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CV market climbs to record high, but van operators need to address safety issues

16 April 2015 #CV Sector #CV Show #News #Sales #Top Stories

With the UK recording the highest number of commercial vehicle registrations on record in the first quarter of 2015, the heavy truck market seems to be making a rapid recovery from the introduction of the Euro-6 emissions limits and the changes to Type Approval that helped to drive the market down in 2014. At the same time, light CV registrations have continued to grow. Overall 108,456 commercial vehicles were registered between January and March.

“The market is much, much stronger than it has been for a while”, says SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes, “It’s perhaps an unhelpful comparison to last year for trucks, given the changes with Euro-6 and Type Approval giving a very uncertain and fluctuating year. That seems to be on a much more solid footing now.

“Vans have been up with double digit growth month on month on month for quite some time now. That won’t continue inexorably – it can’t – but we reached an all time record in the first quarter. There has been a huge amount of pent-up demand to work through as you would expect when we’ve had three or four really bad years.”

At the same time, SMMT recently highlighted the high proportion of vans with serious mechanical defects found in roadside checks by the DVSA. 63% of the 10,800 vans stopped were affected and 93% were overloaded. Around half the vehicles stopped posed a road safety risk and were subsequently taken off the road. Some 50% of LCVs also fail their MoT test first time. Vehicles with a gross weight exceeding 3,500kg are bound by the strict operator’s licensing regulations and have a far lower first time failure rate of around 22%.

“The guidance that we’re looking to give is not rocket science”, says Hawes. “It’s about making sure that businesses understand that dealing with this is good for business.

“Safety by itself is unarguable. In terms of ensuring you’re operating your business most effectively, you don’t want the vehicle going in for a MoT test and being off the road for a period of time. It’s just that constant maintenance rather than facing a large bill, with the vehicle off the road and disrupting your work pattern. Regular maintenance will improve the operation of the vehicle which has a pounds and pence benefit as well.

“So we are trying to draw attention to it. I don’t think there is any huge appetite for regulation, looking at it from the current situation. But there’s a general election coming as we all know. While we’ve not received any signs that any of the political parties would come in with this high on their agenda, the balance between free market and regulation could change a little. If there are some high profile issues, then you quite quickly get to that sense that something must be done. We want to avoid that because at the moment we view that as additional, burdensome legislation.”

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