Thanks 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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Conditions of carriage success

Since the recent launch of its Transport Industry Conditions of Carriage, done successfully with RBI Publishing’s Motor Transport, Commercial Motor and, Road Tech Computers says the number of firms signing up at is increasing rapidly.  “The reaction has been fantastic,” said Maureen Balance, office manager for the firm, “TICC has had extremely favourable reviews from the industry, with operators crying out for an updated version of conditions of carriage for years.  With the transport industry is in a recession, people don’t want to pay hundreds or even thousands of pounds for conditions of carriage when they can sign up for a free TICC demo and use it as long as they like.  Or they can sign up for the full package at just £48 year.”

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European CV registrations down

Figures from Acea, the European auto industry association, show new European commercial vehicle registrations falling for 17 straight months.  September registrations were down 27.7% compared to the same month in 2008.  Vans under 3.5t were down 25.4% and trucks over 3.5t were down 39.4%.  Heavy trucks over 16t were down 42.2%, though with the UK bucking the trend to deliver a 26.8% increase compared to September 2008.  By comparison, Germany and France were both down more than 55%.  Figures for buses and coaches show their registrations down 12.1%.

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Right for van man

Organisers say they expect leading bodybuilders and converters at the CV Operator Show on 13 to 15 April.  Firms like Eberspacher, Tevo, Sortimo and Chambers plan to use the event next Spring to show how they can help people get the best out of a van or truck.  With a 40% increase in van use over the last ten years, the number of visitors running vans and light trucks has grown from under 30% to 52%, representing almost 15,000 buyers last year.  The trend, clear at recent CV Shows, suggests even more interest next year, according to the organisers.  They expect an even wider range of options on show next spring, adding value to van or truck chassis.

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New van registration forecast

The recent van forecast from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders shows that it expects 182,800 registrations this year, 45.8% down on the pre-recession high of 337,741 in 2007.  Next year the SMMT expects a small rise to 187,200, but still 44.5% down.  2011 should be better at 213,300, though that is still 36.8% down on the figure for 2007.  “Our latest forecasts confirm that the recovery remains fragile and government needs to continue to give priority to measures that support consumer and business confidence,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.

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Oldbury to pull more weight

Specialist trailer, military platform and equipment integrator and mobility engineering group, Oldbury UK, has won the UK distribution agency for specialist US winch maker, Warn.  The deal, effective immediately, covers supply, fit and aftermarket parts support for military and industrial applications in the UK and Ireland.  Warn is already well established in world 4×4, off-road, marine and leisure markets.   The latest move is part of its plan to increase its share of defence and industrial business.  Warn has ISO 9000 and other relevant industry standard accreditations.

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Type approved sideguards on the way

Last week the United Nations committee expert group on general safety provisions for road vehicles adopted a change to UNECE Regulation 73, which deals with sideguards.  Proposed by the SMMT and its European colleagues in the CLCCR (International Association of the Body and Trailer Building Industry), this will permit the type approval of sideguards as Separate Technical Units.  The move will also ease problems over access to fixed workstations, like those behind the cab for truck-mounted cranes.  “The change will remove the confusion over the acceptability of STU Test Reports for the purpose of whole vehicle approval,” said Allan McKenzie, senior manager, vehicle legislation at the SMMT.  The next stage is for the UN’s Working Party 29 to agree the text at its meeting in March 2010.  “This means it should be possible to get and use STU approvals from the end of 2010, a significant benefit to truck, trailer and bodywork makers as they adapt to Whole Vehicle Type Approval.”

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TIP Trailers launches second-hand website

General Electric’s TIP Trailer Services just launched its new website  “With more and more of our customers using the internet to find second-hand equipment, it’s essential we provide them with a new, improved and user-friendly tool and a variety of quality used assets to choose from,” said Martijn Stokman, sales operations manager for TIP.  The upgraded website has a selection of trucks, semi-trailers, swap bodies, tankers, trailers and construction equipment – each with specifications and photos.

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UK vehicle production lowest in 12 months

The latest data from the SMMT shows UK vehicle production slowing to lowest level in 12 months. Within the total, commercial vehicle output is still suffering a lack of business confidence.  The volume for September was down 53% to 9,716.  For the year to date, the volume drop was 61.6%, to 66,287.  Of those, 48,087 went for export.  “The UK economy is slowly emerging from recession, but businesses remain reluctant to commit to large capital investments and this is reflected in low demand for commercial vehicles,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive.

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World first for Daily fuel anti-siphon

Following the successful launch of the world’s first Mercedes Sprinter van fuel anti-siphon device, TruckProtect has launched a model for the Iveco Daily van.  Richard Fowler, technical director said “We’ve have been able to use the features and standards of our top-selling NeckIt! truck device in miniature, for an easy-fit device to stop fuel theft from vans,” said Richard Fowler, technical director.  “With fuel theft so high during recessionary times, top quality protection is essential”.  The unit will be available from Iveco dealers and independent dealers across Europe for around £37.00.

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Highway Express opts for Scania

HI Group firm Highway Express just got six new two-axle Scania Highline sleeper-cabbed 230 bhp curtainsider rigids.  They are on a five-year full contract hire deal from Scania’s Normanton branch, doing nationwide multi-drop work from the HI Group’s UK distribution centre in the same town.  These jobs often take drivers away for two or three days; hence the Highline cabs.  “In sourcing these vehicles, we went out to tender and selected Scania for its competitive price, backed by the knowledge that as a top marque we could rely upon Scania for an efficient solution to our transport needs,” said Andrew Trotter, HI Group managing director.

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4x4x4x4 Vauxhall vans deal

Vauxhall says its new deal offers four years 0% finance, four years free servicing, four years roadside assistance and four years warranty.  The offer lasts until Wednesday 2 December, at any of the 300 Vauxhall Commercial Vehicle retailers across the UK.  The four years free servicing is limited to 80,000 miles.  The four years roadside assistance is through the AA and includes Roadside Assistance, Home Start, Relay Plus and European Assistance.  The four year warranty is limited to 80,000 miles on Corsavan, Astravan and Combo vans and to 120,000 miles on Vivaro and Movano vans.  The firm says you don’t have to take the finance offer to get the other deals – you could pay cash and still get the other goodies.

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US Truck sales climb

Trailer/Body Builders Market Watch in the US reports that medium and heavy truck sales in September increased in all but one class compared to August, according to figures from Wards Communications.  Among heavier trucks, only Class 5 dipped, down 6%.  Class 3 led with a 45% increase, followed by Class 6, up 31%.  Medium and heavy truck sales were up 23%.

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New Maxicom car transporter

Renault Trucks UK and Transporter Engineering have developed what they say is the first car transporter to maximise combined loads of vans, jumbo vans, chassis cabs and cars.  The first new Plus 10 Maxicom transporter is on a 6×2 Renault Premium 450 three-axle rigid and is going to work for the MCD Group.  It will be the first Renault into the fleet, with 30 more due for delivery from early 2010.  MCD says that with over 1m more vans on UK roads than 10 years ago, a transporter that can efficiently carry a combined load of a wide range of cars and vans is an attractive proposition.

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Driver CPC training does well

Norfolkline says it is “very pleased” with the success of the new driver training facilities it opened in Peterborough earlier this year.  The firm is an accredited provider of Driver Certificate of Professional Competence periodic training and offers tailored training packages, approved by the Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training.  It offers classroom and practical training at Peterborough, Felixstowe, Belfast, Larkhall and Immingham as well as training at customers’ premises.   “The success of Norfolkline depends on the efforts of highly trained and committed employees at all levels of the organisation,” said Eddie Green, MD of Norfolkline Logistics.

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New van tyres from Uniroyal

Uniroyal says it has a new tyre range for vans and MPVs, the RainMax 2.  It has a tread pattern designed for safe, economical performance on both wet and dry roads.  This gives a 17% shorter braking distance on wet roads than the previous model and 5% better handling.  Engineers at Continental developed the tread pattern to distribute stiffness evenly across the tread ribs and lateral grooves, offering even wear and high mileage.  An arrow-shaped groove structure and three wide, deep channels disperse water quickly to help prevent aquaplaning.  The Uniroyal RainMax 2 comes in 20 sizes, with widths from 165 to 235mm suitable for 13 to 16 inch rims.  Each tyre is approved for a maximum load of 1,215kg.

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Drivers jailed for fiddling

Father and son drivers, operating out of Felixstowe, were sent to prison last week after pleading guilty to falsifying tachograph records.  The prosecution said Sean Newson had allowed his name to be used on tachograph record sheets to hide excess driving and insufficient rest.  His father, Colin Linder, got six months in prison and a 12-month driving ban for making 20 false records.  His son, also the CPC holder got four months in jail for knowingly falsifying 16 tachograph records due to, as the Judge said, “misguided loyalty towards his father”.  Kevin Reid, the investigating Vosa traffic examiner got a Judge’s Commendation for his diligence in the case.

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Fuel duty rise boosts sales for Tiss

Tiss Security Systems says September’s two pence a litre fuel duty rise has driven record sales and enquiries for its TankSafe “Impregnable” fuel security and safety device.  “July and August are traditionally our quietest period due to the holiday season, but we doubled turnover in the past two months compared to the same period last year,” said Matthew Rose for the firm.  The overwhelming message was that customers anticipated the duty rise and took action protect their fuel.  “The sales trend looks set to continue, with the sales team inundated with new enquiries and orders; another record breaking month on the cards,” said Rose.

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Paint thickness tester

Gunson says its new tool tests the amount of body filler or sub-standard repair on a vehicle.  “It’s an ideal tool for checking the state of a car, van or truck before you buy”, says Linda Tueton from the firm’s marketing team.  “Simply hold the tool against the vehicle’s bodywork; a green LED will show if the paintwork is to an acceptable standard and a red LED shows substandard paintwork or body filler.”  The Gunson Paint Tester costs £7.99.

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WH Malcolm saves £750,000 a year

Freight Best Practice just published a new case study to show the financial and environmental gains the Malcolm Group made by moving some of its deliveries from road to rail.  The firm now uses trains to move goods from Lutterworth to Grangemouth via the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal.   This means nearly six million fewer miles a year, saving around 750,000 gallons of diesel.  At today’s fuel prices that means a saving of nearly £750,000 a year.  It also cuts some 6,300 tonnes of CO2.  The case study is free from Freight Best Practice’s Hotline on 08 458 770 877 or by visiting

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VW starts work in Russia

Motoring4media reports that Vladimir Putin, Russian prime minister and Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG just officially started production at the Russian plant in Kaluga.  The factory is part of VW’s international expansion strategy in one of the world’s most important long-term growth markets.

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Mercedes Travego wins Coach of the Year

The European bus and coach jury at this year’s international Busworld Kortrijk show in Belgium just voted the Mercedes-Benz Travego “Coach of the Year 2010″.

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Zytek electric powertrains for US

A British electric vehicle drive train specialist will provide advanced technology for a prestigious and US Government-backed electric commercial vehicle programme.  A range of electric delivery vehicles for the North, Central and South American markets will use a highly integrated 70kW powertrain from Zytek.  The new joint venture between US truck maker Navistar and UK electric truck firm Modec plans to make and deliver 400 vehicles during 2010, helped by a $39m (£23m) US Government grant.  The new generation of Class 2 and 3 trucks will do suburban and city work, running at up to 12,100 lbs (5.5t) gross.  They will have a range of over 100 miles.

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Tyre trial wins fleet deal for Michelin

European haulier Alcaline will specify Michelin’s X One MaxiTrailer tyres on all new trailers after a successful year-long trial of the tyres.  This used a set of these tyres fitted to a new Schmitz Cargobull tri-axle trailer and compared against tyres on other trailers in the fleet.  At 176,569km the new Michelin tyres had 9mm more tread left.  Mainly running between Kent and Italy, the tyres should be good for another 78,000km before regrooving in-line with Michelin’s Four Lives tyre policy.  Alcaline will now fit X One MaxiTrailer tyres on 15 new Schmitz Cargobull tri-axle trailers, due to join its 170 strong truck and trailer fleet in the UK, Holland and Italy.

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TXX takes Jost’s safety check service

Oldham-based haulier TXX is the UK’s first operator use Jost’s comprehensive on-site safety inspection service for its fifth wheels.  Charged at a half or full-day rate and done at operators’ own premises anywhere in the UK, the service can check fleets of up to 60 trucks in a single day.  TXX got a clean bill of health for 30 fifth wheels in a half-day session.  “The cost was extremely reasonable and I consider it money well spent as it gives us peace of mind,” said Dave Taylor, MD.  “Safety in operation, both for our drivers and the public, is the highest priority for us.”

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Ireland to cut drink-drive limit to 50mg

Ireland will cut its drink-drive limit to 50mg by the end the year, ministers said recently.  There will also be a lower limit of 20mg for learner drivers and people who drive for work.  The limit now is 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood.  The move will leave the UK and Malta as the last European states with 80mg limits.  Road safety charity Brake says that cutting the UK drink-drive limit to 50mg could save about 65 lives and 230 serious injuries a year.  “Despite this, the Government is dragging its heels.”  Brake says its Road Safety Week from November 23-29 will highlight the risks of drunk and drugged driving.

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Manheim does Ford van training

Manheim Auctions recently ran a vehicle appraisal training course for van people from 20 Ford dealers.  At the Henry Ford College in Loughborough, this looked at the accurate identification and estimation of damage to part exchanged vans.  It was the first of several similar courses due before the end of the year.  Manheim Auctions’ Appraisers and Inspectors training programme won recent approval and endorsement by IMI Awards, through its Quality Assured Awards.  Fully IMI accredited appraisers and inspectors now work throughout Manheim’s UK network of 19 auction centres.

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Oliver clinches truck race crown

Reigning British truck racing champion Stuart Oliver collected top points as he powered his MAN to three victories plus three fastest laps at the second visit of the season to Pembrey on 18 October.  This won him the Class ‘A’ Delphi British Truck Racing Championship crown, with one meeting to spare.  The next meeting is at Brands Hatch on 31 October and 1 November.  “The Kent circuit always presents a unique challenge and produces great racing,” said Jon Reeves, BTRA press officer.  “Adding more excitement will be the welcome comeback of 2008 champion, Dutchman Cees Zandbergen in his Scania, plus BBC TV presenter Andy Akinwolere from Blue Peter, making his debut in the Brookfield Daf.”

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Help for Welsh auto supply chain

The SMMT says it is working with the Welsh Automotive Forum to develop the Automotive Supplier Finder for Welsh firms.  ASF is the UK’s largest automotive database, listing 8,000 companies and 3,000 product classifications, at  It aims to develop the local supply chain by matching buyers to suppliers.  Buyers can invite suppliers match their needs at the touch of a button.  Inclusion in the database is free of charge and gives easy access to the widest-ranging list of suppliers in the UK motor industry.  The deal between SMMT and WAF will help firms in Wales find suppliers and help Welsh suppliers find customers.

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Big bucks prizes for experienced technicians

The annual competition to find the best mechanic in the UK is now open for entries, with thousands of pounds worth of prizes up for grabs from this year’s sponsors.  They are Blueprint, Comma Oil & Chemicals, Delphi, Euro Car Parts, Lemforder and Motor Codes.  The Top Technician competition aims to help change the public’s perception of “cowboy” repairers and to recognise and reward the many highly-skilled technicians who face complex technology everyday in their garages.  “You’ll find the entry details for the 2010 event including an online test” said Nicola St Clair, deputy editor at Aftermarket.  “People need to take that test before 8 January.  The 30 questions cover a broad range of maintenance and repair topics and will take about 30 minutes to answer.”  The top 24 entrants go on to the next, practical stage.  The winner gets a tax-free sum of £2,500 and thousands of pounds’ worth of prizes.

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Delivering the groceries

Schmitz Cargobull just delivered 46 reefers and fridge box trailers to Londis, the food retailer network owned by Musgrave Retail Partners.  The new trailer fleet will work out of the three Londis Retail Service Centres near Pontefract, Thamesmead and Andover, servicing the firm’s 1,861 stores across the country.  The new rigid box units are the first of their kind built by Schmitz Cargobull at its UK factory at Harelaw, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne.  Introduced this spring, they are designed specifically for the growing market of urban food retail deliveries.

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New head of UK operations at VW

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles says Matthew Bowden is its new head of operations.  Responsible for new and used vehicle sales, he will also manage and develop the VW Van Centre network.

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Renault Lander for B Jay

Shropshire haulier, B Jay Haulage just got a new Renault Premium Lander 410.32 with insulated tipper body.  The truck, with a retarder and Optidriver + gearbox is the first vehicle of its type built on a Renault chassis.  The new truck joins B Jay’s three strong fleet, carrying aggregate and tarmac, mainly locally.  The Market Drayton-based firm is an independent family business, established over 15 years ago by present owner Shaun Coombes.  Renault Trucks Midlands did the business.

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Hartshorne and Lawrence David

The Midlands-based Hartshorne Group has just added Lawrence David trailers to its portfolio, as a trailer dealer for Central England.  “Truck and Trailer Solutions,” a new Hartshorne business based at Stretton, near Burton on Trent will sell new and used Lawrence David trailers.  It will also work with the eight other Hartshorne dealers to give parts, repair and maintenance services, including full MoT services and 24/7roadside assistance across the region for Lawrence David.  The business will be the group’s centre for approved Lawrence David repairs and refurbishment.  It will also stock and handle the group-wide distribution of Ray Smith tail lift parts.

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And finally

“Hair Loss Result Guaranteed!” proclaims an advert for the UK Advanced Hair Studio.  New Scientist Feedback column contributor Ant Astley suspects it would be cheaper simply to shave it off himself.

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