Ford Transit Connect van gets a motorsport makeover

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect

Tuning company MS-RT has revealed its sporty take on the Ford Transit Connect.

Like the larger Transit Custom that MS-RT revealed in 2018, the Connect features an aggressive styling kit to help it stand out.

A jutting front splitter and bumper with large intake grilles redefine the van’s front end. You’ll also spot side skirts and a new rear bumper, diffuser and roof spoiler.

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect

The kit is manufactured on-site at MS-RT’s Pontypool facility in South Wales. Complementing the new bodywork is a set of 18-inch OZ Racing alloys, which you can order in silver or bronze.

Giving the Transit Connect a bit more vocal range is a new stainless steel sports exhaust. Its cabin is spruced up with leather and suede trim, plus a carbon-embellished steering wheel.

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect

As MS-RT works with Ford’s rally division, there is a nod of approval from the Blue Oval. All MS-RT Transit Connects will be warrantied to three years or 100,000 miles.

So what will this tastier Transit cost you? It starts from £23,995 with a manual gearbox, or £24,995 with an auto, although both those prices exclude VAT. Add the optional sticker pack, black exhaust tips and a full carbon wheel and that price swells further.

We’d consider paying extra for the bronze wheels and fruity app-controlled exhaust.

MS-RT Ford Transit Connect

Orders will start arriving in September, but if the Connect doesn’t quite meet your needs, double-cab and long-wheelbase versions will follow before long.

“We’ve enjoyed unprecedented success with the MS-RT Transit Custom, with the order books completely full since launch,” said MS-RT director, Edward Davies.

“Our customers absolutely love their vans and the uniqueness of them, so we expect that the Connect will develop a similar following among those who want a commercial vehicle with genuine motorsport heritage, fantastic sports styling and a full manufacturer-backed warranty. We can’t wait to deliver the first Launch Edition models later this year.”

Van drivers are paying £600k a year in loading bay fines

Volkswagen parking bay fines

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is highlighting the parking fine plight facing the UK’s van drivers. Over the past three years, fines administered have added up to £1.7million.

Where are they getting these fines? Loading bays…

Volkswagen parking bay fines

That adds up to around £600,000 a year. Councils have issued around 13,000 parking fines a year since 2015 and the number of fines administered has risen by around 10 percent year-on-year.

Interestingly, around 23 percent of appeals against penalty charge notices for incorrect loading bay use were successful. Volkswagen believes there is palpable confusion around the rules of loading bays.

The rules of loading bay parking

Volkswagen parking bay fines

  • Loading bays are designed to do exactly what it says on the sign. That’s to say, they’re for collecting pre-ordered goods, or dropping off goods that require a vehicle to transport them.
  • Unattended vehicles need to have hazard lights turned on, to make it clear that they’re being loaded or unloaded.
  • Crucially, a loading bay should never be used as a way station to wait in while parking frees up.
  • Time restrictions also apply to almost every loading bay. Make sure to operate in accordance with these.

Volkswagen parking bay fines

“As this research reveals, PCNs are costing businesses thousands of pounds a year,” said Sarah Cox, head of marketing at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

“In fact, they can be avoided completely if you understand the rules correctly. Loading bays are an essential part of the red route network as they allow businesses to access central locations to make and receive important deliveries. As the rules change between councils, it is crucial that you check before you park.”

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

Citroen Berlingo Van vs WRC rally star

Citroen Berlingo van WRC specialThe Citroen Berlingo van is virtually a brand in its own right. Frequently Britain’s best-selling light commercial vehicle, it has built a reputation since 1996 for toughness, flexibility and dependability.

So when Citroen World Rally Championship star Esapekka Lappi visited Britain, an idea was hatched. They could have let him do demonstration runs in a road-going version of the C3 supermini he spectacularly drives in the WRC. Fun, but maybe a bit ho-hum. 

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

Instead, brilliantly, a new Citroen Berlingo van was given a rally-spec engineering makeover. A rally training school was hired for the day, and Lappi was let loose towork his magic. Even better, I was lucky enough to hitch a ride.

The idea was to show off how robust the Berlingo is. Citroen UK dubbed it a ‘stress test’, and it’ll be interesting to know if a day’s thrashing by one of rallying’s hottest young talents now becomes an official part of the development sign-off process.

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

Citroen had an extra ace to justify the day: a Berlingo ‘Worker’ version was chosen. This has 30 mm more ground clearance than the regular van, more underbody protection, hill descent control, Grip Control (which magics up extra traction from the front wheels via electronics) plus beefier mud and snow tyres.

It’s more WRC-spec than any road-going C3, particularly with the installation of a regular ‘bar’ handbrake instead of the standard Berlingo’s electronic parking brake. Add on a WRC-style livery (“we weren’t allowed to use Red Bull branding, so we went with our centenary logo instead”) and it was all set for an unlikely afternoon of driving.

Rallying a Citroen Berlingo Van

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

It was my turn first. Cool as a cucumber, Esapekka cheerily told me to do whatever I wanted, go as fast as I liked. Racing drivers can be super-cautious when being driven by people they’ve never met: rally drivers are a different breed. As I fired up the stock HDi diesel engine, he sat back and relaxed, as if we were driving to the first job of the day.

All that was missing was a copy of The Sun on the dashboard for him to read.

I won’t bore you with what I drove like, because I was rubbish. I understand circuit racing, but I really can’t get my head around rallying. There’s no grip, the vehicle must always be dancing, usually sliding, and the way you have to use Scandinavian flicks is a bit like playing snooker. I was bamboozled.

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

The van, amazingly, felt great. Loads of suspension travel made light work of the lumpy rally-spec surface and even though I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, it was still fun to slide around. But I knew I only had a limited time with Esapekka, so I pulled up early. Time to swap, and show me how it should be done.

Citroen Berlingo Van WRC

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

I quickly got it barely 10 seconds later, as we scrabbled away in a gravelly, clattery rush, hurtled towards the first corner and, unlike me, he didn’t brake and totter round but instead pitched sideways and drifted through it at barely-abated speed with the most ludicrous cloud of dust left in our wake. This is how you rally a Berlingo van.

At least with circuit driving, you can work out braking points and likely speeds through corners. Sitting alongside a rally driver, even in a van, is the most random experience because it all seems so confidently improvised and beyond-comprehension fast. This was a sun-baked gravel course whose surface you could do skids on in your shoes. There’s no way a standard road-going diesel van should be going this quickly.

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

But Esapekka was on it, working at the wheel in a blur, making it do the most graceful things through bends probably three times faster than I’d taken them. Absolutely glorious is the only way to describe it – genuinely more fun and thrilling than many a supercar blast around a racetrack.

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

We eventually had to stop because there was so much dust, we couldn’t see where to go. I had no idea a Berlingo van could do what I’d just been shown, and certainly no clue it could seemingly take such treatment in its stride. The man who winces when he hits a pothole had just experienced a van being monstered by a WRC driver, and it was still ready for more.

Citroen Berlingo van WRC special

Indeed, once the dust had settled, it was out again, so I could marvel at the 25-metre drifts and, as it disappeared back into the dust, growl of a hard-worked diesel engine and sounds of tyres battering gravel indicating Esapekka wasn’t letting up.

“It has a long heritage and is very well known in the light van sector,” Citroen’s CV boss told me later. “We had the chance to work with Esapekka so we thought we’d do something a bit different, to add to the Berlingo van brand story.”

Quite brilliant, Citroen. Even Esapekka seemed surprised. “I’m actually impressed with how much fun it is to drive – it corners well and it’s very strong.”

Rally drivers really are a different breed, and will drive anything spectacularly. That a future WRC champ has given such kudos to the Berlingo van is surely now worth a point or two on the building site or delivery yard.

Volkswagen launches Contract Hire Direct

Now you can buy your next Volkwagen van completely online

Volkswagen launches Contract Hire Direct

Volkswagen has announced a new digital platform aimed at making the process of buying a new van easier for customers.  

Those that use a van for work everyday are likely to be short on time, and trips to dealerships eat into important business hours. 

The answer is the new Contract Hire Direct service, allowing commercial vehicle customers to deal directly with Volkswagen UK.

Volkswagen launches Contract Hire Direct

The new process will allow buyers to find a van that meets their needs, tailor a finance package, and then apply for contract hire or lease online through the website. 

Volkswagen promises that the deals available from VW Financial Services will prove to be good value, and customisable based upon mileage and customer deposit size.

Volkswagen launches Contract Hire DirectEven after ordering, there is still no need to actually head to a local Volkswagen Van Centre. Customers can request for their new van or pickup to be delivered directly to their door instead. 

With more than 80 percent of new vehicle customers beginning their research online, extending the process to include actual purchasing is a logical extension. 

Sarah Cox, Head of Marketing for Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “The typical customer journey has changed and we are excited to be launching this new system via our award-winning website to keep up with the demand.

“As part of our Working With You promise, we’re committed to evolving our services to meet the ever-changing needs and requirements of the modern-day business, and we would expect to see more direct sales options coming on line in future.”

All British Gas vans will be electric by 2030

British Gas to cycle its van fleet to electric power

Energy supplier British Gas has pledged to replace its existing fleet of 12,500 vans with all-electric versions by the end of the next decade

The fleet is the third largest in the UK, used to transport 15,000 engineers. British gas owner SSE has also pledged its 3,500-vehicle fleet will transition to electric and that it will build new charging points to support this.

“Decarbonisation is at the heart of what we do, and low-carbon emissions from transport is critical if the UK is to meet its net zero targets,” said Brian McLaren, director at SSE.

British Gas to cycle its van fleet to electric power

SSE has also signed up to an efficiency pledge to double energy productivity by 2030. This includes both improvements in energy efficiency and a reduction in energy waste.

The pledge is the brainchild of The Climate Group, which has also secured support from facilities management firm, Mitie. The latter company has committed to switch 20 percent of its 3,500 vehicle fleet to electric power by 2020.

In addition, Mitie will install 800 EV charging points, to help reduce dependency on public charging infrastructure.

British Gas to cycle its van fleet to electric power

“These companies are sending a clear message that the direction of travel for transport is electric, inspiring their staff and customers to follow,” said The Climate Group’s chief executive, Helen Clarkson. “Every major business must do the same.”

In total, The Climate Group has pledges from 49 companies, adding up to two million internal combustion vehicles off the road by 2020.

Taxi! New eco-friendly van is based on London cab

The new LEVC LCV van

LEVC, the company behind the TX London taxi, has launched a small van. Meet the LCV based on the familar, eco-friendly cab, and revealed by London Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

‘The clean and green urban delivery van of tomorrow is here,’ says LEVC. Like the TX cab, the ‘Light Commercial Vehicle’ uses the e-City range extender powertrain.

That means batteries and an electric motor, in combination with a petrol engine, for a total of 80 miles electric range, plus a total range of 377 miles.

The new LEVC LCV van

What makes this powertrain well-suited for a London cab, also works for a small delivery van. Eighty miles of electric range could see delivery drivers in the capital through an entire day before the petrol engine is called upon.

At present, the UK market for small vans is around 50,000 vehicles a year, while there are around 65,000 unique LCV journeys in London every day. That must amount to hefty ULEZ and congestion charge fees, all of which the LEVC LCV can avoid.

The new LEVC LCV van

The LCV is targeted to achieve a best-in-class total cost of ownership, compared with conventional petrol and diesel-powered vans. Durability is said to be world-class.

Along with the £3,500 scrappage incentive, plus up to £8,000 granted for ‘New Energy’ van adoption, the LCV could be a tempting prospect indeed for urban businesses.

The new LEVC LCV van

Van drivers should also be happy. The LCV has been benchmarked against premium MPVs for comfort and ease-of-operation on the inside. The TX cab’s super-tight turning circle features, too.

“The light commercial vehicle sector is the only growing vehicle traffic segment in London,” said LEVC CEO, Joerg Hofmann.

“This is due to the rapid rise in internet shopping – the Amazonisation of retail. Every day there are 65,000 unique LCV journeys into London, but mobility must not come at the expense of air quality.

The new LEVC LCV van

“We have combined our existing knowledge of the urban environment with EV technology that can put urban mobility on a sustainable pathway. Durable, reliable, efficient, cost-effective and high quality, that is our new LCV.

“London and the UK will be first to market, then we will extend the vehicle to Europe and further afield. Our goal is to be the leading European electric commercial vehicle provider.”

Van traffic has nearly DOUBLED in Britain since 1993

van traffic

Van traffic on British roads has increased by almost 100 percent since 1993, according to latest official government figures.

It means that van traffic has reached a record high of 51 billion vehicle miles. Vans now account for 16 percent of all motor vehicle traffic, compared to just 10 percent in 1993.

For context, traffic from cars and taxis is down from 82 percent to 78 percent. The distance covered by cars and taxis has risen by a more controlled 21.4 percent, albeit still to a record high of 255 billion miles.

However, although van traffic is significantly up, the rate of growth appears to be slowing down. 2018 statistics show a 0.9 percent increase from 2017. Car traffic was up just 0.2 percent.

Going further back, van traffic is up 1,143 percent since 1949, with lorries up ‘just’ 119 percent and buses and coaches actually down eight percent.

van traffic uk

Broadly speaking, vans have a similar daily travel pattern to cars, although the afternoon peak for van traffic is between 3pm and 5pm, an hour earlier than cars.

[Insert something here about van drivers clocking off an hour earlier…]

Predictably, the proportion of vans on the road at weekends is generally lower than weekdays, even at peak periods.

Rather than van drivers covering greater distances, the government says the increased traffic is due to growth in the number of licensed vans on the road.

The number rose 88 percent between 1994 and 2018, up from 2.1 to 4.0 million. Meanwhile, the average annual mileage per van has remained stable at around 13,000 miles per year.

‘Particularly worrying’

New Ford Transit

Commenting on the figures, RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “The number of miles travelled on our roads hardly changed in 2018 compared to the previous year, but interestingly, the forms of transport used has.

“Van traffic, despite experiencing slower growth in 2018, still saw a slight increase which sets a new record high.

“Cycling miles also rose and is now 34 percent above what it was 25 years ago, but there has been a continued decline in the number of miles travelled by buses and coaches which is particularly worrying in an age when, as a society, we are trying to get people to use public transport more.”

Vauxhall Vivaro launched at the 2019 CV Show

The best new vans at the 2019 CV Show

Vauxhall Vivaro launched at the 2019 CV ShowWhile the British new car market is in the doldrums, our appetite for vans is much healthier. In a decade, the UK van fleet has grown 50 percent – twice the growth rate of cars – and the market for brand new commercial vehicles is now worth £10 billion a year.

Which means the annual Commercial Vehicle Show (CV Show) at Birmingham’s NEC is a big deal. Particularly as many brands used the 2019 show to reveal their latest vans – with the headline-grabbing draw being the world debut of the Ford Transit-rivalling, British-built Vauxhall Vivaro.

Vauxhall Vivaro

Vauxhall Vivaro

The new Vauxhall Vivaro is the result of a £100 million investment into the firm’s Luton plant. 1,250 jobs have been secured and the target is to build 100,000 a year, including a fully electric version that arrives in 2020. Vauxhall chief Stephen Norman was on hand to debut the new Vivaro, and was full of facts: the entry-level 100 horsepower model emits 22 percent less CO2 than a comparable Ford Transit, for example. The 120 horsepower version puts out 27 percent less CO2 than its arch-rival. And it can take loads 21 percent longer than the Ford. No guessing which rival Vauxhall’s targeting – nor how bullish it is as to its chances…

2020 Ford Transit

Ford Transit Ecoblue Hybrid

Ford isn’t standing still, though. It will update the market-leading Transit in mid-2019 with a series of tweaks that save weight and allow it to carry up to 80 kg more load. These include an aluminium bonnet – normally a feature of exotic supercars – CAD-designed wheels and a composite bulkhead. The new EcoBlue Hybrid is the van sector’s first 48V mild hybrid, with CO2 emissions from 144 g/km, and even the regular EcoBlue diesel is seven percent more economical. Ford says it all results in the “smartest and most productive Transit ever”.

Ford Transit Custom Plug-in Hybrid

Ford Transit Custom Plug-in Hybrid

After several years of trials in London, the production version of the Ford Transit Custom Plug-In Hybrid also goes on sale at the end of 2019. It has a 30-mile electric range and a tiny 1.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine to extend range further. Ford is also promising a fully electric Transit in 2021, to take on the 2020 Vauxhall Vivaro EV.

LDV EV30

LDV EV30

At the value end of the new van sector, the LDV EV30 electric van was revealed at the 2019 CV Show. It is effectively a more affordable Chinese rival to the Nissan e-NV200 – the industry knows vans will have to go electric as soon as possible, to bypass ever-stricter city centre emissions limits. It will go on sale in 2020, with prices expected to start from £22,000.

Two bodystyles will be offered, a short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase, and there will be two battery options: 35 kWh (with a 127 mile range) and 53 kWh (offering a 200 mile range). Both will use a 114 horsepower electric motor, and total payload ranges from 600 kg to 1 tonne.  

Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 Safir

Isuzu D-Max Arctic Trucks AT35 Safir

The British pickup truck sector is a particular hot spot in the market right now – and several brands had new variants to show. Isuzu’s successful partnership with Arctic Trucks continues with the special edition AT35 Safir. Just 10 will be sold, each costing a cool £45,000. They’ll all be individually numbered, and each will be painted in Sapphire Blue Mica. Bright Lazer Lights in the bumper are complemented by a new roof-mounted light bar, alloy wheels are diamond-cut and, inside, leather seats and premium audio with subwoofer and a 9-inch touchscreen are fitted.

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport SVP

Mitsubishi Shogun Sport SVP

Mitsubishi showed a Shogun Sport concept at the 2019 CV Show, called SVP. It’s going to launch it in the summer – its show stand appearance was to get feedback from customers about what should be standard. The concept has black 18-inch wheels and BF Goodrich all-terrain tyres; they’re so chunky, the track is 40 mm wider and the wheelarches have been extended to suit. There’s also an LED light bar on the roof, PIAA rally driving lamps, black decals and badges set off by red detailing and, inside, leather seats and red LED mood lighting. We also like the sound of the Walkinshaw Performance Limited and Koni tuned suspension. Can we have it all please, Mitsubishi?

Ford Ranger Raptor

Ford Ranger Raptor

The Shogun Sport SVP will need to be tasty if it’s to take on Ford’s mighty Ranger Raptor. Described as a factory-built high-performance off-road truck, it has Fox Pro tuned suspension, multiple driving modes, a 210 horsepower 2.0-litre diesel engine and 10-speed automatic gearbox. It’s the styling both outside and in that really sets it apart, though – as it should, with prices starting from £40,696, plus VAT.

Toyota Hilux Invincible X

Toyota Hilux Invincible X

The updated Toyota Hilux Invincible X isn’t as aggressive as the hot Ranger Raptor, but it’s still more standout than regular Hilux. 18-inch wheels have a two-tone machined finish, there’s liberal use of smoked grey chrome, and the interior boasts an all-black colour scheme and piano black trim. A full suite of active safety kit is standard on 2019 models, too.

Toyota Proace City

Toyota Proace City

The long-running Toyota Proace van is being joined by a smaller sibling, the Proace City. The 2019 CV Show marked its global debut ahead of taking on Europe’s small van sector, which accounts for 1 in 3 CV sales. If the looks are familiar, that’s because it’s been developed with PSA, so is also sold as the Citroen Berlingo, Peugeot Partner and Vauxhall Combo.

Toyota Proace City Verso

Toyota Proace City Verso

There’s a passenger version of Toyota’s new small van too, called the Proace City Verso. This is available with three rows of seats in both short-wheelbase and long-wheelbase guise.

Volkswagen e-Crafter

VW e-Crafter

Volkswagen was showing off the e-Crafter large van, which is coming to the UK in right-hand drive in 2021. This one has a 136 horsepower power output and a 35 kWh lithium ion battery, good for a range of 107 miles. Importantly, load space is unaffected by the batteries, so it can carry 10.7 square metres of load – and the total payload is up to 1.75 tonnes.

Volkswagen Abt e-Caddy

VW Abt e-Caddy

Volkswagen is planning to base its electric vans on its upcoming ‘MEB’ electric architecture. This isn’t ready yet – but it has a solution. Long-time VW tuning company Abt is, with official approval, converting current-generation vans to run on electric. The first to arrive is the Abt e-Caddy, which comes later in 2019. A range of around 140 miles sounds pretty good to us – and the conversion barely affects load capacity either.

Volkswagen Crafter Police cell van

VW Police cell van

The Volkswagen ‘Engineered to Go’ customisation service is gathering pace in the UK. It relaunched earlier this year to offer high-quality, officially-approved conversions through Volkswagen UK van centres. This Police cell van apparently has toughened glass: one visitor asked if they could throw a brick at the windscreen to try it out. Presumably into the back of the van they went…

Citroen Relay Electric

Citroen Relay Electric

PSA, parent company of Peugeot and Citroen, is another brand committed to electrifying its van range. At the 2019 CV Show, it previewed electric versions of both the Citroen Relay…

Peugeot Boxer Electric

Peugeot Boxer Electric

… And the Peugeot Boxer. Standard length models will have a range of 141 miles, and longer versions will run for 169 miles between charges.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Commercial

The London ULEZ has focused business attention on cleaning up their van range. For those who want to eschew diesel entirely, but aren’t yet ready to go fully-electric, Mitsubishi has the Outlander PHEV Commercial, a van version of Britain’s most popular plug-in electric car.

SsangYong Musso Highways England concept

SsangYong Musso Highways England

SsangYong is now an official supplier to England’s ‘blue and orange light’ services. On display at the show was an early look at a collaboration it will soon announce with Highways England.

Ford Backbone of Britain campaign

Ford Backbone of Britain campaign

Ford was showing off its latest big-budget advertising campaign for its commercial vehicle range. As the UK’s CV market leader for 54 years, it has plenty to shout about, and the billboards were evident throughout the NEC…

Ford Ranger RNLI

Ford Ranger RNLI

… And it even had a few star cars from the TV ad on its stand as well! Members of the RNLI used their presence to raise vital funds from well-wishing show-goers.

Ford Fiesta SportVan

 Ford Fiesta SportVan

A year on from launch, the Fiesta SportVan still cuts a dash. It’s probably the most enjoyable small van driving enthusiast can buy – a genuine ‘hot hatch’ van.

Isuzu D-Max RAC Heavy Duty Patrol Van

Isuzu D-Max RAC

The innovations team at the RAC has worked with Isuzu and a specialist bodybuilder to create this clever new Heavy Duty Patrol Van. Based on a D-Max supercab, it can tow up to 2.8 tonnes – good for 90 percent of cars and vans on UK roads – but is much more manoeuvrable than big flat-bed trucks. It’s perfect for use in busy cities, particularly as it’s equipped with the RAC’s equally clever ‘All-Wheels Up’ towing kit that can recover stranded 4x4s and electric vehicles.

Isuzu D-Max XTR

Isuzu D-Max XTR

The D-Max XTR is another appealing special from Isuzu. It has uprated suspension (including components to increase wheel articulation), 17-inch wheels and 32-inch tyres, adding an extra 250 mm of ground clearance. High-end Kevlar ceramic brake pads are fitted, and it’s equipped with all-new Pirelli Scorpion All-Terrain tyres. The tough bodykit is distinctive, and we love how the green detailing extends to vivid green-painted suspension and brake components beneath…

SsangYong Rexton Police

SsangYong Musso Police

Another example of SsangYong’s successful partnership with authorities is this Police-liveried Rexton. The company hopes many more like this will be delivered in coming years.

Fiat Ducato ambulance

Fiat Ducato ambulance

A government report has recommended old-fashioned ‘box-style’ ambulances to be replaced by new, modular designs based on panel vans. Such as the popular Fiat Ducato conversion that’s already created hundreds of new British ambulances. If all ambulances switched to this design. The NHS could save more than £11 million each year: that’s why this exhibit was gaining a lot of attention from CV show-goers.

Vauxhall Vivaro Life

Vauxhall Vivaro Life

The passenger version of the new Vauxhall Vivaro is called the Vivaro Life. It can seat up to nine passengers, and it too will be offered as a fully-electric model from early 2021. It’s the perfect people carrier for those who want to treat passengers well – but, as it will also carry 3,397 litres of load with all seats removed, it remains a practical van at heart too.

Vauxhall Combo Cargo

Vauxhall Combo Cargo

The Vauxhall Combo Cargo is the firm’s fresh new arrival in the small van sector, and it’s already winning fans. Over 5,000 have already been sold in the UK, making it one of the best-selling models in its sector. No wonder Vauxhall is so bullish about its chances in the British van market right now.

Toyota Proace Jiffy Van

Toyota Proace Jiffy Van

Finally, we simply had to check this out: Toyota’s Proace Jiffy conversion. It’s a mobile food wagon, including a hot food display cabinet and space for a restaurant-spec coffee machine. Sadly, it hadn’t been kitted up, so we had to spend money at the NEC’s overpriced shops instead. How about decking it out for next year’s show, Toyota?

Ford van range

Backbone of Britain: 1 in 10 UK jobs relies on a van

Ford van rangeA total of 3.4 million British workers could not do their jobs without a van, reveals a new study led by the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders (SMMT).

This includes 500,000 people who drive one as their main job – contributing a £56 billion boost to the UK economy from wages alone.

In other words, 11 percent of UK GDP comes from workers who rely on a van.

New Vauxhall Vivaro

The new research, carried out with management consultancy BearingPoint, shows there are currently 4.6 million vans in use in the UK. The fleet has grown 50 percent since 2009 – that’s twice the growth-rate of the car market.

The new light commercial vehicle sector is now worth £10 billion a year in the UK, with 900,000 used vans also sold annually.

Online delivery boost

New Ford Transit

“The UK’s van fleet is the backbone of our society, driving our economy and allowing millions of workers to carry out jobs that our country relies on,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

The British van sector has been boosted by Brits’ love of online shopping. A hefty 83 percent of us have bought something online, way above the EU average of 60 percent.

This is a factor behind the number of self-employed British workers growing from 3.3 million in 2001 to 4.8 million in 2017.

James Rodger, partner and UK&I lead at report authors BearingPoint, said: “The data analysis and interviews that we have conducted highlight the key role that the LCV sector plays in the UK economy.” It is the first time the economic role played by Britain’s 3.4 million van users has been quantified.

“The report brings the data and the qualitative insights together to paint a picture of a diverse and vibrant sector which touches all our lives on a daily basis.”

Diesel dominance

The report also shows how diesel dominates the UK van sector. Fully 96 percent of British vans run on diesel – and this, says the SMMT, has helped CO2 emissions fall 10.4 percent since 2013, to an average of 166.9g/km.

New Euro 6 vans are “the cleanest in history” and have “virtually eliminated particulates and have vastly reduced NOx”.

Ultra-low and zero emissions vans have still to take off, though. New models are available, but they account for just 0.3 percent of the market.

“To continue to thrive,” said Hawes, “this vital sector needs policies and incentives that encourage businesses to invest in the latest technology that best suit their needs to help them deliver for Britain.”

Ford: leading UK vans for 54 years

Britain’s biggest van brand for the past 54 years is Ford. It has released its own research that shows online shopping and van-driving businesses contributed over £125 billion to the UK economy.

Amazingly, companies that rely heavily on vans earned more for Britain than the value of the GLOBAL film industry – and six times more than European football.

“Online shopping and an increase in those that are semployed are among the factors driving huge growth in the use of vans,” it said – confirming the findings by the SMMT.

The firm has now released a new TV ad celebrating its market leadership… and underline its own status as the CV ‘backbone of Britain’.

Meet Volkswagen’s new riot-ready police van

Police riot Van Volkswagen Crafter

If you encounter this new Volkswagen, you’re probably on the wrong side of the law. Meet the Crafter riot response vehicle.

How do you transform a humble Crafter into a police van, then? Well, Volkswagen’s blue-light conversion partner, Coleman Milne, does most of the work – starting with an ‘unbreakable’ windscreen and prison cell in the back.

Police riot Van Volkswagen Crafter

There’s also seating for seven, plus storage for riot shields, helmets and more crowd suppression gear. New side windows on the exterior complement the new windscreen, which is made of such strong reinforced plastic that an external metal cage is no longer required.

Along with that, there’s the generic police gear: communications equipment up-front and so on.

Police riot Van Volkswagen Crafter

“We’re delighted to reveal our latest blue-light conversion – a riot van based on the long wheelbase Volkswagen Crafter,” said Steven Cowell of Volkswagen fleet services.

“Following its much anticipated debut at the CV Show 2019, the PSU will be put into service across the country, supporting police forces in their vital roles.”

Police riot Van Volkswagen Crafter

Under the bonnet is an unmodified 2.0-litre 177hp diesel engine: reasonable power, even for the over-five-tonne Crafter. Besides, a lot of a riot van’s best work is done at either very low speeds, or at a standstill.

The new, riot-ready Crafter will be on display at the 2019 CV Show at the NEC in Birmingham, which runs from April 30 to May 2 2019.