DOWNSIZING IS THE WATCHWORD FOR THE MODERN LIGHT COMMERCIAL FLEET SAYS MD OF SHOREHAM VEHICLE AUCTIONS

  • Downsizing continues as LCV operators reduce fuel use and cost
  • Electric vans are still under heavy scrutiny by operators
  • Hybrid drive could become a common short term alternative power solution

Downsizing vehicles to make a fleet more fuel efficient and cost effective is becoming an increasingly popular approach among Shoreham’s customers, as they look to future proof their vehicle operation.

Generally fleets are downsizing vehicles to meet the environmental agenda and reduce fuel and general running costs, and Shoreham is seeing hundreds of sub 3.5 tonne vans going under the hammer. The benefits of downsizing are readily apparent – the Energy Savings Trust estimates that downsizing from a Ford Transit to a Transit Connect will save more than £2,300 over 60,000 miles in fuel alone. Combine that with a cheaper purchase price and the potential savings become even more attractive.

Sales of larger vans have fallen but that doesn’t mean big isn’t sometimes best and Shoreham would never rule out upsizing if the operating needs require. In some cases replacing two 3.5 tonne vans with one 7.5 tonner based on vehicle use is the way forward, despite the challenges the tachograph and restricted driving hours can bring.

The current used market reflects the demand for light commercial vehicles, with a stark shortage of four and five year old vans. Prices of used large vans between 2.8 – 3.5 tonnes GVW are going through the roof – sometimes making 150% of CAP when they go under the hammer.

Running a fleet is becoming more scientific and technical with more vans being fitted with start-stop technology which is proving an excellent prospect for urban deliveries, both from a fuel consumption and noise pollution perspective. Experimentation with electric vans continues inside London, however vehicles have been plagued with reliability and parts availability problems, so the jury is still out.

If an electric van is going to make its mark it has to benefit from the same reliability and parts availability as its diesel powered counterpart. In the meantime, the LCV technology that looks promising which doesn’t restrict range and reduce fuel use and emissions is hybrid power. Costs are still quite high, but tales of some operators offsetting the cost of the supply and fitment of an aftermarket hybrid drive over the life of two new vehicles means it could become a serious option.

There are also a few fleets looking to run trials with hydrogen to get an initial feel of how this new fuel type, including the fuelling process will suit day to day LCV operation.

But before buying a new vehicle or adopting new technology we would always involve the drivers in the purchasing process. Getting drivers behind the wheel on an extended loan enables them to get a complete feel for vehicle usability. And if the drivers like the vehicle and have given their feedback, they are more likely to look after it when it arrives on the fleet, which in turn will reduce driver related operating costs.

Future proofing your fleet now will bear immediate fruit and when the economy starts to improve the transport operation will be in the right place to grow.

…ENDS…

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