Strong CV market boosts UK output in March

Posted on: April 23, 2015

Demand for UK-built commercial vehicles increased by nearly 50% throughout March thanks to a robust home market, according to figures from SMMT.

Britain produced 9,648 vans and trucks in March, representing an increase of 43.3% over last year. In the first quarter of the year, 23,435 commercial vehicles were produced – a 19.1% growth over 2014.

SMMT believes a strong home market and a ramping up of volume production to meet demand for new vans are behind this growth. The UK’s CV sector saw a record quarter for registrations, with 108,456 van and truck orders fulfilled. Light commercial vehicles account for more than four-fifths of output.

There was more evidence of the sector’s return to form in the export market, which has posted growth of 31% in March and 3.9% this quarter.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “The commercial vehicle sector has enjoyed a strong resurgence so far in 2015 after a subdued couple of years.

“Driving this re-adjustment is a home market invigorated by new products, increased consumer and business confidence, and an upturn in demand for UK-built vans and trucks across Europe.

“This growth will help return the sector to a stable natural level following major restructuring of the industry in recent years.”

DAF’s Transport Efficient upgrades take spotlight at CV Show

Posted on: April 17, 2015

DAF Trucks showed off its Transport Efficiency upgrades across its range of cutting-edge Euro-6 models at the Commercial Vehicle Show.

Key among product developments making their UK show debut under the DAF Transport Efficiency banner were:

Eco Mode as standard
PACCAR MX-11 and MX-13 engines are now up to 2% more economical
Silent Mode (available on CF and XF Silent models)
Predictive Cruise Control
Predictive Shifting
Advanced Emergency Braking System
Lane Departure Warning System
Enhanced MX Engine Brake
Extended Driver Performance Assistant

DAF Trucks Managing Director Ray Ashworth said, “These product developments to an already very attractive truck range have the potential to deliver considerable savings at the point where they can be truly maximised – from the driver’s seat.

“DAF Transport Efficiency brings us even greater levels of safety, too.” he added. “We must never forget our obligation to make road transport increasingly safe, for drivers and vulnerable road users, and our latest developments offer enhanced protection for both.”

DAF’s main display included the XF 510 FT Super Space Cab, touted as the ultimate ‘big machine’ for the long-distance international operator. With cavernous space and a wide range of creature comforts, it has been made for real home-from-home living. A 4×2 axle configuration means 40-tDAF Stand CV Show 2015onne operation is possible across the EU while allowing fitment of a 1,500-litre fuel tank. Fuel stops, therefore, become quite rare, and are made even more occasional with Eco Mode and Predictive Cruise Control – even with 510bhp under the cab, operators can enjoy exceptional fuel economy.

Following the Transport Efficiency treatment, the CF 440 Space Cab offers even greater appeal with its Silent Mode option. Further, the frugal PACCAR MX-11 engine offers weight saving benefits for customers looking to maximise payload without compromising on power – even at 44 tonnes.

The Construction CF 440 FAD Day Cab, meanwhile, now comes with a new Euro-6 FAD chassis arrangement for tipper, hook loader and mixer applications, providing bodybuilders with the ideal platform to install a wide range of ancillary equipment. New for 2015 is a revised front suspension design and optional aluminium air tanks which mean a payload improvement of more than 100kg.

The main display was completed by the LF 180 FA Day Cab boasting British-built bodywork and fuel economy savings of 8% compared to a conventional box-body with roof spoiler combination. With a myriad of specification options, DAF’s ultra-flexible 7.5 tonne LF is a true multi-tasker and, with its big-truck feel, offers significant driver appeal, especially for those distributing on motorway and A-road routes.

DAF’s outside display featured its biggest machine appearing at this year’s show, the XF 510 FTM Super Space Cab. The 8×4 powerhouse, in tractor unit configuration, flexes its muscles with a Euro-6 PACCAR MX-13 engine rated at 510bhp, and with a colossal 2500Nm of torque between 1,000 and 1,425rpm.

It was joined by the LF 280 FA Day Cab. With its robust 18-tonne chassis, DAF says it makes for the ideal solution to tipper and skip applications and, with the fitment of a PTO, is equally capable as a mixer. The raised front bumper provides high ground clearance and is manufactured from galvanised steel. With the tightest turning circle in this category, and class-leading cab comfort, the LF Construction is as at home on the highway as the construction site.

New Volkswagen Transporter revealed

Posted on: April 17, 2015

Volkswagen has taken the wraps off its sixth generation Transporter van and Caravelle people carrier. Celebrating 65 years since the launch of the original ‘Bulli’ van, and sales in excess of 12 million over that time, VW’s T6 Transporter adopts sharper bonnet, wing and headlight lines, with a revised grille, lower air intakes in the front bumper and the option of LED lights.

The interior is also improved, with new dashboard designs and infotainment systems. Upgraded upholstery, new steering wheels and controls from VW’s car range bring the interior up to date.

More importantly, under the bonnet the van comes with four revised diesel engines, delivering 84PS, 102PS, 150PS and 204PS. The two lower powered models come with five-speed manual gearboxes while the more powerful motors have a choice of six-speed manual of seven-speed DSG automated boxes. The 150PS and 204PS models can also be ordered with 4Motion all-wheel drive.

In the Caravelle all four engines will be sold in Euro-6 form straight away. However for the Transporter van, only the 102PS engine will be offered in Euro-6 trim in the UK, until September 2016 when all will adopt the latest emissions standard. The Euro-6 option is expected to cost around £1,000, as with the larger Crafter model.

That said, with VW’s Blue Motion Technology (BMT) package of Stop/Start, regenerative braking and intelligent charging now standard on all models, VW is promising up to a 15% fuel saving for both Euro-5 and Euro-6 models, despite the additional power outputs.

The Euro-6 vans also benefit from a host of electronic driver assistance systems, including Adaptive Cruise Control, City Emergency Braking, Automatic Post-Collision Braking and Light Assist automatic main beam functions.
Four trim levels, from Startline to Sportline, will be offered. Pricing and exact specifications will be announced nearer the UK on sale date of September/October this year.

RHA inspires students to consider logistics careers

Posted on: April 21, 2015

Students from local West Midlands’ schools were given the opportunity to get creative during this year’s CV Show with the help of the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

Supporting the Manufacturing Institute’s ‘Make It’ challenge, the RHA invited students to work in teams to design, build and market a new commercial vehicle.

The teams then pitched their ideas, Dragons Den style, to a panel of industry experts including Commercial Motor Editor Will Shiers, Isuzu Truck UK Chairman Nikki King, RHA Audit Coordinator Edna Gill and leading transport lawyer Ian Jones.

The winning team came from Wolverhampton’s Our Lady and St Chad Catholic Academy.

Will Shiers said, “This industry desperately needs to attract fresh blood, and what better way to do it than while they are still at school? I was blown away by the enthusiasm this group of kids showed, and by the knowledge they’d gained in just a few hours.”

RHA organiser Kate Gibbs added, “The real success of the day was the response of the students themselves. Only 17% had previously said they would consider a career in the logistics industry. By the end of their CV Show visit, 54% of the young people said it was a career that really interested them – a great result.”

Continental revises digital tachograph

Posted on: April 22, 2015

Continental has launched a revised digital tachograph under its VDO brand. The DTCO 2.2 incorporates a number of improvements including a new front panel design, the ability to record GPS position data for some versions and remote control via a smartphone.

The revised front panel includes a single button to handle Driver Card ejection and mode activity selection. It also incorporates a revised VDO Counter, which shows the driving and rest time information for the driver at a glance. VDO says that the Counter has improved algorithms that take full account of the conditions relating to ferry and train operations. Versions intended for the aftermarket and retrofits can record GPS position data, as well as fuel consumption, the vehicle’s total weight and diagnostic data. This can then be supplied direct to the VDO TIS-Web fleet management software via the DTCO SmartLink dongle, which can be connected to the front of the tachograph.

This also enables remote operation via a smartphone, using the TIS-Web Driver app. A driver would be able to check on hours and rest information using a smartphone and also make manual entries. Manual entries are difficult to make using the four-way button on the front of the tachograph and the app makes the process far simpler. Other regular entries such as start and end, or country selection are far easier to make via the app.

Data download time from the tachograph is also improved. Continental claims that mass memory data downloads will be up to 33% quicker. Using SmartLink and TIS-Web enables downloads to be made without a telematics package.

The DTCO 2.2 will be available across Europe from July and is available to order now.

Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership opens 2015 awards

Posted on: April 20, 2015

The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) is on the look out for nominations for the second year of its Low Carbon Champions Awards.LowCVP

The awards celebrate examples of outstanding and innovative practice in accelerating the shift to lower carbon vehicles and fuels and reducing road transport emissions.

The seven award categories are:

Low Carbon Car / Van Manufacturer of the Year
Low Carbon Heavy Duty Vehicle Manufacturer of the Year
Low Carbon Vehicle Operator of the Year
Low Carbon Fuel Initiative of the Year
Award for Low Carbon Innovation by an SME
Low Carbon Road Transport Initiative of the Year
Outstanding Low Carbon Publication or Report

There will also be an award for Outstanding Individual in Promoting Lower Carbon Transport and an overall Outstanding Achievement in Low Carbon Transport 2014-15 award.

Andy Eastlake, Managing Director of the LowCVP, said, “The UK’s low carbon automotive sector is now one of the most vibrant parts of the British economy, contributing to jobs, exports and growth.

“The LowCVP Low Carbon Champions Awards are the opportunity to celebrate this, and the wider range of contributions from fuels and energy, innovations and initiatives, and even research and publications, all of which deserve recognition for the low carbon success story.”

The deadline for nominations is Friday 15 May 2015. Nominations can be submitted by filling out the form on the LowCVP website.

Winners of the inaugural LowCVP Awards included BMW Group, Reading Buses and Cambridge Econometrics.

Airporter invests in Masternaut tracking

Posted on: April 20, 2015

A leading private sector airport transfer organisation is implementing Masternaut’s fleet management tools to adopt real-time tracking of its fleet.

Fleet managers at Airporter are using Masternaut Connect to inform passengers of where vehicles are at any given time, as well as to track and improve driver behaviour in an effort to reduce fuel costs.

Airporter serves around 100,000 passengers each year with its fleet of 17 Mercedes-Benz Executive mini-coaches, so accurate vehicle tracking is essential.

“We are a very credible, safe and reliable company that invest heavily in safety, and now we have the best telematics system to further improve our safety record,” said Niall McKeever, Owner and Director of Airporter.

“We’re the first public transport company in Northern Ireland to implement Masternaut telematics, and believe the company’s offering is the best available on the market. TACHOfresh in particular took us by surprise. For us, it ties up the whole logistics management side of Airporter, and it’s great to have one single reporting system as opposed to the time-intensive system we had previously.”

Industry issues in the Cool zone

Posted on: April 21, 2015

It isn’t just trucks that need to be green – refrigerated bodies and trailers are cleaning up their act too. Some of the big players in the Cool zone at the CV Show revealed the issues affecting their segment.

The demand for chilled and frozen food products has ballooned in recent times. It’s not just artics and trailers running into distribution centres, the need for a cool chain has spread to all manner of locations from motorway service areas, and regular filling stations to the boom in home delivery by the major supermarkets. It’s spawned a diverse range of fridge bodies, but it seems they have yet to seriously catch the eye of emissions legislators.

As well as using climate-damaging refrigerants, compressors are run by distinctly un-Euro-6 diesel engines. However the manufacturing industry is tracking them down itself, before they are compelled to. Steve Williams, area sales manager at Thermo King says, “It makes no environmental sense to have a squeaky-clean Euro-6 DAF XF pulling a trailer that uses a Euro-4, or even Euro-3, diesel compressor.”

He agrees that cool chain equipment is behind the curve when it comes to green credentials. “Although many manufacturers like us are making big improvements anyway, more legislation is needed to bring everyone on board.”

As well as upgrading their compressors, the refrigerants used in chiller units are undergoing big change. Leakage in service and during maintenance is bad news when conventional hydro fluorocarbon refrigerants such as R-404A are used. That has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 3,920, which the EU is aiming to substantially reduce, and legislation will be on the way.

Disposal at end-of-life is also a big issue, as new, lower GWP refrigerant solutions are here. Thermo King claims to be the first to offer a transition to a safer, more reliable and efficient refrigerant in trailer units, with the next generation refrigerant.

DuPont’s Opteon XP44 (R-452A) is claimed to have half the (GWP) of current refrigerant liquids. Thermo King’s SLXe trailer units, with this next generation refrigerant, are now in production and can be ordered in Europe. Later in 2015, it will be expanding the new refrigerant product availability to rigid bodies, but transition to existing units is also available through a refrigerant replacement service, managed by the dealer network.

Other cool chain equipment manufacturers are exploring gases well outside the traditional refrigerants, and are taking the levels even lower. Justin Grace, Managing Director Northern Europe for Carrier Transicold, explains its new ‘Naturaline’ chiller uses benign CO2 as refrigerant. It has a global warming potential (GWP) of one. He says, “A trial Naturaline vehicle has been with Sainsbury’s since October 2013, successfully operating from its Elstree depot, delivering frozen goods to stores across Greater London. Now we have proof on concept, we will be moving ahead with a full road transport version of this prototype – it was based on the unit used in our deep sea container operation.”

Fridge body designers have a fundamental dilemma, aside from the concerns surrounding emissions. Where to put the chiller unit? Generally the bigger the body, the more the latitude, but nowhere is it easy. For semi-trailers, they inevitably end up on the headboard, although some manufacturers have had a go at under-slung designs between the trailer’s chassis rails, or tucked away near the landing legs. There are benefits here. It is aerodynamically better, and easier to service, and also catches the worst of the salt-laden road grime in winter, which causes more damage potential when coupling up.

But the traditional headboard-mounted design has serious flaws too. Working at height regulations means a simple breakdown on the road – easily fixed in a technical sense – turns into a recovery so the trailer is taken into a workshop where the appropriate access equipment can be used. Covering them up with cab roof spoilers reduces their efficiency and makes access for servicing a chore.

Noise is the final issue makers need to address. Night deliveries can be ruled out with some local authorities now taking a even dimmer view of fridge compressors when they are added to trucks. It’s not the easiest of work for drivers either, but they are being accommodated in a number of ways.

‘Fisher-Price’ style control buttons that can be used by hands in mitts and micro-processor controls with readouts in 16 languages are all useful. But with the UK already working under a driver shortage, fridge trailer manufacturers need to make them more driver-friendly from a noise point of view. The pariah of the truck park, they are often seen corralled into a ghetto of humming hulks in the corner, furthest from the facilities.

Leyland Trucks appoints new MD

Posted on: April 21, 2015

Bryan Sitko has been appointed Managing Director of Leyland Trucks. He replaces Ron Augustyn, who joined Leyland in 2012 but is now returning to the US to take up another role in the PACCAR group.Sitko

Sitko has been with PACCAR for 16 years in North America and Europe, most recently as Operations Director for PACCAR Parts Europe, based in Eindhoven. He graduated from the University of Washington in the US.

“This is a great opportunity and I am very much looking forward to working with the tremendous team at Leyland Trucks to build on the excellence this operation is known for,” he said. “I’m looking forward to bringing my experience in supply chain management to play in an assembly environment.”

Leyland, with its factory in Lancashire, is the greatest producer of trucks in the UK.

Brand new heavies: News from the CV Show

Posted on: April 17, 2015

A number of heavy truck manufacturers had a significant presence at the CV Show. Mercedes-Benz took up a dominant position, and with 35 trucks divided between its indoor stand and an additional 4,000m2 outside, displayed the widest range of trucks at the show. A renewed truck range that’s taken the opportunity to bring completely new models along with the Euro-6 legislation, it also has a new managing director for trucks in the UK.

With Michael Kamper moving to Mercedes-Benz Trucks in Asia, Mike Belk returns to Mercedes in the UK after running Daimler’s interests in the Middle East. A strong range of vans from the Citan city van to the heavy Sprinter sees the launch of the new mid-range Vito panel van. Both van and truck divisions are claiming best-ever figures for 2014, with Mercedes tractors topping registrations with more than 20% of the market.

With a quarter of the truck market over six tonnes in the UK, DAF’s market leadership makes it a natural for the show. Managing Director Ray Ashworth sees even further growth. He said, “Our Ray Ashworth Managing Director DAF Trucksfirst quarter figures have pushed us over the 25% mark, and the trend has been upward since then too. As of Friday last week, our order intake has seen a 165% uplift compared to the same period last year.”

His forecast for the year-end position for DAF is an ambitious 28%+.

With the fluctuations of Euro-6 ironed out, Ashworth’s forecast for the whole market over six tonnes this year is 40,000 units, representing a solid upswing in fortunes.

DAF’s Marketing Manager, Phil Moon, says there are product improvements across the board. He said, “The advanced emergency braking (AEBS), and lane departure warning (LDW) technologies that are to become law in November this year actually make trucks safer than cars. For the first time, the mandatory safety equipment that applies to trucks will be in advance of other vehicles on the road. We’ve chosen to specify the more stringent AEBS level 2 system, which is not due to be law until 2018.”

New models at the show for DAF included the XF 510 FTM Super Space Cab 8×4 rear-steer, heavy-haulage tractor, and the first pair will go to Collet & Sons later in the year. Moon added, “Like the rest of all our right hand drive models for the UK, the LF, CF and XF ranges, this specialist heavyweight will be built at our Leyland assembly plant.”

Iveco’s van and truck product covered an impressive 900m2 at the Show. International van of the year Iveco Daily appeared in a number of forms, including with a new Hi-Matic eight-speed automated transmission.

Martin Flach, Iveco UK’s Product Director, said, “Daily Hi-Matic offers an average 4% reduction in fuel consumption, and a 4kg weight saving versus the previous generation AGile gearbox.

“Having eight speeds makes it easier for drivers to ensure they are always in the optimum operating range. Hi-Matic also changes gear quicker and more precisely than even the best driver on the planet, needing less than 200 milliseconds for a gear shift when greater acceleration is required. Its wider range versus a traditional six-speed transmission also ensures a faster and more precise gear change.”

A striking Vision concept van with a host of innovations in transmissions, body construction and safety drew the crowds. Commenting on its presence at the CV show, Nigel Emms, Iveco’s press and public relations director, said, “This is the pre-eminent event for the commercial vehicle business in the UK, and we are delighted to be here.”

At the heavy end of its product portfolio, a new special edition Stralis Hi-Life was showing off what an enthusiastic visit to the options list can do. Adding five factory-fitted options packs, plus an array of additional Iveco accessories, Bob Lowden, Managing Director of Iveco UK, said at the launch, “Every feature we’ve added is designed to make on-board life that little bit more special for the driver. We think it’s the perfect blend of style, comfort, convenience, safety and efficiency.”