, which reduces the charging time down to four hours, so it is perfectly aligned to their charging capabilities. So we would spec that option, and it may have a residual value application. You could put rapid charging capability on the van, but would never need it, so operators have to be aware of these things.”

UK CV production down

Posted on: July 24, 2014

Commercial vehicle production in the UK fell by 24.5% in June compared with the same period in the previous year. The SMMT cites ‘structural changes’ by vehicle manufacturers relocating production overseas as a key factor.

Volumes fell 25.4% in June and 23% over the first half of the year, with production for both home and export markets affected. However, output is expected to stabilise in the second half of the year.

“UK commercial vehicle manufacturing figures continue to be swayed by operational restructuring in 2013 and the pull-forward of demand in the heavy commercial sector,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive. “There are signs of optimism, however, with double-digit growth in European commercial vehicle registrations, and the emergence of new products and investments across the sector.”


FTA says operators on track to deliver during the Commonwealth Games

Posted on: July 23, 2014

News from the FTA: “Let the Games begin” is the message from the freight and logistics industry – as the 2014 Commonwealth Games is on the verge of starting. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is supporting logistics operators who are putting detailed plans in place to ensure the city of Glasgow is delivered to throughout the sporting event.

During the Games there will be an increase in demand for goods and services, but FTA is confident that deliveries are on track thanks to careful planning by the freight and logistics industry; the citizens of Glasgow, athletes and visitors to the area will be fed and watered during the Games. Shelves will be stocked, rubbish collected and the pubs won’t run out of beer.

Chris MacRae, FTA Head of Policy – Scotland said: “The Commonwealth Games should be great for Glasgow and the freight and logistics sector will obviously play its part in ensuring both that existing business customers of freight are still served as best they can despite the traffic restrictions that the Games bring, and also that the increased demand for freight due to the large influx of visitors is delivered. Any event such as this causes strain on the supply chain but freight and logistics businesses are good at working round this to make sure the shelves of shops etcetera are stocked with food.”

But it has been a ‘close-run’ thing, as Glasgow 2014 (the organising committee for the Games) was slow to release initial information regarding the freight restrictions caused by the Games.

As a result of FTA lobbying, both publicly and privately, the Games Route Network (GRN) and LATMPs (Local Area Traffic Management and Parking plans) were eventually made available, both providing essential data relating to affected post codes and details of businesses affected by their proximity to the Games venues. The full information has enabled freight operators to establish with their customers who will be affected by the GRN and LATMPs, and helped them to plan how to maintain deliveries and servicing during the Games.

MacRae added, “FTA has worked from day one to ensure our members got the information necessary to help them plan deliveries for their customers around the restrictions that the Games inevitably impose.”

The Games Route Network went live on 21 July with the opening ceremony planned to taking place this evening (23 July). FTA will be providing information throughout the Games to its members supporting and informing them throughout the event.

Through its dedicated web page and regular e-news and traffic emails to members businesses, they have the ability to sign up to feeds to receive up-to-the-minute information, including the latest traffic updates and news which may affect smooth operations.

The Association has been involved every stop of the way to help ensure that, in spite of the restrictions that are required to be put in place for the event to run smoothly, logistics can continue to deliver.

The D-Max pick-up model range extended by Isuzu

Posted on: July 22, 2014

News from Isuzu: Isuzu UK has added another model variant to its award winning D-Max pick-up range. For the first time, the popular extended cab version is now available in the premium Yukon trim, to provide a pick-up which is both adaptable and luxurious at the same time.

The extended cab configuration features standard front seats, behind which is a large load area incorporating a fold-down rear bench for occasional use.

The new Yukon specification extended cab is ideal for trade and leisure users who prefer the added exterior capacity of a longer rear load bed, require only occasional rear seating, and who still want the interior refinement and equipment available with the Yukon’s specification.

The new variant, available from October 2014, has been introduced in direct response to customer and dealer network feedback and is expected to help sustain the Isuzu D-Max’s impressive sales growth.

This useful addition to an already extensive model range comes as Isuzu UK announces record June sales, up 85% on the same month in 2013. Sales are up 25% for the year against 2013, itself a record year for the brand in the UK.

Yukon specification models feature a host of standard equipment, including cruise control, air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, chrome grille and rear bumper, heavy-duty side steps, six-speaker surround-sound audio system with roof-mounted ‘Exciter’ speaker, as well as high-visibility projector headlamps and LED rear light clusters.

Powered by a highly fuel-efficient, 2.5-litre twin-turbo common-rail diesel engine, the Isuzu D-Max Yukon generates 163 PS and peak torque output of 400 Nm from 1,400 rpm, and is available with six-speed manual transmission.

The Yukon extended-cab boasts excellent fuel economy of 38.7 mpg (combined) as well as being a supremely capable towing vehicle, certified to tow 3.5-tonnes (braked) / 750 kg (unbraked).

“Since its launch in June 2012, the D-Max has stood for rugged build quality and outstanding on and off-road performance. The new Yukon extended cab further enhances its appeal,” says William Brown, General Manager at Isuzu UK. “We hope this latest addition to what is already one of the most comprehensive line-ups in the sector will allow us to better meet the varied needs of pick-up users.”

Dealer successes and triumphs celebrated by MAN

Posted on: July 22, 2014

News from MAN: The MAN network in the UK has been celebrating its successes at the company’s annual Dealer of the Year Awards event held at Celtic Manor in Newport, South Wales. Three awards were presented to AN Richards in Wrexham, HRVS in Sheffield and DSV Commercials in Immingham.

Dealers are measured against the MAN Up Time Principle (UTP), which records key customer support functions such as MOT first-time pass rates, emergency call out attendance time and PMI schedule adherence in every dealership, as well as the results from the independent customer satisfaction index, making it a tough challenge for dealers to be crowned the best.

The awards programme includes every MAN dealer in the UK, both wholly-owned MAN branches and private capital dealers.

This year’s winners in the three categories of small, medium and large dealer were, respectively; AN Richards, the family-owned dealership in North Wales, HRVS Group’s Sheffield location and DSV Commercials at South Killingholme. Each winner receives a cheque for £10,000 to invest into its business plus a fantastic Porsche driving experience day at Silverstone.

Runners up in the respective categories were; Imperial Commercials in Peterborough and MAN Truck & Bus Swindon and MAN Truck & Bus Manchester – each receiving £5,000.

MAN’s Head of UK Network Development, Andy Turner, said, “Our annual Dealer of the Year Awards are now established as a highlight in our corporate events calendar. It’s about our dealers proving their continuous commitment to the operators of MAN vehicles, supporting them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“The success of these six dealers is a testament to the dynamic and innovative performance of their management and the teams they have around them. Each operation has consistently achieved very high standards in meeting MAN’s strenuous UK service-levels, and those performances have been the solid base on which this year’s hard-fought Awards have been won.”

36 new ‘clean’ Arocs join Hope Construction’s 300-strong fleet

Posted on: July 22, 2014

News from Mercedes-Benz: Hope Construction Materials, Britain’s leading independent supplier of construction materials, is bolstering its 300-strong concrete mixer fleet with 36 new Mercedes-Benz trucks.

The trucks are Euro-6 compliant, built to the latest diesel engine emission legislation from the European Commission.

The state-of-the-art Arocs 3236 8×4 B11 4-axle mixer trucks, each equipped with a McPhee mixer system, represents a huge investment by the firm and demonstrates its confidence in UK construction.

Hope’s continued focus on maximising safety was paramount in the purchase of the vehicles. They feature a string of active safety measures, including a vulnerable road user package, as well as a lane control system, collision avoidance and smart system which warns the driver if pedestrians or cyclists are too close to the vehicle.

The system, developed by Cycle Safety Shield, using Mobileye technology, works to mitigate the risk of collisions and road departure. Building on the award-winning lifesaving technology of Mobileye, the Cycle Safety Solution warns drivers when a cyclist or pedestrian is within danger zones, such as the nearside blind spot area.

All of the trucks are fitted with TomTom satnav allowing the driver to consistently take the most efficient route and for customers to be informed exactly where their concrete is at any given point.

Mike Cowell, Chief Operating Officer at Hope Construction Materials, said, “The purchase represents a significant commitment by Hope to providing our drivers with the best possible vehicles. They are the most advanced trucks on British roads and will benefit our drivers, customers and other road users.

“The purchase represents a significant investment by the firm and reaffirms our desire to set new standards in the UK construction industry.”

Driver Paul Gillespie, who took delivery of his new truck this week, said, “It’s great to be driving perhaps the most advance vehicle of its kind in the country and I look forward to making many Hope concrete deliveries across Britain in my new truck.

“The vehicle is environmentally friendly, efficient and equipped with a range of safety features the technical specifications are second to none, offering great peace of mind for all my journeys.”

James Colbourne, Head of Strategic Accounts for Trucks at Mercedes-Benz UK, added, “Partnering Hope Construction Materials with their latest fleet of Euro-6 vehicles has been an extremely positive experience. Hope requires vehicles that are safe, environmentally friendly, economical and robust and the new Arocs delivers all of this and more.

“This is the first fleet of 8×4 Euro VI Arocs mixers to enter service in the UK and Hope has demonstrated how both safety and sustainability work hand in hand.”

Shell protects fleet users of its euroShell card with real-time fraud detection

Posted on: July 22, 2014

News from Shell: Shell has enhanced the fraud detection capabilities of its euroShell Card by introducing Real Time Detection technology, which can identify criminal behaviour in a matter of seconds.

Founded on the same system that banks use to detect credit card fraud, Real Time Detection technology can filter up to 260 million Shell fuel card transactions every year based on specific payment parameters. It can then use the information to flag suspicious activity in real time.

Compared to euroShell Card’s previous fraud detection technology, fraud can now be detected faster and more accurately than ever before.

Real Time Detection technology builds upon euroShell Card’s existing fraud detection and prevention capabilities. These include customisable smart alerts, which can let fleet operators know when payment is attempted beyond their approved limit, and individual or bulk card blocking – both of which are available through the Shell Card Online management tool. Shell also has a dedicated team of fraud experts who review transactions with up-to-date country specific and fraud trend knowledge.

Phil Williams, Head of Shell Commercial Fleet said, “Fuel cards are one of the most secure, efficient and simple ways for drivers to fill up on the road but this does not mean they are impervious to fraudulent activity, which is becoming increasingly sophisticated. As a fuel card provider, it is our responsibility to minimise the impact of criminal attempts by staying one step ahead of the game. The introduction of Real Time Detection technology is testament to Shell’s commitment to achieving this and protecting our customers.”

Shell has also improved the design and functionality of Shell Card Online. The platform now includes more intuitive navigation and offers advanced control over setting fuel card usage limits, easier bulk card ordering, and personalised reports that address answers to specific questions.

Williams added, “We understand that time and money are extremely precious commodities for fleet managers. All of today’s upgrades are therefore designed to improve the convenience, control, security and savings our customers receive from euroShell Card so they can get on with their business, their way.”