Van registrations level off in January after record 2015

Posted on: February 4, 2016

After a record 2015, registrations of vans in the UK levelled off in January with a 4.3% fall in demand compared with the same month last year, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

21,102 new light commercial vehicles (LCVs) were registered in January – the first month of decline since July 2015. Demand for vans below 2.0 tonnes and between 2.0-2.5 tonnes fell by 11.8% and 23.3% respectively in the month, but better news came from the 2.5-3.5 tonne market – the sector’s largest – where a 2.1% increase in registrations continued the trend towards heavier vehicles, driven by operators’ desire to maximise fleet efficiency

Placed in context, demand for vans remains at a very high level. In 2015, an all-time high of 371,830 vehicles were registered as attractive finance deals and the growth in online shopping encouraged firms to invest in their fleets.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “On the heels of a record-breaking 2015, which saw LCV registrations grow by an impressive 15.6%, January’s levelling off in demand comes as no surprise, and is indicative of what we can expect for the coming year. The overall market remains very strong, with business confidence high and the trend for home deliveries still growing.”


DVSA names new Chief Executive

Posted on: February 1, 2016

Gareth Llewellyn has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), the organisation has announced.

Llewellyn will take over from acting Chief Executive Paul Satoor on 1 April 2016, with Satoor resuming his position as Deputy Chief Executive.

Llewellyn has held senior global roles with both National Grid and Anglo American. As Group Safety, Technical and Engineering Director for Network Rail he led the drive to improve both the culture and safety performance. He is currently one of the Department for Transport’s nominated non-executive directors on the board of the Harwich Haven Authority and has also held board roles at Biffa plc and the Renewable Fuels Agency.

Llewellyn said, “The services DVSA provides touch the lives of everyone in Great Britain, whether it be through enabling people to drive or ensuring vehicles are safe to take to the road.

“The professionalism of everyone at the DVSA will enable us to respond to the ever-changing expectations of our customers, helping them travel safely every day.”

Newcastle trial a wake-up call on sleepy driver risks

Posted on: February 1, 2016

More timely NHS medical treatment for commercial vehicle drivers suffering from a condition causing drowsiness is needed urgently throughout the UK, according to leading industry groups.

The general lack of such treatment is putting lives at risk on the road, says the Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Partnership Group (OSA), with members including RAC, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), Freight Transport Association (FTA) and patient groups such as the British Lung Foundation (BLF) and Sleep Apnoea Trust (SATA).

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS) is common among middle-aged men, especially if they are overweight. Studies have shown that drivers with untreated OSAS are between three and nine times more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents.

The group wants Department of Health guidance to be sent to clinical commissioning groups, hospitals and general practitioners with the aim of enabling all vocational licence-holders to be back driving again within no more than four weeks following their first OSAS referral.

John Stradling, Emeritus Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the at the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Medicine, said, “In my experience, vocational drivers are often the safest on our roads but those with OSAS have no control over their sleepiness.

“We also know that these drivers are reluctant to come forward with symptoms of OSAS for fear of losing their licence, and therefore their livelihood. Through the collaborative work our group has undertaken with the transport industry, we believe that by expediting treatment, we can reduce this fear and therefore encourage drivers to get the treatment that will allow them to drive safely (and considerably benefit their quality of life). In doing so, we can eliminate many unnecessary road traffic accidents, and ultimately reduce the number of serious injuries and fatalities.”

A common treatment for OSAS is called “continuous positive air pressure” (CPAP). A technology appraisal seven years ago by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) concluded that CPAP should be freely available from the NHS to everyone needing it, but no supply timescale was specified. In some parts of the UK, CPAP equipment can be available within a few weeks. In other parts, it takes several months. It is speculated that uncertainty over how long they will have to wait is stopping many drivers from coming forward.

The results of a recent ‘fast-track’ OSAS treatment trial by in Newcastle were published this week. Dr Sophie West, a GP in Newcastle, said, “The data demonstrate that a fast-track service is deliverable. It can diagnose OSAS in vocational drivers and successfully provide treatment within a short time-scale, many within four weeks of referral.

“It is vital that GPs are aware of the service and identify patients as vocational drivers at point of referral. We hope that this service will encourage vocational drivers with suspected OSAS to present for investigation and treatment, and potentially lead to safer roads.”

Feature: European CV results show strong demand

Posted on: February 3, 2016

Registrations of all types of commercial vehicles, including vans, trucks, buses and coaches, grew strongly in Europe in 2015. This is the headline finding in the full-year vehicle registration results recently published by ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association).

ACEA puts the total number of commercial vehicle registrations in the European Union in 2015 at just over two million (2,079,322). This was 12.4% higher than the 2014 total and represented a third consecutive year of growth. Sales grew most strongly in Spain, albeit from a weak starting point, up 36.4%. Commercial vehicle registrations in the UK were up 16.7% year-on-year, up 13.2% in Italy, up 4.3% in Germany and up 3.1% in France.

ACEA’s registration statistics are sub-divided into four categories: light commercial vehicles (LCV) up to 3.5 tonnes GVW; heavy commercial vehicles (HCV) over 16 tonnes GVW, excluding buses and coaches; medium and heavy commercial vehicles (MHCV) over 3.5 tonnes GVW, excluding buses and coaches; and medium and heavy buses and coaches (MHBC) over 3.5 tonnes GVW.

LCV registrations were 1,713,850, up 11.6% on the 2014 results.
HCV registrations were 260,135, up 19.4%.
MHCV registrations were 325,689, up by 16.2%.
MHBC registrations were 39,783, up by 17.8%.

HCV European results make up for slumps in other markets

Strongly growing demand for commercial vehicles in Europe has been welcomed by many of the world’s leading truck and bus manufacturers in their latest annual reports, not least because some other markets such as Brazil and Russia weakened badly last year. Even before the final Daimler Trucks sales figures for 2015 were presented on 4 February, Wolfgang Bernhard, Daimler’s management board member responsible for trucks and buses, confirmed that Daimler sold more than 500,000 trucks in 2015 under the Mercedes-Benz, Fuso, Freightliner, Western Star and BharatBenz brand names. This compares with a 2014 sales total of 495,700. Truck markets in North America and Europe grew “significantly” last year, reports Bernhard, whereas the Brazilian and Indonesian truck markets where Daimler’s presence is strong, both slumped.

In the first eleven months of 2015, sales of Mercedes-Benz trucks in Western Europe’s medium- and heavy-duty sectors grew to 56,000, from 50,500 in the same period in 2014. But Daimler Trucks sales in Latin America fell to 27,900 (from 44,500 in 2014) mainly as a result of a collapse in the Brazilian truck market. In North America, Daimler Trucks sales are 20% up year-on-year between January and November 2015.

Bernhard said, “Conditions in the truck market will remain challenging in 2016. Nevertheless, our sights remain set on our next sales target of 700,000 trucks in 2020. For this purpose, we will again demonstrate our technology leadership in the IAA year 2016. We will proceed with important developments in terms of vehicle connectivity but also when it comes to efficiency, active safety and autonomous driving.”

US-based Paccar, parent company of DAF Trucks in Europe as well as Kenworth and Peterbilt in North America, is another leading global truck-maker reporting impressive 2015 results on the back of strong sales growth in Europe and North America.

An annual turnover of US$19.12 billion (£13.3 billion) and a net profit of US$1.6 billion (£1.1 billion) in 2015 were both record highs for Paccar. Net profit was up 18% on the 2014 figure.

Gary Moore, Paccar Executive Vice President, said, “Class Eight (maximum weight) truck industry retail sales in the US and Canada were a robust 278,000 units in 2015, compared to the 250,000 vehicles sold in 2014. Truck demand is being driven by good economic growth, strong freight tonnage and lower fuel prices.

“In 2015, Paccar achieved a Class Eight retail market share in the US and Canada of 27.4% as customers benefited from Kenworth and Peterbilt vehicles’ excellent fuel efficiency and outstanding performance. Estimates for US and Canada Class Eight truck industry retail sales are for another good year in 2016 with sales in the range of 230,000-260,000 units, driven by ongoing economic growth and customers’ focus on achieving enhanced operating efficiency.”

DAF Trucks strengthened its long-held position as the top-selling truck-maker in the UK last year. Harrie Schippers, DAF President, said, “Our customers recognise DAF’s quality leadership, low operating costs and superior driver comfort.

“Industry truck sales above 16 tonnes in Europe were a strong 269,000 units in 2015 and DAF’s market share increased to 14.6%, compared to 13.8% in 2014. It is estimated that European truck industry sales in the above-16-tonnes market in 2016 will be in the range of 260,000-290,000 vehicles.”

The latest annual report from Volkswagen-owned Scania is another showing a record high turnover in 2015 and net profit growing strongly too. The total number of Scania trucks and buses delivered last year fell by 4% from the 2014 total, but turnover is up 3% and net profit up 12%.

Henrik Henriksson, Scania Chief Executive, said, “Higher vehicle volume in Europe, record high service volume, positive currency rate effects and record earnings from Financial Services were partly offset by lower vehicle volume in Latin America, Eurasia and Asia.

“Total order bookings for trucks decreased during the fourth quarter, compared to the previous year, due to lower demand in Latin America and Eurasia. In Europe, demand remained high during the fourth quarter. Scania’s position in the European market is strong with a market share of 16.5% compared to 15.1% in 2014, thanks to a leading Euro-VI range.

“The continued segment focus and a broad engine range for alternative fuels also contributed. Demand in Brazil and Russia fell during the fourth quarter compared to the same period of 2014 and the outlook remains uncertain. Demand in Asia fell compared to the fourth quarter of 2014. Order bookings in buses and coaches rose compared to the fourth quarter of the previous year.”
LCV results also show strong growth

Ford, Daimler and Renault are among the many light commercial vehicle manufacturers with plenty to smile about in their 2015 registration figures. Ford claims to have become “Europe’s number one commercial vehicle brand” for the first time in 18 years. Ford light commercial vehicle registrations in Europe grew 23% last year. Market share grew by 1.2 points to 12.6%.

Jim Farley, Ford of Europe Chief Executive, said, “We’re especially proud that our commercial vehicle customers have made Ford Europe’s number one CV brand. We’ll continue to grow and serve customers in 2016, including offering our top-selling Transit and Transit Custom with an all-new powertrain and new technology.”

In the UK, the Mercedes-Benz vans division broke several records in 2015. The annual registration total of 36,212 was the highest to date, and 3.4% up on 2014. Increased registrations were accompanied by growth in dealer network activity, with 920,000 workshop hours sold in 2015, a 2.2% rise on 2014. And 11,300 new service contracts were activated – up 18.7% on 2014. There was also a 6.2% increase in the number of Mercedes-Benz vans serviced through the UK dealer network.

Renault van registrations in the UK totalled 25,458 in 2015, up 39.5% on 2014 in a van market which grew by 15.5%. The Renault plant at Maubeuge, France celebrated production of the millionth second-generation Kangoo van last year. The same plant also now builds the Mercedes-Benz Citan van, based on the Kangoo.

Jose Martin Vega, Renault Maubeuge Director, said, “Kangoo continues to appeal to a diverse clientele of both business and retail customers in all its markets.”

Tough new guidelines on health and safety fines

Posted on: February 3, 2016

Companies now face larger fines for health and safety offences as a result of new guidance for courts in England and Wales.

With the automotive industry having to manage far more health and safety issues than most other industry sectors, the importance of full compliance is particularly important for both companies and individuals.

Previous guidelines meant that a fine for a health and safety offence resulting in death would be set at a minimum of £100,000, not less than £500,000 for “corporate manslaughter”. Now the fines are certain to be far higher, not least because annual turnover is the starting point for calculations.

Fines of up to £10 million are possible for large organisations (annual turnover greater than £50 million), up to £4 million for medium-sized organisations (turnover between £10 million and £50 million), up to £1.6 million for small companies with turnovers between £2 million and £10 million, and up to £450,000 for “micro-businesses” (less than £2 million annual turnover. A large business convicted of corporate manslaughter can now face a fine of up to £20 million.

The new guidelines come from the Sentencing Council, an independent Ministry of Justice body. Crown courts and magistrates courts in England and Wales are obliged to follow the Council’s guidelines “unless it is in the interests of justice not to do so.” Courts in Scotland are expected to follow the same guidelines, as health and safety law applies equally throughout the UK.

The approach of courts in calculating fines under the new guidelines is awaited with keen interest, according to Laura Cameron, a lawyer specialising in health and safety at Pinsent Masons solicitors.

Of particular interest to smaller companies in the automotive supply chain, or owner-operator businesses, will be the requirements to provide comprehensive financial information to the court to determine the size of a fine.

Cameron said, “Organisations will be required to submit detailed financial information – including turnover figures, pre-tax profit, director remuneration, pension provision, assets and debt exposure – for the past three years (including that of any associated organisation).

“Failure to produce required financial information, or the production of insufficient or unreliable information, is likely to attract an adverse reaction. The court will form its own conclusions from the circumstances and information available, including that the offender is able to pay any fine.”

The new Sentencing Council guidelines have been welcomed by the British Safety Council, which describes them as “long overdue.”

Neal Stone, British Safety Council Policy and Standards Director, said, “The new guidelines, which in some cases will result in far greater fines than courts are currently imposing, reflects a shift in not only public opinion but concerns among certain members of the judiciary, including Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice.

“As he has made clear in recent appeal court decisions the purpose of fines is to reduce criminal offences, reform and rehabilitate the offender and protect the public.”

DIY trailer design at CV Show

Posted on: February 2, 2016

Online, easily-accessible trailer-design software claimed to be a “world first” is expected to be a big talking point among fleet engineers visiting April’s CV Show.

The Trailer Builder tool from Staffordshire-based Don-Bur Bodies & Trailers, going live for the first time this month, allows visitors to the company’s website to generate engineering drawings of trailers and thus quickly discover what effects any changes in dimensions will have on crucial factors such as load volume, payload and height.

This software, designed in-house by Don-Bur engineers, is believed to be the first of its kind anywhere. The company has long used conventional computer-aided design and manufacture (CAD-CAM) software from suppliers such as Solid Works and 2D Autocad, but Richard Owens, Don-Bur Marketing Manager, emphasises that Trailer Builder serves an entirely different purpose. It allows customers and potential customers, as well as Don-Bur’s own sales and engineering teams, to find out what is and is not feasible in trailer design by using simple drop-down menu options and altering dimensions to suit individual operations.

Though the software is confined to Don-Bur’s own trailer designs at present, the company is understood to be exploring ways in which it could be used more widely. More news on this development is expected at the CV Show.

Speed of operation is one of the Trailer Builder tool’s big attractions. Previously it could take 30 minutes or longer to draft a drawing based on a customer’s rough requirements. Trailer Builder can create such a drawing in milliseconds, it is claimed.

Owens said, “Quite often, our potential customers don’t know what to ask for because they don’t know what’s possible. In addition, for a 3PL (third-party logistics provider), it would be difficult to offer their customer an optimised solution without having a representative from a trailer manufacturer present to discuss available options. This new tool provides a unique opportunity for anyone with access to the internet to quickly develop and illustrate a custom solution; all possible and all compliant.”

Trailer slope is a good example, he suggests. Some operators fail to appreciate the effect of changing this on overall trailer height at the front bulkhead. Trailer Builder instantly calculates and demonstrates the effect of trailer slope on overall travelling height.

Don-Bur’s CV Show display this year is also expected to include a trailer boasting an eye-catching innovation in aerodynamic efficiency, but the company is not yet ready to reveal exactly what this is.


Last week’s sales round-up – 1 February

Posted on: February 1, 2016

Scania has supplied 12 double-deck Caetano coaches to Northern Ireland operator Translink. Based on Scania’s K 410 UB6x2*4LB chassis, the vehicles have 410hp Euro-VI DC13 115 SCR-only engines with GR875R gearboxes. The Caetano Invictus coachwork has an overall length of 13.25-metres and a height of 4.05-metres.

Citroën has delivered 13 Dispatch HDi 125 6-speed manual L2H1 1200 Enterprise vans to building services solutions provider Mountjoy. The new vehicles join a company fleet of over 200 vehicles, and will be used for Mountjoy’s Southampton University maintenance contract.

Centaur Services

Mercedes-Benz has delivered six Sprinter 313 CDI Long chassis cabs to traffic management specialist Lagan Operations & Maintenance. All six vehicles have dropside bodies by Dean Plant Hire, of Bathgate, to the company’s own design.

Mercedes-Benz has also completed delivery of a total of 60 vans to veterinary wholesaler Centaur Services, making the company an all-Mercedes-Benz fleet. The majority of the vehicles are Sprinter 3.5-tonne 313 CDI models, with the balance made up of 5.0-tonne 513 CDI variants, as well as Citan and Vito models.

Volvo Trucks has delivered two 18-tonne GVW Volvo FE rigid trucks to Deluxe Beds of Huddersfield. The vehicles are fitted with single bunk sleeper cabs, feature 9.2 metre GRP Luton box bodies, hinged over the cab, which were built by Micra Truck Bodies in Wakefield.

Volvo Trucks has also supplied a new FH-500 6×2 tractor unit to Bristol-based Liner Transport. The truck comes equipped with Volvo’s Globetrotter cab, 13-litre 500 hp engine and I-Shift automated gearbox, and joins two other Volvos in the company’s fleet of four trucks.

Volvo Buses has delivered a Volvo B8R SC5 coach to long-time customer New Bharat Coaches in London. The Volvo B8R Euro-VI chassis is combined with 10.3m-long Sunsundegui SC5 bodywork, and joins 11 other Volvos in the company’s fleet of 17 coaches.

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London’s LoCITY scheme unveiled

Posted on: January 28, 2016

A five-year scheme designed to help improve London’s air quality and lower carbon dioxide emissions by encouraging increased availability and uptake of low-emission vans and trucks was officially unveiled this week.

The Transport for London (TfL) scheme, called LoCITY, will include four “working groups”, an annual conference (the first to be held on 25 May this year) and new environmental operating standards and contractual clauses for procurement bodies. Vehicle operators, manufacturers, fuel providers and public sector bodies are among those being urged to contribute to the scheme’s development.

SMMT is already pledged to close involvement with two of the working groups, on vans and trucks. The LoCITY framework is based loosely on the CLOCS (Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety) scheme but focused on the environment rather than safety.

Three of the over-arching LoCITY objectives, according to TfL, are to increase availability and affordability of low-emission vans and trucks; improve London’s alternative fuel infrastructure, including electric vehicle charging points and hydrogen fuelling points; and improve policies, procurement and planning to encourage adoption of low-emission vans and trucks.

The aim is to achieve all this in the run-up to the introduction from 7 September 2020 of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). This will apply to the same area as the current Congestion Charge zone. Vehicles failing to meet ULEZ standards (including Euro-VI for trucks, buses and coaches, and Euro-6 for diesel engined cars, vans and minibuses) will face a daily charge, varying with vehicle type, to enter the zone.

Mike Brown, London Transport Commissioner, said, “Over the next five years, LoCITY will begin improving London’s air quality by encouraging the take-up of low-emission vehicles.

“We’re working with vehicle manufacturers, infrastructure providers and the industry to make these vehicles a realistic choice for operators. The CLOCS programme has show that this style of collaborative, industry-led approach works. LoCITY will help the industry as a whole continue to develop, while delivering a cleaner London.”

More information at

European CV registrations finish strongly in 2015

Posted on: January 28, 2016

Strong Europe-wide demand for new commercial vehicles continued in December 2015, marking a full year of consecutive growth, according to the latest registration figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).

Overall CV registration figures were up 14.8% year-on-year, and growth was significantly sustained across all segments. Italy, Spain and the UK recorded the strongest growth. Full-year figures for 2015 saw overall growth of 12.4%, and was the third consecutive year of growth. Spain had the strongest level of growth, with registrations up 36.4% on 2014 levels. The UK and Italy also outperformed the rest of the market. This was also reflected in each of the CV segment results, with those three markets outperforming the market average growth in each case.

Light commercial vehicles recorded their 28th consecutive month of growth, with December registrations up 13.5% compared to the previous year, and an 11.6% increase for the full year compared to 2014 numbers.

Heavy commercial vehicles (over 16 tonnes) saw a significant increase in year-on-year registrations, largely driven by the strong UK market, which was up 97.1% over December 2014. For the full year, Europe-wide registration numbers showed an increase of 19.4%

Medium-heavy commercial vehicles (3.5 to 16 tonnes) was up 23.7% for December’s year-on-year result, also driven by a very strong UK market. Full-year growth for the segment was 16.2%.

Medium-heavy buses and coaches also recorded solid growth in December (+11.1%) and across the whole year (+17.8%). The greatest growth rate was in Romania, which saw a 101% increase in registrations – albeit from a relatively small base – but segment growth was chiefly driven by market-beating registrations in Spain, the UK and France.

TfL’s vision for safer trucks receives mixed reception

Posted on: January 28, 2016

Trucks entering London would be required to have additional windows fitted in nearside cab doors, under proposals just published by Transport for London (TfL).

The move would improve cyclist safety, according to London mayor Boris Johnson. But truck operator associations doubt this, arguing that the £280 million estimated as the cost of retrofitting trucks with extra door windows could be far better spent on other, more effective safety measures.

The TfL consultation on the principle of “further improving lorry safety in London” puts forward two broad options for the new scheme. Under one a truck without the required “vision panel” in its passenger door would face a “substantially higher” charge for entering the central London congestion-charge zone or the much larger Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

Under the second option TfL would seek to place restrictions on trucks without “vision panels”, exempting only vehicles on which it was impossible for them to be fitted. These restrictions could involve a total, round-the-clock ban; specific time restrictions; and/or route restrictions. Trucks breaching these restrictions would be fined.

TfL proposes to enforce such restrictions through Traffic Regulation Orders, of the kind used to introduce the “Safer Lorry Scheme” last year. This came into force on 1 September 2015 and requires all heavy goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes GVW entering the London LEZ to be fitted with sideguards and extra (kerb-view and front-facing) mirrors.

Leon Daniels, TfL Managing Director of Surface Transport, said, “Our Safer Lorry Scheme has helped ensure that almost all lorries in London now have vital equipment to create a safer environment for all. We now want to go further and hear views from all road-users, businesses and the construction and freight industries on our proposals to reduce deadly blind-spots. This will be an important element in delivering our aim of eradicating death and serious injury from London’s roads.”

But the UK’s two big truck operator associations are unimpressed. Richard Burnett, Road Haulage Association (RHA) Chief Executive, said, “We doubt if London has the power to impose such a requirement as European Union law sets out the specification parameters for vehicles travelling across Europe.”

The cost per truck of retrofitting the required extra window is estimated at between £1,000 and £1,500 by TfL. RHA points out that this means a total cost running into tens of millions.

The total cost for UK operators is put at around £280 million by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) which points out that there are many other ways of improving a truck driver’s field of vision, including cameras and sensors.

Christopher Snelling, FTA Head of National and Regional Policy, said, “Improving visibility for HGV drivers is really important, but there are many different ways to achieve this. We are disappointed that the mayor has chosen to focus on just one option without clear evidence that this is the best way to deliver the desired outcome. Side panel have limitations – for example, if the vehicle is carrying a second crew member or equipment then the view may be obscured.

“In recent years the mayor and TfL have made additional mirrors, cameras and sensors a priority for HGVs. Now suddenly this one panel is the answer – and those who have already eliminated this blind-spot through technology will be forced to adapt their vehicles again to address the same problem.”

The consultation closes on 4 March. More information is available at: