TfL launches public consultation on Ultra Low Emission Zone

Posted on: October 29, 2014

The Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) are giving public the opportunity to give their opinions on the proposed UltraLow Emission Zone (ULEZ).

The consultation, which is accessible online until 9 January 2015, will be analysed by TfL, before Mayor Boris Johnson can give his final recommendations.

By spring 2015, Johnson will decide whether to confirm the go-ahead, giving fleet operators more than five years’ notice, before implementation of the 24 hours a day, seven days a week scheme on 7 September 2020.

Johnson said, “Introducing the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone is an essential measure to improve London’s air quality and reduce NO2. I understand that people need adequate time to switch to greener vehicles and help is at hand for those who will be hardest hit, but let’s be clear, we need to make these important changes as soon as possible to continue to improve Londoner’s quality of life and give everyone who lives in or visits the city the cleanest possible air to breathe.”

The current proposal will see fleet managers faced with two options, either ensure their vehicles meet the emission restrictions for ULEZ or pay a daily charge.

Small and large vans and minibus drivers will need to ensure their vehicles have Euro-6 diesel or Euro-4 petrol engines, however, non-compliant vehicles would still be able to travel within the zone but pay a daily charge of £12.50.

HGVs, buses and coaches will all need to be Euro-6 vehicles to be able to travel in the zone free of charge, otherwise fleet managers will be faced with paying £100 a day for each vehicle.

Also affected by this proposal will be TfL’s buses and taxis. TfL’s aim is for all its double-deck buses operating in London to be hybrids and single-deck buses needing zero emissions vehicles by 2020.

From 2018, all taxis and private hire vehicles will only be licensed if they are capable of zero emissions.

Michèle Dix, Managing Director of Planning at TfL, said, “We are doing everything in our power to address emissions from road transport, with the introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone at the core of our work to improve the capital’s air. We would urge everyone who lives, works or travels in London to give us their views on the ULEZ proposal.”

ACEA registration figures show overall CV growth

Posted on: October 28, 2014

September saw the 13th consecutive month of commercial vehicle registration increases across the EU, according to new figures.

Data from European manufacturers’ association ACEA shows a month-on-month increase of 13.2% across all sectors, totalling 181,436 units.

Light commercial vehicles (LCVs) including vans and pickups saw the strongest growth year-to-date, while the truck and bus and coach segments slightly declined. All major markets expanded with Italy, Spain and the UK recording double-digit growth of 33%, 20.2% and 10.6% respectively.

Commenting on the ACEA figures, an SMMT spokesperson said, “With around half of UK-built commercial vehicles finding homes overseas, it is encouraging to see a European commercial vehicle market very much on the road to recovery. Europe’s CV market broadly reflects that of the UK, which so far this year has seen overall registrations increase 12.6%, demand for vans grow 18.1%, but truck registrations have fallen 20.3%.”
You can view the full report, plus graphs showing trends here

Funds allocated to Scottish ‘green’ bus purchases

Posted on: October 27, 2014

The Scottish Government has allocated £3.7 million towards the cost of purchasing 83 low-emission buses. Nine bus operators have been awarded funding through round five of the Scottish Green Bus Fund.

This year’s successful bidders include: First Glasgow, Wilson’s of Rhu, Secure Airparks, First Scotland East, Lothian Buses, Stagecoach North Scotland, Deveron Coaches and Orkney Islands Council.

It will bring the total number of low emission vehicles in Scotland’s fleet to 209. Performance returns from operators confirm that buses purchased through the Fund are delivering significant fuel savings and reduced emissions.

Scottish Transport Minister, Keith Brown MSP, said, “I am encouraged by the interest in this year’s Scottish Green Bus Fund which will contribute to another 83 low carbon emission vehicles on Scotland’s roads.

“This fund is helping our bus industry invest in the latest emission reducing technology and is another clear indication of our support and commitment to the bus industry in Scotland.”

Dave Alexander, Regional Managing Director for First UK Bus in Scotland and North England, added, “The Scottish Green Bus Fund is a fantastic initiative and will support our £7.8m investment in 52 state-of-the-art green vehicles. We’re especially pleased to welcome electric buses into our Scottish fleet for the first time.”

The Scottish Green Bus Fund aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and accessibility and encourage ‘modal shift’.

How smart will your fleet be in the future?

Posted on: October 30, 2014

A staggering 27% of European truck fleets recently surveyed made no use of telemetry whatsoever with another 16% making very restricted use of what is now widely-accepted technology. These were among the most surprising findings of research conducted on behalf of Goodyear and compiled in a white paper entitled Mobility of the future: smart fleets and the future of road transportation launched at a conference in Brussels on 14 October.

The remaining 57% of the 576 fleet managers questioned do rely on telemetry however, with 25% of them viewing it as vital. The managers are based in nine different countries, including the UK.

Greater harmonisation of standards would help further adoption by fleets, the white paper contends. So would more support from insurers; only 16% of fleets have been offered lower insurance premiums based on their use of telemetry.

Not surprisingly, 40% of respondents told researchers that the cost of fuel was their foremost concern. As a consequence, 92% measure overall fuel consumption, 76% invest in driver training to improve their mpg figures and 72% set self-imposed fuel consumption targets.

Another worry is the recruitment and training of drivers where 25% of the managers said that this was either their biggest or second-biggest concern. The Goodyear report advocates government initiatives to encourage young people without jobs to consider a career as a truck driver.

Among the mixture of industry executives, hauliers and senior European civil servants speaking at the Goodyear-organised conference was Ben Kraaijenhagen, Vice President of Foresight and Environment at MAN. He believes that training as a truck driver still makes sense because, in his view, driverless trucks are unlikely to appear on Europe’s highways any time soon.

“There will always be a driver onboard,” he insists.

Drivers may not necessarily spend all their time on the road sitting behind the wheel, however. Equipped with something rather like an airliner’s autopilot, trucks will be able to drive themselves on long stretches of motorway or through roadworks while drivers busy themselves texting customers or ringing head office.

“A truck driver will become more like the captain of a ship who continually monitors all its functions but is not required to be at the wheel,” says Joachim Fehrenkotter, Managing Director of German transport company Spedition Fehrenkotter.

That of course presupposes that legislators will allow it.

Nigel Base, Commercial Vehicle Development Manager at SMMT is quoted as saying in the report, “There is a lot of discussion about the potential of vehicle-to-vehicle communications, vehicle-to-infrastructure communications and platooning, where a group of vehicles automatically follow a lead vehicle.

“Throw in automated braking, cruise control, lane assist and so on and you can see that technology is marching ahead at a pace,” he continues. “The issue is that legislation can lag behind.”

While 11% of managers interviewed by Goodyear’s researchers cite the impact of regulations as one of the sector’s top two challenges, 68% would like to see fully-harmonised rules for the road freight industry across the EU.

Of interviewees, 51% are in favour of longer, heavier vehicles and the white paper supports proposals that the European Commission should assess the safety and environmental impact of trucks up to 25m long and grossing at up to 70 tonnes by 2016. The report’s view is that current rules governing weights and dimensions are out-of-date.

The report also argues in favour of allowing trucks that are heavier than the generally permitted limit for cross-border traffic within the EU to cross the border between countries where they are already in use on domestic work.

Some 27% of managers believe that truck manufacturers should have greater freedom to design trucks that are more aerodynamic. Fleets could do more to cut fuel consumption within the existing rules however, with only 28% investing in aerodynamic equipment – which is only effective on intercity runs tackled at a steady speed – and just 20% investing in tyre pressure monitoring systems.

Failure to maintain the correct tyre pressures has implications for mpg as well as safety and the report would like to see such systems made compulsory on trucks. At least 30% of fleets examine the labels that now come with tyres, giving details of fuel efficiency as well as safety and noise levels.

A mere 4% of fleets interrogated believe there is no more scope for improvement in fuel efficiency. On the other hand, 68% think they can still achieve efficiency savings of up to 10%.

One way of tackling fuel costs and reducing road transport’s carbon footprint could be a wider switch to liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power heavy trucks, suggested Joao Aguiar Machado, Director-General of the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport at the European Commission.

“We’re seeing increased interest in LNG among hauliers and the EU’s Council of Ministers is supporting the development of an alternative fuels infrastructure which will result in a network of LNG stations across Europe,” Machado says. “Telematics systems will be used to enable drivers to find the location of the nearest.”

In future a truck’s power source is likely to depend heavily on the use to which it is being put. In urban areas that could mean a diesel-electric hybrid such as MAN’s Metropolis research vehicle which first appeared at the IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hanover in 2012.

Operate it on battery power and it produces zero emissions. “What is more, it can get down to below 65 decibels,” says Kraaijenhagen.

That type of truck will increasingly be fitted with an assortment of systems – Blind Spot Assist, for example – to help drivers cope with congested urban streets, he says, adding that multi-use containers mean the more uses to which it can be put, the more likely that empty running can be minimised.

“I’m thinking about something that can be used to transport steel and tulips at the same time,” he smiles.

New Citroën vans to help secure social housing

Posted on: October 30, 2014

News from Citroën: Following the recent delivery of 42 Nemo, Berlingo, Dispatch and Relay vans, Fortis Property Care (FPC) now operates almost 150 Citroën LCVs as it works to keep roofs over the heads of social housing residents across Worcestershire and Herefordshire.

FPC, formerly Festival Property Care, started operating Citroën LCVs in 2001. A further order for 15 Relay vans is to be delivered in the near future.

FPC is the property repair arm of Worcestershire based Fortis Living, a new housing group created by the merger of Festival Housing and Worcester Community Housing. Based at FPC depots in Malvern, Worcester, Droitwich, Pershore and Leominster, the vans are used by FPC’s skilled tradespeople, including plumbers, electricians, carpenters, gas engineers and other associated building trades.

Most of these new Citroën vans are contract hired on four-year full repair and maintenance agreements. The new Citroëns, all finished in Pacific Blue, are being supplied by Warners Motor Group, Cheltenham.

Ian Smith, Fortis Property Care’s Operations Support Manager, said, “Our tradespeople are normally on the move and require reliable vehicles. Since we stated operating Citroën vans in 2001, we have found these vehicles to deliver reliability and low cost of operation, which is vital for our business. Our maintenance staff work tirelessly to ensure that the housing we provide is always fit for purpose and remains a safe haven for residents. We have a long relationship with Citroën and remain a satisfied user of their vehicles.”

Fortis Property Care undertakes a wide range of repair and improvement activities across the region. It has an annual turnover of £20m, a workforce of over 200 tradespeople and a team of office-based support staff. FPC maintains properties for Festival Housing, Worcester Community Housing, Rooftop Housing and Marches Housing Association.

Palletline member introduces new restraint system

Posted on: October 30, 2014

News from Palletline: Palletline member Shepherd Distribution Services is thrilled to announce that its patented Guardian load restraint system is now in full production and available to the trade.

The cost-effective system, which was nominated for Motor Transport and National Chamber of Commerce Awards, is easy to operate, reduces insurance risks and most importantly ensures safety.

Guardian complies with UK legislation, costs considerably less than other systems in the market place and is adaptable for any sized curtain side vehicle.

Laurence Abel, Managing Director of Shepherd Distribution said, “Before we developed Guardian, we were concerned that existing options were too expensive and not fully compliant, so we decided to see what we could produce ourselves.

“Guardian fully complies with UK legislation at a time when the DVSA has announced its intention to step up enforcement in respect of load restraint on large goods vehicles, so we are delighted that it is now in production and immediately available.”

The Guardian transit restraint system comprises of three key elements which have been designed to be exceptionally robust, low cost, quick to install and easily replaced in the event of any damage. Guardian protects a goods vehicle operator’s licence from the PG9 roadworthiness prohibition.

The system is now being sold to truck manufacturers and has been trialled by other Palletline members, including Potters Logistics.

Palletline Operations Director Iain Brown said, “The Guardian restraint system, pioneered by Shepherd Distribution is a true innovation for the industry that promises to raise safety standards and save companies money. On behalf of the network I would like to congratulate the firm on Guardian’s successful launch.”

Computer delivery firm switches on to Ekeri trailers

Posted on: October 30, 2014

News from Ekeri: An impressive design and high-quality workmanship are just two of the reasons why Birmingham computer equipment distributor Paul Ponsonby’s invested in a new Ekeri trailer.

Paul Ponsonby took delivery of a 26-tonne Mercedes-Benz New Actros drawbar rigid, with bespoke body, earlier this year to deliver large, fragile products across the UK and Europe.

Finnish firm Ekeri made the truck’s insulated body and drawbar trailer.

Managing director Paul Ponsonby, says, “I am very happy with it, it has been very well accepted by our customers and has filled a gap for us.

“I am very impressed by the workmanship involved in the drawbar trailer. This, coupled with the side opening doors, allows us to handle any type of freight.

Paul Ponsonby’s customer portfolio includes several high-profile IT manufacturers and wholesalers.

The 26-tonner is the biggest vehicle on Paul Ponsonby’s fleet of 12 trucks – most are 18-tonners although the line-up includes a couple of 12-tonners.

The trucks are used by two-man teams fully trained to handle a wide range of products including computers and telecoms equipment, printers, gaming machines and ATMs. Paul Ponsonby also relies on Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans and lutons for small deliveries and site surveys.

Paul Ponsonby is a former double winner of Motor Transport’s Customer Care Award, and was also a finalist on two other occasions. As well as specialist distribution services, the company operates 80,000 sqft of customs bonded warehousing at its headquarters in the Heartlands district of Birmingham.

Ekeri is the leading producer of box van semi-trailers, box van drawbar trailers and truck bodies, with side opening doors. Ekeri is well known in Europe as a specialist in box van trailers with side doors. Side opening gives more flexibility, security and more efficient loading and unloading. Ekeri combines the security of a box trailer with the flexibility of a curtain-sided trailer.

Export growth sees FuelDefend Global’s profits and profile rise

Posted on: October 29, 2014

News from FuelDefend: FuelDefend Global has credited its growth over recent years to a systematic approach to product and market diversification, despite the market still reeling from the latest recession.

With more than 90% of FuelDefend’s fuel anti-siphon device business now firmly overseas, the assistance of organisations such as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) as well as the government’s UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) department has been essential.

Support from such bodies, means FuelDefend have been able to establish relationships and ultimately secure business with leading commercial companies in developing countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Middle East and Russia.

After three years in South America, a Brazilian fleet has placed FuelDefend’s largest ever-single order of over 4,000 units of its NeckIt model.

Russell Fowler, Chairman of FuelDefend, said, “We’ve invested a huge amount of time and resource into our overseas channels over the five years. It is thanks to that foresight that we’ve seen company profits grow by 60% over the last three years.

“We’ve been number one in sales volume in markets such as the Middle East and South Africa for many of years now and the key reasons for our success is the flexibility, guaranteed quality and timely supply of our product range. Many ‘developing’ countries don’t currently have the safety and security safeguards so widespread in the more mature markets, but aspire to driving supply sophistication in the region. With a large in-house technical team and knowledge of the global market we are able to expand our portfolio as and when necessary to meet the unique requirements of not only each market, but each manufacturer within it.”

FuelDefend Global now operates in 120 countries across the globe, sourcing and selling products via a network of 150 distributors ranging from major global original equipment accounts to parts distributors, independent dealers and agents.

Scania ties up its biggest coach deal in two decades

Posted on: October 29, 2014

News from Scania: Scania has secured an order for 16 Scania Irizar i6 12.9-metre overall length coaches from leading operator, City Circle UK Limited.

The deal represents Scania’s largest order from a retail customer for at least 20 years and has been won due to the outstanding performance of six 10.8-metre Scania Irizar i6 coaches supplied to the Hayes, Middlesex-based operator in 2013.

Based upon Scania’s proven K-series 6×2*4 tri-axle rear-steer chassis, the new vehicles will feature Scania’s 410 horsepower engine which meets the Euro-6 emissions standard using Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology.

Each vehicle will be equipped with 53 luxury reclining seats with leather and extra-padded flaps, seat-back tables, magazine nets and footrests. Other interior equipment includes a centre sunken toilet/washroom and a Frenzel kitchen at the centre continental exit. Reversing and road cameras and integrated satellite navigation equipment are included, as are Durabright aluminium wheels and extra dark tinted double glazing.

City Circle’s Managing Director Neil Pegg says, “Following Scania’s flexibility and willingness to produce a 10.8-metre Scania Irizar i6 for delivery in 2013 from scratch, I have been delighted with how the six vehicles have performed over the first 18 months of their lives. I had the opportunity to evaluate the new Euro-6 13-litre Scania engine with the tri-axle Irizar i6 body this season. It has performed superbly and driver and passenger feedback has been excellent. I have been so impressed with the performance of the Scanias, the complete package that was on offer and the flexibility and drive to find the best solution possible for my vehicle requirements for next year that I was delighted to agree this business with them.

Scania General Manager Martin West says, “We have enjoyed an excellent working relationship with City Circle UK Limited since its first order for Scania two years ago, and we are delighted to now supply our product to this highly respected operator’s front line fleet. We were pleased when Neil agreed to take our first Euro-6 tri-axle this spring on long-term evaluation, and together we have been monitoring the new technology closely. Both City Circle UK Limited and ourselves have been highly impressed, not only with its faultless six months of operation, but also the efficiency and performance of the new SCR-only Scania 13-litre engine. We look forward to delivering the vehicles next spring and playing a part in City Circle UK Limited’s future success.”

City Circle UK Limited will deploy the 16 vehicles on an increasing programme of tours around the UK and Ireland for incoming tourists, and corporate charter services in both London and Edinburgh.

TruckEast Specialist Services celebrates its 10th anniversary

Posted on: October 29, 2014

News from TruckEast: 2014 marks the tenth year of success for TruckEast’s Specialist Services Department, which has evolved from a two man operation, into a leading department within TruckEast Ltd.’s operations.

In August 2004, TruckEast identified a gap in their range of services offered for tail-lift maintenance and repair after noticing that other suppliers were attending customers’ sites and servicing their vehicles. Consequently, two engineers were taken on by what was then called the Tail-Lift Department, based at TruckEast Wellingborough.

The department quickly expanding following contracts with key customers at the time, such as Asda, Homebase and Tesco, where on-site tail-lift and shutter door maintenance and repair services were offered.

The department evolved to employ six technicians within a few years, and steadily continued along this path until the economic crisis hit in 2008, which resulted in various customers reducing their fleet size.

In order to further expand TruckEast’s range of specialist skills, a refrigeration engineer was employed, enabling TruckEast Specialist Services to adopt a new niche of customers. In 2010, TruckEast Specialist Services branched out into specialist on-site trailer maintenance with one of their biggest customers, Knights of Old Group Ltd, with four extra technicians employed specifically to support this endeavour.

TruckEast Specialist Services marked the milestone by taking up an opportunity to open a dedicated Specialist Services Depot in Corby. The services offered now include tail-Lift maintenance and repair, refrigeration services, air-conditioning services, ATF for HGV & PSV and Class 4 & 7 MOT, tachograph, tanker, trailer and municipal services, as well as a dedicated recovery fleet.

To celebrate 10 years of success, TruckEast Specialist Services, led by James Phillips, Specialist Services Manager employs dedicated team of 17 staff, who have launched a departmental rebranding with three new fleet vehicles, sporting newly designed livery. The three vehicles will be serving the Northamptonshire and surrounding counties roads for all your specialist needs.