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Kangoo ZE keeping good company in Geneva

The latest edition to Renault’s electric van range is due to be unveiled alongside the likes of Aston Martins and sleek sport cars in the widely anticipated Geneva Motor Show in March.

The Renault Kangoo long wheel based van, will hopefully have prospective buyers coming home from the show and getting commercial vehicle insurance quotes on the new addition to the range. The van, nicknamed Maxi ZE because of its length and zero emission status, will come as a standard two seater van or a five seater vehicle. The modular van will have four different interior layout options to give a maximum carrying capacity of just over 3.3 cubic metres.

The 44kw motor will be fed by a 22 kWh ion battery positioned in the roof of the van, which will give the vehicle a top range of over 100 miles in the best of circumstances, and to help owners achieve this, the van can be pre-heated at the same time as the battery is being charged.

Price wise, the two seater van comes in at 21,200 Euros, while the five seater crew van is slightly more expensive at 22,000 Euros, however, prospective buyers must be aware that Renault in line with other electric car manufacturers are not including the price of the battery in with the vehicle. In the case of the new Kangoo, Renault will charge around 72 Euros per month over a 4 year period for the battery hire. Renault still reckon the Maxi ZE will prove to be no more expensive to run than a normal diesel model but consumers may well take exception to what they will see as an hidden charge of such high proportions.

We shall see after the Geneva Motor Show.

VOSA disclose van drivers still not learning lessons

An increasing number of commercial vans in the United Kingdom are at serious risk of causing a tyre related accident because firms and drivers are failing to check the condition of the tyres on a regular basis.

The latest effectiveness report carried out by VOSA has shown once more that the condition of tyres on vans which are covered by commercial vehicle insurance remains the most common defect at spot checks carried out across the country. What is more worrying, the number has increased from 20% in 2008/09 to 26% in 2009/10.

Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, said “Van tyres lead a particularly hard life so it is critical that operators regularly check the condition of their tyres for signs of damage or premature and uneven wear. Building site debris or regular scuffing on kerbs during delivery drops can cause significant damage to tyres. If left unchecked, they may fail at a critical moment, risking serious injury for the driver and other road users.”

The responsibility for the condition of all of the tyres on a commercial van lies with both the business and the van driver. Both need to make sure the tyres are roadworthy before starting work each day. Drivers need to take this seriously because if they are caught driving on illegal tyres they risk receiving a fine of £2,500 as well as three penalty points for each illegal tyre on the vehicle.

Business owners too have a responsibility to provide the workers with a safe working environment, a responsibility which includes providing a safe and roadworthy vehicle. A business also runs the risk of a fine of between £5,000 to £20,000 and additional costs by not looking after the tyres properly. An under inflated tyre has several negative effects on any business apart from the safety aspect. It will have a shorter working life, it will cause the driver to spend more money on fuel and of course create more down time for the vehicle due to maintenance.

More fuel efficient and cleaner vans given green light

New challenging targets have been set out by the European Parliament as they continue with their process of reducing the CO2 emissions made by all vehicle manufacturers. The legislation will see short term targets for light commercial vehicles between 2014–2017, with long term targets to be reached by 2020.

The news has been welcomed by van enthusiasts throughout the United Kingdom and has been backed by an online survey of 1400 van drivers which discovered that 87% of them have a wish to become greener, and 64% believe there is more that can be done.

The commercial industry is committing itself to lowering the CO2 emissions for commercial vehicles. This comes at the same time as the on going introductions of low carbon vehicles and the new electric vehicles that are entering the LCV market. More and more companies now have an electric van which is covered by commercial vehicle insurance on the roads of the UK than ever before.

Phil Moss, a Commercial Vehicle Manager, said “This new legislation implemented by the European Parliament is welcome news for an industry constantly striving to tackle carbon emissions and is further backed by the responses to the survey which revealed just how keen van drivers are to back this new green technology.”

Peugeot UK are just one company who are welcoming new CO2 targets for LCVs agreed by the European Parliament. Their HDi-powered fleet already meets the targets set out for 2014, while their smaller vans come below the 2020 target. Manufacturers are fully aware that they must continue to strive to reduce the CO2 emissions of all vans. In the future any van which emits less than 50g/km of carbon will be given super credits, while any van that exceeds the limit will lead to the a fine for the manufacturer.

The European Parliament admit it has been a difficult balancing act between setting ambitious but attainable environmental targets but are satisfied that this is the best target for the environment, van manufacturers, and also for all van users throughout the EU.

Construction giants collapse triggers auction of assets

Vehicles and equipment with an estimated value of millions of pounds are going to be auctioned off to the highest bidder in March following the collapse of a north east construction giant.

Firms throughout the United Kingdom and across Europe are thought to be planning to flock to Aberdeenshire for the March 23rd sale of all the assets of the debt laden Les Taylor Group.

There will be over 500 lots at the auction and will include bulldozers, road rollers, dumper trucks, diggers, cars, 4X4s and over 100 commercial vans which would be perfect for companies to cover with commercial vehicle insurance before integrating them into their own business. Everything will be sold in what will be the biggest commercial sale yet, at the Thainstone Centre, Inverurie. The sale is so big it will also be taking bids via the internet.

Administrators Ernst and Young are selling off all of the equipment to pay the creditors who are owed money. A total of 164 employees were made redundant last month after the business went into receivership. The level of debt built up will be published later this month and with the search for a buyer proving fruitless all the vehicles and plant equipment will be sold.

A spokesman for Ernst and Young said “The proposed sale of equipment is just one way of realising the value of the company’s assets, but the receivers continue to explore all avenues open to them as they seek the best return for creditors. A small number of employees continue to assist them with that process.”

The sale is expected to raise more than £3million which will all go to pay off the debts of Les Taylor Contractors who specialise in civil engineering and quarrying and according to the company’s latest annual report they owed £15million to various creditors. The financial burden combined with the sad death of the company’s founder and managing director together with a downturn in the construction industry has caught up with the business.

HMRC on the trail of fleet users

Van drivers and how they use their vans are to come under the microscope of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers according to reports from of the UK’s leading accountancy firms.

KPMG, a nationwide accounting organisation, have revealed that HMRC are investigating the private usage of commercial vans. It has been an area of confusion for many years but now it seems the question of what can and can’t be taxed will be settled once and for all. The examination of commercial van usage probably stems from the announcement by the Coalition Government last year that they will be investigating tax collection revenues.

The investigation is taking the form of a questionnaire which is to be sent out to companies operating company vehicles. It is not known how many firms will receive the questionnaire, just that the questions will be framed around the private use of the vans, and asks for details going back three years. According to the HMRC “Those who use a van solely for work purposes, or whose private use is insignificant, will not be subject to any taxable benefit in kind.”

Much of the confusion over private use of vans emanates from fleet drivers who take their vans home with them at the end of the day and start work from their home rather than the company base the following day. Alastair Kendrick, a director at tax experts Mazars LLP, said “HMRC need to accept that it is impractical to store vans in many cases at a place of work so allowing employees to take vehicles home without a tax charge is essential.

“Having said that, it is important employers have policies in place that make clear that the van cannot be used for journeys except for the commute and business use.”

It is thought the investigation will not affect how companies purchase their commercial vehicle insurance, but could impact on VAT payments.

Monmouthshire County Council acquire six new Ford Connect vans

When Monmouthshire Council needed to replace its ageing fleet of food delivery vehicles, they approached E & R Moffat who are one of the United Kingdoms leading manufacturers of quality food service equipment and asked them to design a streamlined on board regeneration system which would allow them to provide a much better service for its meals on wheels operation.

Pauline Batty, manager of Monmouthshire’s Community Meals Service and instigator of the plan, said that owning their own vehicles and covering them with commercial vehicle insurance means they are able to switch from the old system which relied on gas bottles to integrated electric regeneration ovens. The main reasons for the change is that they are cheaper, easier to use and much safer.

Pauline who has been with the Community Meals on wheels Service for over six years, said “We have been using Moffat CR ovens here as a contingency back-up for many years and know how reliable and efficient they are. It seemed a logical step to incorporate them into our new fleet. We contacted Moffat with the brief that the new system had to be cheaper to run than its predecessor and that there could be absolutely no compromise on the quality of the food and service we deliver.”

Representatives from the Council visited the Moffat factory to discuss the feasibility of the idea and the design parameters. Moffat engineers then went to Monmouthshire to study the meals on wheels service. It was then decided to incorporate a modified version of Moffat’s electric regeneration oven into all of the vans, as well as a fridge and freezer for transporting cold desserts and frozen meals for people who wish to heat up the meal later on.

The ovens are switched on when the van driver leaves for the furthest point in the delivery run. This means that the meals will be perfectly regenerated before arrival. The oven will then keep the food at a controlled temperature for the rest of the delivery run. Because it regenerates en route, the system will allow one van to deliver to more customers over a longer period of time which helps save the staff time and costs.

UK firm delighted to add another award to its cabinet

Ashwoods Automotive who produce the Ashwoods Hybrid Transit have been speaking about the pride throughout the company in picking up an award at the Innovation in Car & Van Manufacture category of the Energy Saving Trust Fleet Hero Awards. Even though they did not win the award, to be named as runner up and beat Citroen who came third has delighted the company.

Mark Roberts, Managing Director of Ashwoods Automotive, said “Even to make a shortlist with two global brands like Citroen and VW is a fantastic achievement for us. This is great recognition for our Ashwoods Hybrid Transit, which is becoming the low carbon light commercial vehicle of choice for a growing number of fleet managers.”

The award will sit in their trophy cabinet next to the technology award they won last year. It is possible to fit their Hybrid Drive to any RWD Ford Transit van in less than four hours and when fitted the technology will redirect the kinetic energy which is normally wasted in braking or deceleration. The result is an instant reduction in the amount of fuel which is consumed and will also cut CO2 emissions by a fifth.

Ashwoods were also recognised in the Cleantech Connect 2010 awards, where it picked up the award for the fastest growing clean technology company in the whole of Europe. The company stressed how proud they were of any award they pick up and hope their spot in the limelight means that more van drivers will be taking out commercial vehicle insurance on vehicles using their technology.

Ashwoods are the single largest supplier to the United Kingdom Governments Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme and they supply over 100 hybrid vans to public sector bodies which include the Royal Mail and Transport for London. The company are working with other partners in a bid to take the technology worldwide where they can use their unique expertise in batteries and battery management systems.

Soaring prices means fleets are focusing on cutting fuel use

Rising fuel prices are putting UK fleets under even more pressure to protect the company’s bottom line. Last months increase of VAT and an increase in fuel duty have only added to their burden, while both inflation and another planned fuel increase in April promise even tougher times ahead.

However, pump price increase are nothing new to the fleets of the United Kingdom and many firms have already been introducing measures during the past two years to help combat rising oil prices.

Gateshead Council fleet Manager, Graham Telfer, said “We monitor mileage, engine idle times and route planning carefully and we have also adopted a back to basics approach on daily maintenance and fuel efficient driving techniques.

“Fuel consumption reducing measures are also supported by regular “tool box” talks with staff and we’re reaping the rewards of having hybrid and electric vans in our fleet, plus two electric cars, as part of the low carbon vehicle procurement programme.”

E.ON is yet another company who are committed to creating a more sustainable commercial fleet and the fuel increases show that their decision to think about the future a few years ago was the correct one. Their advice is to drive only the miles absolutely necessary, always seek out alternatives, fit telematics, drive the most fuel efficient vehicle, fit all commercial vehicles with speed limiters and invest in training for all drivers. The drive to find a van that uses the least fuel for a journey may soon be as compulsory as commercial vehicle insurance for companies that take energy efficiency seriously.

Fleets are trying to cut costs and most now have a no motorway fill ups policy unless it is an emergency and even then they have a minimum spend to get the van to a regular petrol station. Most firms know that how ever much fuel increase they still cannot get away from the necessity of vans and so try making the best of a difficult situation.

Volkswagen delighted to win the 2010 Energy Saving Trust Fleet Hero Award

Volkswagen has continued to pick up awards this week after adding the 2010 Energy Saving Trust Fleet Hero Award for Innovation to their collection. The award covers both cars and commercial van manufacture and the accolade was presented at a ceremony which recognised the contribution made to green fleet management by Volkswagen.

This was the 5th Fleet Hero Awards, where the aim is to highlight and acknowledge organisations who are addressing climate change by reducing their emissions. The awards can go to an individual fleet or a big organisation as well as manufacturers who are using technology innovatively to reduce the impact on the world’s environment.

Volkswagens drive towards greener motoring is headed up by their Blue-Motion Technologies brand. They are putting a lot of effort into developing and engineering vehicles which are efficient, practical, viable and most important affordable. They are investing in new and existing technologies such as efficient internal combustion engine vehicles and 100% fully electric powered cars and vans which can be covered by commercial vehicle insurance. In addition to electric cars, they continue to work on enhancing technologies which will be common in a ten years time such as hydrogen fuel cells.

Transport Minister Norman Baker added “It gives me a great pleasure to support the Energy Saving Trust’s Fleet Hero Awards and in recognising the achievements that organisations are making to reduce emissions and costs from their fleets.

“While much of the debate on tackling climate change focuses on long term solutions, fleets can make an active and meaningful contribution today. Organisations both large and small can make a real difference through procuring greener, cleaner vehicles, improving fuel consumption through driver training or simply by reducing business travel. The excellent efforts and innovation shown by the award winners and nominees give me great encouragement that the fleet industry can and will meet these challenges.”

The Fleet Hero Awards recognises those who have not only taken steps to help the environment but have also taken steps to save both money and resources and Volkswagen have set a great example for others to follow.

Soaring prices means fleets are focusing on cutting fuel use

Rising fuel prices are putting UK fleets under even more pressure to protect the company’s bottom line. Last months increase of VAT and an increase in fuel duty have only added to their burden, while both inflation and another planned fuel increase in April promise even tougher times ahead.

However, pump price increase are nothing new to the fleets of the United Kingdom and many firms have already been introducing measures during the past two years to help combat rising oil prices.

Gateshead Council fleet Manager, Graham Telfer, said “We monitor mileage, engine idle times and route planning carefully and we have also adopted a back to basics approach on daily maintenance and fuel efficient driving techniques.

“Fuel consumption reducing measures are also supported by regular “tool box” talks with staff and we’re reaping the rewards of having hybrid and electric vans in our fleet, plus two electric cars, as part of the low carbon vehicle procurement programme.”

E.ON is yet another company who are committed to creating a more sustainable commercial fleet and the fuel increases show that their decision to think about the future a few years ago was the correct one. Their advice is to drive only the miles absolutely necessary, always seek out alternatives, fit telematics, drive the most fuel efficient vehicle, fit all commercial vehicles with speed limiters and invest in training for all drivers. The drive to find a van that uses the least fuel for a journey may soon be as compulsory as commercial vehicle insurance for companies that take energy efficiency seriously.

Fleets are trying to cut costs and most now have a no motorway fill ups policy unless it is an emergency and even then they have a minimum spend to get the van to a regular petrol station. Most firms know that how ever much fuel increase they still cannot get away from the necessity of vans and so try making the best of a difficult situation.

© 2014 VanQuoteDirect. All rights reserved.
W E Bedford Insurance Services (Wimbledon) Ltd, 265-269 Kingston Road, Wimbledon,
London, SW19 3FW is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Our FCA Register number is 305737

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