Ford invests further in next-generation diesel engines

Posted on: October 21, 2014

Ford has announced it will invest an additional £190 million into its Dagenham site where it will produce the all-new 2.0-litre diesel engine for commercial vehicles and cars.

The announcement sees the vehicle manufacturer extending its investment into the programme to £475 million, with the government’s Regional Growth Fund providing £8.9 million towards the project.

Ford will develop a low carbon diesel engine that meets the Mayor of London’s proposed Ultra-Low Emission Zone target, with the first engines being fitted in vehicles by 2018. Phase one, announced in September, will see the development of low carbon 2.0-litre diesel engines for Ford’s commercial vehicles.

Stephen Odell, Ford Executive Vice President for EMEA, said, “This all-new, state-of-the-art, low carbon diesel engine has not only been designed and developed here, it will be manufactured by Ford in the UK too. And it will be great for the UK as these engines will be exported to markets across the world.”

This diesel engine programme is part of a £1.5 billion investment by Ford in environmentally friendly engine and vehicle technology over the next five years.

Business Secretary Vince Cable, said, “From pencil line to production line, these engines will be fully designed and built in the UK, securing the future of the plant at Dagenham and creating over 300 new jobs. This latest investment by Ford is testament to the strength of our automotive sector and demonstrates Ford’s ongoing commitment to the UK.”

DVSA Remote Enforcement trial deemed successful

Posted on: October 21, 2014

The DVSA’s Remote Enforcement Office (REO) trial has come to an end, with the Agency declaring it to have been successful.

Over the past nine months, the Western Traffic Area office provided an enforcement service that posed less of a burden to compliant operators, which freedup resources to focus on serious and serial law-breakers.

The REO was designed to be a more efficient method of enforcement, described by the DVSA as ‘taking into account the whole picture of an operator’. Rather than focussing on the immediate encounter, the REO uses data to recognise the overall ‘compliance culture’ of the operator so that the Agency can issue advice instead of sanctions, where appropriate.

“Operators who we know to be generally compliant, and who may have made an innocent mistake, will find that the REO recognises their compliant culture and provides the support they need to put things right – avoiding more expensive and burdensome enforcement action,” noted a DVSA spokesman on its ‘Moving On’ blog.

“The REO is an important part of DVSA’s transformation of our enforcement processes. We are taking a careful look at the results of the trial, to make sure that the lessons we’ve learned are included in our future thinking about enforcement,” he added.

Regulators key to the road freight industry’s future, says Goodyear

Posted on: October 21, 2014

Tyre manufacturer Goodyear believes that regulatory bodies have an important role to play in driving the road transport industry forward.

In a white paper, it expressed the opinions of 576 fleet operators across Europe, including the UK, Belgium, France and Germany.

The report, Mobility of the Future, found operators believe that governing bodies need to think carefully about introducing new measures for the transport industry.

It says that the road freight industry is made up of many ‘interrelated parts’ and that efficiency and profitability does not depend solely on one or two major issues, as any change has a knock-on effect on other measures.

Freight operators, however, are embracing the need to reduce fuel consumption, and broadly agree with the European Union’s agenda to tackle carbon emissions.

The survey found that 53% of operators saying they prefer environmentally friendly fleets. However, 11% admitted that the impact of regulations is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry, and 40% said that the rising cost of fuel is their biggest concern.

Another area of concern for operators are the proposed reforms to the weight and dimensions regulation, with many saying that the current restrictions are outdated and threatened fleets’ abilities to reach sustainability targets.

Michael Rzonzef, Vice President for Commercial Tyres for Goodyear EMEA, said, “Our research shows that fleets want to see clarity around regulation of industry and to see a regulatory regime that is harmonised across the EU. And fleets want to see their efforts to meet the challenges of the environmental agenda rewarded.”

Spinning plates: New double clutch transmission

Posted on: October 23, 2014

Transport Newsbrief has been to the hills of Andalucia to test the latest innovation in gearbox design.
The manual gearbox has been shifted even closer to the exit on the transmissions ward. It’s now been dealt another blow by Volvo’s latest innovation, a dual clutch (DC) gearbox. Automated manual transmissions (AMTs) have swept all before them in the last decade, and they are now the staple specification for everything from the owner-driver’s high-spec tractor, down to the common fleet truck. It will take a little while for exotic devices like predictive cruise control to penetrate as far, but how long before the dual clutch stamps its authority in such broad style?
Tough challenge

We’ve seen dual clutch transmission in cars for some time, but according to Jonas Odermalm, Volvo’s Heavy Transport Manager, it’s been a tortuous process to bring it to heavy trucks. He said, “It’s not been so easy for heavy truck development. Making a DC gearbox sufficiently robust and reliable has been difficult, with the development of the software having been especially tough.” Volvo’s Astrid Drewsen, Product Manager, Powertrain, announced in late 2012, at the FH launch in Sweden, that the ‘I-Torque’ DC, would be about a year away as it wanted to get it right. However, in that time rival firm ZF has introduced the TraXon DC, which will be a direct rival.
How does it work?

The basic idea is to use two parallel drive paths through the gearbox, using two input shafts, and each controlled by their own clutch. As one gear is in use, the next has already been pre-selected, so it is a simple action of closing one clutch and opening the other. The effect is to give a gearshift that has no break in torque, almost feeling like a fluid coupling automatic. But not all shifts can be carried out this way. On a 12-speed gearbox, one clutch deals with gears 1,3,5,7, 9 and 11, and the other handles 2,4,6,8,10 and 12. This means that they can only execute seamless shifts when the traction is transferred from one clutch to another, usually between sequential gears. A block shift between 2nd and 4th, for example would involve the same clutch, so it would operate at conventional speed. In practice this is not an issue because the majority of gearshifts, particularly on long-distance transport, are between the top three or four ratios and usually move one gear at a time. All these employ the DC function and, for the driver, the difference is immediately apparent. Typically, moving off with involve block shifting, possibly between 2nd and 4th, but then a shift to 5th would be a fast DC shift, and so would all the rest, providing they were sequential up the gearbox.
Gain or pain?

We’ve heard a lot about the ‘incremental gains‘ that have been squeezed out of Euro-6 engines and transmissions. In the hunt for every drop of fuel economy, compressors and alternators have been put on part time working to save the waste of energy involved by having them running all the time. We suspect that with two gear paths active inside this DC design, there must be an incremental loss of some sort, however small. That said, it must more than outweighed by the slightly faster hill climbs achieved by I-Shift with a DC, and these will mount up over a period. But Volvo are not claiming any fuel improvement for the DC innovation, saying that the prime advantages are ‘driveability and journey times.’ As always, technology like this comes with a price tag. The DC version of I-Shift will initially only be available on the top three horsepower versions of the FH-13, so at 460, 500 and 540hp. There’s no word from Volvo on when it will extend to other models, but economies of scale must be a tempting driver for them. As for the cost, it is expected to have a list price of around £4,000, on top of the regular chassis price, and I-Shift transmission. We suspect that the transaction price, especially for any fleet deal, will be a good deal lower. It’s important for Volvo to get at least some modest volumes of this currently unique feature into the market while they have the upper hand, and stacking up the cost won’t help to lubricate the sales figures.

There are a few haulage applications that might be looking at this device more closely that vanilla haulage fleets. Forestry and timber extraction operations – big business in Sweden – often only use a 6×2 drawbar, and it places a lot of responsibility on that single drive axle. Even with a double-drive, it’s easy to come unstuck on soft forest roads, many of which are often temporary. Having no break in torque between shifts is an attractive prospect in these conditions, and it could speed up journey times by allowing higher gears to be used while a truck is making it’s way back to the blacktop. Heavy haulage specialists could also be interested as shifting gears on hills at STGO weights is a challenge. Either way, the DC is another shot in the AMT’s locker and it could push their dominance even further. Volvo’s Odermalm is now claiming that 95% of the heavy trucks they sell in Europe are fitted with one. Improving shift comfort has been the aim, and the DC development certainly carries on that tradition. But to justify the extra expense, there should be a financial return for fleets, at least if this is not to end up as the preserve of owner operators, or SME fleets who want to reward their top drivers – a resource increasingly worth looking after. Jeff Bird, Press Director at Volvo Trucks, told us that the technology is based on that used in race car engineering, but employed in the FH for a totally different purpose. Maybe not so different after all Mr Bird, they’re looking for better journey times too.

Volkswagen provides used van buyers with an early Christmas present

Posted on: October 21, 2014

News from Volkswagen: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is offering used van buyers an early Christmas present in the form of a special ten day Das WeltAuto used van event.

Running across all 70 Volkswagen Van Centres from 24 October to 2 November, the nationwide event offers buyers the opportunity to purchase a used Volkswagen van with offers of 0% finance and free servicing.

For ten days, customers will have the opportunity to purchase a used Volkswagen commercial vehicle through a range of attractive low-rate finance options, such as 0% APR finance, which also includes two free services when purchased through Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle Finance.

Launched in 2010, the Das WeltAuto programme is Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ commitment to providing customers with an exceptional used vehicle buying experience, providing complete confidence and peace of mind for buyers. For many businesses Das WeltAuto will help reduce the time spent looking for the right vehicle. Benefits of the programme include a full history check, comprehensive Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle warranty and roadside assistance, vehicle data and mileage checks, plus an exchange/ return policy.

Kirsten Stagg, Head of Marketing for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in the UK, said, ‘This special event is part of our continued commitment to develop long-term partnerships with our customers, enabling our dedicated Van Centre network to sell used vehicles customers can trust.

‘What sets Das WeltAuto apart from other used vehicle schemes is that it takes into consideration the complete buying experience and the importance of a flexible package to meet customers’ requirements.’

Any commercial vehicle, Volkswagen or otherwise, up to six years old which is under 100,000 miles can now be sold as an approved Das WeltAuto van, broadening the range of vehicles available and enhancing the choice available to customers.

For each vehicle advertised, a Volkswagen Van Centre will suggest a number of approved accessories to enhance and personalise the vehicle, such as alloy wheel upgrades, parking sensors, cruise control, satellite navigation or Bluetooth/iPod connectivity. The prices shown will include VAT and fitting costs to make the process as transparent as possible.

Discover the Citroën LCVs during ‘Van Fortnight’

Posted on: October 21, 2014

News from Citroën: Citroën’s Business Centre network is holding a special ‘Van Fortnight’ sales event from 20 October to 3 November. To complement and celebrate Citroën Vans’ sponsorship of The Discovery Channel, participating Citroën Business Centres will be offering the chance to win a stunning, nine-night Alaskan Adventure holiday for two, worth £7,500.

During Van Fortnight, all prospective customers who pre-book and take a test drive at a participating Citroën Business Centre will also be entered into a free prize draw to win one of 80 Discovery outdoor kits, including a high quality backpack, a head torch and a water storage bottle, worth £90.

In addition, Citroën’s Van Fortnight offers include Citroën Contract Motoring contract hire rates, from just £139 + VAT per month.

Finally, each Citroën Business Centre will have 10 vouchers to issue during the Van Fortnight incentive period. These vouchers provide 10 lucky customers – who place an order for a new Citroën LCV – with either a free ‘Upgrade to Business Class’ package on outright purchase sales (normal cost £249 + VAT) or afree, 2 year service package on all qualifying CCM 2 year contract hire agreements. Vehicles must be registered by 31 October 2014. The Upgrade to Business Class package covers the cost of servicing for 4 years/60,000 miles and also includes 4 years Citroën Assistance.

Jeremy Smith, Citroën’s Head of Commercial Vehicles & Business Sector Operations, said, “Van Fortnight provides our customers with an affordable opportunity to upgrade their vehicles at participating Citroën Business Centres. Van Fortnight also provides the chance to win an Alaskan Adventure holiday – developed especially with Discovery Channel – worth an amazing £7,500. And every test drive at a participating Citroën Business Centre will see the driver get a chance to win a high value Discovery outdoor kit.”

South West Water gets 54 new Partners from Peugeot

Posted on: October 21, 2014

News from Peugeot: South West Water has created a bespoke ‘Leak Detection Team’, previously outsourced to demonstrate its commitment to this strand of their business. The new team has been equipped with all the best-possible equipment including an initial fleet of 54 specially-equipped Peugeot Partner vans.

Converted by its local dealership – Hawkins Motors Ltd in St Austell, Cornwall – 54 Partner SE L2 HDi 92 vans have been converted and equipped with specialist leak-detection equipment and traffic management signs and bollards to cater for roadside incidents.

Mark Karkeek, South West Water Transport Manager, said, “Faced with the opportunity to specify a whole new bespoke range of vans for this purpose provided us with a chance to do things quickly and utilised the expertise of our suppliers, helped by having first-hand experience of the durable Peugeot Partner van. Getting them modified for purpose by Hawkins, our local Peugeot Dealer, who converted the vehicle with our specific and exacting conversion requirements, was greatly appreciated.”

Staff for the new ‘Leak Detection Team’ have been transferred from the previous outsourced supplier and start operational deployment with their new vans in October.

The supplying Peugeot Dealerships are Hawkins Motors and the Truscotts Group. This initial supply was handled by Hawkins as it was also commissioned to manage the specialist conversion requirements emphasising South West Water’s commitment to using local suppliers with its operational area.

South West Water has a considerable van fleet, such is the nature of its business and since 2001 Peugeot is its primary supplier of Light Commercial Vehicles. The 54 Partner vans have been funded by Peugeot Contract Hire via a bespoke 5-year 100,000 mile Finance Lease scheme and maintenance agreement that was specifically developed for South West Water.

Nick George, National Key Account Manager at Peugeot, commented, “While we work hard to satisfy our customer’s needs, the requirements and circumstances presented by South West Water provided us with an opportunity to tailor elements to suit their demands, and with the help of their local Peugeot Dealerships we have achieved great customer service and enhanced our working relationship.”

Volvo’s excellent quality is key for Woods Coaches

Posted on: October 21, 2014

News from Volvo: Woods Coaches has reported that excellent quality and its strong relationship with Volvo, was key in influencing the purchase of a full specification B7R coach.

The Tillicoultry based company has been specifying Volvo coaches since 2005. A strong relationship between the company and Volvo played a big part in its decision to continue with the successful partnership with the Swedish manufacturer.

“The cost of the new coach was competitive, which is clearly a major commercial advantage” explained Woods Coaches’ Managing Director John Woods. “We have an excellent relationship with our Volvo Sales Manager, Jim Newman, who we have worked with over a long period of time.

“The new coach is a direct replacement for an existing vehicle of the same specification. We generally keep our coaches for three years, before upgrading our fleet. The coach is being used for touring and private hire contracts and we’ve been very pleased with its performance so far.”

Woods Coaches’ new B7R is specified with Sunsundegui Sideral 10 bodywork with 22-inch wheels. It is fitted with a Volvo D7E, In-line six-cylinder diesel rated engine at 290 bhp.

The coach is already operating on several UK tours and has proved popular with passengers. The vehicle includes 32 passenger seats, four tables, a drinks servery, toilet and features full leather seating fitted by Transcal.

“Stewart and the team at the Volvo dealership in Broxburn are excellent, they are really on the ball and always meet our requirements,” added John Woods.

Volvo Bus Regional Sales Manager Jim Newman, said, “We are extremely pleased to supply yet another high quality vehicle to Woods Coaches. The new B7R is a direct replacement for the B7 Sideral 10 that Woods have successfully ran for the last three years. They trust us when upgrading their fleet and we have been able to successfully deliver this to them in the B7R. Ours is a competitive industry yet we continue to excel in supplying and manufacturing the safest and highest quality coaches available.”

APC invests £6 million ahead of the Christmas peak

Posted on: October 20, 2014

News from APC Overnight: APC Overnight, the UK’s largest privately owned next day parcel delivery firm, has made a £6 million investment at its Staffordshire-based national sorting centre, ahead of what is predicted to be the busiest period in the company’s history.

The investment has already seen APC Overnight acquire a 2.5 acre plot of land adjacent to its main centre, which will increase the firm’s overnight vehicle capacity, to accommodate up to 92 trunk vehicles at any one time.

Due to the growth of the business, APC Overnight now sees as many as 160 trunk vehicles arrive on site each night and the new land will allow the company to better cater for its peak operating nights during the Christmas uplift, whilst keeping local roads around the sorting centre itself clear.

The land expansion is part of a wider pre-Christmas investment at the organisation’s headquarters, which will see the company install two brand new sky sorters.

The firm’s current conveyor system is able to process 20,000 – 25,000 MailPacks and CourierPacks per evening. The two new independent sky sorters, which will be installed directly above the existing system, will increase capacity to between 15,000 and 20,000 parcels per hour when fully operational by the end of October.

Karl Brown, CEO at APC Overnight, commented, “The level of investment we are making ahead of this year’s peak period is the largest the organisation has ever made aside from the construction of our bespoke national sortation centre. This underlines our commitment to delivering exceptionally high service levels for our customers.

The investment ahead of this year’s Christmas peak follows the company’s decision to employ an additional 140 full time staff.

Eminox to showcase next-gen SCRT solution at Euro Bus Expo 2014

Posted on: October 20, 2014

News from Eminox: Leading designer and manufacturer of emission control systems, Eminox, will be exhibiting its next-generation retrofit SCRT technology at this year’s Euro Bus Expo.

The Eminox team will be talking to visitors about the potential of retrofitting bus fleets to meet the latest Euro-6 emissions levels, exhibiting its state-of-the-art Gen 3 SCRT emissions-reduction system, which has been designed and developed specifically for urban operation while fitting in a minimal space envelope.

Combining CRT (Continuously Regenerating Trap) with SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) technology, the Gen 3 Eminox SCRT system uses next-generation technology to virtually eliminate particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), specifically NO2, as well as hydrocarbons (HC) and carbon monoxide (CO). New catalyst formulations and extensive system calibration means that buses as old as Euro III can be retrofitted to reach emissions performance levels that not even today’s newly manufactured vehicles achieve, at a significantly lower retrofit cost.

Nick Lyons, Eminox’s Managing Director, said, “Every year, air pollution costs the UK an estimated £20bn; the problem is most serious in urban areas, where large concentrations of vehicles lead to high levels of carcinogenic diesel fumes. According to The Environmental Industries Commission (EIC), 40 of 43 UK zones breach legal limits for exhaust pollutants, including NO2.

“To tackle this issue and reduce dangerous emission levels precisely where the pollution problems are, Eminox has developed SCRT technology – specifically designed for urban operation.

“Capable of achieving the equivalent of Euro-6 standards, SCRT technology can be retrofitted onto older buses, meeting new bus emissions levels at a fraction of the cost. Exhibiting at the Euro Bus Expo will allow us to engage with local authorities, passenger transport executives and bus operators, providing a great platform to discuss the real world challenges of reducing urban pollution.

The performance of Eminox’s SCRT technology is demonstrated by exceptional real world results achieved by buses across the country. Over the past few months, Eminox has been working closely with Go North East, to upgrade 40 Scania L94 buses from Euro-3 to Euro-6 emissions performance using this latest technology. Independent tests have shown that the Eminox SCRT system reduces NO2 by 96.7%.

An independent study by King’s College showed that NO2 concentrations on Putney High Street were reduced by 16% following the retrofit of buses with Eminox SCRT systems.