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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Ashwoods, Europe’s fastest growing cleantech

Ashwoods Automotive, a UK hybrid commercial vehicle technology firm has been named Europe’s fastest growing cleantech company.  The firm’s turnover is up almost 1,000% in just three years, on the back of demand for its hybrid van system, Ashwoods Hybrid Drive. The firm is the largest supplier to the UK Government’s Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme.  The Cleantech Connect 2010 Awards recognised this growth naming the firm the fastest growing clean technology company in Europe.  Ashwoods also recently signed a US distribution deal and is looking for other partners to market its technology worldwide.

More from Dan Jenkins on +44 (0)7 536 092 768, or dan@brightsparkspr.com

Now click below for the rest of this week’s roundup…

Bio-SNG could cut carbon

A new report says that a mixture of bio-gas and synthetic natural gas could play a more effective role in cutting transport carbon emissions.  The snappily-named North East Process Industry Cluster (or Nepic), Centrica and the National Grid commissioned a study to look at the use of Bio-SNG.  This suggests that “green natural gas”, a mix of bio-gas and SNG might be delivered via the gas grid for both transport and heating use.  The gas uses methane from “sustainable” volumes of biomass mixed with synthetic or substitute natural gas, sometimes produced from coal or lignite.

More from Jen Clayton on +44 (0)1 217 073 369 or jen.clayton@cngservices.co.uk

M+S tyres compulsory for Germany

No, this isn’t Marks & Spencer moving into the tyre business.  It is a change to German traffic regulations meaning that all from Saturday 4 December, all trucks over 3.5 tonnes and buses with more than eight seats must use Mud and Snow (M+S) drive axle tyres on roads covered with ice, hard-packed snow or slush.  This applies to domestic vehicles and foreigners visiting or crossing the country.  German tyre-maker Continental welcomes the move that says clarifies the law by defining which tyres are suitable for winter and when to use them.  The firm says all its drive axle tyres are M+S rated and marked.  It also says winter-marked tyres such as its Scandinavia range used on all axles will give even greater safety on winter roads.

More from Udo Brandes on +49 (0)511 938 2923 or udo.brandes@conti.de

Van and truck registrations rise

November van and truck registration data from the SMMT show best rise of the year, at 22,834 and 32.5% up, to 253,244 for the rolling year.  Vans were up 26.1% to 19,128 in November and up 16.5% to 219,866 for the rolling year.  Trucks rose nearly 80% to 3,706 in November, though the rolling year total is still down 8.8% at 33,378.  That big rise versus last year follows the market distortion caused by people buying new trucks ahead of the move to Euro 5 in October 2009.  “Van registrations have grown since February, whilst trucks surged recently, led by three-axle tractor demand, typically for rental and contract hire work,” said SMMT boss, Paul Everitt.  Next year will be “challenging” with some growth but with numbers “well down” on pre-recession levels.

More from Robin Dickeson on +44 (0)2 173 449 222 or rdickeson@smmt.co.uk

Mixed news for buses, coaches, mini and midi-buses

Overall UK bus and coach numbers fell 16.1% in November and 13.2% in the year to date, says the SMMT.  Midi-bus registrations rose by 10.9% in November while coaches rose 7.4% in November and 20.7% over the year to date.  “Bus and coach registrations collectively fell in all but one month this year.  November’s drop was in line with the year-to-date picture and we expect full year volumes below 7,000 units,” said Everitt.  Coach numbers, up more than 20% over the year to date, November mini-bus numbers up 24.3%, midi-buses up 10.9% and strong growth for hybrids gave a welcome contrast.

More from Robin Dickeson on +44 (0)2 173 449 222 or rdickeson@smmt.co.uk

Avia committed to the UK market

Avia Ashok Leyland says its recent decision to close Avia Trucks UK Ltd from the end of November 2010 does not mean the Ashok Leyland and ultimately Hinduja-owned firm is pulling out.  “The UK remains one of the largest truck markets in Europe, and that makes it important to the longer term success of our brand,” says Marcus Pauels, boss of Avia Ashok Leyland.  “With that in mind, we are re-evaluating our commercial approach, so we can be well-placed to take advantage of an upswing in the market.”  He says the review is due “early 2011″ and will lead to a “clearer approach” as the UK truck market returns to health.

More from Michal Backovsky on +420 (0)739 246 260 or michal.backovsky@aal.cz

More gritters for the M25

Highways contractor Connect Plus has put 27 new MAN gritter trucks to work on the M25, the UK’s busiest motorway.  The firm is a consortium comprising Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Atkins and Egis.  There are 12 three-axle and 15 four-axle rigids, all with MAN engines and TipMatic gearboxes and all supplied to MAN’s ex-factory gritter specification.  All have Aebi Schmid bodies with pre-wet and dry salt spreaders and gear.  The new trucks meet Balfour Beatty’s ‘Zero Harm’ safety policy and have systems to automate the main gritting processes.  This means drivers can concentrate on the road without having to worry about managing snow ploughing and gritting work.  Balfour Beatty Plant and Fleet Services supplied the new trucks.

More from Paul O’Malley on +44 (0)1 263 715 900 or paul@hallspr.com

Success for Zenloc

Zenloc says its “groundbreaking” Zenloc Portable Alarm is winning with owner-drivers and hauliers alike.  Launched earlier this year, it won an innovation award and is now successfully wining orders.  “Already we’ve supplied several blue-chip transport companies,” says the firm’s Steve Tickner.  “Now we’ve several far-reaching deals in the pipeline.”  The alarm is easily portable and can be quickly attached to a vehicle that needs protection.  Once attached, it is self-arming and if moved, will emit a 120DB tone and a strobe light and send a message to a small remote receiver kept by the driver.  A unique coded electronic key built into the receiver can deactivate the system.  “Zenloc can protect a driver and load for less than £3.50 a week,” says Tickner.

More from Barry Schofield on +44 (0)7 775 592 545 or barry@zenloc.com

SEV keeps Lex fleets moving

Lex Autolease is using mobile service specialist SEV Group Ltd to provide mobile service, maintenance and repair to fleets of light commercial vehicles.  SEV’s engineers are now supporting some of Lex Autolease’s corporate customers running fleets more than 500 strong.  These include construction contractors and equipment rental firms.  As part of the deal, SEV has an engineer in-house at the Lex Autolease Heathside Park office in Cheadle, Stockport.  SEV has seven UK service centres, runs integrated workshops on customers’ premises and a comprehensive roadside breakdown and recovery service, with over 120 mobile engineers.

More from Dan Jenkins on +44 (0)7 536 092 682 or dan@brightsparkspr.com

Global CV market in 2011 – webinar.

AutomotiveWorld.com will run its next webinar, on the key issues and trends for the global commercial vehicle market, on Thursday 9 December at 10:00 Detroit, 15:00 London, 16:00 Stuttgart and 20.30 Delhi time.  Oliver Dixon, of  World Truck Analysis and a senior figure from Frost & Sullivan’s North American office will discuss the market, its growing optimism and the degree to which applies around the world.  Their 15 minute presentations will precede 30 minute Q&A session, led by Dr Peter Wells, of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research, Cardiff Business School.  You can register via the website www.automotiveworld.com.

More from Michael Franklin on +44 (0)2 078 781 037 or michael.franklin@automotiveworld..com

SMMT economic update

The SMMT’s latest economic update says HM Treasury’s latest independent forecast expects the UK economy will grow 1.7% this year, up from the 1.6% forecast in October and 1.3% in July.  Conversely, its prediction for 2012 is down to 1.8%, from the 2% growth it forecast earlier this year.  GDP growth should grow in 2012, up 2.1% and rising to 2.5% by 2014.  Inflation is still higher than wage growth.  Retail sales are holding and unemployment is falling.  But there are worries that it will rise as public sector job losses, tax rises and a stalling housing market cause a slowdown in consumer spending.  The SMMT’s full economic update is on it website, www.smmt.co.uk.

More from Matthew Croucher on 44 (0)2 073 441 640 or mcroucher@smmt.co.uk

Citysprint helps Crisis at Christmas

UK distribution firm CitySprint will give two vans to Crisis at Christmas to support the charity in its work to help the homeless.  The vans will collect and deliver donated goods around central London.  They will also take household goods and furniture to former homeless people who have moved into permanent accommodation and help with Crisis at Christmas work.  “We’re delighted to be able to support Crisis at Christmas,” said Patrick Gallagher, boss of CitySprint.  “Whilst homelessness is an ongoing issue it is certainly something which becomes more poignant at Christmas.

More from Sarah Roberts on +44 (0)1 737 821 892 or sarah@vanepercy.com

Bowen is the new boss at BT Fleet

Dave Bowen is the new MD of BT Fleet, replacing Janet Entwistle who announced her departure at the end of September.  Bowen joined the firm in December 2009 as finance director.  Andrew Edginton replaces Bowen as finance director, joining from nPower where he was head of financial control and planning.

More from Mina Rupa on +44 (0)1 213 326 472 or mina.rupa@bt.com

More Volvos for Basingstoke

Basingstoke Skip Hire and Southern Waste Management has put two more Volvos to work in its 36-strong specialised waste management and recycling fleet.  The new, three-axle trucks have steering and lifting rear axles to give better manoeuvrability.  Each has Geesink Norba rear-end loading bodywork.  The family-run fleet now has 22 Volvos from 4×2 skip loaders up to a 6×4 Volvo FH artic.  “When it comes to fleet replacement, we tend to look at Volvos first these days, says Henry Dent, general manager.

More from Nigel Hanwell on +44 (0)1 926 414 210 or nigel.hanwell@volvo.com

Fleet conversion centre from Tevo

Modular van racking systems firm Tevo Limited has opened a new dedicated fleet conversion centre.  Designed for fleets of 100 or more vans, the 45,000sq ft Buckinghamshire centre allows Tevo to cut build-time but not quality.  Tevo can also fit heating, lighting, safety steps and towing kit.  Its online build management system means that fleet managers can track each vehicle’s progress through the conversion process with the click of a mouse.

More from Dan Jenkins on +44 (0)7 536 092 682 or dan@brightsparkspr.com

Euromotive a year ahead

Minibus maker Euromotive has recently converted three extra long Mercedes Sprinter vans to work as 15 seat Approved accessible minibuses.  The customer chose to have the its vehicles built to the highest available compliance standards, so Euromotive managed the project to ensure that its suppliers met Individual Vehicle Approval standards a year ahead of the deadline for vehicles of this class.  The new minibuses can carry 15 conventionally seated passengers or five in wheelchairs and one in a standard seat.  Each vehicle has an Eberspacher climate control system, an AMF inboard tail-lift and AVS step as well as a fully-compliant flat floor Embus system and Rescroft Defender 3 seats.  Supplied by Sparshatts of Kent, the new vehicles are going to work for a south London authority that apparently prefers anonymity to praise.

More from Mike Jones on +44 (0)1 303 267 900 or sales@euromotive.co.uk

SMMT training scheme for ambulance service

The SMMT recently met the UK National Ambulance Service to discuss the industry-wide launch of an electric vehicle safety training programme.  The aim is to ensure consistent electric vehicle safety standards and expertise across the automotive, breakdown and recovery sectors and emergency services.  Launched in May 2010 and developed with the Institute of the Motor Industry and Semta (the sector skills council for the automotive retail and manufacturing industries), the training covers maintenance, repair and hazard management for electric vehicles and related hybrids.

More from Catherine Hutt on +44 (0)2 073 441 625 or chutt@smmt.co.uk

Motor industry going digital, bit by bit

The UK motor industry has published a draft minimum standard for in-vehicle digital radios.  This is its first co-operative step towards the digital radio switchover.  The draft lists functions that an automotive digital radio should include if it is to offer listeners the same features as an analogue radio.  It also includes one or two new functions to show the benefits of digital radio.  The SMMT has circulated the draft to its members and a wide range of other interested people and organisations and needs comments by 17 December.

More from Bob Davis on +44 (0)2 073 449 235 or bdavis@smmt.co.uk

Aftermarket exhibition opportunities at Autopromotec

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is working with the UK Government’s Trade and Investment branch to help firms exhibit at Autopromotec in Bologna, Italy from 25 to 29 May.  “This is a leading global automotive aftermarket event,” says Ruta Aisthorpe, speaking for the Society.  “The show attracts over 100,000 visitors from 47 countries.”  The SMMT deal also includes a tour of the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani plants.  There are a number of grants of up to £1,000 available to help with exhibition costs for firms that register early for this event.

More from Ruta Aisthorpe on +44 (0)2 073 449 231 or raisthorpe@smmt.co.uk

UK commercial vehicle production up

New data from the SMMT show UK commercial vehicle production up 47.1% in October and 39.0% up for the year to date.  Car production rose 6.0% in the month.  “UK vehicle production rose 8.8% in October and signals steady improvement in global vehicle markets and the strength of the UK product line-up,” said SMMT boss, Paul Everitt.  It is “extremely important” that the government continues to champion the auto industry and helps it attract more cash for R&D, skills and equipment as part of its work to restore the UK economy.  “The industry’s focus on low carbon technology can help the private sector growth the country needs.”

More from Jon Visscher on +44 (0)2 073 449 263 or jvisscher@smmt.co.uk

BT starts electric van trial

BT says its Openreach business has started tests with four electric vans, two in Milton Keynes and two in East London.  The aim is to see if such vehicles could help in the firm’s plans to cut its carbon output by 80% by 2020.  If the trial succeeds, Openreach aims to use them more widely in its 23,400 strong fleet.  BT’s fleet management division worked with Allied Electric and Smith Electric Vehicles to convert two Peugeot and two Ford zero emission vans.  It will test these for their suitability for engineers’ work patterns, battery life and energy use.  Openreach looks after BT’s British communication network.

More from Mike Witts on +44 (0)2 073 565 369 or mike.witts@openreach.co.uk

Antwerp office for Suttons

Bulk liquid and chemical haulier Suttons has a new office in the Port of Antwerp with five new people to run it.  Led by Rob Van Dijk, general manager, the team aims to build the firm’s European short sea and international deep-sea shipments as well road haulage business.  “The international division is growing and this year has seen significant growth in some of our key markets,” said Andrew Palmer, group managing director for Suttons.  The UK based firm has offices in Essen, Houston, Kuantan, Le Havre, New Jersey, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.

More from Richard Clein on +44 (0)1 512 445 466 or rclein@bellpottingernorth.co.uk

Plan now for a tough future

Fleet managers must plan now for a tough 2011, warns The Fuelcard Company.  It says fuel price hikes have helped push inflation to 3.2%, from 3.1% in September.  With more increases in both fuel duty and VAT due on 1 January, “businesses must act now” to ensure survival, says the firm.  Fuel prices will “inflict more pain” in the short term.”  Jakes de Kock, marketing director, says the firms that survive “into next year” will be those that plan ahead and cut costs.  Vehicle use monitoring or economy driver training can be valuable in this context and the Fuelcard Company’s data can help operators monitor its effects.

More from Chloe Ingham on +44 (0)8 454 567 251 or chloei@acceleris-mc.com

SMMT webinar – priorities and issues for 2011

The SMMT’s final free webinar this year, on Wednesday 15 December from 10:30 to 11:30 will look at the priorities and issues for the motor industry in 2011.  Paul Everitt, SMMT boss will outline the Society’s strategy for the coming year..  This includes plans to strengthen the UK supply chain, support innovation and business growth, develop and lead major policy campaigns, encourage collaboration and partnership and improve the profile of the UK motor industry.  The presentation, including an economic outlook, will end with a Q&A session.  You’ll find the registration details on the SMMT website at www.smmt.co.uk

More from Robert Morbin on +44 (0)2 073 449 265 or rmorbin@smmt.co.uk

Chapter 8 Hi-Vis livery from Tevo

Modular van racking systems firm Tevo now offers high-visibility livery for vans working on highways, meeting the UK Department for Transport’s DfT Chapter 8 guidelines.  The firm says its liveries are guaranteed not to crack or lift and the company says they’re up to nine times more visible than conventional retro-reflective film.  Fleets and van owners can choose to have liveries fitted at Tevo’s workshops, fitted at their own premises by a mobile Tevo technician, or buy an easy self-apply pack and fit it themselves.

More from Dan Jenkins on +44 (0)7 536 092 682 or dan@brightsparkspr.com

Big fleet success for Safetytrim

Safetytrimworldwide says Lafarge, Sainsbury’s, Balfour Beatty and Volvo Trucks have all bought its wheel nut management systems recently, fitting these to vans, trucks and trailers.  The firm says it is the only system on the market that shows when a nut is loose and then holds it in place until it can be re-tightened.  There is one, tough and heat-resistant plastic unit per wheel, fitting tightly over all the nuts at once.  “It looks like a wheel trim but with an indicator to show if a nut has begun to loosen,” says the firm’s Philip Aerts.  Each unit can be easily removed and refitted in a workshop. “The system is unique in that it not only flags up a problem but also stops it from getting worse,” says Aerts.  It cuts wheel losses from vans, trucks, trailers and buses.

More from Philip Aerts on +44 02 088 478 638 or philipa@safetytrimworldwide.com

Gold for Tructyre

Winchester-based Tructyre Fleet Management Ltd just won a Gold Award from Bandvulc Tyre Contracts in its annual Service assessments for 2010.  The award recognised a range of service quality measures.  Tructyre Fleet Management is one of the south’s largest independent service firms, with some 50 service vehicles covering 7,800 sq miles from the Hampshire coast to Banbury.  Tructyre and Bandvulc have shared a working partnership for the past 12 years.  Bandvulc’s Tyre Support Unit works 24/7 managing tyre breakdowns or day to day service on customer vehicles and delivers an average breakdown response time of one hour.

More from Scott Matthews on +44 (0)1 962 855 733 or scott@tructyre.co.uk

EU website for energy efficient vehicles

The European Commission has launched a website to help public authorities and consumers choose the best available energy-efficient vehicle.  The Clean Vehicle Portal at www.cleanvehicle.eu aims to support a new directive promoting clean and energy efficient vehicles.  This means all public transport services must now take into account energy use, CO2 and pollutant emissions when buying new vehicles.  The site says it gives information on legislation and technical data in the largest vehicle database in Europe.  So far its advice seems confined to some cars and vans, minibuses and buses.  The Clean Vehicle Portal was developed and managed by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation.  Clearly its operators have some work still to do.

More from www.cleanvehicle.eu

And finally

New Scientist’s Feedback page says that a friend, Ralph Clague, was waiting for a delayed train to London somewhere in deepest south Bedfordshire when he noted the arrival on platform one of a paradox.  The delay gave him plenty of time to ponder whether 2,500 years of philosophy had equipped us to ascertain whether the message presented to him was true or false: an information screen was informing him that “The information screens may be showing wrong information at present.”  Ralph’s train was not late enough for him to arrive at a definitive answer.

More from www.newscientist.com

M+S tyres compulsory for Germany

No, this isn’t Marks & Spencer moving into the tyre business.  It is a change to German traffic regulations meaning that all from Saturday 4 December, all trucks over 3.5 tonnes and buses with more than eight seats must use Mud and Snow (M+S) drive axle tyres on roads covered with ice, hard-packed snow or slush.  This applies to domestic vehicles and foreigners visiting or crossing the country.  German tyre-maker Continental welcomes the move that says clarifies the law by defining which tyres are suitable for winter and when to use them.  The firm says all its drive axle tyres are M+S rated and marked.  It also says winter-marked tyres such as its Scandinavia range used on all axles will give even greater safety on winter roads.

More from Udo Brandes on +49 (0)511 938 2923 or udo.brandes@conti.de

Van and truck registrations rise

November van and truck registration data from the SMMT show best rise of the year, at 22,834 and 32.5% up, to 253,244 for the rolling year.  Vans were up 26.1% to 19,128 in November and up 16.5% to 219,866 for the rolling year.  Trucks rose nearly 80% to 3,706 in November, though the rolling year total is still down 8.8% at 33,378.  That big rise versus last year follows the market distortion caused by people buying new trucks ahead of the move to Euro 5 in October 2009.  “Van registrations have grown since February, whilst trucks surged recently, led by three-axle tractor demand, typically for rental and contract hire work,” said SMMT boss, Paul Everitt.  Next year will be “challenging” with some growth but with numbers “well down” on pre-recession levels.

More from Robin Dickeson on +44 (0)2 173 449 222 or rdickeson@smmt.co.uk

Mixed news for buses, coaches, mini and midi-buses

Overall UK bus and coach numbers fell 16.1% in November and 13.2% in the year to date, says the SMMT.  Midi-bus registrations rose by 10.9% in November while coaches rose 7.4% in November and 20.7% over the year to date.  “Bus and coach registrations collectively fell in all but one month this year.  November’s drop was in line with the year-to-date picture and we expect full year volumes below 7,000 units,” said Everitt.  Coach numbers, up more than 20% over the year to date, November mini-bus numbers up 24.3%, midi-buses up 10.9% and strong growth for hybrids gave a welcome contrast.

More from Robin Dickeson on +44 (0)2 173 449 222 or rdickeson@smmt.co.uk

Avia committed to the UK market

Avia Ashok Leyland says its recent decision to close Avia Trucks UK Ltd from the end of November 2010 does not mean the Ashok Leyland and ultimately Hinduja-owned firm is pulling out.  “The UK remains one of the largest truck markets in Europe, and that makes it important to the longer term success of our brand,” says Marcus Pauels, boss of Avia Ashok Leyland.  “With that in mind, we are re-evaluating our commercial approach, so we can be well-placed to take advantage of an upswing in the market.”  He says the review is due “early 2011″ and will lead to a “clearer approach” as the UK truck market returns to health.

More from Michal Backovsky on +420 (0)739 246 260 or michal.backovsky@aal.cz

More gritters for the M25

Highways contractor Connect Plus has put 27 new MAN gritter trucks to work on the M25, the UK’s busiest motorway.  The firm is a consortium comprising Balfour Beatty, Skanska, Atkins and Egis.  There are 12 three-axle and 15 four-axle rigids, all with MAN engines and TipMatic gearboxes and all supplied to MAN’s ex-factory gritter specification.  All have Aebi Schmid bodies with pre-wet and dry salt spreaders and gear.  The new trucks meet Balfour Beatty’s ‘Zero Harm’ safety policy and have systems to automate the main gritting processes.  This means drivers can concentrate on the road without having to worry about managing snow ploughing and gritting work.  Balfour Beatty Plant and Fleet Services supplied the new trucks.

More from Paul O’Malley on +44 (0)1 263 715 900 or paul@hallspr.com

Success for Zenloc

Zenloc says its “groundbreaking” Zenloc Portable Alarm is winning with owner-drivers and hauliers alike.  Launched earlier this year, it won an innovation award and is now successfully wining orders.  “Already we’ve supplied several blue-chip transport companies,” says the firm’s Steve Tickner.  “Now we’ve several far-reaching deals in the pipeline.”  The alarm is easily portable and can be quickly attached to a vehicle that needs protection.  Once attached, it is self-arming and if moved, will emit a 120DB tone and a strobe light and send a message to a small remote receiver kept by the driver.  A unique coded electronic key built into the receiver can deactivate the system.  “Zenloc can protect a driver and load for less than £3.50 a week,” says Tickner.

More from Barry Schofield on +44 (0)7 775 592 545 or barry@zenloc.com

SEV keeps Lex fleets moving

Lex Autolease is using mobile service specialist SEV Group Ltd to provide mobile service, maintenance and repair to fleets of light commercial vehicles.  SEV’s engineers are now supporting some of Lex Autolease’s corporate customers running fleets more than 500 strong.  These include construction contractors and equipment rental firms.  As part of the deal, SEV has an engineer in-house at the Lex Autolease Heathside Park office in Cheadle, Stockport.  SEV has seven UK service centres, runs integrated workshops on customers’ premises and a comprehensive roadside breakdown and recovery service, with over 120 mobile engineers.

More from Dan Jenkins on +44 (0)7 536 092 682 or dan@brightsparkspr.com

Global CV market in 2011 – webinar.

AutomotiveWorld.com will run its next webinar, on the key issues and trends for the global commercial vehicle market, on Thursday 9 December at 10:00 Detroit, 15:00 London, 16:00 Stuttgart and 20.30 Delhi time.  Oliver Dixon, of  World Truck Analysis and a senior figure from Frost & Sullivan’s North American office will discuss the market, its growing optimism and the degree to which applies around the world.  Their 15 minute presentations will precede 30 minute Q&A session, led by Dr Peter Wells, of the Centre for Automotive Industry Research, Cardiff Business School.  You can register via the website www.automotiveworld.com.

More from Michael Franklin on +44 (0)2 078 781 037 or michael.franklin@automotiveworld..com

SMMT economic update

The SMMT’s latest economic update says HM Treasury’s latest independent forecast expects the UK economy will grow 1.7% this year, up from the 1.6% forecast in October and 1.3% in July.  Conversely, its prediction for 2012 is down to 1.8%, from the 2% growth it forecast earlier this year.  GDP growth should grow in 2012, up 2.1% and rising to 2.5% by 2014.  Inflation is still higher than wage growth.  Retail sales are holding and unemployment is falling.  But there are worries that it will rise as public sector job losses, tax rises and a stalling housing market cause a slowdown in consumer spending.  The SMMT’s full economic update is on it website, www.smmt.co.uk.

More from Matthew Croucher on 44 (0)2 073 441 640 or mcroucher@smmt.co.uk

Citysprint helps Crisis at Christmas

UK distribution firm CitySprint will give two vans to Crisis at Christmas to support the charity in its work to help the homeless.  The vans will collect and deliver donated goods around central London.  They will also take household goods and furniture to former homeless people who have moved into permanent accommodation and help with Crisis at Christmas work.  “We’re delighted to be able to support Crisis at Christmas,” said Patrick Gallagher, boss of CitySprint.  “Whilst homelessness is an ongoing issue it is certainly something which becomes more poignant at Christmas.

More from Sarah Roberts on +44 (0)1 737 821 892 or sarah@vanepercy.com

Bowen is the new boss at BT Fleet

Dave Bowen is the new MD of BT Fleet, replacing Janet Entwistle who announced her departure at the end of September.  Bowen joined the firm in December 2009 as finance director.  Andrew Edginton replaces Bowen as finance director, joining from nPower where he was head of financial control and planning.

More from Mina Rupa on +44 (0)1 213 326 472 or mina.rupa@bt.com

More Volvos for Basingstoke

Basingstoke Skip Hire and Southern Waste Management has put two more Volvos to work in its 36-strong specialised waste management and recycling fleet.  The new, three-axle trucks have steering and lifting rear axles to give better manoeuvrability.  Each has Geesink Norba rear-end loading bodywork.  The family-run fleet now has 22 Volvos from 4×2 skip loaders up to a 6×4 Volvo FH artic.  “When it comes to fleet replacement, we tend to look at Volvos first these days, says Henry Dent, general manager.

More from Nigel Hanwell on +44 (0)1 926 414 210 or nigel.hanwell@volvo.com

Fleet conversion centre from Tevo

Modular van racking systems firm Tevo Limited has opened a new dedicated fleet conversion centre.  Designed for fleets of 100 or more vans, the 45,000sq ft Buckinghamshire centre allows Tevo to cut build-time but not quality.  Tevo can also fit heating, lighting, safety steps and towing kit.  Its online build management system means that fleet managers can track each vehicle’s progress through the conversion process with the click of a mouse.

More from Dan Jenkins on +44 (0)7 536 092 682 or dan@brightsparkspr.com

Euromotive a year ahead

Minibus maker Euromotive has recently converted three extra long Mercedes Sprinter vans to work as 15 seat Approved accessible minibuses.  The customer chose to have the its vehicles built to the highest available compliance standards, so Euromotive managed the project to ensure that its suppliers met Individual Vehicle Approval standards a year ahead of the deadline for vehicles of this class.  The new minibuses can carry 15 conventionally seated passengers or five in wheelchairs and one in a standard seat.  Each vehicle has an Eberspacher climate control system, an AMF inboard tail-lift and AVS step as well as a fully-compliant flat floor Embus system and Rescroft Defender 3 seats.  Supplied by Sparshatts of Kent, the new vehicles are going to work for a south London authority that apparently prefers anonymity to praise.

More from Mike Jones on +44 (0)1 303 267 900 or sales@euromotive.co.uk

SMMT training scheme for ambulance service

The SMMT recently met the UK National Ambulance Service to discuss the industry-wide launch of an electric vehicle safety training programme.  The aim is to ensure consistent electric vehicle safety standards and expertise across the automotive, breakdown and recovery sectors and emergency services.  Launched in May 2010 and developed with the Institute of the Motor Industry and Semta (the sector skills council for the automotive retail and manufacturing industries), the training covers maintenance, repair and hazard management for electric vehicles and related hybrids.

More from Catherine Hutt on +44 (0)2 073 441 625 or chutt@smmt.co.uk

Motor industry going digital, bit by bit

The UK motor industry has published a draft minimum standard for in-vehicle digital radios.  This is its first co-operative step towards the digital radio switchover.  The draft lists functions that an automotive digital radio should include if it is to offer listeners the same features as an analogue radio.  It also includes one or two new functions to show the benefits of digital radio.  The SMMT has circulated the draft to its members and a wide range of other interested people and organisations and needs comments by 17 December.

More from Bob Davis on +44 (0)2 073 449 235 or bdavis@smmt.co.uk

Aftermarket exhibition opportunities at Autopromotec

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders is working with the UK Government’s Trade and Investment branch to help firms exhibit at Autopromotec in Bologna, Italy from 25 to 29 May.  “This is a leading global automotive aftermarket event,” says Ruta Aisthorpe, speaking for the Society.  “The show attracts over 100,000 visitors from 47 countries.”  The SMMT deal also includes a tour of the Ferrari, Lamborghini and Pagani plants.  There are a number of grants of up to £1,000 available to help with exhibition costs for firms that register early for this event.

More from Ruta Aisthorpe on +44 (0)2 073 449 231 or raisthorpe@smmt.co.uk

UK commercial vehicle production up

New data from the SMMT show UK commercial vehicle production up 47.1% in October and 39.0% up for the year to date.  Car production rose 6.0% in the month.  “UK vehicle production rose 8.8% in October and signals steady improvement in global vehicle markets and the strength of the UK product line-up,” said SMMT boss, Paul Everitt.  It is “extremely important” that the government continues to champion the auto industry and helps it attract more cash for R&D, skills and equipment as part of its work to restore the UK economy.  “The industry’s focus on low carbon technology can help the private sector growth the country needs.”

More from Jon Visscher on +44 (0)2 073 449 263 or jvisscher@smmt.co.uk

BT starts electric van trial

BT says its Openreach business has started tests with four electric vans, two in Milton Keynes and two in East London.  The aim is to see if such vehicles could help in the firm’s plans to cut its carbon output by 80% by 2020.  If the trial succeeds, Openreach aims to use them more widely in its 23,400 strong fleet.  BT’s fleet management division worked with Allied Electric and Smith Electric Vehicles to convert two Peugeot and two Ford zero emission vans.  It will test these for their suitability for engineers’ work patterns, battery life and energy use.  Openreach looks after BT’s British communication network.

More from Mike Witts on +44 (0)2 073 565 369 or mike.witts@openreach.co.uk

Antwerp office for Suttons

Bulk liquid and chemical haulier Suttons has a new office in the Port of Antwerp with five new people to run it.  Led by Rob Van Dijk, general manager, the team aims to build the firm’s European short sea and international deep-sea shipments as well road haulage business.  “The international division is growing and this year has seen significant growth in some of our key markets,” said Andrew Palmer, group managing director for Suttons.  The UK based firm has offices in Essen, Houston, Kuantan, Le Havre, New Jersey, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.

More from Richard Clein on +44 (0)1 512 445 466 or rclein@bellpottingernorth.co.uk

Plan now for a tough future

Fleet managers must plan now for a tough 2011, warns The Fuelcard Company.  It says fuel price hikes have helped push inflation to 3.2%, from 3.1% in September.  With more increases in both fuel duty and VAT due on 1 January, “businesses must act now” to ensure survival, says the firm.  Fuel prices will “inflict more pain” in the short term.”  Jakes de Kock, marketing director, says the firms that survive “into next year” will be those that plan ahead and cut costs.  Vehicle use monitoring or economy driver training can be valuable in this context and the Fuelcard Company’s data can help operators monitor its effects.

More from Chloe Ingham on +44 (0)8 454 567 251 or chloei@acceleris-mc.com

SMMT webinar – priorities and issues for 2011

The SMMT’s final free webinar this year, on Wednesday 15 December from 10:30 to 11:30 will look at the priorities and issues for the motor industry in 2011.  Paul Everitt, SMMT boss will outline the Society’s strategy for the coming year..  This includes plans to strengthen the UK supply chain, support innovation and business growth, develop and lead major policy campaigns, encourage collaboration and partnership and improve the profile of the UK motor industry.  The presentation, including an economic outlook, will end with a Q&A session.  You’ll find the registration details on the SMMT website at www.smmt.co.uk

More from Robert Morbin on +44 (0)2 073 449 265 or rmorbin@smmt.co.uk

Chapter 8 Hi-Vis livery from Tevo

Modular van racking systems firm Tevo now offers high-visibility livery for vans working on highways, meeting the UK Department for Transport’s DfT Chapter 8 guidelines.  The firm says its liveries are guaranteed not to crack or lift and the company says they’re up to nine times more visible than conventional retro-reflective film.  Fleets and van owners can choose to have liveries fitted at Tevo’s workshops, fitted at their own premises by a mobile Tevo technician, or buy an easy self-apply pack and fit it themselves.

More from Dan Jenkins on +44 (0)7 536 092 682 or dan@brightsparkspr.com

Big fleet success for Safetytrim

Safetytrimworldwide says Lafarge, Sainsbury’s, Balfour Beatty and Volvo Trucks have all bought its wheel nut management systems recently, fitting these to vans, trucks and trailers.  The firm says it is the only system on the market that shows when a nut is loose and then holds it in place until it can be re-tightened.  There is one, tough and heat-resistant plastic unit per wheel, fitting tightly over all the nuts at once.  “It looks like a wheel trim but with an indicator to show if a nut has begun to loosen,” says the firm’s Philip Aerts.  Each unit can be easily removed and refitted in a workshop. “The system is unique in that it not only flags up a problem but also stops it from getting worse,” says Aerts.  It cuts wheel losses from vans, trucks, trailers and buses.

More from Philip Aerts on +44 02 088 478 638 or philipa@safetytrimworldwide.com

Gold for Tructyre

Winchester-based Tructyre Fleet Management Ltd just won a Gold Award from Bandvulc Tyre Contracts in its annual Service assessments for 2010.  The award recognised a range of service quality measures.  Tructyre Fleet Management is one of the south’s largest independent service firms, with some 50 service vehicles covering 7,800 sq miles from the Hampshire coast to Banbury.  Tructyre and Bandvulc have shared a working partnership for the past 12 years.  Bandvulc’s Tyre Support Unit works 24/7 managing tyre breakdowns or day to day service on customer vehicles and delivers an average breakdown response time of one hour.

More from Scott Matthews on +44 (0)1 962 855 733 or scott@tructyre.co.uk

EU website for energy efficient vehicles

The European Commission has launched a website to help public authorities and consumers choose the best available energy-efficient vehicle.  The Clean Vehicle Portal at www.cleanvehicle.eu aims to support a new directive promoting clean and energy efficient vehicles.  This means all public transport services must now take into account energy use, CO2 and pollutant emissions when buying new vehicles.  The site says it gives information on legislation and technical data in the largest vehicle database in Europe.  So far its advice seems confined to some cars and vans, minibuses and buses.  The Clean Vehicle Portal was developed and managed by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation.  Clearly its operators have some work still to do.

More from www.cleanvehicle.eu

And finally

New Scientist’s Feedback page says that a friend, Ralph Clague, was waiting for a delayed train to London somewhere in deepest south Bedfordshire when he noted the arrival on platform one of a paradox.  The delay gave him plenty of time to ponder whether 2,500 years of philosophy had equipped us to ascertain whether the message presented to him was true or false: an information screen was informing him that “The information screens may be showing wrong information at present.”  Ralph’s train was not late enough for him to arrive at a definitive answer.

More from www.newscientist.com


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