The coming 12 months is set to be an interesting period for the van market, with new legislation and technology playing a major part in shaping driver habits and preferences.
In 2016, Northgate will continue to buy and rent a broad mix of vehicles across the whole of the sub-3.5T LCV range. Historically CDV has been the largest category for Northgate in terms of volume, however, we are seeing a slight movement towards larger vans as well as the usual Q4 seasonal increase in the same.
As well as the usual panel van demand we will continue to buy tippers, dropsides and Luton vehicles which remain a standard and important part of our fleet and value proposition.
Without a doubt, the most interesting development in the van market in 2016 will involve the transition from Euro 5 to Euro 6.
This will represent a sea change of vehicles in terms of the technology that manufacturers are using to meet the Euro emissions requirements and van users in all sectors will be affected eventually.
Naturally, manufacturers will look to achieve a return on their investment in meeting the new emissions targets, but there will also be operational impacts due to the requirement to supplement fuel with the reduction agent AdBlue.
AdBlue is consumed in proportion to engine usage, with levels requiring regular monitoring and top-ups; falling levels are indicated by a warning light on the dashboard to tell the driver when the tank is reduced to a quarter full, and if it reaches minimal levels.
This has the potential to have a knock-on effect on payloads, and will require increased vigilance to ensure that warnings are heeded and AdBlue is regularly topped up to avoid hampering vehicle performance. We should also see some emissions benefits passed on to our customers as a result of this legislation.
The emissions legislation is industry-wide and so no provider will be exempt; the key will be to ensure that communication is clear and that all van drivers are aware of the new requirements.
From a technology standpoint, the increased dependence on Bluetooth connectivity is becoming a necessity in all vans and will only continue into the future – not only as an optional extra, but as standard even at a base level, as it needs to be there for everyone.
Longer term, telematics or the “connected van” is gradually increasing in importance and will continue to do so, with greater functionality being offered with LCVs in the coming years and new standards being introduced.
Post by Mark Goss, asset procurement director at Northgate Vehicle Hire