Thanks, as always to the good folk at the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Tachoblog can bring you a roundup of Commercial Vehicle news…

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Government wants longer trucks

The UK Department for Transport just launched a consultation to test reactions to its plan to allow longer artics.  The aim is to increase their length by two metres to 18.75m but keep the 44 tonne top weight.  The DfT says this could increase the UK’s truck fleet capacity by 13% and cut carbon emissions by “around 100,000 tonnes a year.  The maximum length for a drawbar rig would remain at 18.75m.  Some industry observers said they were surprised by the timing of the move as the European debate on type-approved trailer dimensions is still unresolved and could still lead to a four metre goods vehicle height limit across the European Union.

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Go North East takes 20 more Optare Versas

Go North East has ordered 20 more Optare Versas.  This follows the success of nine Optare Versas on the firm’s high-profile Quaylink service on Tyneside and takes Go North East’s Versa fleet to 45 strong.  “The performance of these vehicles has been solid,” said Peter Huntley, MD at Go North East.  “We see them as the ideal solution for the plans we have for the next 20y new vehicles we are bringing in.”  The new 39-seat Versas have Euro 5 Cummins EEV engines, Chapman drivers’ seats, full protection screens and air conditioning by Denso,

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Home delivery vans’ “shocking” safety record

Britain’s roads would be much safer if vans at 3.5 tonnes GVW were no longer treated like cars.  “They are small trucks and should be driven, operated and tested accordingly.”  So says Commercial Vehicle Engineer, the award-winning online monthly, in a recent edition.  CVE was shocked by the roadworthiness record of 3.5-tonners run by supermarkets on home-delivery work.  Half of them fail MoT tests at the first attempt and more than half got prohibitions in Vosa roadside checks.  One supermarket is accused of putting on-time delivery targets, market share and profit before road safety in its home-delivery van fleet.  “Vosa should pay more attention to home-delivery vehicles and the government should to put 3.5-tonners where they belong, in the HGV testing scheme,” says Tim Blakemore, Managing Editor.

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Promotions at Citroën

Citroën says it has promoted Scott Michael from CV Sales Manager to Commercial Vehicle Operations Manager.  He replaces Robert Handyside, just promoted within Citroën to the Paris-based job of B2B Development Manager.  At the same time, Chris Jones is promoted to Commercial Vehicle Sales Manager, reporting to Scott Michael.  More from Phil Reed on +44 (0)2 086 684 048 or

CV Show debut for Ashwoods hybrid

Ashwoods will use its stand 4D10 for the CV Show debut for its innovative hybrid drive system.  The firm’s Hybrid Transit offers operators a retrofit system, meaning that they can green their fleets without the need to buy new vehicles.  “The system can cut fuel use and emissions by 15-20% and pay for itself in as little as three years,” says the firm’s Operations Director, Martin Kadhim.

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Stoneridge first with next-generation digital tachograph

Stoneridge Electronics says it will be the first firm to show a type-approved and market-ready next generation digital tachograph.  Its E5000 ExaktTM will be on the firm’s stand, 5C80 at the CV Show.  The new unit records driving time and non-driving time in segments of a minute rather than rounding up to the next whole minute.  This means operators can make “considerable” gains in driving hours and productivity.  Early trials showed a driver gaining up to 45 minutes a day in a typical distribution operation.  This should bring “major efficiency gains” to the road transport industry, the firm says.

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More orders for StepProtect

The recent TNB feature on Tesco’s decision to fit StepProtect to its new tractor units has resulted in more confirmed orders for Reversing Made Easy, says the firm’s Matt Hickson.  Pentalver is the latest fleet to fit the nearside blind spot protection system.  “After a two week trial, our 27 MANs were fitted out neatly and efficiently in one day,” says Pentalver’s Transport Manager, Russ Baker.  “We are very pleased with the results and the added pedestrian protection brings greater safety across the fleet.”  Reynolds Logistics likewise placed orders for ADR spec front step and trailer sensors, on the back of the Reversing Made Easy’s continuing free trial offer.

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MAN and VW to develop light truck range

Arjan Velthoven, writing in the Netherlands-based Nieuwsbrief reports that MAN and Volkswagen are “engaged in negotiations on the joint development of a range of light trucks between 3.5 and 7.5 tonnes.”  Velthoven says the story broke in the Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung.  VW owns a 30% stake in MAN and a 71% stake in Scania and reportedly wants to expand its vehicle range.

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Multipart wins five more years from Isuzu

Multipart Solutions has won a five-year extension to its contract to handle parts for Isuzu Truck UK and its 50-strong dealer network.  The North West firm has successfully handled Isuzu’s aftermarket parts since the late 90′s and seen the volume grow steadily.  This should continue as the UK truck market recovers and Isuzu extends its vehicle range up to 18 tonnes GVW.  Multipart holds big stocks of Isuzu parts at its distribution centre in Chorley and dealers hold local stocks of fast-moving items.  “We are delighted that we were able to re-appoint Multipart,” said Bob Haughton, Operations Director and Deputy Managing Director of Isuzu UK.  “We’ve built up an excellent working relationship jointly providing outstanding customer service.”

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Little and large from Citroën

Citroën will launch its new Nemo light van on stand 5D130 at next week’s CV Show.  It will also show a Supertruck-bodied 22m3 panel, van on a Citroën Relay 35 chassis with a back-to-back cab.  This is bound to be one of the biggest capacity 3.5 tonne panel vans in the Show and will be a must see for anyone moving light, bulky goods and keen to keep clear of Operator Licence bureaucracy.  The new model’s optional rear air suspension drops the floor height to 370 mm.

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New Ranger

Ford’s new Ranger pick-up will make its UK debut on stand 4C20 at the CV Show.  The firm says this important new model has exceptional towing capacity of up to 3.3 tonne.  It also has a host of other clever ideas, including Adaptive Load Control and Trailer Sway Control and a rear-view camera system.  The new Ranger will be on sale this autumn.

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Overloading hurts van users

Van and light truck operators may be wasting money by dangerously overloading their vehicles.  So says a warning by TyreSafe, the UK’s leading tyre safety organisation, after the latest Vosa effectiveness report showed that the van overloading prohibition rate rose from 66.9% in 2008/09 to 72.7% in 2009/10.  If operators fail to compensate for heavier loads by increasing tyre pressures to the recommended levels, tyres will wear more quickly, fuel use will rise and safety may drop.  The effects of overloading and under-inflation are very similar; heat build-up, increasing the risk of a dangerous blowout, particularly on high-speed motorway journeys, says TyreSafe.

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Trailer demand half way back to health

The latest forecast from Clear suggests that Western European trailer demand will be at about 175,000 units a year by mid 2013, in line with the long-term average.  “One way of looking at the situation is that, in 2011, we are half way back to a healthy market from the nadir of 2009,” says Gary Beecroft, of Clear.  He says low demand for new trailers, between 2009 and 2012 has cut the trailer fleet for the first time.  “It will remain below two million until 2014.”  Last year’s European trailer registrations grew 10.6%, but that was against a 52% drop in 2008/9.   Beecroft says that curtain-side, box van and container chassis did particularly badly while refrigerated, tippers, tankers and bulkers fared better.  He expects widespread growth in 2011 and 2012 but thinks 2007 demand levels won’t be beaten in the next 10 years.

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New CV man for SMMT

Nigel Base is the SMMT’s new Commercial Vehicle Development Manager.  He has joined the Society to take over from Robin Dickeson, manager, Commercial Vehicle Affairs, who leaves on 14 April, at the end of the CV Show.  Well known in the industry, Base is a qualified mechanical engineer with wide-ranging industry experiences, having worked for truck makers, dealers and operators.

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New welfare van from Alphatec

Alphatec says its new Welfare Van is the first of its type with Webasto’s Dual Top diesel-powered hot water and interior heater as standard.  Based on a Ford Transit long wheelbase high roof van, the new vehicle will take pride of place on Alphatec’s stand 4B24 at the CV Show in April.  The vehicle includes crash-tested seats, a galley area with microwave, sink with hot and cold water, hot drinks dispenser, towel dispenser, dining table and storage.  The private rear area of the van contains an electric flush toilet, elbow to wrist sink, hygiene and towel dispensers, clothes drying area and more storage space.

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Used van values fall 2.8%

Manheim Remarketing’s latest monthly market analysis for vans show that average wholesale used van values fell by 2.8% to £4,023 in February, after three rising months.  The average age rose by two months to 52 and average mileage rose to 75,124.  Compared with February 2010, average values are just 0.2% or £10 higher, average age is two months lower and mileage is up by 1,228.  Car-derived vans bucked the falling value trend, with a 3.1% rise and, for all but large panel vans, average ages and mileages rose significantly.  “Auction lanes throughout the country remain full of buyers as demand is still strong, especially for vehicles in the £2,500 to £4,500 price range,” said the firm’s Tim Spencer.

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World first for Handistep at CV Show

Handistep says its first type-approved tow bar will make its exhibition debut at the CV Show next week.  The new unit has twin full-width, anti-slip steps with red high-visibility reflective tape and is specifically designed to fit the Mercedes Sprinter and Volkswagen Crafter van ranges  The new step fits all but twin-wheel, medium wheelbase Sprinters and Crafters and is available with either black or high visibility yellow treads and Handistep’s type approved reverse sensors.  “The type approval to EEC 94/20 is an important first for us,” says the firm’s Mike Wood.  “We’re developing a similar unit for the Transit range and will have that available soon.”

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Have you registered?

For the first time, the CV Show organisers won’t send Show passes in advance of the Show, which opens at 08:30 on Tuesday 12 April at National Exhibition Centre, near Birmingham.  But register on-line and the system will arrange a Fast Track entry ticket to the CV Show and Workshop 2011 for you to collect at the entrance.  This means you should beat the queues.  Simply go to either of the two Show websites, or and follow the Visitor link.  The system will give you a reference number and a barcode.  Bring that with you, scan it and the system will print your free entry ticket.  And that will get you £2.00 off an Early Bird Breakfast at participating restaurants at the NEC too.

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Tiss rides on rising diesel prices

Tiss Security Systems says rising fuel prices have driven a “huge growth” in TankSafe sales in the past three months, many from international firms trying to control rising costs.  Recent developments in TankSafe’s design and the firm’s extension to US and Asian trucks as well as all European built trucks have also helped to drive sales.  The rapid sales increase has reignited Tiss’ efforts to add to their burgeoning distribution network of Agents and Distributors.  Tiss’ Director, Matthew Rose commented:  “Our market-leading range of TankSafe fuel security devices have massive sales potential throughout the world.  We are interested to hear from agents and distributors who are keen to help truck operators in combating fuel theft and increasing operational costs.”

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Contactless CanBus reader

Dutch vehicle data and CanBus specialist Squarell will show its CanCliq, a contactless CanBus reader on its stand 4G108 at the CV Show.  The unit reads data from a vehicle’s CanBus system without direct contact with the vehicle’s wiring system.  The firm says the device, placed over the signal wires in seconds, reads and delivers information with 99.99% reliability.  This cuts the risk of voiding a vehicle’s warranty by breaking into its electrical system and causing electrical failures.  Squarell says CanCliq, which meets vehicle makers’ fleet management system information compatibility standards should dramatically simplify the installation of telematics and other on-board systems that need to read a vehicle’s electrical systems.

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Optare wins £3.6m from Rotala

Optare has won an order from Midlands-based Rotala plc for 15 high-specification Versa hybrids, with £1.7m from the Government’s Green Bus Fund.  The deal also includes three diesel powered Solo SRs and two Versas.  All the buses use Mercedes-Benz diesel engines.  In the hybrid models the engine works with the Siemens/Bluways  system using ultra-capacitors.  All the new buses are to the same high specification as four Solo SRs delivered last year for the Solihull-based Signature services.  They have Esteban leather seats, blue LED underseat lighting, Wi-Fi, CCTV and Hanover LED destination kit and an ACIS Real Time Information system.

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Debut for Transit Connect Electric

Ford will also show the Transit Connect Electric at the CV Show.  This is an all-electric version of the successful Transit Connect and makes its UK debut.  Power comes from a 28kWh lithium-ion battery pack and 55kW eclectic motor.  With a range of up to 80 miles and top speed of 75 mph, the vehicle is developed by Ford’s US-based electric vehicles partners Azure Dynamics.  The firm is already taking orders with deliveries due this summer.

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UK launch for VW Amarok

Volkswagen’s double-cab Amarok pick-up gets it UK launch from the firm’s stand 5E20 at the CV Show.  VW says the new four-door, 4×4 pick-up will be the star of its stand, supported by nine other VW vans and minibuses, including Caddy and Caddy Maxi panel vans, Transporter kombi and panel van models as well as Crafter panel vans and chassis cabs and Transporter shuttle and Caravelle people carriers.

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Electric Vito from Mercedes

Mercedes-Benz will use its stand 5B20 for the UK exhibition debut of its Vito E-Cell.  Power comes from a 36 kWh capacity lithium ion battery pack driving through a 70kW electric motor.  The vehicle has a range of around 130 km, can carry a payload of up to 900 kg and its top speed is limited to 80 km/h.  The firm will also show two Sprinter vans, a natural gas powered model and a Blue Efficiency model, which has lots of clever ideas to cut fuel use.

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US pays for recorders on Mexican trucks

Transport Topics reports the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will require all Mexican trucks entering the United States to have electronic onboard recorders (a sort of US step along the road to tachographs) and will pay for them.  The move follows US worries over Mexican drivers’ hours.  The deal is that the FMCSA would own and control all data gathered by the recorders, which will include GPS capabilities.  This will be part of the cross-border trucking agreement reached last week between the United States and Mexico.  The FMCSA also wants US carriers to fit similar kit in their trucks, at their own expense.

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60 Premiums for Goldstar

Felixstowe based Goldstar Transport has taken 60 Renault Premium three-axle tractors in what Renault describes as “an important conquest deal,” joining a 200 strong fleet.  All the new trucks have Privilege cabs and 460 hp rated engines and are the first Renaults into the fleet in over seven years.  They will work on a four-year contract for the Mediterranean Shipping Company.  Renault Truck Felixstowe won the business and will service the Premiums at eight-week intervals on a four deal at its Felixstowe depot.  Goldstar specialises in container haulage and has other depots at Liverpool, Southampton, Thamesport and Tilbury.

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Sainsburys and Tiss continue TankSafe partnership

Tiss Security Systems says its seven year partnership with Sainsburys just delivered again.  This time Tiss people and members of Sainsburys’ Engineering team developed a robust anti-spill roll mechanism for the TankSafe ‘Impregnable’ fuel security device to ensure that no diesel spills if a truck overturns.  The mechanism incorporates a stainless steel sealing flap which is guaranteed to withstand over 30,000 pump nozzle insertions.  The unit is available for new or retro-fit and Sainsburys has specified it on all its new TankSafe kits since 2010.  The firm says the kits have helped it cut fuel bills, improve road safety and environmental performance.

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And finally

The SMMT is moving to new offices in Westminster this summer, after more than 50 years in Forbes House, in Belgravia.  This significant event deserves and is getting careful planning.  Recently some staffers were surprised to get an invitation to a departmental planning meeting “sometime between Wednesday and Thursday.”  And we all thought we were moving a mere mile or so, not to a parallel universe.

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