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Something for the weekend - a refreshed Vito, rising used van prices and an electric van faux pas...

Published on Friday 15 March 2019 in Van News

Something for the weekend - a refreshed Vito, rising used van prices and an electric van faux pas...

Every Friday Vanarama's resident van expert Tim Cattlin offers his own take on what's hit the news (or gossip tree) in the world of vans and anything else that might impact van operators and drivers across the UK.


The Mercedes-Benz Vito...

is to get a few tweaks this summer. Remember the pretty cool ProConnect connectivity and fleet management system we talked about at great length when we reviewed the Sprinter recently? (if you haven't watched the video review or listened to the podcast, you really should). Well, unsurprisingly it's being made available to the Sprinter's little brother. Not only this, Vito is getting a redesigned instrument cluster, some new colours and refreshed alloy wheel designs.

 

The word on the street

Whilst we're on the subject of Mercedes-Benz vans, if you listened to the latest Vanarama Loadspace podcast (and why wouldn't you?), you will have heard us speculating as to why the Sprinter had dropped down the league table of van registrations. Well, I've done some digging with my contacts and, in true tabloid newspaper fashion 'a source' tells me that this is a result of some pent-up demand finally being satisfied and a sense of normality returning. Not only that, Volkswagen have been very active in attacking the fleet market in particular with Crafter, and Mercedes-Benz might be suffering slightly as a result. We'll wait and see what the bigger picture is over the coming months…

 

Used van values continue to rise

Auction company BCA are continuing to record rises in the value of vans entering the auction hall. The latest stats show a 7.3% increase in values in January year on year, despite average age and mileage rising. This is on top of a number of years of unprecedented high returns for fleets disposing of vans through these outlets. Values have been rising exponentially since around 2014 which is great news for sellers, but not such good times for those planning on buying a used van. And – for those planning on leasing a new LCV (ahem, cough…) it's even better news as the estimated value to the lease company at the end of the agreement can (depending on the type of finance agreement) have a BIG effect on the monthly payments to the customer. Higher value? Lower lease rate. Great news!!

 

Van theft

It's becoming rife, and some really alarming (pun not intended) statistics have come to light this week. 89% of LCVs recovered by Tracker in 2018 had been taken without the owner's keys. Much of this is being attributed to the trend for vehicles now to have a keyless entry system which can be exploited by criminals. Police advice is to keep the key well away from any part of a building which can be approached from the outside (ie, not just inside the front door), and to keep keys in a 'Faraday pouch' (available on an internet auction site near you for just a couple of quid) – these are lined with metal and prevent the electronic codes stored on the key being interrogated by the thieves.

 

Mobile phone use at the wheel

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has carried out some research with 500 van drivers around their use of mobile phones. Despite the risk of 6 penalty points and a fine, more than half admitted to making calls whilst driving without using a hands-free device. 23% said that their vans were not equipped to allow hands free calling, and of those who do have the technology installed in their vans, 33% said that they didn't use it. That's probably the most puzzling stat – is it because they just can't be bothered to pair their phone to the van, or, maybe, they don't know how? In all the vans I've driven, some are much easier than others, and we're not great ones for pulling out the handbook, are we!...

 

And finally… Electric Vans…

A week (or even a day) doesn't go by without some sort of press release or news item on the subject of EVs hitting my desk. Here's a particular gem I stumbled across the other day. You may or may not know that the government has passed legislation allowing the maximum gross vehicle weight of what is normally a 3.5t van (the heaviest that comes under LCV legislation without getting into a whole new world of tachographs, operators licences etc) to be increased to 4.25 tonnes for vans powered purely by batteries. This helps retain a decent payload capacity which would otherwise be severely reduced by the additional weight of the cells. Great idea. However – what I didn't realise was that drivers had to complete a Government approved training course. The DfT have stated that a 5 hour session will cover 'vehicle handling techniques when driving a loaded alternative fuel van, refuelling alternative fuel types and safe loading of alternative fuel vans'… Really? Anyway, just to make this a little more bizarre, it has come to light that the Government hasn't finalised the course, so no training can yet take place. Vans from LDV, Iveco and Fiat are already being marketed and orders are being taken. Whether customers will actually take delivery if the drivers can't use them is another matter…

 


 



 

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