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 for this week…

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Trailer height limit on the horizon

Transport News Brief has learned that bureaucrats in Brussels may limit heights to four metres.  The idea comes from the European Commission and would include a four metre height limit in the European Whole Vehicle Type Approval parameters for trailers and semi-trailers.  It could affect all vehicles built and sold across the EU.  Detailed plans are expected to be published before September.  “If this makes its way onto the statute book it will limit high cubic capacity double-deck and hump-backed trailers,” said Robin Dickeson, manager, commercial vehicle affairs at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.  This could push up costs, as some operators would need more trailers to for a job than they use today.  “Expect anguish.”

More from Robin Dickeson on +44 (0)2 073 449 222 or

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Fleet Van Conference

This year’s Fleet Van Conference will be at the National Motor Cycle Museum, near the NEC, Birmingham on Thursday 30 September.  The event, the only one dedicated to van fleet operators, will help them tackle the tough challenges they face.  It includes case studies from some of the UK’s top van fleets and some of the best ideas to cut costs and deliver efficient transport services.  You can book at  Christopher Macgowan OBE is chairman and speakers include Robin Dickeson, manager, CV affairs at the SMMT; John Watts, editor, CV Monitor, CAP; Janet Entwistle,  managing director, BT Fleet; Alex Thompson, vehicle crash-worthiness researcher, TRL; Gary Whittam, van industry adviser; Steve Bridge, van sales and marketing director at Mercedes-Benz and Adrian Vinsome, head of programmes at Cenex.

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Iveco EEV initiative pays off

Iveco reports that interest in Enhanced Environmentally friendly Vehicle standards is growing.  The firm says that since February last year, when it was the first truck maker to offer Euro 5 and EEV standards across its full truck range up to 500 hp, more operators are asking for vehicles with stricter than minimum emission standards.  That growing interest in EEV and similar standards is connected to the growth in subsidies for vehicles with emissions performance ahead of the minimum standards and potential for better residual values that they may offer.  Sadly the UK seems reluctant to encourage operators to do more than the minimum as far as emissions are concerned.

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CV Show returns

Just a month after releasing details of the 2011 Commercial Vehicle Show, its organisers say enquiries are “coming thick and fast” from a wide range of exhibitors..  “They all want a slice of the action as the road transport market returns to growth,” said Bob Sockl, CV Show organiser.  “BP led the way, closely followed by Eberspacher, Isuzu (UK) and Premier Pits.  Lots of firms have already applied, with many more in the pipeline.”  Sockl says most are increasingly optimistic about prospects for 2011, with more and more operators clearly keen to replace kit.  “The vast majority of firms aim to market their way out of the recession,” confident that sales will grow from a record low.  “The CV Show is the best road transport equipment market place in the UK and most firms don’t want to miss the opportunity.”  The CV Show will run from 12 to 14 April at the NEC, Birmingham.

More from Bob Sockl on +44 (0)1 634 261 262 or

Driving Safely

We’re all responsible for driver safety, but some are more responsible than others.  If you have drivers working for you, that means you.  Driving Safely, by David Byrne and published by the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management should help you discharge that responsibility.  It is full of clear, easily absorbed common-sense and deserves reading by anyone with drivers under their control.  Importantly, as Byrne says, this area of health and safety seems to have been overlooked.  “It doesn’t feature in any formal safety qualification,” there seems limited enforcement and “even less sensible and independent guidance.”  His book does a lot on the guidance front and should help people cut costs and deliver practical improvements to driver safety.

More from Carolyn Long on +44 (0)1 483 237 230 or

Brigade goes all quiet

Brigade Electronics has decided to phase out conventional tonal alarms for a safer option that doesn’t cause a noise nuisance.  The move, which the firm will phase over two years, follows an “overwhelming” surge in complaints about the noise from ordinary, tonal reversing alarms and the “huge success” of its unique, white sound reversing alarms.  “With white sound you only hear it when it matters,” says Tom Brett, marketing director.

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CV production up 11% in July

Data from the SMMT shows UK commercial vehicle production up 10.7% in July 2010 and up 43.2% for the first seven month of the year, compared to the same period last year.  UK car and engine production both fell in July but rose for the first seven months of the year.  “UK vehicle production is more than 40% up on last year’s levels and whilst we expect some challenging conditions, economic growth has returned in all major markets around the world,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.

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Transport firms falling behind on CO2 reporting

The Carbon Disclosure Project says that only 36% of the 291 largest transport firms have set targets to cut carbon, compared with half of the Global 500 Index of companies.  The CDP runs a global corporate climate information database and found that and found that Latin American and European firms did best, with 60% and 52% setting targets.  CDP attributes the high level of targets in Europe to its carbon trading scheme.  Only 9% of the transport firms surveyed reported data on low-carbon investments.  CDP says transport accounts for 13% of global emissions and 60% of oil use.  Road transport uses about 80% of the sector’s oil, while rail uses just 0.5% and aviation some 13%.

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Pentagon wins its first Euro 5 Vito deal

Truck Tyre Fleet Management Ltd, one of the south’s largest independent commercial tyre service firms has ordered a Euro 5 Mercedes Vito 122cdi Dualiner van from South Coast Mercedes dealer Pentagon.  “This was the first order for the New Euro 5 Vito,” said Kevin Downham, van sales manager.  He says the firm looks forward to delivering the new van to Trucktyre this autumn.  “We enjoy working with Pentagon,” said Scott Matthews, senior operations executive at Truck Tyre.  The firm’s fleet is now nearly 50 strong and Pentagon has “always given us good value for money service.”  The two firms have a long-term business relationship and are discussing possible contact service arrangements.

More from Kevin Downham on +44 (0)1 329 286 224 or

CV Show brochure offer

UK CV Show organiser Bob Sockl says he and his team have now mailed well over 2,500 brochures to past and potential CV Show exhibitors.  “The response has been great.”  The “bright new brochure” describes the sales and marketing opportunities that the CV Show offers.  “If you haven’t got yours yet, but are thinking about making the most of the Show next April, let us know and we’ll send a brochure straight away..”  Sockl says the recession has sharpened competition and many firms feel that if they are not at the CV Show they may lose out to the competitors who do take space.  The CV Show will run from 12 to 14 April at the NEC, Birmingham.

More from Bob Sockl on +44 (0)1 634 261 262 or

Seven Optare Solos for Arriva Netherlands

Optare has won a second big export order; seven Solos for Arriva Netherlands, the country’s third largest bus operator.  The buses start work in December on rural services in the north of the country.  Arriva’s UK arm has already bought 170 Solos for its fleet and got many more from fleet acquisitions.  The firm also runs Optare’s Versa and Tempo models.  “Solo has proved the best midibus on the market with well over 4,000 now in service,” said Glenn Saint, commercial director for the firm.  He says it is a “well proven” product, offering “outstanding passenger accessibility and low operating costs.”

More from David Rowlands on +44 (0)2 074 948 050 or

RHA welcomes freight-only ferry route

The Road Haulage Association says it welcomes DFDS Seaways’ announcement that it will improve its ferry route from Rosyth, Scotland, to Zeebrugge, Belgium.  The firm aims to run the route on a freight-only basis, with four sailings a week rather than the previous four.  DFDS says the move will mean “dramatically improved” freight capacity and better service to its freight customers..  The new service will start in mid-December 2010.  “We are delighted that DFDS has acknowledged the importance of the route for freight traffic,” said Phil Flanders, RHA director for Scotland.  “For Scottish hauliers in particular, this route represents a vital gateway to the rest of Europe.”

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Business booms for Enova

Business Wire reports that California’s Enova Systems has seen 257% growth in the second quarter.  The firm develops proprietary electric, hybrid and fuel cell digital power management systems and works with vehicle firms like Navistar, Smith Electric Vehicles and Freightliner.  It benefits from the US government’s support for all-electric trucks.  Smith recently ordered 50 drive systems as part an expected total of more than 250 for this year.  Enova manages a contract for US General Services Administration working with Freightliner on all-electric cargo vans for the Federal government.  New model year vehicles are on test with a production target of spring 2011.

More from Jarett Fenton on +1(0)310 527 2800 or

Volvos move bikes

Gloucester-based We Move Bikes just put two new Volvo FH tractors to work on contract to Harley-Davidson.  The two-axle, black-liveried trucks will tow trailer loads of the firm’s more exotic bikes to exhibitions across Europe.  The 500hp trucks are fitted for long-distance work, with dual 500l fuel tanks and extra large AdBlue tanks.  Creature comforts in the Globetrotter cabs include full leather interior, fridge, microwave, coffee maker and flat-screen TV.  Wales and West Truck & Bus Ltd did the deal and its Gloucester depot will handle the service contract.

More from Nigel Hanwell on +44 (0)1 926 414 210

UPS offers 150m-strong returns network

UPS just said it is launching UPS Returns Flexible Access, a new service with a unique label that allows consumers to drop returns at any US Postal Service office or personal mailbox as well as UPS offices across the US.  The firm says the service offers more than 150 million points.  UPS began testing the service last year with firms like BuySeasons, the largest US retailer of costumes and party supplies on the Internet.  Because of the positive customer response, UPS now is making the returns service more broadly available.

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Thames Travel expands fleet with new Solos

Thames Travel Limited of Wallingford has taken eight new Optare Solo low-floor minibuses, growing its fleet by over 20% to 43.  The move will mean the Oxfordshire independent carries more than two million passengers a year.  The Solos will work from a new depot in Bracknell on recently won three-year tendered services contract for Bracknell Forest Council.  The company chose the 8.8-metre full-width Solo model for the services.  This has seating for 29 plus up to 21 standees, giving a total capacity of 50 to meet demand at peak times.

More from David Rowlands on +44 (0)2 074 948 050 or

Mission accomplished

Two Marines and a Truck just successfully did its 3,000th move and at the same time changed its name to Two Marines Moving.  The US firm, owes its origin to two US Marine Corps veterans who two years ago decided to bring Marine Corp values the removals business.  The firm has grown on the back of glowing praise from satisfied customers and now employs 40 people.  Nick Baucom, founder, owner and ‘commanding officer’ says he “looks forward to managing the next 3,000 moving missions.”

More from Nick Baucom on +1 (0)703 623 5288 or

New Sprinter bus at IAA

Mercedes says its bus and coach display at Hannover’s IAA show will focus on greater efficiency and passenger safety.  The firm will show five buses and coaches, including the Sprinter City 77, which makes its debut at the show.  This new three-axle, Sprinter-based model is 8.7m long has a 6.8 tonne gross vehicle weight and seats up to 40 passengers, 10 more than the City 65.  It has two outward-opening double doors, a low-floor kneeling system and wheelchair bay with a ramp.  The separately mounted body is 1.99m wide on what is the largest minibus Mercedes-Benz range.  Its turning circle between walls is 17.28m and its emissions are to EEV standards.  The zero-emission Citaro FuelCell hybrid will also be on the stand in hall14/15.

More from Elizabeth Cole on +44 (0)2 476 626 050 or

Berlingos for FPS

FPS, which says it is the UK’s most successful automotive aftermarket parts distribution business is putting 163 Citroën Berlingo vans to work in its fleet.  The deal will mean that Citroën Berlingos form the bulk of the 260 strong FPS van fleet.  “In LX format, with the standard, fold-flat Extenso passenger seat, these vans can carry exhausts safely and securely inside,” says Stuart Collet, FPS’ fleet manager.  The vans have optional bulkheads with removable panels and ply linings and standard Trafficmaster satnav systems.  Lookers of Cardiff and Preston did the business, with the FPS Berlingos running on Burnt Tree two-year, 100,000-mile contract hire deals.

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Enova and Remy to tackle new electric vehicle markets

California’s Enova Systems says it is working with Remy, North America’s largest independent maker of advanced electric propulsion motors and recently got approval of a $60.2m grant from the US Department of Environment for the accelerated commercial development its electric motor technology.  The two firms aim to tackle markets in North America, Asia, Europe and India.

More from Jarett Fenton on +1(0)310 527 2800 or

Museum visitor numbers soar

The 2010 season has seen visitor numbers soar dramatically at the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in Leyland, Lancashire.  Its recent ‘Great British Lorries Day’ was so successful that the Museum will make it an annual event.  “Tourist Group Bookings and private functions for road transport industry related bodies are also up,” said Rick Roberton, speaking for the museum.  “We’ve also a stunning new diesel engine development display, starting with a full-size, three-metre tall replica of Rudolf diesel’s first engine and continues to the present day.  It ran on peanut oil, by the way.”  The BBC recently based on of its one-hour ‘Behind the Scenes’ programmes on the museum, boosting visitor numbers even more.

More from Paulette Abrahams on 44-(0)1 772 451 011 or

Nasdaq float for Smith Electric Vehicles

Smith Electric Vehicles US Corp says it go for a stock market flotation on the Nasdaq exchange, once it owns the Smith UK business.  Smith US recently made a £37m offer to buy itself and the Smith UK business out of its parent firm, Tanfield Group Plc.  Tanfield also says the terms of the deal have changed after it signed non-binding Heads of Terms with Smith US.  This would combine the Smith UK and US operations, with Tanfield keeping an equity share in the new, global Smith business.

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Qinetiq and SkyBitz offer secure global tracking

SkyBitz, a leading US firm in the remote asset tracking and management business says it is working with UK defence outfit QinetiQ’s GPS based telematics business to offer secure global asset tracking.  The two say there is a growing demand for rugged tracking devices fitted or concealed virtually anywhere and report via secure networks from “difficult operational environments.”  The firms say that the combination of SkyBitz strong market position and QinetiQ’s defence and security expertise complement each other to give unique products and services with worldwide use.

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FTA welcomes more enforcement

The Freight Transport Association says it welcomes plans to extend the stopping powers of enforcement officers into Scotland and Northern Ireland.  The move will effectively give enforcement officers will have the same powers across the UK.  “FTA members support the move to allow Vosa and DVA, with their specialist knowledge and equipment, to focus on issues of vehicle roadworthiness and road safety,” said James Firth, head of road freight and enforcement policy at the FTA.  “It is simply a better use of time and resources, with the added benefit of freeing-up police time.”

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ePower Trucks launches new electric van

UK-based ePower Trucks is launching a new 3.5t electric van that delivers whole life cost savings as well as environmental benefits.  At £30,000, the XT320E costs 50% less than other 3.5t electric vans.  With a standard battery pack it can carry a one tonne payload for 60 miles on a full charge.  A double battery pack gives 120-mile range with 670kg payload.  ePower says the two pence a mile energy cost means the van can pay for itself in 3.5 years compared to a diesel-powered 3.5 tonner.

More from Dan Jenkins +44 (0)7 536 092 682 or

Cascone leads Multipart direct-selling business

John Cascone recently joined supply chain specialists Multipart Solutions Ltd as sales and marketing director.  He lead its direct sales team, covering the LDV parts business, the Vanfit all-makes van parts programme and the recently won Diesel Technic all-makes truck parts franchise.

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iPhone vehicle tracking app from Masternaut

Masternaut has launched what it says is the world’s first “feature-rich” web-based vehicle tracking service for the Apple iPhone and iPad.  This is the first in a series of free apps for Apple products from the Yorkshire-based telematics firm.  The Masternaut Rapide app for iPhone gives the main of the live Masternaut service to managers on the move.  It gives a real-time link to important operational information whenever they are away from the office.

More from Martin Port on +44 (0)1 132 814 000 or

Atlas Maschinen buys Terex Atlas UK

Following a deal where Atlas Maschinen GmbH bought Terex Atlas UK, the firm will now use the old Atlas identity and trade as Atlas Cranes UK Ltd.  “Only the name will change,” said Jim Smith, commercial and special projects director for the firm.  Manufacturing stays in Delmenhorst, Germany, and UK sales, service and support stays in Bradford, England.  “The same Atlas team will deliver exactly the same level of personal service as before.”

More from Jim Smith, on +44 (0)7 771 654 986 or

Optare hybrids sail through certification tests

Optare says that diesel-electric hybrid versions of its Solo and Versa models have passed certification trials to satisfy the Low Carbon Emission Bus rules under the Green Bus Grant scheme.  The certification, independently done at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire applies to all production Solo and Versa hybrids.  Millbrook’s test cycle replicates London’s route 159, the standard test for hybrid buses.  Glenn Saint commercial director at Optare says this means that these two models meet the standards for first Green Bus Fund scheme and the two that have followed more recently in England and Scotland.

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New boss for Volvo East Anglia

Darren Wymer is the new manager for Volvo Truck and Bus Centre East Anglia’s Bardon depot, near Coalville, Leicestershire.  The depot opened in February 2009, a near to the M1′s junction two.  Its workshop has three drive-through bays and a vehicle lift big enough for a complete artic and is open six days a week, between 0600 and 2200.  The business employs around 300 people.

More from Darren Wymer on +44 (0)1 530 277 277 or

And finally

New Scientist’s Feedback column reports that while using the online search, reader Guy Cox was exhorted to “Get African diseases now!”  He passed and carried on looking for the African Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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