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You may be surprised to hear that the number of commercial vehicle registrations is on the rise. We recently covered this in a blog posted ‘It’s Vanageddon! at the beginning of the year.

Well the figures are still going up so we thought that we’d share with you some of the latest data for your reading pleasure.

According to figures produced by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) October saw the number of van registrations rise by 18.2 per cent. There were 26,570 new vans registered during that month alone which saw the total year-to-date growth increase to 18.1 per cent.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive has stated that, “Van registrations performed well, yielding solid growth for the total commercial vehicle market.”

By far the largest number of new van registrations belonged to Ford with 7,230 new Ford vehicles being registered during October. This gives them a 27.2 per cent share of the sector this year compared to the 24.5 per cent share back in Oct 2013.

So as new van registrations continue to rise we hope to see this reflected in the number of van insurance policies being undertaken – thus making sure that those new vehicles are being kept safe.

It feels like we’ve only just had our summer, autumn seems to be flying by and we all know what comes next – the dreaded winter!

Van snowed under

We all know what that means, cold winds, ice and snow. These conditions can make any journey dangerous; one way of making your journeys safer is to make sure that you keep on top of your vehicle maintenance.

Tyres

Your vehicle tyres are possibly one of the first things to check on your van, the legal limit for tyre tread is 1.6mm but the recommendation for tread depth during the winter is 3mm, anything lower than this can dramatically increase the emergency stopping distance of your vehicle.

It is also important to check your tyre pressure as having the incorrect pressure can damage the inflatable tubing that keeps your wheels inflated. It is advisable whenever possible to have winter tyres fitted to your vehicle during the colder months as they will help you gain traction and much needed grip on the slippery road surfaces.

Anti-freeze

Making sure that your van is topped up with adequate amounts of anti-freeze will go a long way towards preventing breakdown caused by water in the engine’s cooling system freezing and damaging the radiator and other components.

Anti-freeze lowers the freezing point of the water and helps to ensure that everything flows smoothly. Don’t be fooled by the name though, anti-freeze also raises the boiling point too! Which helps prevent the engine from overheating – wonderful stuff!

Warning! - be aware that you should never add coolant to a hot engine! If you need to add more liquid, wait until the engine has cooled down and never unscrew the caps on engine when it is hot; if you do, hot coolant may be ejected causing burns.

Oil

I’m sure that most of you know why we need to use the correct oil in our vehicles but for those who aren’t so sure I’ll explain why!

The oil disperses heat caused by friction and reduces wear as it stops the metal surfaces in your engine from grinding together by creating a separate oil film between surfaces, protecting the engine. Plus oil helps to prevent dirt build-up and helps protect against oxidation – that’s ‘rusting’ to you and me.

Besides the above properties different oils have different levels of ‘viscosity’, which is a measure of the liquids thickness or resistance to flow (think of the difference between syrup and water and you get the idea).

Why am I telling you this? Well as you’ll learn in a minute it’s important!

It is possible to use oils with different viscosity levels, so you can have one oil that is ‘thinner’ than another. Going back to the syrup analogy, you know that cold syrup is more ‘gloopy’ than syrup that has been warmed – well it’s the same with the oil in your van, cold oil has greater resistance to movement whereas warm oil moves more freely.

So as you can imagine when it is colder outside the ambient temperature has dropped so thicker oil is harder for your engine components to move, creating more strain on the engine. This is why in the winter is it a good idea to use an oil with a lower viscosity so that it is easier for the engine to move from a cold start.

Batteries

Cold weather can have a debilitating effect on your vehicle’s battery with performance dropping when the weather does the same.

It’s more likely that batteries will die in winter when the cold weather hits with power output dropping, recharge ability reduced and increased demand as headlights, windscreen wipers, internal heating, and other power draws are used more often.

The AA have reported that patrols were called to more than half a million battery breakdowns in 2010 and replaced more than 140,000 batteries. If your battery is more than five years old and has difficulty starting it is advisable to get it replaced as soon as possible to help you in the colder months.

It’s also important to make sure that that everything electrical in the vehicle is turned off when you park the vehicle – for example an interior light, boot light, or radio left on overnight can kill a battery when it's cold.

Anything else?

There are plenty of other preventative actions that can be undertaken to help secure a safer journey and the longevity of your vehicle during the winter months, parking in a garage for example is one such example.

The Royal society for the Prevention of Accidents have a great list of measures that you can use during the colder times for increased winter safety. It is also important to make sure that your van insurance policy is up-to-date. It is also worth knowing that breakdowns needn’t be a nightmare as if you are unfortunate enough to need assistance our van insurance policies come with free RAC breakdown cover included as standard!

The prestigious What Van? Award for 2015 will be announced on 16th December at the five star Andaz hotel on Liverpool Street in central London.

For the second year running vehicle leasing firm Leaseplan will be partnering with What Van? for the event hosting. Mark Lovett Leaseplan’s head of commercial vehicles has said, “Following a very successful sponsorship deal last year between LeasePlan and What Van? Magazine for the What Van? Awards, we at LeasePlan, are delighted, once again, to be the main sponsor of this year’s awards.”

What Van? Awards 2015

The winners will be announced online at What Van? following the awards ceremony. The Ford Transit was the winner for the second year running in 2014 – which vehicle will be the winner this year?

There has been talk of an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) being set up in London for some time now. It appears that our fair City of London isn’t actually that fair; with our capital failing to meet the EU air pollution directive.

Why the new scheme?

The new directive is set to be introduced in 2020 and is aiming to be the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone. The initiative is aiming specifically towards Euro 6 emission standards with a particular focus on reducing emissions of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) – a by-product of diesel engines and the reason London failed the EU air pollution directive.

Boris Johnson is planning to charge diesel vehicles more to enter the centre of the city if vehicles don’t meet the Euro 6 emissions standard.

This will be mandatory for all types of approved vehicles from September 2015 and specifically targets Nitrogen dioxide emissions, requiring more than a 50 % reduction in these emissions over the current euro 5.

How much will it cost?

As for how much vehicles failing to meet the Euro 6 standard will be charged, a spokesperson for the Mayor of London has said that "precise charges that will apply are still subject to consultation.” – Which is helpful.

The spokesperson also added, “The ULEZ will apply to all vehicles. Standards are tailored to the specific types of vehicle – so buses must be at least hybrid, HGVs will have to be Euro 6 as they are all diesel, vans and cars will have to be Euro 6 if diesel and Euro 4 if petrol.”

So the new directive is not aimed solely towards diesel vehicles but certain petrol vehicles are also liable for a fine if they do not meet the Euro 4 petrol standard.

Where?

The new Ultra-Low Emissions Zone will use the existing Congestion Zone boundary – Pentonville Road, Finsbury in the North to Kennington Lane in the South then from Commercial Road in Spitalfields over to Marylebone Road when ranging from East to West.

It is estimated that more than 619,000 vans enter that boundary each year and there are currently two proposals for the ULEZ operating hours; similarly, these will follow Congestion Charge times, which are: Monday to Friday, 7am until 6pm or the Low Emission zone times which are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Is my vehicle affected?

The Euro 6 European exhaust emission regulations came into effect on 1st September 2014 and all new trucks and buses registered from 1st January 2014 will need to be fitted with a Euro 6 certified engine – these engines will help to see a significant reduction in tail-pipe emissions.

While this all sounds great for the environment it is slightly confusing; “Is my van Euro 6 compliant or is it not?” is the question that we hear. Luckily there is a simple tool on the Transport for London (TfL) website that can let you know if your vehicle is affected and you’ll need to pay those charges that you can find here: Low Emission Zone - Affected Vehicles.

While we don’t necessarily want to toot our own horn we are aware of one way that can help you mitigate the expense of driving in London - and that is saving on your van insurance.

Iveco have added an extra incentive for buyers who are currently considering the purchase of a new large van. Until the end of this year Iveco is offering a five year/100,000 mile warranty on their new ‘Iveco Daily’ vans which are due to be released later on this month.

The offer is being used to entice customers from the small business sector into the Iveco fold, and is limited to five vans per customer – this is a tactic that Iveco hopes will help smaller businesses choose the Daily as their fleet van of choice. Larger businesses need not worry, however, as Iveco already offers benefits for their particular business types.

The new Iveco Daily has the same robust box-on-chassis build configuration as other incarnations but the van has been almost completely redesigned. The new design will offer a larger payload and better driver comfort - all the while retaining the durable build quality which Iveco is known for.

Managing Director of Iveco UK Claudio Zanframundo has stated, “The New Daily range offers the most extensive line-up in its class, with gross vehicle weights from 3.5- to 7.0 tonnes, load space volumes from 7.3- to 19.6cu.m and nine power outputs from 106- to 205bhp. There’s quite simply a van for all missions. We’ve designed New Daily to take on any challenge, from multi-drop urban distribution work to express deliveries over long-distances.”

He added, “New Daily is currently the only van in its class available with a five-year warranty. It’s a reflection of our absolute confidence in this third generation model range, which is the result of a $700 million investment.”