Vans Lead the Way in the Commercial Vehicle Sector with Rising Numbers Leaving HGVs in the Dust

TransitVans are officially driving the commercial vehicle sector, especially in terms of conversions, but as the growth in van numbers continues into 2017 it is heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) that are being left behind.

According to research collated by Transport for London’s Roads Task Force, there is evidence that vans are being used as substitutes for HGVs, and this trend isn’t just affecting the capital. This record number of vans has been seen throughout the UK and limited HGV use is also mirrored but why are commercial business owners and fleet managers choosing to go down this route? Here we explore this burgeoning trend and reveal what this could mean for the future of HGVs.

The statistics behind the trend

Earlier this year the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that the number of vans on British roads is the biggest ever to be recorded and as of April 2016, there was just over 4 million vans being driven on UK roads. The figures document an increase of 4.3% in comparison to 2015 and as business confidence and growth continues these numbers are expected to increase further year-on-year.

Van manufacturers have taken advantage of this trend of rising numbers too and at the UK commercial vehicle sector’s much anticipated annual exhibition, Commercial Vehicle Show, there were a record number of new van and pickup models showcased as manufacturers look to capitalise on this van use explosion. In stark comparison, whilst the domestic freight activity showed a slight increase, international freight activity and HGV usage declined from April 2015 to March 2016 in accordance with the Department for Transport’s findings. Overall there were 8% less goods lifted and 6% less goods moved.

Why the big change?

Several reasons have been attributed to the strength of van sales and the decline of HGV use on UK roads. There is less regulations affecting van drivers compared with HGV operators, regulations that can mean an unlimited amount of paperwork for fleet operators. Even speed limit changes that should have tipped the balance towards HGV use have had the opposite effect with the aftermath of HGV speed limit increases on rural roads, as introduced last April, making lorry journeys slower than ever.

Fleet managers and commercial business owners may also be favouring the use of vans due to fewer skills being required to operate such a vehicle. Whilst HGV drivers much obtain a professional driving qualification, known formally as the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), the standard UK driving licence (more specifically category B) means you can drive any van type as long as it weighs less than 3,500kg. With a salary of up to £35,000 per annum, HGV drivers also cost more making lower paid van drivers a much more cost effective prospect. Even for businesses looking to operate HGV fleets, the long running shortage is making HGV drivers an endangered species industry wide.

The future of HGVs

With the 600,000 licensed HGV drivers currently registered within the UK having an average age of 57 and wandering closer to retirement, the driver shortage crisis is set to continue, which means more and more business owners will be looking for more viable alternatives in order to get their goods from A to B. The flexibility offered by fleets of vans is another key reason why the future of HGVs may not be looking so bright, and industry experts expect the van favouring trend to continue as a result, despite the inefficiency that will be encountered in terms of load capacity.


Your Guide to the SMMT Van Maintenance Campaign

Van MaintenanceUpholding the highest standards of health and safety isn’t just a moral obligation but a legal one. Road safety is drilled into us from the moment we get behind the wheel, and for good reason, but the lessons don’t end when you pass your test and receive your licence. For commercial vehicle operators and their fleet managers, van maintenance is a vital part of ensuring the latest health and safety requirements are met.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is known for its stringent roadside checks but with the latest statistics released by the government department, failing to take care of your commercial vehicle could land you in more hot water than you think.

The UK’s BIG maintenance problem

Of the 10,800 vans and light goods vehicles (LGVs) stopped by the DVSA at the roadside, 63% had a serious mechanical defect whilst 88.5% were overloaded. Whilst an annual service should prevent the majority of maintenance problems, many operators and fleet managers are simply overlooking daily checks and letting good maintenance fall by the wayside. Without a sharper approach to van safety drivers and managers are leaving themselves exposed to hefty fees with many already falling victim to such costs. Almost 50% of the vehicles that posed a road safety risk had to be taken off the road, a ruling that could cost owners up to £4,000 per day!

In regards to breaking the terms of the latest licensing rules and regulations, commercial vehicle operators could face millions in fines if they don’t correctly maintain their vehicles.

SMMT’s van maintenance campaign

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has taken matters into their own hands to support better van maintenance and lower the likelihood of incurring additional costs and fines for operators of the 4 million plus vans currently registered in the UK.

The SMMT van maintenance campaign provides a 9-point plan so that drivers can complete daily maintenance checks with confidence. Thanks to this guide you can ensure your vehicle is maintained and you are fully prepared for the journey ahead. The campaign gives you the information you need to complete checks in the following areas:

  1. Load and towing
  2. Brakes and steering
  3. Tyres and wheels
  4. Lights and indicators
  5. Washers and wipers
  6. Mirrors and glass
  7. Seats and seatbelts
  8. Fluids, fuel & oil
  9. Bodywork and doors

The use of safety equipment

In addition to using the guide provided by the SMMT, van safety equipment is a worthwhile investment for drivers and fleet managers. Our specially developed Safe T Bar range can be used on light commercial vehicles and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).   The Safe T Bar is fitted to Light Commercial Vehicles to help reduce damage through driver error when reversing or during loading. The rear underrun protective device (RUPDS) can be fitted easily to HGVs to protect other road users. The device uses an audible warning system to alert the driver and calls upon a swing back system to absorb impact at low speeds. Hope Technical Developments produces industry leading products to help protect drivers and other road users, and to help extend the life expectancy of light commercial vehicles and lower associated maintenance and repair costs.

For further information about our Safe T Bar and RUPD ranges please browse our website. You can also view the SMMT van maintenance guide for yourself here.

The Future of the Commercial Vehicle World

Futuristic VanTechnology plays an important role in every individual’s life, and whilst many industry sectors have evolved to embrace the perks of the latest advancements, the commercial vehicle world has lagged behind somewhat. That is until now! The commercial vehicle industry is becoming more digitally savvy, but what does the future hold for a more technologically aware market?

Driver information on the go

My DAF is one application that has taken the commercial vehicle world, and more specifically the heavy goods vehicle (HGV) scene, by storm. Available for free download via iTunes and Google Play, the My DAF app was recently upgraded to offer a wider range of features for drivers on the road and back at base. The application allows users to view the most up-to-date DAF driver literature such as brochures, information sheets, handbooks and even the ‘DAF In Action’ magazine.

Using the app, drivers can also view numerous training materials including videos for the new LF, CF and XF models. In addition to providing essential information wherever you are, the My DAF app gives drivers the tools and support to get the very best from their chosen DAF model. The My DAF app has already been a success throughout the international marketplace, so how many other truck manufacturing companies will follow suit with their own driver applications?

Blind spot detection devices

Blind spots have been a major issue for goods vehicle operators and according to research carried out by Transport for London and Barclays Cycle Superhighways, 100% of operators said that their company would benefit from the introduction of blind spot detection technology. The findings of this research prompted an international revival of previously shelved equipment, with the Backwatch system becoming an astounding success during trials.

As well as charting no breakdowns during use, the Backwatch system and associated safety technology effectively reduced the number of collisions between HGVs and cyclists, and reduced other sources of vehicle damage from powered vehicles and street furniture. Secondary benefits included decreased costs and insurance premiums. Blind spot detectors like the Backwatch system received the thumbs up from operators thanks to their discreet and non-distracting operation and ease of use.

On-board safety equipment

Our Hope Safe T Bar and Hope Safe T Step ranges offer the latest advancements in on-board safety equipment delivering a plethora of benefits for van and commercial vehicle owners. The Safe T Bar is designed specifically for heavy goods vehicles and uses an audible warning system to alert drivers of contact with an object whilst reversing to prevent damage to vehicles and other property. Safe T Bar products are also available for light commercial vehicles.

The Hope Safe T Step on the other hand was developed for light commercial vehicles to ensure easy and safe loading and unloading.

Driverless technology

Whilst driverless cars have dominated the technology headlines in recent years, Chancellor George Osborne recently revealed that driverless lorries will be trialled in the UK. Computer controlled HGV platoons will be used to enable vehicles to move within a group resulting in major fuel savings for fleet managers.

Hope Technical Developments at the CV Show 2016

CV Show 2016 Logo






Hope will be exhibiting again this year at the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC Birmingham from April 26th to 28th.  We would be delighted to see you there, so if you are planning to visit the show please drop by stand D109 in Hall 5 and say hello.  We will be showcasing all of our products and introducing the brand new all-in-one van and tow overloading protection system.  We can discuss your commercial vehicle safety requirements and show you how the range of Hope products can work for you.

Scania Crowns their 2015 Young European Truck Driver Champion

Young European Truck Driver Hope TechnicalThe Scania Young European Truck Driver (YETD) Championship has always held a special place in our hearts, in fact we used to sponsor the annual event in partnership with Commercial Motor magazine and the Road Haulage Association. Another year means another event, and whilst we aren’t sponsoring the championship this time round, we’re keen to share news of the latest young hopefuls competing for the crown and the driver that subsequently took the title for 2015.


More about the YETD Championship

Competition is tough when it comes to being crowned Europe’s best truck driver, and with more than 20,000 individuals taking part this year, narrowing the candidates down to the final 26 was a difficult task. Held in the headquarters of the Scania Group, a leading automotive industry manufacturer of commercial vehicles, thousands flocked to Södertälje, Sweden, to see the 2015 finalists in action earlier this year and enjoy a range of exciting activities including performances from Cirkus Cirkör, seminars on bus and truck building, fun park attractions and on-site exhibitions.

The championship itself is the largest competition for drivers of heavy vehicles around the world, and to date more than 100,000 drivers and wannabe champions have competed to take the title. The 2015 event was the seventh edition of the competition, and as with the years before, the contest aims to recognise and celebrate the skilful young drivers currently taking the sector by storm with their passion for good operating economy, improved traffic safety and reduced environmental impact.

And the winner is…

With competition more fierce than ever, some 26 finalists competed for the coveted titles and the bevy of amazing prizes. The winner of this year’s competition was set to receive 100,000 euros towards the purchase of a new Scania truck along with one year’s free vehicle insurance. For second place, the runner-up would receive a VIP 24 hour racing experience for two at Le Mans, with flight tickets, accommodation, helicopter tour and VIP access all included. Third prize was a hot air balloon tour of Münsterland in Germany as part of a weekend for two.

This year’s competition saw Lars Søndergård from Denmark crowned Young European Truck Driver Champion. The UK had its own champion though, with Lancashire based Chris Brooker-Carey announced as Scania’s Young UK Truck Driver of 2015, a title that saw him secure his place in the final but unfortunately just miss out on the coveted prize.

What are the Pros and Cons of Using Cheap Tyres on Commercial Vehicles?

Cheap tyres on commercial vehiclesWhen it comes to your commercial vehicle’s tyres putting safety first is vital, but like tyre replacement on private cars, the debate about whether cheap used tyres or the more expensive, new alternatives are better still rages on. Read on to discover the pros and cons of using cheap tyres on commercial vehicles, and decide whether you are for or against for yourself!

Get the best possible price

Whether you are in charge of a full fleet or just a selection of commercial vehicles, budget will be at the forefront of any decision you make regarding maintenance. Used tyres are cheaper than buying new, and whilst the condition of unused can’t be rivalled, in many circumstances a used set provides a great alternative freeing up funds for extras, such as wheel alignment and balancing, to improve performance further.

Uneven wear that isn’t always visible

Assessing the condition of used tyres is only something that can be done by a qualified professional, and without this, you risk purchasing a tyre set that is cheap but also of poor condition. Uneven wear is particularly common when purchasing used tyres, and in many cases, damage can be difficult to spot without help from expert eyes.

If your budget simply doesn’t stretch to a new set of tyres, buy used tyres with caution, keeping an eye out for wear on the inside and outside grooves of the tyre, known professionally as ‘scalloping’.

Save money and the planet

Opting for cheaper, used tyres instead of shiny new ones is not only more economical, it’s also more environmentally friendly. Buying used over new prevents waste and ensures landfills across the country aren’t filled to the brim with used tyres that are in a perfectly usable condition.

Beware of previous patchwork

When tyres become damaged, patching offers a cost effective and convenient solution. Whilst tyres affected by low tread depth, run flat damage, secondary damage, ageing, bead damage or previous faulty repairs should be replaced not repaired, those buying used always run the risk of encountering previous patches. As well as buying from a reliable supplier, make sure you check tyres thoroughly for previous patches, bubbles and thin spots to prevent second-hand damage costing you in the future.

Whilst choosing used or new tyres for a commercial vehicle replacement is entirely up to you, educating yourself on spotting wear will ensure you can find cheap tyres without compromising on safety.

What Will the Reduction of Vehicle Testing Facilities Mean for My Business?

Vehicle Testing StationFor commercial vehicle fleet operators, the need to run a tight ship can mean the difference between success and failure, regardless of the type of cargo that you transport. Van safety is particularly important, however, with the reduction of vehicle testing facilities, many fleet operators may have questions about what the closures will mean for their wider organisation.

Here we take a closer look at why van safety matters and what you can do to ensure safe practice continues regardless of test facility closures.

How testing is changing

The annual test for lorries, buses and trailers, similar to the MOT test, is changing. Whilst the number of testing facilities is being reduced, in a quest for a more flexible and efficient service Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) assessors are improving the service they provide to remaining authorised testing facilities (ATFs).

The importance of van safety

With more than 3.2 million vans on the roads in the UK, for the organisations operating fleets and the businesses enlisting them for assistance, safety should be high on their list of priorities. A recent survey by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that poorly maintained vans are actually costing the UK economy millions of pounds each and every year, and of the 10,800 vans stopped at the roadside annually 85% are overloaded, 54% have major mechanical faults and shockingly 50% fail their class 7 MOT.

What can I do to promote safety?

Whilst the closure of many VOSA testing facilities for vans above 3.5 tonnes across the UK is worrying for fleet operators who have until now relied on them to ensure their vans are correctly maintained, there are a variety of steps that can be taken to take matters into your own hands.

Completed on a daily basis, the simple checks detailed below could help you avoid the penalties and prohibitions that go hand-in-hand with vans that are not roadworthy.

  • Understand the van’s maximum payload to ensure overloading can be prevented
  • Check the vehicle’s brakes and steering, paying particular attention to the parking brake when the van is stationary and fully loaded
  • Examine the tread depth, inflation and condition of your van’s tyres
  • Make sure all lights, indicators, washers and wipers are fully operational
  • Ensure all mirrors are correctly aligned and secured
  • Top up your van’s brake fluid, engine coolant, engine oil, power steering fluid and windscreen washer fluid
  • Make sure all bodywork and doors are fully secure
  • Utilise specialist van and commercial vehicle safety equipment such the Hope Safe T Bar under run bars, safety steps in the Hope Safe T Step range and the Hope Tool lift system.

Alongside the daily maintenance checks mentioned above, booking an annual test at an ATF is vital.


Hope Technical Developments at CVS 2015

CVS15 LOGOHope will be exhibiting at the Commercial Vehicle Show at the NEC Birmingham from April 14th to 16th.  We will have a stand and would be delighted to see you there, so if you are planing to visit the show please drop by stand 5H108 and say hello.  We can discuss your commercial vehicle safety requirements and show you how the range of Hope products can work for you.

Hope Launch Hope Coatings

professional powder coating

Having set up our own pre-treatment and powder coating facility in Littlehampton last year to guarantee the very best quality finish to all our products, we are now pleased to be able to offer our various professional powder coating services to you. For further information please get in touch.