Monday 23 April 2012

Commercial Vehicle Show at NEC, Birmingham. CV Show - PART 2

2011 was also a busy year for the Volkswagen Commercials stand at the Commercial Vehicle Show, as they unveiled their long-awaited new 4x4 Utility Pick-Up, the Amarok.  They also displayed the updated Euro 5 version of the VW Transporter T5, alongside an original split-screen Transporter van from the sixties:

A rare sight of the never-officially-released Ford Transit Super Sport Van SSV, which was a sight to behold with its 3.2 litre, 200bhp TDCi engine, custom chrome & white 19-inch Alloys, pearlescent white paint and one-off styling.  Here's a few shots from the VANorak's private collection (oh yes, you know he loves vans that much, especially when they look this good!):

Here are a few other photos from around the NEC at the CV Show 2011, including an Aston Villa liveried Fiat Punto Van, some classic AA heritage commercial vehicles, New Ford Ranger pickup and a Sprinter fitted with an Alloy Bodies of Manchester Luton body with a curved roof "Considerably Greener than Yow!":

The VANorak will of courser be at this years CV Show tomorrow and Wednesday, tagging along with a small contingent of staff from Maun Motors (Commercial Vehicle hire & sales company), so if you're there, keep an eye out for a bit of an anorak with more than a healthy penchant for vans...

Commercial Vehicle Show at NEC, Birmingham. CV Show

With this years Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC happening this week, the VANorak takes a quick look back at the 2011 event.  The CV Show 2012 takes place between Tuesday 24th & Thursday 26th April at Birmingham National Exhibition Centre.  It's a trade-only show which is free to enter.  If you wish to go and still haven't booked your tickets, you can register for free tickets here:

New commercial vehicle models which should be previewed at the 2012 CV Show may include the Mercedes-Benz Citan:

...and the new Ford Transit & Tourneo Custom Concept:

At the CV Show 2011, it was definitely the year of the Electric Van!  Several new electric models and concepts were launched & previewed at the show, including the fully-electric small van from Renault, the Kangoo ZE:

...Also the Ford Transit Connect Electric van:

...and the Mercedes-Benz Vito E-Cell Electric van:

Tuesday 20 December 2011

London LEZ 2012 Rule Change 3rd January Euro 3 & 4 - Don't Get Caught Out!

London 2012 - Are You Ready?

If you run a business or are responsible for a vehicle fleet which operates within the M25, inside London's Low Emission Zone (LEZ), then you're hopefully already aware of the new regulations which come into force on 3 Janaury 2012.  But are you prepared and are all of your vehicles compliant?  If not, click here to read on from a few of paragraphs down.  If you don't yet know about the LEZ changes for 2012, then here's a brief VANorak guide to what's changing.  However, I would strongly suggest you visit the Transport For London website at, to fully familiarise yourself with the new rules, or risk a Penalty Charge of UP TO £1,000 PER DAY for entering the LEZ zone with a non-compliant vehicle!!!

If you own or drive a "normal" sized van, with a gross vehicle weight of 3500 Kg/3.5 tonnes or less (all Transit models except 430 & 460, all '2 series' & '3 series' Sprinter vans such as 211 CDi & 313 CDi, all Vivaro, Trafic, Partner, Berlingo, Scudo, Expert, Dispatch, VW Transporter, etc.) then you will not be able to enter the Low Emission Zone without charge if your vehicle is not up to at least Euro 3 emissions class.  Generally Euro 3 was adopted by van manufacturers between 2000 and 2002, so if your vehicle is aged within this range or earlier, you should check your vehicle is compliant.  If your van is newer than 2002, you should be fine.

If your vehicle has a GVW in excess of 3500 Kg (Sprinter '5 Series', Iveco Daily 65C, all HGV trucks) then it must comply with the stricter Euro 4 emissions regulations, which became the minimum EU requirements for new registrations in October 2006.  If your truck or heavy van is older than October 2006, you must check your vehicle is compliant and if it is not, then you have three options:  1, do not allow your vehicle to be driven inside the LEZ; 2, have your vehicle converted to Euro 4-equivalent exhaust emissions by having an approved DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) fitted within its exhaust system; 3, sell your vehicle and hire or buy a new one!

For Minibuses, Buses & Coaches, the rules are also changing.  For Minibuses with a GVW of less than 5,000 Kg/5 tonnes (most minibuses up to 17 seat capacity), this type of vehicle will need to meet or exceed Euro III emission regulations.  For Buses & Coaches with a GVW in excess of 5 tonnes (regardless of number of seats), they  must meet or exceed the Euro IV emission regulations.

A full list of which vehicles are affected can be found here and if you know the registrations of your vehicles and would like to check if they comply, TFL have an online compliance checker, which is accessible here:

Throughout 2011, Maun Motors have invested heavily in upgrading their heavy commercial vehicle hire fleet and as a result, they now have hundres of Euro 4 & Euro 5 rated lorries & trucks available for self-drive hire; from daily rental to long-term hire. These include a huge fleet of crane lorries including hooks, brick-grabs (for builders' merchants, brick & block, etc.), "muckaway" applications (tipper-grab, grab lorry), flatbeds and heavy-lift cranes.

They also have the largest fleet of Moffett truck-mounted fork-lifts available to hire in the UK today!  Couple these with a Euro IV or V LEZ-compliant curtain-side truck and you have the ultimate self-contained delivery tool for 2012!

To ensure you don't miss out on availability of your Euro 4 & Euro 5 HGVs, call now to book on 01773 810007.

Maun Motors also has a used Van Sales department, where you can purchase LEZ-compliant Euro III, Euro IV and Euro V vans, light trucks and minibuses.  View their stock on the following links:
Maun Motors Showroom on
Maun Motors eBay Showroom
Maun Motors AutoTrader Stock List

Wednesday 9 March 2011

Fuel Efficient Vans - Ford Transit ECOnetic

So, you've read my introduction into "eco-vans"; now it's time to get a model-by-model low down on what they're all about.  The first van model we'll take a look at is a variant of Britain's best-selling van for 45 years, the Ford Transit "ECOnetic".

First, the hard facts.  Ford boasts a hefty combined (average of urban & extra urban driving) 39.2 mpg (compared to 35.8 mpg stated for 2009, 115ps Tourneo) and average CO2 emissions of just 139 g/km (compared to the 208 g/km stated for a 2009, 115ps Tourneo).  Euro V emissions is not yet standard on the ECOnetic Transit (though I don't know why!) but it is available as an extra.  As Euro V is not yet a legal requirement for new vans, so buying a Euro V van registered between 01-01-09 and 31-12-10 should gain you the extra benefit of reduced road tax via the "Euro V Light Goods Vehicle" tax band incentive.  There's a handy little feature on Ford's ETIS website which lets you check any UK Ford vehicle's full specifications, including the Euro Emissions Stage, just by entering the registration or VIN number on the "Vehicle Lookup" page.

Here's the VANorak's quick reference to work out the potential fuel cost savings, based on diesel costing £1.35 per litre, which is about the average at time of writing.  If fuel prices go up (which let's face it they probably will!), so will your savings:

    • 5,000 miles per annum = £76 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic
    • 12,000 miles per annum = £182 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic
    • 15,000 miles per annum = £228 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic
    • 20,000 miles per annum = £304 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic
    • 50,000 miles per annum = £760 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic
    • 100,000 miles per annum = £1520 per year fuel saving with ECOnetic

Okay, back to task.  How does Ford accomplish these figures?  Well, it's done by a combination of things, some so minor that on their own they would make very little difference to fuel economy, but when done in conjunction with the other tweaks, they all add up to a healthy fuel saving package:

  1. Engine mapping optimised for fuel efficiency.  The Power Control Module, or PCM is programmed specifically to operate the common rail injectors in the most fuel-efficient way.
  2. Longer gearing - By fitting the larger 16" wheels to the ECOnetic, rather than the 15" one usually fitted to the FWD Transit, Ford have managed to fit a more efficient 4.36:1 final drive ratio which couples with the next point...
  3. 6-Speed Gearbox - Now standard on all FWD Transits with 115ps or 140ps engines, this gearbox gives you an extra "economy gear" or "cruising gear", which is designed to offer optimum fuel economy once you reach cruising speeds.
  4. Speed Limiter set at 70 mph.  Whether you're a serial speeder or have the occasional lapse of concentration and stray over the 70 mark on motorways (the only places vans such as the Transit are legally allowed to drive at 70 mph anyway).  This feature won't be to everyone's taste, but the fact is that you will use a lot more fuel thrashing your van at 80 or 90 than you will cruising at 70, so it's a wise option financially besides legally!
  5. Full wheel covers - anyone can buy a set of these and stick them on their Transit, but they are more aerodynamic than alloys or the other styles of Transit wheeltrims, so they create less drag and thus give you better fuel economy.  Not the most revolutionary idea, but a worthy one nonetheless.
  6. Shift indicator light - again, this is standard on the current crop of Transits, but on the ECOnetic it's configured to illuminate at less revs, encouraging you to change up a gear earlier than you might otherwise do.
  7. Optional cDPF/Euro V Emissions Compliance - For an extra £750.00 you can specify that your Transit ECOnetic is Euro 5 emissions standards compliant by the addition of a "Coated Diesel Particulate Filter".  The cDPF is - as its name might suggest - a filter which is located in a diesel engine exhaust.  It removes particulates from the exhaust gasses, thus resulting in cleaner exhaust emissions reaching the atmosphere.  Many vehicles are fitted with these just to attain Euro IV status, so expect to see them on almost every diesel vehicle in the future.  One drawback to cDPFs is that  they do need replacing every 100,000 miles or so and if the engine is left ticking-over for an extended period of time, the filter does not get warm enough to work to its optimum, leading it to clog and thus cause various errors in the engine management system.  Vehicles fitted with cDPFs do need to be driven motorway speeds quite regularly or you will have problems with this.  Consider yourselves warned by the VANorak!
So, now you've seen how the figures stack up and you've seen exactly how Ford have accomplished the improved emissions and fuel consumption figures, you can make an informed decision when sourcing your next new or used Transit van.

For further information & advice take a look at the new Business Link
Van Best Practice Website, which has numerous guides for van owners & drivers, covering matters such as fuel efficient driving, safe loading and how to choose the correct specification van for your business.

The VANorak.

A new website has been launched where anyone can check the fuel economy & emissions data for all current & recent models of vans!  It's run by the DfT (Department for Transport) and you can find it here:

If you're looking for some used Transit ECOnetic vans, take a look here

All photos used by kind permission of Maun Motors Van Sales
.  You can find stock of Ford ECOnetic vans at this link and here

Thursday 3 March 2011

ECO Vans - The Environmentally-Friendly LCV Option for 2011

This is the first in a series of posts about the features & benefits of the new generation of fuel efficient LCVs (vans).  With fuel prices continuing to soar and some parts of the UK now paying over £1.50 per litre of diesel, with the UK average in February rising to £1.34, van fuel economy is now more important to businesses and van owners than ever.

Eco Van picture courtesy of 

A few years ago, LPG vans were the way to go if you wanted good fuel economy from an environmentally-friendly LCV.  Though LPGs were not particularly fuel efficient - being based on large petrol engines - due to the low cost of LPG (at the start of the millenium, prices were around 30p per litre, though nowadays LPG costs around 50% of petrol per litre) compared to Petrol and Diesel, this meant they were extremely economical to operate.  Other benefits of LPG included lower emissions and therefore exemption from paying to enter the London Congestion Charging Zone.  However, since 2006 Commercial Vehicle manufacturers have been withdrawing LPG dual-fuel options from their vehicle ranges and from January 2011, Transport for London altered their congestion charging exemption criteria to only cover Euro V emissions-rated vehicles and those which emit less than 100 g/Km CO2; this rules out any petrol or LPG engined van that I'm aware of. 

So, we have moved on to a new era of economical commercial vehicles, with much emphasis being put on attainable MPGs and also low emissions, to meet the strict Euro IV & Euro V regulations and satisfy environmentally-minded businesses.  Many CV brands now boast a flagship "Eco Van" amongst their ranges and I'll be attempting to guide you through these in the near future, describing the features and functionality of each model, along with their inherent benefits and pitfalls.

Whether or not this current crop of eco vans takes the market by storm remains to be seen.  After all, viable electric or Hydrogen fuel cell LCVs can't be too many years away, but with a still-recovering economy, job cuts still looming and fuel prices, taxes and operating costs continuing to rise; vans with lower power outputs, speed-limiters, lower emissions and lower fuel consumption must be an appealing replacement - to savvy van buyers and fleet managers - for the power and speed-centric models which have been taking more and more market share over the past decade.

The first model in my sights will inevitably be the Ford Transit ECOnetic.  It would be absurd to start any analysis of UK van models with any model but the country's long-held favourite.  So, check back soon to see what the Transit ECOnetic has to offer 21st Century owner-drivers and fleet buyers...

The VANorak.

A new website has been launched where anyone can check the fuel economy & emissions data for all current & recent models of vans!  It's run by the DfT (Department for Transport) and you can find it here:

Wednesday 2 March 2011

Commercial Vehicle Show NEC Birmingham April 12-14 2011

The VANorak will, of course, be attending this year's Commercial Vehicle Show at Birmingham NEC, to check out all of the industry's important new releases and developments.  I'll be reporting back with a few photos, scoops and opinions from my time at the show.  If you're hoping to bump into the VANorak and uncover my identity I'm afraid this won't be possible.  Using a combination of stealth tactics and disguises, I'll be there alright, but you won't know I'm there!

Anyway, as any CV anorak would surely agree, it's great to see this event back on the calendar, after it was cancelled in 2009 and - as far as I know - never even considered in 2010.  Nowhere else in the UK do so many of the movers & shakers of the industry, along with major manufacturers and distributors all convene in the same place at the same time.  It gives everyone a chance to catch up and do some all-important networking, besides getting excited by the new product launches. 

For more information, visit the Commercial Vehicle Show 2011 Website

At previous Commercial Vehicle Shows attended by the VANorak, major launches have included the Mk 7 Transit, the 200 PS 3.2 litre Transit, The New Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Volkswagen Crafter, LDV Maxus (okay, so not such a major launch!), among many others; so who knows what major new models will be unveiled at the 2011 show.  Check back here in mid-April to find out.

The VANorak