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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Low-cost hybrid system wins award

The Flybus consortium, led by traction drive specialist Torotrak plc, is one of six winners in this year’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Technology Challenge.  The other winners are: Hardstaff Group, Somi Trailers, Mira, Zeta Automotive and RDS Europe.  The Flybus system uses a low-cost, flywheel-based system to capture braking energy and release up to 100Kw to help the vehicle accelerate.  This can cut fuel use and emissions by some 20% in stop-start work.  Torotrak says there are more than 100,000 buses and over 600,000 medium and heavy trucks that could be retrofitted to gain big fuel and emission savings.  The unit is also smaller, lighter and cheaper than battery-based hybrids.  The other consortium members are Allison, Optare, Mira and Ricardo.

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Ceva UK launches an Automotive Forum

Ceva Logistics will sponsor an Automotive Forum to “stimulate informed debate” about the challenges to the automotive industry and its aftermarket, after the recession.  The Centre for Automotive Management at the University of Buckingham will run the independent forum.  “We wanted to develop a forum that focused specifically on the aftermarket sector,” explains David Jackman, Ceva’s vice automotive president in the UK and Ireland.  Jackman says that most of the conferences he’s been to looked at factory supply and car transport with little on the aftermarket, in spite of its importance to the bottom line.  “We wanted informed debate, backed by research and I think we’ve found that by working with Professor Peter Cooke and the University of Buckingham.”

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Fleets should lead EV adoption

North America’s Fleet Owner magazine reports that FedEx chairman Fredrick Smith thinks fleets could have 200,000 electric vehicles in service by 2015.  This would give the volume to bring down prices and make electric vehicles “broadly practical,” according to a new report from US Electrification Coalition, a group started in 2009 to promote development of electric vehicles.  “With advances in battery technology promising to cut initial capital costs for EVs, fleet operating characteristics could offer “per-mile costs that are 70% to 80% less than current [internal combustion vehicle] costs,” said Smith.

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Wilcox wins Logistics and Transport Journalist of the Year

David Wilcox has won the title Logistics and Transport Journalist of the Year in the annual awards scheme run by the UK’s 20,000-member Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.  HRH The Princess Royal presented the award to Wilcox at the CILT (UK) 2010 awards ceremony in London in October.  He is editor of Commercial Vehicle Engineer, the online monthly for transport engineers and fleet managers, available at  Wilcox’s winning entry included incisive coverage of Vosa’s controversial creation of “authorised testing facilities” and a piece showing how van buyers can be misled by the load volumes quoted by manufacturers.

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Bus services after the Spending Review

The UK Parliament’s Transport Committee plans to inquire into the funding of English bus services outside London after the Comprehensive Spending Review.  It wants evidence on the effects of the cut in the Bus Service Operators’ Grant and the cut in local authority cash for bus services.  It also wants to know more about the implications of free off-peak travel for the elderly and disabled on local English buses.  If you have views on these and the use of passenger feedback in planning bus services and on the role of Passenger Focus, it would like to hear from you, in writing by Tuesday 4 January 2011.

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Be a patriot, buy a Mack

Transport Topics reports that Mack Trucks aims to hike heavy truck sales.  The Volvo subsidiary is urging its dealers to sell more Pinnacle highway tractors as well as the firm’s traditional specialist or vocational modes.  Mack aims to promote its new ClearTech SCR engines, M-Drive transmissions and use a “Made in the USA” appeal to economic patriotism.

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Toyota delivers its 20 millionth vehicle in Europe

Toyota says it has delivered its 20 millionth vehicle in Europe, ten years after its ten millionth sale here.  The firm entered the European market “in a modest way” in 1963, selling 190 Crown models to a Danish distributor.  Now it is one of Europe’s leading auto makers, with nine production plants across the continent making vehicles, engines and transmissions.  It also has European research and development, design and training centres.  Its European spending stands at €1.2bn and it employs around 3,000 people.  The milestone vehicle was a Turkish-built Toyota Verso 2.0 D-4D.

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Vivaro takes Luton to 750,000

Vauxhall’s Luton plant just built its 750,000th Vivaro-type van.  The Vivaro is a joint venture between Vauxhall and Renault, dating from 2001.  The factory produces all European low-roof Vivaro versions for Vauxhall and Opel, as well as the equivalent Renault models.  The firm is the UK’s biggest builder of commercial vehicles and its Luton plant has made over 60,000 this year.  It, and associated firms employ 1,500 people locally in the area.  Vauxhall also builds Astravans at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire.  The ‘milestone’ Vivaro went to Burnt Tree Vehicle Rental.

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Electric van for Liverpool Council

Liverpool City Council just bought a Smith Edison van from Smith Electric Vehicles.  The deal is part of the Department for Transport’s low carbon vehicle procurement programme.   Based on the Ford Transit panel van, the Edison has a range of up to 100 miles on a full battery charge and a top speed of 50mph.  Liverpool’s Edison is working in with the council’s maintenance and repairs team responsible for some 2,500 public buildings across the city.  The van is among the first to feature Smith’s new 51kWhr, lithium-ion battery pack and one of the first fitted with Smith Telemetry, the world’s first telematics system for production electric vehicles.

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Ten Krone Coil Liners for Morris

ET Morris and Sons Ltd has taken ten Krone Coil Liner trailers for itsr steel transport work across the UK and Ireland.  The firm carries import and export cargoes and specialist imported goods such as steel, timber and paper.  Its main customers are based in Sweden, using shipping lines sailing in and out of Humberside.  The Coil Liner is a curtain side trailer designed for multi-purpose work, safely carrying coils or general cargo.  This is Morris’s first order with Krone.  The firm runs 40 tractor units and 80 semi-trailers out of Boston, Goole Hull and Immingham and expects that the new multipurpose trailers will help it cut empty running.

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Electric vans and trucks in a cold climate

Smith Electric Vehicles now has a distributor for Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.  Northern Lights Energy sells a range of environmental and renewable energy projects, including an electric vehicle dealership opening in early 2011.  The firm will get its first Smith Electric demonstration vehicles early next year; these will go to work with big local fleet operators.  NLE has also started the Icelandic National EV Project, through its subsidiary Even.  This national consortium includes public sector bodies and many of Iceland’s biggest and most influential firms.

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Smith Electric wins Staples order

Staples, the world’s largest office supply store chain just ordered 41 Smith Newton all-electric trucks from Smith Electric Vehicles US Corp.  Smith US will deliver the vehicles in November for work in California, Missouri and Ohio.  The firm says its zero emission Newton trucks give a 75% saving on fuel, delivering a big cut in ownership costs over the vehicle’s 10 to 15-year life.

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R and B to stop making CV tail-lifts

After 37 years, Ross and Bonnyman Limited says it has decided to stop making commercial vehicle tail-lifts.  The firm will still make ambulance lifts, yard lifts, lifting decks and other specialised engineered products.  Ratcliff Palfinger will acquire R and B’s commercial vehicle parts business and move this to its National Parts Centre, in Garforth, near Leeds.  It expects to start selling R and B parts from 4 January 2011.  The firm will also handle R and B’s existing commercial vehicle tail-lift warranty work.  The deal needs approval by the Office of Fair Trading; until this happens, Ross and Bonnyman will run the business as normal.  It will also continue to supply parts for ambulance lifts and other products from its Forfar depot.

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All position tyre from Continental

Continental’s US subsidiary General Tire has a new 445/65 R22.5 model tyre for the US construction vehicle market.  It says this new wide-base tyre is the first all-position tyre for the NAFTA region and that the new model is ideal on and off-road construction vehicles, difficult terrain and overloads.  The “Grabber OA” (Off Road, All Position) wide-base tyre is designed as a super-single tyre for steering and trailing axles.  The tyre carries around 5,800kg and its deep tread grooves and design improve traction on soft ground and muddy roadways, says Continental.

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TruckProtect launches anti-siphon for Euro 5 Sprinter.

TruckProtect just launched its first device for the new Euro5 Mercedes Sprinter range.  “Mercedes changed the vehicle’s fuel filler neck to a wider entry and we can now offer a NeckIt! fuel anti-theft device to fit,” says Russell Fowler, boss at TruckProtect.  “The cost to protect your van from fuel skimming is just £36.00.”   He says the new device is available from dealers and distributors across the UK including Daf, TTC and, of course, Mercedes.  “We’re confident that we have the best range of fuel anti-siphons in the world, and we’ve 100 units to give away as free samples so that more people can see for themselves.”

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Industry photo gallery from SMMT

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has put a unique picture gallery on its website.  Taken by professional and amateur photographers, the pictures aim to “challenge existing perceptions” of the industry and “create an iconic series of images that depict the industry in all its forms.”  Some of the pictures are published for the first time, in a rare “behind the scenes” glimpse one of the UK’s most important industries.  There are views from Vauxhall, Leyland, Ford, Mira, Nissan and many other sites.  The link is on the front page of the SMMT website at

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New Aliweld body and Edbro gear cuts weight

An Aliweld Highsider aluminium tipper body with Edbro CX14 lightweight tipping gear is delivering a 20-tonne payload from W Rolls’ new eight-wheeler.  The truck is a Renault 460dxi Lander, the first sold in the UK.  Rolls does specialist, low-density, long-distance bulk haulage, anywhere across the UK.  The firm says the low unladen weight, high cubic capacity and good payload are very important and a difficult balance to strike..  Aliweld says its Highsider body is the lightest bulk body on the UK market and offers a 40m3 capacity.

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Vans and trucks to book own maintenance

Systems that allow vans, trucks and cars to book their own repair and maintenance appointments are potentially “just a matter of years away,” according to fleet software market leader CFC Solutions.  The firm says that one of the keys to this a combination of onboard diagnostics and dedicated mobile internet access.  But one of the obstacles is the driver.  The vehicle can book itself in but it needs to know when a driver will be available to deliver and collect.  “Vehicles can communicate through a mobile internet link to one of CFC’s fleet software systems; this can authorise work with fleet managers and check directly with dealer or in-house workshop diaries to find available dates,” says Neville Briggs, MD at CFC.  The only part of the service unresolved is a way to check driver availability, but he is confident the firm will overcome this one soon.

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Bionic bio-diesel trial

Merseytravel and Stagecoach will try running buses on bio-fuel supplied by Convert2Green, as part of their commitment to the European Biofuel Networks In The Community scheme.  The Bionic project promotes the production and use of sustainably produced bio-fuels.  Merseytravel will fund refuelling infrastructure so that some of the Stagecoach fleet run on B30 bio-diesel from Convert2Green.  All three firms are members of the Merseytravel- run North West Biofuels Network.  B30 includes 30% bio-diesel from waste vegetable oil, to cut CO2 emissions by up to 25% compared to standard diesel.  Merseytravel will monitor reliability and fuel use and publish the results.

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Record revenue for Ceva Group

Ceva Logistics says its third quarter financial results show revenue up 32% year on year to a record €1.82bn.  This is supported by earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation figure up 26% to €86m.  The firm says this follows “a robust performance” across all sectors.

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Pollock is Scottish Haulage Company of the Year

Bathgate-based Pollock (Scotrans) Ltd won the Scottish Haulage Company of the Year award at the recent and 17th Transport News Scottish Rewards breakfast ceremony.  Supported by Iveco and 16 category sponsors, the annual event attracted a full house at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow.  Among other award winners, The Moray Council was named Local Authority Fleet Operator of the Year.  Personalities of the Year were John and Drew Murdoch of Neilston based J and M Murdoch and Son Ltd and well-known Walter Ritchie of Ritchies Training Centre in Glasgow won an Industry Lifetime Achievement Award.  Speakers at this year’s event were Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie, Scottish Traffic Commissioner Joan Aitken and Iveco UK managing director Henk van Leuven.

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Peugeot cuts cost of van ownership

Between 8 and 21 November UK Peugeot dealers are hosting the “Peugeot Van Fortnight” to help cut van ownership costs.  All Peugeot vans are available via the firm’s PCP Passport Pro programme, offering interest free and zero deposit, three-year deals.  Prices start from £176.13 a month for a Peugeot Bipper van, up to £324.30 for a Peugeot Boxer 330.  Business customers who order a van during the firm’s “Van Fortnight” will also get a free Nokia mobile Smartphone with Sat Nav and free-for-life software updates and an in-van cradle.  All the vans come with a three-year, 100,000 mile warranty.

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Electric vehicle logistics open day

Training, consultancy and outsourcing firm NAC Group will co-host an open workshop on battery-powered vans and trucks, at Smith Electric Vehicles, in Tyne and Wear on Thursday 25 November.  This is part of the Growth Project Logistics 2 programme to help north-east firms use new technology to increase efficiency.  Visitors can test drive a demonstration vehicle, tour the production lines and meet other technology suppliers.  The event runs from 0900 to 1300 at Smith Electric Vehicles’ Vigo Centre facility in Tyne and Wear.  Places are limited to two per company, booked in advance, at

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£5,000 prize for van livery

Northgate Vehicle Hire is offering a £5,000 prize for the most creative use of livery on the side of a van.  A witty company name or clever artwork may win the prize for the van owner, while the person who submits the photograph of the winning vehicle will win an iPad worth £500.  “We’ve all found ourselves laughing at inventive artwork on the side of a van,” said Gareth Jones, sales and marketing director at Northgate, explaining that the firm decided to reward firms that made an effort to catch public attention and use their vehicles creatively.  The deadline is 12 December 2010 and only photographs taken in the UK and of UK-owned vehicles will qualify.

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And finally

New Scientist magazine’s Feedback page reports that Transport for London, which runs many of the city’s trains, fills spare advertising poster spots with its “Art on the Underground” project. A recent example offers the statement “I feel that my sense of self is fluid”.  It goes on to state that “50 per cent of people asked answered either true or false to this question in a recent survey of Jubilee Line customers”.  Reader John Priestland wants to know what the other 50 per cent answered.

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