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Flexible approach to truck dimensions would have greater impact on fuel efficiency, says ACEA

Posted on: April 16, 2014

The European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association (ACEA) believes that European Parliament has missed an opportunity with its latest directive on improving the weight and dimensions of HGVs.

It believes that the inflexible approach taken by parliament recommending curved cabs, bigger windows for greater visibility and an aerodynamic and crash safety redesign, has not taken into account the amount of time required to carry out research and development required.

ACEA says this was the ideal opportunity for European Parliament to provide manufacturers with the means to reduce emissions efficiently from HGVs.

It believes that the extension of HGV length and vehicle combinations, is gives enough scope for industry to incorporate these fuel-efficient innovations into its designs.

Erik Jonnaert, ACEA Secretary General, said the new directive neglected active safety technologies, which are considered to be the future of commercial vehicle safety.

“ACEA has sought to bring solutions and positive suggestions to the debate on weights and dimensions. Industry believes that it ought to have the flexibility to make use of revised rules to deliver cleaner and more efficient trucks in the most cost-effective manner,” he added.

The new directive also called for more investment and harmonisation of the alternative fuel structure across Europe.

Despite this being something the automotive industry has been advocating in order to meet targets, Jonnaert believes the European Parliament’s intervention may be detrimental to the sector.

“The package voted on today unfortunately removed binding targets for alternative infrastructure development. The automotive industry encourages policy makers to commit to action on infrastructure,” he added.

“Only consistency in infrastructure investment will ensure wider transport policy goals can be met. The industry is dedicated to delivering sustainable mobility in Europe, and need policy makers to support this aim.”

End of the road for illegal HGVs following task force success

Posted on: April 15, 2014

The Industrial HGV Task Force will continue with its crackdown on illegal trucks after proving a success over the last six months.

The trial, funded by Transport for London and the Department for Transport, was to crackdown on non-compliant HGV operators and drivers and act as a deterrent to companies who try to undercut those operating legitimately.

The task force, including Metropolitan and City of London Police services and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, has targeted and stopped over 1,960 trucks on London’s roads.

Out of those stopped 24 vehicles were seized, 15 prosecutions made and 519 fixed penalty notices given for a variety of infringements including, no safeguard equipment, inaccurate recording of driving hours and lack of insurance.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said, “The task force has carried out some sterling work raising the profile of road safety and deterring dangerous vehicles from London.

“Making it a regular fixture on our streets makes perfect sense and sends the message out loud and clear that unsafe and illegal lorries simply aren’t welcome in the Capital.”

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond stated that the work of the organisation underlines the necessity of having targeting HGVs and stopping them.

“We are determined to do all we can to tackle dangerous HGVs, which are a safety risk to cyclists, pedestrians and other motorists,” he added.

The news comes as the European Parliament is set decide on new rules to make trucks safer and more fuel-efficient.

One of the proposed changes set to be instigated on the industry is the introduction of rounder cab profiles and bigger windows in an attempt to increase visibility.

Enscite set to help transport engineering SMEs “grow and thrive”

Posted on: April 14, 2014

A new organisation aims to improve the performance of small and medium businesses within the transport engineering supply chain.

Enscite, supported by the European Regional Development Fund and the Regional Growth Fund, has been launched to help automotive manufacturing businesses grow.

To mark the occasion Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, delivered a speech saying he was pleased to back the organisation that will enable companies within the transport sector to take these skills and opportunities even further.

“We are investing record amounts in our transport infrastructure, which is a vital engine for growth for this country. That is why it is vital an organisation like Enscite exists to support these businesses and help drive forward our economy.”

It will offer a range of support services to the SMEs operating within or wanting to access the aerospace, automotive and rail sectors.

Colin McKinnon, Managing Director of Enscite, said, “It works to help manufacturing businesses to grow and thrive. Utilising the expertise of our world-class partners, we deliver practical business improvement programmes, run supply chain workshops and leverage funding to support investments in new technology, including access to a £1m Technology Fund.

“The sector is set for sustained growth and an increasing number of UK companies are looking to re-shore production in the UK, creating jobs, while cutting production costs.”

The launch event, held at Derby’s Roundhouse, was attended by more than 190 guests from organisations across the automotive, aerospace and rail engineering supply chain. Partners of Enscite, Derby City Council, University of Derby, Aston University and Cranfield University, were also in attendance.

The battle to clean up London’s cab scene is hotting up

Posted on: April 17, 2014

Boris Johnson has spoken. London’s Mayor wants Central London to be an Ultra-Low Emission Zone by 2020 and the capital’s iconic (mostly black) cabs will have to play their part.

He is adamant that all new London taxis presented for licensing from January 2018 onwards will have to be zero-emission capable; in other words, they will have to be able to run solely on battery power in certain areas of Britain’s biggest city. London already has almost 1,400 charging points and should have 6,000 by 2018.

Conscious that they too need to take action in the wake of the European Commission’s decision to launch legal proceedings against the UK over air quality levels, other urban authorities are watching what happens in the capital with keen interest.

Manufacturers are already busy developing cabs that meet Johnson’s requirements and that keep with the traditional profile and style of London taxis.

Among a number of companies vying for a share of the London taxi market are Ecotive and Fraser-Nash Research , both of which have UK facilities. They have developed the Range Extended Electric (REE) Metrocab fitted with a lithium-ion battery, an electric motor for each of the rear wheels and a 1.0-litre petrol range-extender engine coupled to a generator.

“Instantly recognisable as a London cab, with a panoramic glass roof for views of the city, it offers for no price premium completely new levels of economy, emissions and passenger comfort and is ready to enter service this year,” says Metrocab Chairman, Sir Charles Masefield.

With CO2 emissions set at a modest 50g/km, Metrocab is more than three times more fuel-efficient than conventional London taxis says the manufacturer and should typically save the driver between £30 and £40 a day. It can be recharged at home from a standard domestic power supply and has a claimed range of up to 350 miles.

Metrocab will not have things all its own way however.

Already a major investor in UK plc, Nissan is working with Coventry-based ADV Manufacturing to produce its new Taxi for London set to appear on the capital’s streets at the end of the year.

The two companies are setting up a taxi factory in the city, which has a long history of cab production, in a £6m joint venture marking a further boost for the UK automotive industry. The base vehicle will be shipped over from Spain for final assembly at the Midlands plant where it will be fitted with new bodywork with a taxi-type interior plus revised suspension and steering.

Based on the NV200 platform, Taxi for London has been designed in London for London by Nissan Design Europe in Paddington, which is also responsible for the Qashqai and the Juke.

The first model to roll off the line ready for delivery in December will be petrol-powered. Nissan will launch an all-electric version in 2015 with the batteries manufactured in Sunderland.

The Nissan/ADV project is being supported with a loan of nearly £4m through the Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chain Initiative, the UK government’s job creation fund for manufacturing.

Also based in Coventry, and acquired by Chinese manufacturer Geely just over a year ago, The London Taxi Company plans to have a compliant vehicle by the start of 2018.

“We will meet this challenge by offering a new, purpose-built, plug-in range-extended electric hybrid taxi,” promises Executive Vice-President, Peter Johansen.

Other potential competitors include Mercedes-Benz and Turkish manufacturer Karsan.

Mercedes-Benz is already selling its Vito as a cab in London, and with significant success. A new Vito will appear later this year and is likely to be available in electric guise following on from the development of a battery-powered version of the existing model.

Karsan has already exhibited its pure-electric Concept V1 cab in London with a claimed range between recharges of from 80 to 100 miles. It is designed by sister company, Hexagon Design, and comes with a glass roof too.

Just as London’s 25,000 licensed cab drivers are obliged to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the city’s streets, the taxis they drive have to comply with certain requirements. Among them is a 25ft turning circle; something that all the foregoing manufacturers say they can meet, in some cases by using a rear-steer axle.

Taxis and the people who drive them are not always subject to such strict regulations in other cities around Europe. No matter where within the European Union they are however, all urban authorities are conscious that they too could face legal action by the Commission if they fail to meet stringent air quality standards.

Electric Nissan e-NV200 cabs will soon start being seen on the streets of Barcelona.

They will be built in a local factory and Nissan is to help the authorities set up a network of quick chargers for cab drivers to use. The chargers can bring a battery back to 80% of its capacity in only 30 minutes says the manufacturer.

Like Boris Johnson, Barcelona mayor Xavier Trias is a big fan of electric urban transport. “This pioneering scheme will improve the welfare of the city’s people,” he observes.

Returning to London, what about zero-emission chauffeur-driven private hire vehicles?

They are not being neglected, with Thriev putting 20 Chinese-built electric BYD e6 cars into service, which are estimated to have a range of up to 186 miles apiece.

They join two all-electric BYD single-decker buses already in service with Go-Ahead on two central London routes. Thriev offers an app for Apple and Android devices that allows customers to book a trip in one of its cars in just a few clicks.

Johnson has taken steps to clean up London’s existing fleet of cabs. A 15-year age limit was introduced in January 2012 along with a requirement that all newly-licensed cabs must meet Euro 5 emissions as a minimum, and more than 3,000 of the city’s most-polluting taxis have now gone.

Furthermore, Transport for London has launched a campaign to persuade cab drivers not to allow their engines to idle wastefully at taxi ranks. While few drivers heed the advice, if it catches on the idea will help cut air pollution and save money on fuel bills.

All in all, London is making huge strides to clean up the taxi scene ahead of ever more stringent EU regulations coming in, and the proactive stance government has taken will see London and the UK start to breathe easier as the transport sector becomes ever cleaner.

Nottingham expands its EV fleet with 17 new Optare Solos

Posted on: April 17, 2014

News from Optare: Nottingham City Council has ordered another £3.6 million eco-friendly buses from Optare. The deal sees the East Midlands city add another 17 electric buses to its fleet, making it one of the largest for public transport in Europe.

Optare has previously supplied 28 electric buses to Nottingham City Council, made up of a mixture of Versa. Solo SR and Solo models. The 17 new buses are 9.2m Solo EVs, and the first deliveries are expected in July.

The buses are equipped with a rapid charge system so they can use charging systems installed in the City, and have been part funded by the Department for Transport’s Green bus Fund.

Commenting on the order for the new buses, Andy Gibbons, Head of Public Transport for Nottingham City Council, said, “Nottingham City Council is committed to continued investment in modern buses to provide a safe, reliable, value for money, integrated public transport network which has the least impact on our environment.”

Enrico Vassallo, Optare’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “This is very encouraging for bus manufacturing in Britain, as our factory near Leeds is benefiting from several large orders for new buses this year. We are delighted to be leading the way with the proven technology and efficiency of our electric buses, and hybrid systems, meaning customers like Nottingham City Council are choosing more Optare buses for their low carbon fleet.”

Paneltex Somers gives Eskimo Express more flexibility

Posted on: April 17, 2014

News from Paneltex Somers: Leading specialist courier company Eskimo Express added two Citroën Relay vans to its fleet, both feature high specification dual compartment bodies converted by Norwich-based refrigerated body manufacturer Paneltex Somers.

The Paneltex Somers refrigerated conversion enables the Citroëns to operate at -25°C in one compartment and +25°C in the other.

Eskimo Express now benefits from being able to utilise one vehicle on jobs where previously they would have had to have used two.

The Chertsey-based company anticipates both these vehicles to have a working life of up to six years.

During 2013 Eskimo Express purchased two ATP Certified Citroën Berlingos from Paneltex Somers that were converted at the company’s Norwich based manufacturing site. The success of these resulted in this latest order for two Citroën Relays.

Tony Colato from Eskimo Express, said, “Much of our courier work is specifically for the pharmaceutical industry and we have found that, apart from Paneltex Somers, no other vehicle body manufacturer can manufacture such a high level of refrigerated conversion that is ideally suited to this industry. Our vehicles work extremely hard on deliveries and collections all over Europe, so the reliability and consistent performance achieved by our refrigerated vehicles is vital to the success of the business.

“Because of the nature of the delivery work they are involved in, the refrigerated body conversion is, by design, quite complex and detailed. In addition to the capability of a 50°C differential between the two compartments, the vehicle also has twin temperature recorders, to ensure that load integrity is never compromised at any time, and full European coverage satellite tracking.”

Peak-Ryzex springs Bensons’ technology forward

Posted on: April 17, 2014

News from Peak Ryzex: Bensons for Beds has awarded Peak-Ryzex the contract to upgrade its mobile proof of delivery (ePOD) system. The agreement covers the supply of Motorola MC65 rugged mobile devices, as well as managed services with a Next Working Day Exchange (NWDE) service and battery maintenance contract.

The new MC65 Enterprise Digital Assistants (EDAs) ensures next-day replacement in the event of any hardware failure, which maximises uptime. The eight-hour battery operating time, with 100-hours standby time, ensures that batteries last a full shift.

With 270 stores throughout the UK, Bensons for Beds operates mainly as concessions on large retails parks, as well as standalone superstores and high street stores. The company delivers approximately 3,500 beds every week throughout the UK, and assembles them on the customer’s premises.

On successful delivery of a bed, the device hosting an ePOD system captures the customer’s signature and the camera function enables drivers to prove that the bed was assembled on site. If the customer is not in, the driver can take a photograph of the front door to prove that delivery was attempted. Photographs are also taken to record any damage to product or property, or any obstructed access or inadequate room dimensions preventing delivery to the customer’s room of choice. Drivers can add comments to a captured image and can automatically embed a geostamp via integrated GPS.

Owen Lee, Distribution Support Manager at Benson for Beds, said the implementation of the system has eliminated customer claims of non-delivery or non-assembly of beds.

“With their expertise in the handheld device industry, Peak-Ryzex are able to supply the right device for the right job, and back it up with a next working day swap-out arrangement,” said Lee. “It’s reassuring to know that, should a device develop a problem, a replacement will arrive ready to use the next working day.”

In addition to reducing paperwork related to delivery operations, the device also acts as a phone which can connect to almost any network in the world. It also schedules the driver and his deliveries, and the tracking feature helps Bensons for Beds to monitor driver behaviour.

Scania Irizar i6 is the coach of choice for Fourway

Posted on: April 15, 2014

News from Scania: Fourway Coaches of Leeds has taken delivery of a Scania K 360 IB4x2 with Irizar i6 bodywork. The 360 horsepower vehicle is equipped with Scania’s fully automated two-pedal Opticruise gear selection system.

The coach has been specified to full touring specification and includes 53 passenger seats with three-point seatbelts and leather headrests, dual zone air conditioning, a centre sunken washroom, alloy wheels and a reversing camera.

This is the first time Fourway Coaches has specified a new Scania for their fleet. The decision to purchase followed a demonstration and successful trial.

Paul Thorogood, General Manager of Fourway Coaches, said, “With the reassurances of the local Scania dealer and the build-quality of the product we were very pleased from the outset.”

Wakefield Housing Association feels at home with Volkswagen CVs

Posted on: April 15, 2014

News from Volkswagen: It’s a full house for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles thanks to a partnership agreement to provide Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) with a fleet of 360 new vehicles.

The new vehicles are being introduced as part of a fleet replacement programme, with an initial 119 vehicles joining the company ranks between June and September 2014 and a further 126 vehicles due between September and December 2014.

The vehicles will be used by the housing association’s property maintenance teams, which consist of a full mix of trades including builders, plumbers, electricians and ground staff. Each vehicle supplied has been carefully selected for the business area it will be operating in, with many featuring bespoke specifications to make life on board more efficient for drivers.

The housing association has taken full advantage of Volkswagen’s extensive range of vans, ordering a full mix of vehicles that includes: Caddy and Caddy Maxi vans, SWB and LWB Transporter panel vans, Crafter panel vans in a variety of wheelbases, as well as Crafter Dropsides and specialist Dropside conversions. The vehicles were chosen for their excellent reliability, affordable maintenance costs and attractive whole-life values.

Rick Young, Fleet Manager at WDH, said, “The flexibility of the Volkswagen model range has allowed us to customise the vehicles to meet our exact needs. Working closely with the fleet team at Volkswagen has meant that we have been able to identify the exact models we required along with the specific extras each vehicle needed. The whole process is running smoothly and the first batch of vehicles is eagerly awaited by all at WDH.”

Alastair Hemmings, National Fleet Manager at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles UK, added, “WDH’s decision to work with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles to fulfil its vehicle replacement programme has allowed us to demonstrate the flexibility of our entire range. The combination of our broad model range and our dedicated fleet support team has helped us to deliver a fleet solution that meets the needs of WDH now and into the future.”

Manchester extends its green credentials as it invests in electric buses

Posted on: April 14, 2014

News from Optare: As a leader in electric and hybrid bus technology, Optare is delighted to announce that Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has ordered 16 more buses, including hybrids and its first electric models, which will bring its total to 115 low carbon Optare buses.

The order, worth £3.5 million, was supported by the Department for Transport’s Green Bus Fund, and consists of 13 Versa hybrid 12m-long school buses and three Versa 9.7m-long electric buses, which are the first fully electric low access buses to be used in Manchester. The first vehicles are expected to be in operation in July.

The Versa hybrid buses will be used for the Yellow School Bus scheme introduced in Greater Manchester in 2003 to provide a safe, reliable and environmentally friendly alternative for the school run. To comply with specific safety regulations for this service, the Versa hybrids are fitted with lap and diagonal seat belts as well as interior and exterior CCTV video recorders. The Versa electric vehicles will operate on the Metroshuttle routes linking the main rail stations, car parks, shopping areas and businesses in Manchester city centre.

Howard Hartley, Head of Bus for TfGM, said, “We are committed to investing in buses with low carbon emissions and strong environmental credentials as part of a collective effort with operators to make Greater Manchester’s bus network as green as possible.

“We have been happy with the performance and reliability of our current buses, and the support we have received from Optare, so are pleased to be expanding the number of hybrid vehicles within our fleet.”

John Horn, Optare’s Sales Director, said: “Optare has had a strong start to 2014, so we are particularly pleased to announce another high value order. Transport for Greater Manchester’s decision to invest in more of Optare’s advanced hybrid and electric powered buses is a great testament to the reliability and cost effectiveness of our vehicles.”

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