VanUser December/January 2021/2

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vanuser DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

THE MAGAZINE FOR LCV FLEET OPERATORS

TOUGH TRUCK

News Drivers caught in IR35 ruling

Interview Vauxhall: holding on to pole position

Fleet management The importance of drivers

Road to zero Toyota strengthens electric line-up


Distributed by Nemesis Ltd


DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

Contents 32

A year of challenges

W

ell, what a year that was! Few companies can have been untouched by more than 18 months of pandemic upheaval and, unfortunately, the end still seems to be some way off. It has been a rather unusual year for the van market too, with strong demand frustrated Dan Gilkes, by a range of manufacturing issues, editor including plant closures, component supply problems, global transport and shipping delays. Indeed, many manufacturers are now quoting lead times well into the summer and autumn of 2022, while some truck builders have virtually closed their order books for next year already. Pity the commercial vehicle salesperson who survives on commission, as there won’t be much of that over the coming months. This in turn has pushed used van prices ever higher, with auction companies reporting record selling values, particularly for relatively new Euro 6 models that can be used within clean air zones without incurring further costs. There’s another change that happened this year, with the expansion of the London ULEZ and the launch of CAZ operating areas in Bath, Birmingham and Portsmouth. Expect these to be joined by Bradford, Greater Manchester and other cities in 2022. It’s been a big year for driveline change as well, as the LCV market finally starts to make a concerted move towards an electric future. This has been prompted by an increase in the number of e-LCVs on offer, but also by a rise in demand from a wide range of fleets, not just in lastmile delivery. Reflecting this, we ran our first long-term electric van in 2021 and, while mileages were reduced due to Covid restrictions at times, range anxiety soon became a thing of the past. As we look ahead to 2022, there are still plenty of new vans on the horizon. We’ll have a first drive of Ford’s E-Transit and the next generation Ranger, along with a new Volkswagen Amarok that will owe much to the big Ford. More exciting for VW buyers will be the final unveiling of the electric ID. Buzz mid-weight van. We’ll see the UK arrival of Renault’s new Kangoo and the Mercedes-Benz Citan too, while Toyota will go its own way with the Corolla Commercial Hybrid. Van User will of course be there throughout the year, to bring you the latest news from launches, exhibitions and conferences across the UK and, as the industry continues to open up, from further afield. Can we therefore wish all of our readers and advertisers the very best wishes for a peaceful and healthy Christmas and a return to a prosperous New Year in 2022.

CONTACTS Editor Dan Gilkes 07802 751473 dangilkes1@mac.com

Design and production Mark Shreeve 01502 725839 mark.shreeve@micropress.co.uk

Editorial assistant Jade Soanes 01502 725840 jade.soanes@micropress.co.uk

Sales Manager Laura Munnings 01502 725866 laura.munnings@micropress.co.uk

Published by Countrywide Publications, Fountain Way, Reydon, Suffolk IP18 6DH 01502 725800 www.vanuser.co.uk Printed by Micropress Printers Ltd

NEWS 4 Drivers caught in IR35 ruling

IVOTY win for Citroen and Mercedes

Plug & Go eases move to EV

6 Yomper offers low-cost 4x4

Nissan pricing for revised vans

10 Hotbox Dailys for Dawsongroup

21 FLEET MANAGEMENT

8

21 The importance of drivers 24 Campaign calls for better driver management

LAUNCH

27 Safety & Security

8 Voltia goes with Stellantis mid-weight for high-roof

ROAD TO ZERO

10 Ford shows next-gen Ranger

30 Toyota stenthens electric line-up with Proace City Electric

INTERVIEW

32 Autonomous last-mile concept launched

13 Holding on to pole position: we meet Vauxhall LCV product manager Brad Miller

Master gets battery boost

Islington opts for E-Ducato

ROAD TEST

LONG TERM TEST

17 Citroen's E-Berlingo makes electric easy, says Dan Gilkes

34 Practically speaking

17

30 DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2 • VANUSER 3


News Drivers caught in IR35 ruling As delivery companies look to take on additional staff for the seasonal rush, outsourced payroll specialist to the transport industry, HIVE360, says that many drivers working in the sector are being caught by reform to the IR35 payroll rules. Since April, truck or van drivers, along with the businesses hiring them, have had to determine their employment status. “We’ve been working closely with a number of haulage and logistics businesses confused by the off-payroll IR35 working rules that changed in April to include private sector organisations and how some individuals pay tax,” says the company’s CEO David McCormack. “The evidence is clear, many classifications of drivers are most certainly caught ‘inside of IR35’ and will therefore have to pay

PAYE. HMRC made the changes to employment status around the time of the Budget, and some employers may have simply missed this important move.

Status “These changes make it clear that HMRC’s opinion on the status of drivers applies to all transport providers and commercial vehicles, not just hauliers and lorries, as well as drivers of commercial vehicles that carry goods, passengers, or livestock and who only provide their labour and drive vehicles owned, maintained, and insured by contractors, who are likely to be classified as an employee and therefore definitely fall inside of the IR35 rules. “This means PAYE is due on their earn-

ings and must be deducted before any payment is made by the contractor to the driver.” McCormack continued: “It is different for individuals classified by HMRC as an ‘owner-driver’ and includes those that own or lease the vehicle they supply. HMRC guidance explains these drivers are more likely to be classified as self-employed for tax purposes, and therefore outside of the IR35 off payroll working rules. “Drivers who provide the vehicle are likely to be self-employed even if they work mainly for one business. This contradicts the examples provided for the SDC rules, so businesses should be careful if they have self-employed drivers who don't provide their own vehicle as HMRC may well challenge their employment status position.”

IVOTY win for Citroen and Mercedes The latest Renault Kangoo and Mercedes-Benz Citan (below) have been jointly awarded the 2022 International Van of the Year trophy, while Toyota has grabbed the International Pick-up Award. Both Kangoo and Citan will arrive in the UK next year. The Renault will be offered with petrol and diesel engines, as well as a full EV driveline, while Mercedes will offer the latest Citan in both petrol and electric models. The latest Hilux is already on sale in the UK, following the launch of a higher-powered 2.8-litre diesel engine earlier in the year.

Plug & Go eases move to EV Vauxhall is hoping to make the transition to electric vehicles easier for buyers with a Plug & Go package. This includes a free home charging unit, eight years’ roadside assistance and battery warranty, a free six-month BP Pulse subscription and three years’ free servicing. Customers can select the home wallbox from a choice of PodPoint Solo 3 and Hive EV Charging units. “Vauxhall is helping to move Britain into the electric era with our Plug & Go offer that aims to remove the barriers to making the switch to 4 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

electric and simplify the EV ownership experience,” said Paul Willcox, managing director, Vauxhall Motors. “Switching to electric is now an even better choice for Vauxhall customers with an easy, allin-one package covering home and public charging, warranty, roadside assistance and servicing. Vauxhall is committed to making electric or plugin hybrid vehicle ownership as simple as possible, as we continue to progress towards becoming a 100% electric brand by 2028.”



NEWS

Yomper offers low-cost 4x4 Yorkshire firm Samson Engineering has launched a compact all-wheel drive utility vehicle based on the Suzuki Jimny. The Yomper 4x4 is available as a Bergan dropside or a regular Commercial pick-up, with a choice of the standard 225cm wheelbase or an extended 275cm wheelbase. The longer wheelbase model also comes with an additional 200mm of chassis behind the rear axle, for a longer bed. The trucks are powered by the compact Suzuki’s regular 1.3-litre petrol engine and they ride 50mm higher than the standard 4x4. The conversions are designed to carry up to 500kg and they come with a 12-month warranty. “There are other companies who have done Jimny pickup conversions,” said Giles Walker, Yomper 4x4 CEO. “But none have gone as far as to create a bespoke body and chassis like that of the Yomper, which is essentially a ground-up vehicle that uses the Suzuki running gear and front bodywork more as components to create a full vehicle than as a basis for conversion. “The fact we can offer both body style variants shows the flexibility and bespoke nature of our design. The fact

all our vehicles attain IVA approval is proof that our design and manufacturing approach is the correct one to take.” The conversion cost depends on exact specification and the donor vehicle, but the company claims that is should be possible to have a Yomper on the road for less than £20,000.

Yomper is essentially a ground-up vehicle, says Giles Walker

Nissan pricing for revised vans

10 Hotbox Dailys for Dawsongroup Highway maintenance equipment rental specialist Dawsongroup Sweepers, has taken delivery of 10 Iveco 7.2-tonne Daily chassis cabs, for conversion to Hotbox road repair vehicles. Equipped with the 180hp version of Iveco’s 3.0-litre engine and driving through the eight-speed Hi-Matic automatic transmission, the trucks are finished in Business trim. The Dailys have a Thompsons Hotbox body, normally found on larger 7.518 tonne trucks. They will be used to transport and dispense fresh asphalt 6 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

for road repairs. “The Daily 7-tonne range presents a compelling package for our rental user’s needs. With chassis cabs at 7.2-tonnes GVW, licensing is relatively simple, and we benefit from an impressive payload with a comparatively small overall footprint,” said Glen Carruthers, managing director of Dawsongroup Sweepers. “The Daily’s high levels of specification and Hi-Matic gearbox provide us with a premium customer offering which is versatile, comfortable, and reliable.”

Nissan has announced pricing for its Interstar and Primastar vans. Primastar starts at £24,990, for Visia trim, which comes with DAB audio, Bluetooth integration, remote locking and alarm, cruise control with speed limiter and LED headlights. Acenta trim start at £26,390 with air conditioning, rear parking sensors, auto wipers and lights, passenger airbag and fog lights. Tekna models are from £27,490, with an 8” touchscreen with sat-nav, Android and Apple, 17” alloys, a rear-view mirror and front parking sensors. Tekna+, from £28,240, adds Lane Departure Warning, Traffic Sign Recognition, Blind Spot Detection, Intelligent Emergency Braking, auto high beam and keyless entry. For Interstar, prices start at £26,990 for a Visia van. This gets a multi-adjustable driver’s seat, full bulkhead and a DAB radio with Bluetooth. Acenta trim starts at £27,840 and includes rear parking sensors, cruise control, one-touch driver’s window, passenger airbag and 12V socket in the load bay. Tekna Interstar’s start at £29,040 with air-con, front fogs, auto wipers and lights, front parking sensors, rear-view camera, 7” touchscreen with nav and smartphone compatibility. Tekna+ vans start at £29,540 and come with LDW, TSR, BSD, auto high beam and keyless entry.


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LAUNCH | VOLTIA

S

lovakian high-roof manufacturer Voltia is launching an XL version of the mid-weight Stellantis electric van, designed primarily for last-mile urban delivery companies. The XL model will be offered across all of the Stellantis brands, including Vauxhall, Citroen, Peugeot and Fiat Professional. It is also expected to be available on Toyota’s Proace Electric vans in 2023. Voltia became popular initially with a high-roof version of the Nissan e-NV200, which took the compact van’s internal capacity to 8m3, allowing it to compete with much larger LCV models. With the Stellantis vans, the XL conversion lifts the L1 model to 9.8m3, while the L2 long-wheelbase van can carry up to 11m3 of load. That puts the mid-weight vans on a par with smaller versions of many 3.5-tonne models, which take up more road space and are harder to park in the city. Despite the additional internal space, the vans retain much of their load carrying capability, with 50kWh battery models offering up to 1,040kg of payload and the longer range 75kWh battery models up to 890kg. Voltia claims a real-life tested range for the smaller battery vans of up to 127 miles, while the 75kWh models offer up to 173 miles, both of which should be more than enough for the majority of urban delivery businesses. At present, though Stellantis has tested the vans to ensure that brake and ESP performance is uncompromised, the XL models are not available directly through Vauxhall, Citroen or Peugeot dealers. However, sales director Silvester Pullman is confident that Voltia will have Stellantis approval by Q2 of 2022. The previous e-NV200 XL vans were eventually offered as an approved conversion through Nissan’s own dealer network.

Bevan Group For the UK, the conversion work is carried out by respected Midlands bodybuilder Bevan Group and the company is aiming to have UK Type Approval signed off by January 2022. The company will offer a five-year warranty on the conversion, to provide total peace of mind for customers. The firm can also retro-fit the roof onto existing electric Stellantis vans, though the Voltia philosophy is not to supply the high-roof for diesel-powered vans. As well as lifting the roof, the conversion includes extended rear doors, providing stand-up access to the inside 8 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

Voltia goes with Stellantis mid-weight for high-roof of the van. The company is currently sourcing 270° hinges for the vans, to allow the doors to open fully for dock loading. While the vans will be able to compete on the road, in terms of internal load space and payload, with larger competitive EV models, they will also offer a lower cost entry into the larger

Perfect for last-mile deliveries in cities

e-LCV sector. Pullman expects a completed vehicle price of around £35,000 after grants, putting the vans well below some of the larger electric models that are currently on offer. “The Stellantis van is currently the best electric LCV on the market at this size and the XL will be perfect for lastmile deliveries in cities,” said Pullman.


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LAUNCH | FORD RANGER

Ford shows next-gen R

F

ord is set to overhaul its Ranger pick-up, with a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel at the top of the range. Single and bi-turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesels will continue to be offered, as with the current generation, with the single turbo engine offered in two power outputs. There are no performance or economy figures available yet and no mention of hybrid or electric drivelines, though Ford has recently launched a full electric version of its F150 truck in the US market. Development of the new Ranger was led by Ford’s product development centre in Australia. An international team contributed to the truck’s design and engineering, to meet the 10 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

needs of customers across the world. Indeed, the team spent time with customers around the world, conducting more than 5,000 interviews and customer clinics.

Sturdy look The result is a sturdy looking truck, that shares its design DNA with US pick-ups like the F150. The truck has a new grille with signature C-clamp headlights and a subtle shoulder line down the sides. Bigger wheel arches promote a stable stance and there are new LED tail-lights, that mimic the graphic at the front. Matrix LED headlights appear for the first time on a Ranger pick-up. The interior also gets a lift, with a more car-like feel to the soft-touch


The smartest, most capable, most versatile Ranger yet materials. There is a choice of massive 10.1” and 12” portrait format central screens, with Ford’s SYNC 4 technology and over-the-air upgrades, plus the main dash goes digital. An E-shifter controls the transmission and an electric parking brake provides additional space in the cab. Driving mode controls have been moved from the dash and centre console into the central screen, which also forms a monitor for a 360° camera system. The trucks get a factory-fit FordPass Connect modem for connectivity on the go. This allows remote starting and access to vehicle status from a mobile device. Talking of which, wireless smartphone charging is also included below the central screen.

allows improved airflow to the radiator. The front wheels have been moved forwards by 50mm for an improved approach angle when off-roading. The rear suspension shock absorbers have also been relocated outside the frame rails to improve the ride on and off the road. Drive options will include two four-wheel drive systems. The first will have an electronic shift-on-the-fly system, while the second will come with full-time four-wheel drive . At the working end of the truck,

ers who really push their Rangers to the limit, with endurance races like the Dakar Rally. The next-gen Ranger will meet the needs of both types of customers and everyone in between.” The order books won’t open until late 2022 in Europe, with customer pick-ups arriving early in 2023. However, as the market leader throughout the EU, with almost 40% of sales in the main 20 countries, Ford is keen to maintain the momentum behind the Ranger brand.

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Record sales “Ranger continues to go from strength to strength in Europe with record-breaking sales,” added Hans Schep, general manager, Commercial Vehicles, Ford of Europe. “The smartest, most capable, most versatile Ranger yet will deliver even more of the strength and style that we know customers value.” The truck is also a global product, built in Thailand and South Africa and sold in more than 180 countries across the world. “We’ve really packed a lot into the next‑generation Ranger to inspire owners to do more of what they love to do, with features that encourage them to explore new horizons,” said Gary Boes, enterprise product line management director, Global Trucks. “We’re truck owners too, and this passion for the Ranger lifestyle translates into a passion for the product. Ultimately, we want our customers’ experience with the pick-up to enable and enhance their lifestyles.”

Chassis upgrade Under the body, the new Ranger runs an upgraded chassis with a 50mm longer wheelbase and a 50mm wider track than the current generation. The front end gets a hydro-formed structure, to make space for that V6 engine and is said to future-proof the truck for alternative propulsion options. It also

A power outlet is available in the pick-up bed

there is an integrated step at the side of the pick-up bed and that 50mm additional width allows for flat loading of a pallet or a sheet of plywood. There is a new cargo management system, with adjustable tie-down points, while the tailgate itself can now be used as a work bench, with integrated clamp points. There is also an electric socket point in the bed, to power tools on site. “We have a really wide spectrum of customers,” said Graham Pearson, Ranger vehicle programme director. “On one end, you might have small business owners looking for very work-oriented transportation. They want traditional two-wheel drive with a single cab and a load box to transport their goods. At the extreme other end, you have the serious off-road-

DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2 • VANUSER 11


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HOLDING ON TO POLE POSITION INTERVIEW Vauxhall has rapidly become the biggest selling electric van manufacturer in the UK. LCV product manager Brad Miller explains to Van User how the manufacturer plans to keep that position going forwards. VanUser: By early November 2021 you had sold 2,158 e-LCVs year-to-date, primarily Vivaro-e. With Combo-e and Movano-e coming online early in the New Year, how do you see that expanding in 2022? Brad Miller: Vauxhall is the UK’s number one e-LCV manufacturer, a position we hope to hold on to. The Vivaro-e is around 15% of our total Vivaro orders today and is growing rapidly. We’d expect to see that ratio double next year as more fleets and business customers make the switch to fully electric. We would expect Combo-e to follow a similar trajectory to what we have seen with Vivaro-e. VU: How do you see the breakdown in demand between the three model sizes when it comes to e-LCVs once they are all

fully available? Will the heavier vans be the most popular? BM: Sales opportunity for Movano-e is good but there are still nuances and aspects to the heavier van segment that mean Vivaro-e and Combo-e will be the most prevalent models in our electric line-up. VU: When it comes to e-LCVs, are you seeing a different retail/ fleet mix in terms of demand than you would normally expect with diesel powered vans? Continued overleaf DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2 • VANUSER 13


INTERVIEW

Continued from previous page BM: SMEs are already buying into electric vans. Whilst announcements have been more on larger fleet deals, Vivaro-e is selling well also in retail. And the customer base is diverse from single owneroperators to small fleets. That acceptance has already begun among Vauxhall LCV customers. Vauxhall is leading the market and already offers an electric variant of every sell. Vauxhall will be completely electric across vans and cars by 2028. VU: Are all of your dealers ready to sell and service e-LCVs with trained technicians and other staff? BM: We have a suite of training for e-LCVs that is designed to enhance our sales exec’s knowledge. Further modules will be introduced next year due to the constantly evolving nature of e-LCVs. Each site already has one qualified e-LCV technician, rising to two by the end of 2021. VU: Does Vauxhall have a preferred charging station partner that can help to install charge points for smaller fleets, as new companies move to EV? BM: Yes, we have partnerships with both Pod Point and British Gas, who we recommend to smaller fleets. VU: Given the problems that all manufacturers are experiencing with supercapacitors, shipping etc, what are

14 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

Vauxhall’s lead times looking like for the three models? BM: We expect to have sufficient supply in Q1/Q2 to meet our forecast expectation. By the end of the next year, Vauxhall will produce the Combo-e (and the Combo-e Life MPV) at its plant in Ellesmere Port. It will be the first Stellantis plant to produce a solely battery-electric model. VU: Does your fleet preparation centre within the Luton plant, where you were installing racking etc, offer conversion work on e-LCVs and if so what is available? BM: Vauxhall is no longer using the vehicle conversion centre at the Luton plant for fleet work. The Luton plant continues to build the Vivaro and Vivaro Life for Vauxhall, as well as vehicles for its Stellantis sister brands. VU: Demand for EVs in the passenger car market is growing rapidly, do you think we will see as quick a growth in demand for electric vans, or will this take longer to

We would expect Combo-e to follow a similar trajectory to what we have seen with Vivaro-e

work through? BM: Vivaro-e orders are growing rapidly. We expect to see orders double next year as more fleets and business customers make the switch to fully electric. We would expect Combo-e to follow a similar trajectory to what we have seen with Vivaro-e. VU: As part of Stellantis, your vans are now offered with multiple different badges. How does Vauxhall differentiate itself from Citroen, Peugeot, Fiat and to a lesser extent Toyota and what can a Vauxhall dealer offer, particularly to SME customers? BM: Whilst the vehicle chassis and powertrain are shared, we offer different specifications than our sister brands, as we have a different customer base and we also have a unique retailer experience. VU: As supply hopefully starts to catch up with demand next year, what is your prediction for the UK van market in 2022 and in particular for e-LCV as a percentage of the overall market? BM: We believe it will continue to grow. As I said earlier, interest and orders from SME’s and large fleets has never been higher and that is reflected in our order bank. As one of only a handful of manufacturers with an e-LCV available across its line-up, we hope this will continue in to 2022 and beyond.

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ROAD TEST | CITROEN E-BERLINGO

ELECTRIC MADE EASY Citroen completes its electric line-up with the launch of the E-Berlingo, says Dan Gilkes.

T

he compact high-cube market is no stranger to electric propulsion, with Renault’s Kangoo Z.E. and the Nissan e-NV200 pioneering battery power for more than a decade. Other manufacturers have moved into the mid-weight and heavy van markets, but these two compact vans have had little competition at the lighter end, until now. As Stellantis builds on the success of its mid-weight e-LCV, available through its various brands, the company is now turning its attention to the lighter end of the market, with models like this E-Berlingo.

Powertrain As with the diesel-powered models, the compact E-Berlingo owes much to its larger E-Dispatch stablemate. That extends beyond the internal and external family appearance, to the electric driveline. However, while the larger van is offered with a choice of 50kWh or 75kWh battery packs, the smaller model makes do with the 50kWh only,

though that is still enough to offer a promised 171 miles of driving range. The E-Berlingo does use the same 100kW (136hp) drive motor as the larger vans though, with its Eco, Normal and Power driving modes offering 60%, 80% or 100% of the available power and torque to suit the driving conditions. You also get the B brake regeneration button that, as long as you have less than about 80% of battery charge, will provide serious braking effort when you lift off the throttle pedal.

Charging As with the larger Stellantis van, the E-Berlingo has both 7.4kW Type 2 regular charging input and CCS rapid charging capability, that can cope with up to 100kW rapid inputs. That means that a standard home wallbox will take around 7.5 hours to fully charge the battery from empty, while a rapid charger can put 80% of battery charge in within just 30 minutes. This would allow an operator to almost double their daily mileage range with

a well-planned lunchtime recharge. In truth though, the majority of urban compact van users will probably find the standard 171-mile range more than enough for daily use. As with the larger vans, the battery gets an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Load carrying capacity There are two models available in terms of size, M and XL. The M vans have a load volume of 3.3m3, that can be extended to 3.9m3 when the van Continued overleaf

Citroen E-Berlingo Enterprise Pro M 50kWh Basic price £24,910 (after £3,000 PiVG) Motor electric Power 100kW (136hp) Torque 260Nm Weights (kg) GVW 2,410 Kerb weight 1,607 Payload 803 Towing 750kg Dimensions (mm) Load space length 1,817 Load space width 1,550 Width between wheel arches 1,072 Load space height 480 Load volume 3.3m3/3.9m3 with Extenso Cost considerations Battery capacity 50kWh Range 171 miles CO2 0 Service interval 2 year/25,000 miles Warranty 3 years/100,000 miles (battery 8 years/100,000 miles)

DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2 • VANUSER 17


ROAD TEST | CITROEN E-BERLINGO Continuedfrom previous page is equipped with the Extenso loadthrough bulkhead and fold-flat outer passenger seat. Opt for the longer XL model and you get 3.8m3, expanding to 4.4m3 with Extenso and a maximum load length of 3.44m. The smaller van has a load capacity of 803kg, while the larger model can carry up to 751kg. The vans can haul a 750kg trailer, adding to their usefulness.

In the cab There are two trim levels on offer, Enterprise Pro and Driver Pro. Enterprise Pro vans come with 16” steel wheels, automatic halogen headlights, integrated daytime running lights and electrically folding door mirrors. There is overhead storage and decent sized door pockets with 1.5-litre bottle holders, a top box storage compartment and additional storage under the centre seat. The Extenso folding outer seat is part of the Enterprise Pro package. There is an 8” touchscreen as standard, with DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity and USB sockets. Drivers also benefit from cruise control and a speed limiter/ Move up to Driver Pro, for £1,615, and the wheels change from steel to alloy, while the rear bumper, door handles and side rubbing strips are colour-matched to the body. There is a 10” digital driver’s display in the dash, that comes with Citroen’s Connect Navigation, including a three-year subscription to live alerts. The Citroen Connect Box can also be used to connect the driver to an advisor in the event of an accident or emergency. Driver Pro also adds Surround Rear Vision, the live rear-facing camera that is shown in a screen that replaces the interior mirror, along with front and rear parking sensors and side and rear cameras. Though not standard in our Enterprise Pro van, Citroen had equipped the test vehicle with the full digital dash, which is certainly impressive. It is possible to have the complete navigation map across the screen or a variety of layouts to suit the driver’s preference. All models come with remote temperature preconditioning, through the MyCitroen smartphone app. In addition, E-Berlingo buyers are eligible for a six-month subscription to the Free2Move Connect Fleet telematics service. This includes fleet management, eco driving reporting and geo-location 18 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

packs that allow remote tracking of vehicles.

On the road The 100kW motor in the E-Berlingo provides a decent level of performance in the larger E-Dispatch, so it comes as little surprise that performance is even more impressive in the smaller van. Drivers will rarely need the Power setting, unless running at full weight or in very hilly terrain. Normal provides more than enough power for general use and even the Eco setting delivers a good level of acceleration and cruise. As we discovered when living with the larger van for five months, using the B button in town offers almost one-pedal driving, with real retardation available. This also makes cross country rural roads more enjoyable, as the van will slow for corners without the driver having to reach for the brakes. The bonus of this being that you are also generating power, so extending the available range. Apart from the optional digital dash, it’s pretty standard Stellantis stuff in the cab, though that’s no bad

It may well be the best compact e-LCV currently available

thing. The E-Berlingo is comfortable, the ride and handling are good and apart from a bit of road noise, it’s a relatively quiet place to spend the day.

Conclusion Be in no doubt, the E-Berlingo really is very good. Indeed, it may well be the best compact e-LCV currently available. Of course, there is the initial price to consider, naturally the electric van is considerably more expensive than its diesel counterparts. However, for anyone operating within a congestion or clean air zone, there will be daily savings to be made, which add up over two or three years of ownership. Plus of course, topping up with electricity is almost certainly going to be less expensive than visiting the diesel pumps on a regular basis. All of that aside, perhaps the biggest thing about the E-Berlingo and its Stellantis stablemates, is that the majority of potential owners won’t really have to change the way they operate to adopt an electric van. VanUser Rating 5.0


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FLEET MANAGEMENT | DRIVER MANAGEMENT

T

THE IMPORTANCE OF

his winter, perhaps more than ever before, keeping the wheels of business turning will be a major priority for fleet managers, as companies battle to meet the needs of the ever more demanding home delivery market. For some, that will mean taking on additional drivers, if they can find them, while bringing in more vehicles to cope with the sheer number of deliveries. At times like these, when the focus is very much on day-to-day problem solving, it can be all too easy to put some fleet management best practise to one side. This is particularly true when it comes to drivers. Yet it is often the case, particularly in times of crisis, when sticking to planned methods of operation and ensuring that all members of staff are involved, can really pay dividends.

Licence rules Fleet management starts before the driver gets into the van, with licence checking and entitlement to drive anal-

DRIVERS ysis. There are plenty of providers of licence checking services, while all drivers should be able to produce a DVLA check code, to allow managers to see their current driving status online. This is particularly important at present if you tow trailers, as the rules were due to change on November 15, but this change has been delayed. If your drivers passed their car driving tests before January 1, 1997, they still have Grandfather Rights that allow a vehicle and trailer combination of up to 8,250kg to be driven. However, for now at least, drivers that passed their test after January 1, 1997, remain limited to a van up to 3.5-tonnes, with a trailer mass of just 750kg, or a total combination weight of 4,250kg. If you are operating vehicles above

Adhering to driver’s hours legislation remains a legal requirement, even in smaller vans

3.5-tonnes in weight, that are not powered by alternative fuels, then drivers also will need to have a tachograph card if the van or truck is used for hire and reward. This is the same for larger vans and pick-ups that are towing for hire and reward, where gross train mass exceeds 3.5 tonnes. If you are not using tachographs, adhering to driver’s hours legislation remains a legal requirement, even in smaller vans. Drivers should not drive more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period, or complete more than 11 hours of daily duty (working but not necessarily driving). They cannot spend more than 56 hours at the wheel within a week and they should not exceed 90 hours in any two consecutive weeks. Continued overleaf DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2 • VANUSER 21


FLEET MANAGEMENT | DRIVER MANAGEMENT

nents in the driveline, that could result in an unplanned vehicle off the road situation.

Continued from previous page

Vehicle checks Cold, dark mornings, with drivers under pressure to meet delivery targets, are a recipe for missed daily vehicle checks. However, the few minutes that it takes to walk around the vehicle, check lights and tyres and look for any damage, can save hours at the side of the road waiting for the breakdown truck, or worse, answering to the police when the vehicle is stopped. Whether it’s recorded on paper, or through a smartphone app, a daily check can be critical to ensure the safety of the vehicle, but can also be economically significant, if tyres are damaged or there are leaking compo-

22 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

Lone workers can suffer from additional stress

Load security When additional vehicles are hired in for short-term fleet expansion, the chances of a racking system being installed are slim, so goods are likely to move in transit. We’ve all had parcels delivered that look as if they’ve been kicked around the back of the van for most of the day. While this is annoying as a customer, it can also be costly for the carrier, as returns due to damage can result in financial consequences. This can be prevented through the use of load restraints and planned loading. Simply loading a van with a variety of goods without thought to unloading can also cost time at the side of the road, as the driver searches through the van for the right package. Pre-planning of routes and delivery scheduling can prevent costly standing time as the right parcel is finally found. Efficient driving Perhaps expecting van drivers to hit new highs of fuel economy while making Christmas deliveries is a step too far. However, if safe and fuel-efficient driving techniques are built into a company’s everyday approach, including regular communication with drivers, they should pay dividends when the going gets tough. Just because a driver is on a temporary contract to get the company through a busy period, doesn’t mean that they won’t become

a full-time employee at a later stage. There is no shortage of driver training available, both in person and remotely through video and online courses. There are benefits for the driver and the company, with improved safety, reduced fuel consumption and lower maintenance costs among the biggest potential savings. By learning and practising defensive driving techniques, drivers can also contribute to the overall reputation of the company. Additional driver training may also be required if you have started the move to an electric future. Getting the best out of an e-LCV requires familiarisation and tuition. Simply jumping out of a diesel van and into an EV will not result in efficient battery use.

Driver care Perhaps less obvious, but certainly no less important, is the health and wellbeing of your drivers. If you are asking staff to meet the demands of additional work during the seasonal delivery boom, it is vital that you ensure that they remain fit to work. It is well documented that lone workers can suffer from additional stress and it is a manager’s responsibility to ensure that drivers are not overdoing it and putting themselves and other road users at risk. While few delivery drivers will be attending office parties this month, having effective policies for ensuring that alcohol and drugs use are monitored, can also be vital for safe vehicle operation.


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FLEET MANAGEMENT | DRIVER MANAGEMENT

Campaign calls for better driver management

M

anaging road risk as an employer can be a minefield, with the added complication that as a director, you may be liable to prosecution if anything goes wrong. With 40,000 injury collisions a year involving those driving for work and 65,000 a year if commuters are included, there is a high chance something could go wrong. A National Highways Driving for Better Business (DfBB) campaign has made a range of videos available, to help managers navigate the legal responsibilities facing employers. Recorded over a three-day Health and Safety Conference, the videos pull together all the key strands of managing road risk, with a range of experts providing practical advice. The series includes a keynote presentation from Kanwal Kanda (pictured below) who heads up the transport sector at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), introducing revised guidance for any organisation that employs staff who drive or ride for work followed by a panel discussion involving HSE, the Department for Transport and DfBB.

Additional videos available Revised guidance from HSE which has not been updated since 2014 and now includes sections on telematics, powered two-wheelers, and what employees can expect from their employer Guidance on preventing incidents in commercial fleets and the importance of managing van fleets to the same standards of HGVs A greater understanding of some of the key causes of crashes including driver fatigue and impairment from drink or drugs The liability of employers in managing driver hours - including a case study of a prosecution of a welding company following the death of a young trainee who had worked for 26 hours. The judge’s verdict said it showed "clear and unambiguous failure" of the firm to ensure the safety of its employees.

The driver safety videos and the Employers' Guide to Managing Road Risk can be found at https://reports. drivingforbetterbusiness.com/driver-safety-zone-2021

Driving for Better Business campaign manager Simon Turner outlined the nature of driving for work with five common mistakes made by fleet managers: Failing to comply with Duty of Care legislation – mainly through lack of awareness – and gaps in understanding responsibilities among certain levels of employees. No proper vehicle defect system in place. “One in three cars and half of all vans fail their MoT at the first attempt,” he says. “If the vehicle hasn’t been checked on the day of the MoT, you can bet it wasn’t checked on the other 364 days.” He points out that the DVSA is carrying out more compliance checks on vans, with the typical fine being around £970. Failing to identify highrisk drivers, citing one driver who successfully persuaded a judge not to withdraw his licence as he would not be able to get work as a mobile tyre-fitter. The driver had 54 points. Fleet managers can avoid this via pre-employment checks, collecting collision records and making use of telematics data on driving style.

24 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

Relying on different data sets that are not integrated. “If and when an incident occurs, that’s not the time to realise gaps in data.” And finally, a lack of appropriate management information. “Set baselines from which to improve,” he says. “If you’re not measuring it and not monitoring it, you’re not managing it.”

Online tools Driving for Better Business has a range of free online tools to help organisations understand their responsibilities, learn where to focus priorities, identify gaps in their management processes, benchmark them against others, create improvement plans – and share successes with other organisations. “With around 20 million vehicles being used for business journeys, including trucks, vans, company cars and grey fleet, that means every at-work driver has a 1 in 500 chance of being in a fatal or serious injury collision,” said Turner. “Our mission is to improve compliance for all those who drive or ride for work by demonstrating the significant business benefits of managing work-related road risk more effectively.”


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A WORLD OF COMFORT

The DVSA recently revealed that 88.5% of LCVs stopped at the roadside were overloaded.

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26 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2


FLEET MANAGEMENT | SAFETY & SECURITY

Brigade 'predictive' system aims to prevent accidents Brigade Electronics has launched a predictive collision detection system, called Sidescan Predict, that can discriminate potential collisions and warn the driver in time to prevent the accident. Using artificial intelligence, Sidescan Predict constantly gathers data, such as speed and distance of a cyclist from the vehicle. This data feeds an algorithm that calculates the risk of a collision. Designed for rigid chassis vehicles with a minimum length of 5.2m, the system has six sensors with a detection area of 2.5m.When compared to the industry standard 1-1.5m sensor, Brigade claims that these help to reduce the risk of an accident by an additional 84%. The system is always on at speeds below 22mph and works with or without the vehicle indicators being on. An auto brightness feature adapts to varying lighting conditions within the cabin, so the warning signal is not lost among other warning lights, Sidescan Predict can be fitted to existing vehicles in around six hours and the system can be integrated with other Brigade systems for a more comprehensive overall set-up. “Unlike existing systems, which simply register the presence of a potential obstacle, Sidescan Predict is constantly gathering data in a vehi-

cle’s vicinity,” said Emily Hardy, marketing manager at Brigade. “This provides additional benefits to operators, by significantly reducing false alarms and increasing confidence in the accuracy of warning alerts.”

Licence checking made easy Driver’s licence validation service Licence Bureau has launched a digital licence scanning solution, through its Continuum platform. The system allows companies to scan a driver’s licence through the camera on a laptop, smartphone or tablet, with the data being auto-populated onto the D906 e-declaration form and sent to the DVLA. The driver agrees a mandate for three years, allowing driver detail checks whenever the company requests. “By speeding up the process, drivers are able to get back on the roads quicker and not have to worry about e-mail addresses or wet signatures,” said Jim Kirkwood, CEO of the Licence Bureau’s parent company TTC.

Upgrade to L4V Hook Lock Locks 4 Vans has created the L4V Hook Lock and Anti-Peel Kit, for Ford’s Transit Custom. Developed from the standard Hook Lock, the company has added the anti-peel element to reduce the chance of door peeling. Fitted to the rear barn door, the Anti-Peel plate reinforces the inside edge of the door, while the built-in Hook Lock provides added security. The combination should also keep the barn door secure in the event of the central locking being disabled. “Peel and steel attacks are a perpetual problem and, while our Hook Lock works hard to mitigate this issue, the development team is always proactively looking at how we can improve our offering,” said Jason Fletcher, technical manager at Locks 4 Vans. The combined lock and anti-peel system should also reduce the need for fleet managers to have to replace damaged door panels, which are currently causing delays and downtime for fleets, due to supply chain issues.

Increased security from Van Guard Van Guard Accessories has launched the ULTI Lock hooklock, a Sold Secure Gold Standard locking system suitable for all types of light commercial. The company claims that a van is broken into in the UK every 23 minutes, with an average of £1,692 of tools and goods stolen per van. “With every product we manufacture, we start by listening to the customers, which ensures our new products will meet their precise requirements head on,” said Emlyn Harris, Van Guard’s commercial finance director. “We have focused on an all-encompassing process from product quality to fitting instructions and service delivery. The ULTI Lock hooklock delivers on all fronts and gives our fitting partners the ability to fit a truly exceptional product with market-leading accreditation to back it up.” DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2 • VANUSER 27


FLEET MANAGEMENT | SAFETY & SECURITY

Port opts to protect fleet with telematics Associated British Ports has awarded a telematics contract to Teletrac Navman, to safeguard operations at the Port of Southampton. The deal follows a trial of Teletrac Navman’s fleet telematics, tracking and connected camera system, which will now be rolled out across a fleet of more than 80 vehicles, including 30 EVs. “As a transport and logistics business with a significant spread across the UK, it is our responsibility to ensure that our practices and operations are as safe and sustainable as possible,” said Craig Barbour, general manager at Associated British Ports

Sustainability “We have worked hard to increase the sustainability of our Southampton site to great success and have been really impressed with Teletrac Navman’s platform during our recent trial. Having access to real-time data has enabled us to respond quickly to insights and helped us to work smarter and safer. We’re delighted to be able to equip more of our vehicles with this technology and we’re also aiming to roll it out across our remaining regions.” The site is close to public roads and a university campus and vehicles are

Ctrack and Humn team up for insurance offer Ctrack has entered into a strategic partnership with Humn, to provide insurance for commercial fleets. The two companies will use contextual risk data, fleet telematics and dynamic insurance pricing to help operators reduce premiums by as much as 20%. As part of the agreement, web-based tracking solution Ctrack Online will be integrated with Humn’s data-driven insurance management system Rideshur. This will create a use-based premium, priced per trip in real-time 28 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

required to drive for optimum safety, including adhering to an on-site speed limit. To provide drivers and vessel stevedores with improved visibility, all vehicles will be equipped with front-facing cameras, while larger vans will also have rear-facing cameras. “Optimising safety was a significant area of focus for ABP. Our fleet management platform provides insights into vehicle safety based on

key performance metrics and recorded events, such as speeding and harsh braking and provides platform users with a measurable safety score for each driver,” said Peter Millichap, marketing drector at Teletrac Navman UK. “During the trial, ABP has been able to utilise fleet performance data and link it back into company benchmarks, to significantly improve safety, sustainability and cost efficiency.”

A container ship loading at the Port of Southampton where telematics will help keep secure a fleet of 80 vehicles.

Ford works on autonomous research Ford has collaborated with DP World London Gateway to demonstrate how autonomous deliveries could work in a large site such as a port location. The trial, part of Ford’s Self-Driving Research Programme, monitored DP World employees as they loaded and accessed parcels from a simulated autonomous Transit, without any assistance from the driver. The intention behind the research was to see how recipients could access their goods from an autonomous delivery vehicle. Employees at the company’s reception building loaded packages into a secure locker within the van. Then, at set delivery times, the Transit travelled to a different building 3.5km away, where other employees were able to retrieve the packages themselves.

Normally staff would have to travel to the main reception building themselves to retrieve parcels, which is time consuming, but not enough to warrant a driver and delivery vehicle.

A 'real buzz' “Having what appeared to be a self-driving vehicle on site

created a real buzz. Everyone wanted to use it. Popping in the car to pick up a package from elsewhere on site might not seem like it takes that long, but across multiple journeys over weeks, months and years, this can add up to a lot of time and money,” said Ernst Schulze, UK chief executive of DP World.



ROAD TO ZERO | LAUNCH

TOYOTA STRENTHENS ELECTRIC LINE-UP Toyota Professional is enjoying strong growth in the LCV market and the Proace City Electric should continue that trend, says Dan Gilkes.

W

hile the current problems that are being experienced by many manufacturers have left the overall van market down across many segments, Toyota Professional is seeing real demand for its growing range of vans and pick-ups. Hilux volumes were up by 65.8% in the year to the end of November, while midweight van sales were up by 10.4%. Unsurprisingly the firm’s small van sales saw the biggest growth, as it only entered the market in the last year with Proace City. However, that range of diesel models has now been joined by 30 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

Toyota’s second electric van, the Proace City Electric. Based of course on the Stellantis light van and already available as a Combo-E, E-Berlingo and E-Partner, the Proace City Electric joins a rapidly growing sector of the market, with interest in e-LCVs for urban use becoming an increasingly popular option for many. In the year to the end of November, alternatively fuelled LCVs accounted for 4.52% of the market, up from just 1.8% last year. As with the Stellantis vans, the Proace City Electric is offered in two lengths, with a single roof height. This


provides load volumes of 3.3-4.4m3 and payloads of up to 800kg. The vans can also tow a 750kg trailer. All of the Toyota models come with the Smart Cargo system, with fold-flat outer passenger seat and load-through hatch in the bulkhead to extend the maximum load length. Toyota is offering the van in its Icon trim level only initially. That means steel wheels, an 8” touchscreen display, Apple and Android integration, front and rear parking sensors with a rear-facing camera, auto wipers and lights, manual air conditioning and cruise control. The only real options are colour and a choice of 7kW or 11kW on-board charger, though with a cost of just £150 it seems unlikely that many buyers will opt for the lower-powered charger. Talking of which, the standard 50kWh battery will take around 7.1 hours to recharge with a Type 2 wallbox, or 4.5 hours if you have an 11kW three-phase supply. The van can also be plugged into a rapid CCS2 charger, delivering up to 100kW, where it will take just 30 minutes to provide an 80% top-up. The full battery range is a WLTP-certified 168 miles, which should be more than enough for the majority of urban users, though that can easily be extended if you have access to that rapid charger during a lunch break. The City Electric has much the same interior and dash as the larger Proace Electric, with the toggle switch for Power, Normal and Eco driving modes and the B button for maximum battery regeneration. It also comes with an electric parking brake, providing as much room as possible for the occasional second passenger’s legs.

Pricing starts at £27,588 CV OTR, for an L1 van with the 7kW on-board charger. This rises to £28,338 CV OTR for the L2 van with the 11kW on-board unit. All models are eligible for the government’s Plug-in Van Grant of £3,000. The vans come as standard with a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty. However, keep having the vehicle serviced at a Toyota dealer and that can be extended up to 10 years/100,000 miles through the Toyota Relax warranty scheme, providing additional reassurance, even for second owners. The battery comes as standard with an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty.

The Toyota customer experience really does count for a lot With that initial price in mind, Toyota Professional LCV manager Gareth Matthews believes that buyers will opt for an ownership period of up to five years, to offset the additional purchase cost. However, where customers are working in the London ULEZ and other chargeable emissions zones, that payback could be more rapidly reduced. Electric vans, indeed all types of light commercial, are proving equally popular with Toyota Professional’s dealers. Just a few years ago, Toyota had 24 LCV specialist dealers in the UK, spread among its wider dealer network. There are now more than 130 Toyota Professional dealers and

by next year, Matthews expects that to rise to 145, all selling and servicing vans and pick-ups. It is this dealer body, along with the extended warranty terms, that he believes is winning Toyota sales against other manufacturers, even those selling basically the same van with a different badge. “I would say this, but the Toyota customer experience really does count for a lot,” he said. Those dealers have a rapidly growing range of vehicles on offer too, with Proace and Proace City now offered in both diesel and electric models, Hilux pick-ups with two power options and the Land Cruiser Commercial 4x4. These will be joined next year by the Corolla Commercial, which will be launched in January with production starting at the Burneston plant near Derby, in May. First shown at the CV Show earlier in 2021, the Corolla Commercial has been built specifically for the UK market, with a specification that is not available in the car range. Matthews reports plenty of interest for the estate car-based commercial, as its hybrid driveline provides an alternative to diesel for many customers, without the full leap to an electric van. As with all manufacturers, lead times are being stretched on some models, with Hilux in particular in such strong demand that it is forcing deliveries well into the year. However, Matthews says that he has secured additional supply for the UK market in 2022 and expects lead times to start to steady as the year goes on. He is also confident of further growth in sales volumes and market shares for Toyota Professional, which with such a strong line-up seems perfectly reasonable.

DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2 • VANUSER 31


ROAD TO ZERO

Autonomous electric 'last-mile' concept unveiled Israeli e-mobility company REE Automotive has revealed an autonomous concept based on a modular EV platform, that could form the basis for future delivery vehicles. The Leopard autonomous vehicle is designed to carry additional cargo through the use of a totally flat floor design. At just 1.4m wide, with a footprint of 2.5m2, the vehicle is powered by a 50kWh battery that offers a top speed of 60mph. The vehicle has a gross weight of 2 tonnes, resulting in a payload of around 750kg and the body would offer up to 7.5m3 of load volume. The chassis can be built to be front-wheel drive, rear-driven or all-wheel drive, with front or all-wheel steering capability.

The concept has been designed for lastmile delivery companies and e-retailers to build their own vehicles using the Leopard as a base. “This concept showcases just one design application of our ground-breaking technology, one that answers the strategically crucial question of how to carry out autonomous, zero-emission last mile deliveries,” said Daniel Barel, co-founder and CEO of REE. “Autonomous and electrified vehicles ‘Powered by REE’ offer unsurpassed operational efficiency and the lowest total cost of ownership, combined with full flexibility when it comes to integrating top hats in virtually any size, shape or form.”

Master gets battery boost Renault’s Master E-Tech electric van, which is also offered by Renault Trucks as the Master Z.E., is now available with a larger 52kWh battery, up from the original van’s 33kWh power pack. This increases driving range to a far more usable 121 miles, while a 22kW DC charger allows 80% recharging in just two hours. Available in panel van, chassis cab and platform cab models, the electric Master is offered in three lengths and two body heights, with gross weights of 3.1 and 3.5 tonnes. The van retains the 57kW motor, that delivers 225kN of torque, with a maximum speed of 62mph. The enhanced Master E-Tech and Z.E. will be available early in 2022.

Islington opts for E-Ducato The Borough of Islington, in North London, has added a Fiat Professional E-Ducato van to its fleet. The 3.5-tonne panel van, a long wheelbase 13m3 model, is part of a larger order, that will be supplied to the borough by dealer Motus Commercials as part of a threeyear supply deal. This deal includes a number of 4.25-tonne tippers, converted by body builder Mackworth, that will be delivered in the second quarter of 2022. “By working with Motus, we have been able to bring in our first electric Ducato van for use by our caretakers which further increases our electric fleet,” said Councillor Rowena Champion, Islington’s executive member for environment and transport. “We will continue to work with Motus to bring more electric, greener, and zero exhaust 32 VANUSER • DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021/2

emissions vehicles to Islington and we look forward to seeing these vehicles being used in the borough. “Air pollution remains a major public

health emergency across London and the ongoing electrification of Islington’s fleet is a key element of our efforts to make our borough more environmentally-friendly.”


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Dan Gilkes's

LONG TERM TEST Ford Transit Custom double-cab Sport

Practically speaking

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ver the last couple of months we have reported, perhaps unsurprisingly, how well the Custom Sport copes as both a driver’s vehicle and as a weekend carry-all for leisure and family users. But, alloy wheels and go-faster stripes aside, the mid-weight Transit remains a working vehicle first, one that has to carry a decent load in the rear to earn its keep. There is nothing new about the double-cab-in-van layout, adding a second row of seats increases the versatility of a van of this size no end, offering the opportunity to carry workers as well as tools and goods. The layout also offers the best compromise for an owner driver or SME that needs to use the van as a working vehicle in the week and family transport at the weekend. The way in which manufacturers go about the conversion does vary however. Some offer a bulkhead as an option, allowing the folding or complete removal of the second row of seats, to increase load carrying capacity almost to original panel van proportions. There are ingenious sliding bulkheads on offer, that move forward with the back of the second row of seating, to provide protection and load volume. With the Transit Custom, a fullheight, full-width fixed bulkhead with

window is standard, completely separating the load area from the cab. In this short wheelbase L1 model, that results in a rear compartment load volume of 3.5m3 or space for just the one Europallet behind the seating area. Opt for the longer L2 model and the volume rises to 4.3m3, enough for two pallets, but still some way off the 6.8m3 of the standard L2 panel van. This of course is offset by the ability to carry another three people as well.

Payload However, potential buyers also need to consider the payload on offer, for a number of reasons. The double-cab layout is available in the Custom 280, 300 and 320 models, offering gross weight of 2.8, 3.0 and 3.2-tonnes. In the case of the 280 model and all of the 300 vans, the payload for the double-cab is less than a tonne. That means that, with a second row of seats and windows behind the driver, buyers might struggle to reclaim the VAT on the van, an im-

portant consideration for any business. For buyers of the Sport double-cab models, this is less of a problem, as the trim level is only offered on the 320 L1H1 layout, providing a 1,102kg payload with a manual gearbox, or 1,054kg with our van’s automatic transmission. That means that the Sport remains VAT-reclaimable.

With a second row of seats and windows behind the driver, buyers might struggle to reclaim the VAT

One other decision that buyers will have to make concerns the rear doors, or rear door in the case of our test van, which has a giant lift-up tailgate. This makes for a decent rain shelter when loading the rear compartment, but it would prevent that loading being carried out by a fork-lift. You also need to allow a fair distance behind the van to be able to fully open the tailgate. You pays your money and takes your choice as they say, though the tailgate is a no-cost option. Talking of cost, this Sport double-cab is not a cheap commercial, as mentioned before, it starts at £36,430 before the VAT and the almost £3,000 of options that Ford had thrown as this test van. As a vehicle that meets the widest possible range of requirements though, it remains a hard one to beat.


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