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New bike rack camera is an ‘industry-first’

Bike rack camera

A Swedish company specialising in mobile living has launched what it claims is an industry-first bike rack camera.

If you’ve struggled to reverse a motorhome, campervan, estate car or van with a bike rack on the back, the Dometic CAM200 Bike Rack Camera could be the best product of 2020.

It’s a common problem for anyone travelling with a bike rack. With the bikes loaded, the rear-view camera is obscured. This restricts the view for the driver, making it harder to reverse when the bike rack is in use.

Two cameras

Dometic CAM200 Bike Rack Camera

Dometic’s patent-protected bike rack camera is the solution. It fits on the lower section of the bike rack to provide a clear rear view for the driver. Dometic says that by mounting it low, the “risk of misjudging the length of the rack can be excluded”.

As a bonus, the camera can be fitted without drilling on most bike racks – it simply slides into the outer rail by tightening the in-built screws.

The CAM2000 features two individually adjustable camera models, allowing the driver to find the best possible viewing angle. It switches between the two cameras to provide a clear view, even when bikes are loaded.

Of interest to UK buyers is the fact that the bike rack camera is waterproof. It’s also dust-proof. The system cable is detachable, so that the bike rack can be removed from the vehicle when not in use.

On sale in February for £320

Cycle rack camera

It goes on sale in February 2020, with prices starting from €379 (£320).

Dometic separated from Electrolux in 2001. The Swedish firm specialises in products designed for the mobile living sector, which includes RVs and boats. Its portfolio includes cameras, monitors, air conditioners, awnings, toilets, blinds, generators, vacuum cleaners and sanitation systems.

The company turned over 18.274m SEK (£14.725m) in 2018 and employs 8,000 people across the world.

Van theft epidemic: 30 are stolen every day

more than 30 vans stolen every day

On average, 30 vans have been stolen every day in the UK since 2016. That’s 43,000 vans over the course of three years.

Another 117,000 vans have been broken into over the same period. The result is a £61.9 million cost to businesses and drivers in lost tools and other items. The research was conducted by What Car?, which submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to get the figures.

Van theft is seemingly on the rise. Figures show an increase of 8.21 percent between 2017 and 2018. This trend continued into 2019, with 8,200 thefts registered in the first six months.

more than 30 vans stolen every day

London is a hot-spot for van thefts. A total of 14,263 were taken over a four-year period, with 44,742 broken into. 

A surprising 42 percent of new vans don’t come with an alarm fitted as standard. And 5.5 percent don’t even have the option of an alarm.

However, 90 percent come with remote central locking and 80 percent are fitted with deadlocks (which don’t feature a spring, and are therefore harder to pick).

more than 30 vans stolen every day

“More than four million van drivers rely on their vehicle for work or business needs,” said Jim Holder, editorial director at What Car? Vans. 

“The fact that four out of 10 new vans on sale do not feature a factory-fitted alarm as standard is a cause for concern – especially as our research found more than 43,000 have been stolen since 2016, with a further 117,000 broken into.

“While newer vans and higher trim specifications now come with many of the security features as standard, it’s concerning to see owners of lower trim levels having to fork out extra for something as simple as an alarm – this is something the industry needs to work on and underlines why van buyers must do careful research before purchasing their next vehicle.”

Van drivers spend 7 billion hours a year looking for parking

Van drivers facing parking crisis

The UK’s van drivers are facing a parking plight, according to new research. It’s calculated that the UK’s 3.3 million van drivers spend a massive 7 billion hours a year looking for parking spaces. Cross that with the average hourly rate of pay for a driver, and you get a cost to the economy of £76.2 billion. 

Over 45 percent of van drivers said they needed over five minutes to find a parking spot for their deliveries. Sixteen percent said they needed over 20 minutes.

The largest portion of respondents to the Vanarama survey (22 percent) actually said finding parking was a one to two-minute job. Worryingly, it’s this that the overall time and money figures are based on.

Van drivers facing parking crisis

If the average driver is delivering 50 packages a day, with each delivery taking around two minutes, then that’s an hour and 40 minutes per day spent looking for a place to park. Cross that with the 3.254 million people that use a van for their job in the UK, and you get that enormous 6.99 billion hours per-year waste figure, and the £76.2 billion loss to the economy.

Scary, given that it all comes from one to two minutes of fishing for parking per delivery.

Van drivers facing finesVan drivers facing parking crisis

Van drivers don’t have a lot to work with either, it’s claimed. Vanorama took a closer look at the dimensions of the most popular vans sold in the UK. They found that they do not gel with the average UK parking space. 

The average UK parking space is 4.8 metres long. The van that sticks out the least in the top six is the UK’s fifth most-popular, the Vauxhall Vivaro, at 4.892 metres long. Bad luck if you’re in a regular-sized Ford Transit, the second most-popular van in the UK, you’ll be working with 5.531 metres of length. None of the six actually fit in the average UK parking space.

If you’re in L4 variants of the Ford Transit or Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, it’s even worse. They exceed the length of the average UK parking space, by between 1.9 and 2.6 metres.

Van drivers facing parking crisis

Why is this a problem? Because van drivers catch a lot of grief for their over-sized vehicles and the space they take up, when there’s nothing they can do about it. Nevermind the vocal criticism they get, van drivers could face fines of £50 for protruding from parking spaces.

Too small, and not enough of them

The UK high street is “failing” our van drives, according to Vanarama. In the analysis of Birmingham, Manchester, London and Newcastle Upon Tyne high streets, Vanorama found that less than one percent of the total area was taken up by parking. All because of how crowded and unsuitable parking is for vans in these locations.

Opinion: Why must we go back for the future?

Morris JE electric van

‘A retro-styled electric masterpiece’, reads one headline for the Morris JE van. ‘Brilliantly retro’, says another. ‘Retro-cute’ and ‘the cutest electric van I’ve ever seen’ concludes this quartet of rather gushing and sickly-sweet intros.

I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying it. Quite literally, given the fact that the JE van is expected to sell for around £60,000 in 2021.

It’s a ‘reimagining of the original [and] iconic’ J-type van, says Morris Commercial, before describing the 1950s classic as ‘unapologetically distinctive’.

What’s the obsession with reimagining stuff from our past? What next, a reimagining of other distinctive elements of 1950s Britain, such as polio, pea-soupers and women tied to the twin-tub washing machine?

Mind you, there’s no knowing what Britain will look like two years from now.

Putting aside the pros and cons of electric vehicles for a moment, shouldn’t the designs be forward-thinking, progressive and challenging? I’m not sure a van that looks like something Mr Tumble might drive is going to do much for the EV market.

Morris JE van

The company claims it will appeal to a wide range of customers, but the list is exhausting, if not exhaustive.

Small boutique businesses, larger corporate fleets, luxury and lifestyle brands, the hospitality industry, the sport and leisure industry, high-end manufacturing, the events industry and green logistics.

And… breathe. Anyone for a game of monkey tennis?

Of those, who is going to want to drop £60k on Mr Tumble’s company wheels? I can’t see an artisan coffee company ditching the H-van for one of these. Is a fleet buyer going to say “no thank you” to the resources and support of Volkswagen, Renault, Nissan and the like?

The figures don’t add up. A range of 200 miles and a one-tonne payload might look acceptable in 2019, but the technology should have moved on by 2021. The LDV EV30 boasts another name from Britain’s ‘glorious past’, 200 miles of range and a one-tonne payload. The price? Rumoured to be in the region of £30,000.

Morris Commercial says it will create “an individuality in a market where dull, generic design is normal”. Which is one way of justifying an exorbitant price tag and a dashboard that looks straight outta LazyTown.

Vans are ‘dull’ and ‘generic’ because that’s what the market wants. These vehicles are built to do a job on time, reliably, efficiently and without fuss. Sure, there’s a place for vans without ‘clean me‘ perma-scrawled into the dirt on the back doors – I know folk who love their vans more than their family car.

It’s just that most vans I see look like they’ve been used as target practice at the local paintballing centre within a few months of hitting the road. How is the JE’s carbon-fibre body going to withstand even the lightest of damage?

I don’t doubt the hard work that’s gone into creating this ‘masterpiece’. But harking back to a bygone era hints at a lack of creativity and an absence of ideas. Besides, I have a feeling the ‘retro-cute’ market will be swallowed up by Volkswagen’s Buzz Cargo thingy.

I could be wrong (and it wouldn’t be the first time). Maybe the commercial sector is waiting for Mr Tumble to roll into LazyTown in a blaze of zero emission glory. Me, I’m just waiting for someone to unearth a barn-find Bedford CF Electric.

Van thefts up 45 percent to record high

Van thefts increase in the UK

The number of vans stolen in the UK has increased by 45 percent over the last four years, according to new figures.

Police have recorded 32,056 incidents of van theft since 2015 – with 9,371 vans reported stolen in the last year alone. 

Of these, 4,777 vans were reported stolen to the Metropolitan Police – a 15 percent year-on-year increase. Meanwhile, in Leicestershire, van theft is up 843 percent to 377.

A Freedom of Information Request (FOI) found that van theft is up in most of the police forces included in the study, although the figure is down 73 percent in the West Midlands.

The study was conducted by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. It’s advising van owners and fleet managers to ensure their vehicles are fitted with the latest anti-theft devices and to remove tools overnight.

Over the weekend, thousands of pounds worth of tools were stolen from vans in the West Midlands. Julie Meer, Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) on the Tyburn Neighbourhood Team said: “”Can we please remind residents to be vigilant at this time and not to leave items of value including tools inside their vans and please use vehicle alarms where available.”

How to protect your van from theft

Volkswagen has the following advice for van drivers:

  • Park in well-lit areas or car parks with CCTV. Alternatively, position your van so that the doors are blocked by another vehicle
  • Window guards or full internal bulkheads can prevent thieves from seeing inside
  • Adding security film to the side glass and back window can stop thieves from breaking in
  • Fitting additional locks is a good idea
  • Invest in lockable internal racking or secure storage boxes
  • Fitting a tracking device can assist the police in the hunt for a stolen van

Volkswagen police van

David Hanna, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles head of service and parts operations, said: “Our most recent findings are concerning as it reveals that the problem of van theft is getting worse rather than better – and it’s a problem right across the country.

“Vans are the lifeblood of so many businesses up and down the country and it’s not only the emotional stress of replacing the vehicle but also the days and weeks of letting customers down and the cost of replacing tools, often worth thousands of pounds, before you can get back to ‘business as usual’.’

Number of van thefts

The FOI request was sent to 47 police forces across the UK. A total of 42 responded – here are the top 10.

Police forceStolen vans (2017/18)Stolen vans (2018/19)Year-on-year increase
Metropolitan Police4,1374.77715 percent
West Yorkshire55793167 percent
West Midlands1,505409-73 percent
Essex22838770 percent
Leicestershire40377843 percent
Hertfordshire20625323 percent
Derbyshiren/a229
Surrey210208-1 percent
Avon and Somerset16619316 percent
Sussexn/a181