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Van drivers still buying new stock

The latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggests that the van and truck industry is still holding up, although industry experts will be frantically looking at the Spending Review to work out its effect on the transport business.

September figures show that the drivers of vans are still getting commercial vehicle insurance quotes for new vehicles as the sales figures for trucks and vans went up by 3.7% on the same period for 2009. Overall the sales of vans and trucks reached almost a quarter of a million over the rolling year. Taking September alone the joint sales of vans and trucks was 39,942.

The breakdown of the figures shows just how well light commercial vehicles are in fact doing. Of the 39,942 vehicles sold in September over 35,000 of them were vans. This was the eighth month in a row that sales have increased, which is testament to the resilience of the retail and transport industry in the UK at a time when many companies are railing back on investment. Over the rolling year van sales are up by 10.6%.

Sales for trucks were a little more disappointing; the sale of 4,633 showed a big drop for the rolling year but more disappointing was the fact that up to this month’s figures, vans sales had been on the increase for the last three months.

The Chief Executive of the SMMT, Paul Everitt, was pleased at the outcome of September 2010 in general. Car sales he reported were up by around 6% in the month and a healthy 35% on the rolling year and went on to say that the figures on the commercial side of the transport business “Show a slow but steady improvement. The falling truck numbers after three months of growth show the variable nature of economic recovery in the UK. We need the government to use its comprehensive spending review to prioritise economic growth as well as deficit reduction.”

He will today be looking at the governments proposed cut in Capital Ventures and hope that the big schemes in the pipeline for road improvements are not abandoned.

Used van business holding up

With the car industry stalling and the country waiting for the results of the spending review, it does appear that work for van drivers is still holding up.

The results from the UK’s two biggest Auction sites suggest that industries where light commercial vehicles are used seem to be doing better than average and the demand for second hand vehicles is growing.

According to the people at Mannheim Auctions plenty of van drivers are still seeking commercial vehicle insurance on LCV’s being presented at auction. Figures from Mannheim suggest used van values are up by a fifth on this time last year and used van sales last month were up by 23% on September 2009.

A spokesman for the Auctioneers did say that presentation of the vans at auction played a big part in the selling price and that clean well presented vans with good specifications sold at a healthy price. The average price achieved for vans in September according to Mannheim was £4,126 which was up on August figures (traditionally a bad month) by £127.

Over the road at British Car Auctions (BCA) the average price achieved in September was £4,146 higher than Mannheims average but surprisingly lower than their August figures although by only £65. They believe the figure was a little low because of the amount of vehicles that went through as part exchange deals.

Both companies are bullish about the future as they believe the bigger fleets that have been hanging onto their vans for longer periods due to the economic turndown will shortly put the vans onto the market as they buy new stock. Having said that the industry will be looking at the effects the Government austerity measures have on the Retail Trade which plays a significant part in the work for LCV’s.

Of course for drivers in and around the capital, looking for larger vans and trucks would have been of no use after this month. Fortunately the plans for the London Emission Zone to control emissions from these types of vehicles have now been put back to January 2012. It remains to be seen what will happen to the second hand van business from that date but many in the trade are apprehensive as to the outcome.

Drive smart and save money on insurance

For any van driver, the renewal of their commercial vehicle insurance is important. Obviously it is important because without it one should not be on the road but apart from that, many van drivers still regard insurance as a necessary evil.

To get a good deal on van insurance gives a driver that comfortable feeling of being ahead of the game. It’s marvellous how saving £50 can have such an uplifting effect. The trick is to put some work into getting that good deal.

First of all if your current insurer has provided you with a policy in the last year where you have not claimed then it is fair to expect your premium should drop. If it doesn’t then pick up the phone and ask why not. The phone call will often do the trick because no good insurance company wants to lose responsible drivers. If it doesn’t then there are plenty more fish in the sea, so start fishing.

Of course there are plenty of things a van driver can do to make sure he does not have to claim, and so will improve his quotes year on year.

One of the most common causes of both breakdowns and accidents are tyre related incidents. A tyre blow out can often result in a driver losing control of his vehicle and end up colliding with another car or road barriers. So checking the tyres of the vehicle before every journey can not only save money but also lives.

Ensure your passengers wear seat belts. It does not take much of a collision to give an unsuspecting passenger in the rear of the van whiplash injuries, resulting in a claim on your insurance, which could have been avoided if a seat belt had been worn.

Never rush out of the house in the morning without having breakfast. A long day in the driving seat should be fuelled by food and drink, lack of it can cause a drop in concentration and heighten the chance of an accident. The result being a loss of any no claims bonus you may have had.

Stick to speed limits, it may sound obvious but the temptation to make up a little lost time by squeezing the accelerator pedal slightly can result in points on your licence, a fine and unnecessary wear and tear on your van.

Tyre manufacturer treading a fine line

Van drivers in the UK are just as keen as other motorists in seeking ways to save money on their daily driving costs. Looking for savings on their commercial vehicle insurance, finding short cuts on their delivery rounds and driving the vehicle at its optimum fuel saving speed are all well known and acknowledged ways of achieving this. There are other ways as well.

Continental tyres have just released a new tyre that they believe will save van drivers money and have lots of other advantages to boot.

Their Vanco Eco tyre has been produced specifically for vans and trucks such as the Ford Transit, the Mercedes Viano, Sprinter and Vito and the Volkswagen T5. The technology built into the tyres means that the rolling resistance has been reduced by almost a third. This has been done by introducing a new silica compound and by altering the tread to reduce road deformation.

Continental say this could reduce emissions (the holy grail for all van manufacturers) by 4% and, importantly for all van drivers running their own business, reduce fuel by the same amount.

The good news does not finish there. Engineers working on the new tyres have reduced the braking distance of the tyres in all conditions to bring them more into line with the braking distance of tyres used in cars.

With van manufacturers fighting to control costs to become more competitive and also coming under pressure from European guidelines on emission targets, any help from whatever source is highly welcome. A van accessory that combines fuel saving, emission reduction, and heightened safety levels will be a big boost for the vehicles that the tyres fit and could give them a leading edge in the market.

At the moment the tyre is being produced in 15 and 16 inch rim sizes which will fit the Ford Transit and some Mercedes models, however, next year Continental plan to extend production to fit other van models such as the Renault Master and VW T5.

Van drivers across the UK will look at the test results and price of the tyres in great detail as they consider whether to invest in this offering from Continental.

Driverless vans close in their target

Four bright orange vans that captured the world’s imagination in early summer are now half way through their epic journey.

The four vans set off from Parma, in Italy, to a fanfare farewell from environmentally friendly organisations from all over the globe on July 26th with the intention of arriving in Shanghai in time for the World Expo 2010.

What was so special about the vans? Well apart from being bright orange, they are completely powered by natural fuel. Solar panels on the vehicles produce the electricity to operate the autonomous driving system and green fuels will power the rest of the vehicle. Oh yes and the vans have no drivers! The vehicles are being driven by a collection of sensors, cameras and advanced motoring technologies tied together with the use of satellite navigation. It is the brainchild of Italian professor Alberto Broggi.

Although the vans are driverless and can be used without any humans in the vehicle, for much of the time various members of the expedition have sat in the back seats of the vehicles in case of emergencies. They have, however, demonstrated the vans autonomous driving system at every planned stop.

The good news emerging from their special website is that Europe has now been well and truly left behind as the group have travelled over 7,000 of their total 13,000 kilometres. The laser scanners, sat-navs and special cameras appear to be working a treat. The back up team who do intermittently have some input on the vans are confident now they have reached Almaty that they will achieve their target and be in Shanghai for the expected date.

They report that at times the vans have been travelling at 100 kilometres an hour. More than enough one would imagine giving any commercial vehicle insurance broker heart failure, especially without a driver.

So far the vans have travelled through major cities such as Milan, Rome, Belgrade Kiev and Moscow and now the hard work has been done they hope to travel quickly through China to arrive in Shanghai for October 28th.

The project has been funded by monies from various European Union funds and overseen from the Vislab laboratories at the University of Parma, Italy.

Grieving mothers look for van ban

It seems that a catalogue of accidents involving 15 seater vans could bring about a ban on their use for college and school students.

At the moment there is big debate going on in North America about their suitability and even their roadworthiness as several accidents have resulted in loss of life. The story can be traced back to 2008 when two students in Canada lost their lives in separate accidents.

Isobel Haines and Stella Gurr, both lost sons in the 2008 crashes and ever since have been campaigning for the 15 seaters to be banned from transporting students. Because of their size the vans have been ideal for transporting student sports teams including hockey, soccer and basketball. After a private members bill in the Canadian Parliament sought the banning of the vehicles for transporting students the federal government launched its own investigation of the vans.

A decision on the review, which is said to have determined that the vans are three times more likely to ‘roll over’ in accidents than other vehicles will be announced this autumn, but already three Canadian states, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec, have pre-empted the announcement and already stopped using the vehicles to transport children engaged in school activities.

Over the border in the USA, the National Transportation Safety Board figures show that in a ten year period over 1100 people died in accidents where the said vans rolled over. The vans in question include the highly successful Ford Econoline model that has been sold to millions of van drivers across the world and, as Ford have been quick to point out, has passed all necessary safety standards.

Critics claim the vans are more suited to the kind of work where commercial vehicle insurance is required such as carrying cargo rather than human beings, as the vehicles do appear to tend the roll over in accidents more easily than a conventional school bus would.

When Canadian Transportation minister, Chuck Strahl, releases the findings of the review he will have the attention of van drivers and transportation companies not only in Canada but around the world. The two mothers say they will carry on the campaign until they get the complete ban that they are seeking.

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W E Bedford Insurance Services Ltd, Argent House, Argent Court, Hook Rise South,
Tolworth, KT6 7LD is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Our FCA Register number is 305737

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