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Over the past few years, pickup trucks have grown in popularity – so why are more people considering this as their vehicle of choice? It’s a combination of things, but this surprisingly luxurious vehicle, known to offer a robust driving experience, has an impressive level of flexibility making it appeal to more and more drivers. Vehicle choice is helping too, with many drivers enjoying the multi-purpose functionality. Here’s a bit more on why we think the pickup is growing in popularity.  Today, pickup’s offer a much broader range of configurations than they once did, so, whether it’s for business or pleasure – there’s lots on offer from this multi-purpose vehicle.

The main point of having a pickup truck is generally for transporting loads, whether it be to a busy building site or for a family adventure. And, whilst pickup’s do come in a range of different makes and models, generally most of the trucks come with a fairly standard set of features that don’t always have everything required for specific requirements.

Pickup truck configurations can help with additional space and features and today we are going to review some of the top accessories that you could consider when looking to customise or enhance your pickup truck.

1. Truckman Top

The most popular product is the Truckman hardtop. The hardtop allows the rear deck of a pickup to be converted into a secure, clean, and dry space at the back of the vehicle. The Truckman adds height to the rear deck, allowing it to be better utilised for storage and access, and also means the pickup can protect anything that’s stored inside – particularly handy in the UK with its temperamental climate.

There are lots of options here for drivers, so most will find a solution that suits their needs. Here we are looking specifically at the S Series and the Truckman Max.

The premium S Series version of the truckman hardtop is available in both glass and solid sides and has been designed for super easy access with lift-up “gull-wing” style doors/windows on the sides and rear. There are lots of useful features such as remote central locking and internal lighting coming as standard, and extras such as LED brake lights and roof bars also available as add ons. The Truckman S Series extends the height of the rear of the vehicle to the same as the cab, and the way it’s fitted means it can be removed whenever suits.

Drivers can expect to pay between £2000 and £2500 for the S series – find more on options and costs here.

The Truckman Max is also available with either side windows or solid side panels and the design is really similar to the Truckman S Series. The key features such as remote central locking, tinted window, colour matching and height extended to cab height are the same.

The Max is however aimed more towards the commercial sector, so some of the features are simplified a little. Like the S Series the Truckman Max requires no drilling for fitting meaning the pick up can be converted back easily.

The simplified features make the Max a bit less expensive, with prices around £1800 to £2500.

2. Roller Cover

A retractable roll cover is another of the popular accessories for pickup trucks. Made from strong but lightweight aluminium, they are easy to use and are designed to increase the practicality of the cargo area of the vehicle. Roller covers offer a robust level of protection from the outdoor elements, so belongings are kept nicely dry and safe inside the vehicle.

When it comes to choosing roller covers there are lots of options on offer. The designs operate similarly, so here, we are looking at a popular option to illustrate how they work; the Truckman Retrax Tonneau Roller Cover for the Ford Ranger.

Constructed from industrial strength aluminium and featuring an attractive matte black finish, Truckman’s Retrax roller shutter works with a non-electrical mechanism for opening and closing. With an anti-snag system, these covers are designed for easy, daily use. The roller’s locking system is concealed under a waterproof and freezeproof cover that doubles as a handle, enabling access to the truck bed whatever the weather.

Like most accessories, there are a range of price points, but expect to pay anywhere from £1200 to £2000. Here’s the Ford Ranger Retrax Tonneau Cover with Roll Bar in action.

3. Soft Cover

Pickup trucks are generally used for hauling around lots of equipment, but keeping goods safe and secure can be a worry. Not everyone wants the full hard-top, nor can they afford it, so another, more economic way to protect the truck bed is a soft tonneau cover. One of the first things people tend to worry about is whether a soft cover is waterproof. The answer is, if fitted properly, it’s likely that very little water would ever get into the truck bed – but we can’t say that they are 100% water/weatherproof. And, there’s the question of security. Yes, a soft-top offers a level of protection to your goods, but it doesn’t offer the same resistance as a hard-top.

Soft covers are made from materials such as canvas, polyester, or vinyl and are traditionally all black. For soft covers, certain latching styles make it easier to access the truck bed. Soft covers with snaps require a good amount of work for the bed to be free of the cover and available for use. Folding covers that secure by latching to the tonneau cover side rails are much easier to use when trying to free the truck bed for cargo. For easiest access to the entire truck bed, tonneau covers that roll-up or retract stand out as the easiest to use.

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to soft covers, and they are made popular due to more affordable price points, costing from £400 to £800. Here’s a look at a folding pick-up tonneau cover for the Nissan Navara with a video to show you how it works.

4. Pull out Drawers and Sliding Trays

Often, when drivers have either their pickup hardtop or tonneau soft cover sorted they move on to consider how a pull-out pickup storage system could also help. These systems allow the bed of the pickup to be modified to incorporate roll-out drawers which are strong and can handle weights of up to 1000kg – so perfect for very heavy duty goods. Sliding trays provide access to the full bed without always having to open up the rear top, making it one of the handiest additions for organising tools and for gaining quick access.

Most sliding trays do a similar job – here we are using this popular choice to illustrate how they work: Mountain Top Sliding Tray Volkswagen Amarok Mk1-2 (2010 – Onwards) Double Cab.

The cargo bed slide is manufactured using tough aluminium making it a great solution for heavy tools and machinery or even sports gear. Operating the sliding bed tray is easy, simply using a push and pull handle and the truck tray slides out smoothly. The Mountain Top Cargo Slide offers a 70% bed extension making it the ideal solution for builders or tradesmen with heavy tools and materials.

A sliding tray will set you back anywhere from £900 to £1500.

5. Bedliners

Bedliners are the most effective accessory to protect the back of a Pickup bed from everyday scratches caused by tools and equipment moving around. Not only do they protect the truck’s bed from becoming damaged by whatever cargo it is hauling, but they also help to protect the bed from rust.

A truck bed liner can increase the resale value of your truck. People are willing to pay more for pickup’s with intact beds, and the fact that you already have a liner means that they will not have to shell out extra money for one.

One of the main things to consider when it comes to choosing the right kind of bedliner is whether you need an over rail or under rail option. Over rail options are suitable for customers who do not intend to add a hardtop or soft tonneau. The pickup bed-lining extends over the edge of the bed, giving maximum protection to the metal. Under rail bed liners stop below the rails, meaning a tonneau or Truckman hardtop can be installed without the bed liner getting in the way.

Under rail bedliners are generally constructed from heavy-duty rubber and feature a non-skid surface to prevent cargo from sliding around. They are designed to protect your pickup truck’s bed from damage such as dents, scratches and scrapes offering a barrier against damage from general wear and tear that is common with pickups used for work. Easy to install, under-rail load bed liner protects the pickup truck bed up to the edge of the rail, meaning the liner can be used in combination with a hard top canopy or tonneau cover.

The only key difference for over-the-top configurations is that because the bed liner protects up and over the truck bed edges, the liner will not be compatible with hardtop canopies or tonneau covers.

Under and over rail bedliners are similar in cost, ranging from £400 to £1000. Here you’ll see the variety of options across every make and model. https://www.truckman.co.uk/products/pick-up-bed/load-bed-liners

There is a third bedliner – the bedrug. Manufactured with 100% polypropylene material, BedRug covers the entire bed surface area of the pickup truck – and extends up to the very edge of the tailgate and sidewalls. BedRug offers great protection from work materials but it’s a more popular configuration with people who transport their pets. BedRug can be cleaned down with a vacuum or hose and the under rail design of BedRug means you can pair it with a hard top canopy or tonneau cover. Expect to pay around £500.

As you can see there are lots of things you can do to customise your pickup truck, and this is just a few of the most popular. If you’d like to know more our team of experts are always on hand.

The petrol vs diesel van debate has gone on for years, now add electric and hybrid engines into the mix and it doesn’t seem as simple a decision as it once was. With four main fuel types to choose from we know it’s not always a straightforward decision and that there’s lots to think about.

In this guide, we will examine the latest information on each fuel type, along with the pros and cons associated with them to help you make the right choice.

Petrol

It’s fair to say that in the commercial van market place, the diesel engine still dominates, with around 75% of owners opting for this engine type. There have been attempts from manufacturers in recent years to launch petrol options in larger vans, but it’s proven to be a difficult task to compete against their diesel counterparts.

That said, there are plenty of petrol vans available, and actually, they are increasing in popularity within the small van category. Why? Because petrol vans have greater fuel efficiency for shorter distances and so it suits the driver looking to do shorter trips around towns and cities with less reliance on carrying heavy loads.

Some of the most popular choices today are:

  1. Citreon Berlingo
  2. Peugeot Partner
  3. Volskwagen Caddy

When it comes to green credentials, petrol engines are seen to be more environmentally friendly than diesel with lower C02 emissions, but because they consume more fuel comparatively, most are not eligible for free operation in ultra-low emission areas.

Petrol vans are often a little cheaper to lease or buy, but we should point out that they also have lower residual value and this affects the chance of selling the van for the desired price when it’s time to move on to the next vehicle.

Pros

  1. Vehicle choice – especially in the smaller van category.
  2. More environmentally friendly than diesel engines.
  3. Good fuel efficiency for shorter journeys.
  4. Less expensive at the pump than diesel.
  5. Can be cheaper to buy or lease.
  6. Slightly less noisy.

Cons

  1. Higher CO2 emissions than electric or hybrid vehicles.
  2. Less fuel efficient for longer journeys.
  3. Vehicle choice is more limited than diesel engines.
  4. Lower residual value.
  5. Not eligible for free operation in ultra-low emission zones.

Diesel

Pretty much all van manufacturers have a diesel van in every make and model, so it’s hardly surprising that it remains the number one choice when looking for a large commercial vehicle. Despite some negative publicity around diesel engines, the benefits to the driver generally continue to outway the  current alternatives. Some of the biggest benefits are around fuel efficiency and their ability for moving heavy loads and travelling long distances. Let’s look at the Ford Transit as an example. The Transit not only has a wide range of models, it’s practical, comfortable and ranks in the top commercial vehicles year in year out.

Like the Ford Transit there are lots of other popular large vans, such as the Vauxhall Movano and it’s the huge variety of payload ranges that these manufacturers offer; anywhere from 2.6 to 4.3 tonnes that helps with this popularity.

The main issue with Diesel vans is the harmful gasses that the engines emit. As a direct result of this, the Government is taking steps to limit the use of diesel vans in towns and cities by 2025 – with a full sales ban from 2030, forcing people to seriously consider alternatives. Another common drawback is that diesel particulate filters (DPF) are easily blocked, especially if it’s used more often around urban areas. It’s a costy fix, up to a few thousand pounds in some cases, and a reason that modern diesel vans aren’t really suitable for those only doing short town and city centre distances.

Pros

  1. The best fuel economy for longer distances.
  2. Van choice – small, medium and large.
  3. Huge variety of payload ranges.
  4. Efficient and powerful engines.
  5. No restrictions on driving range.
  6. Hold their residual well.

Cons

  1. Higher fuel price.
  2. Not environmentally friendly – high CO2 emissions.
  3. DPF (Diesel Particulate filters) can clog and prove expensive to fix.
  4. Create more noise.

Electric

Research from the Freight Transport Association (link), suggests that up to a third of the vans we see on the road never actually travel more than 80 miles in a day – making electric vehicles a viable option for many. There are lots of positives; not just the obvious one of helping the environment, but also cost saving too, with running costs starting from as little as 2p-per-mile. It’s also less expensive to service and is exempt from road tax and congestion charges. Battery technology is also constantly improving in terms of  both power and range seeing the main benefits and there are currently more than 10,000 charging points in the UK, with ambitious plans to increase this.

Van choice is often noted as one of the main factors holding people back, and there is definitely truth in that. There is simply not the volume of larger vehicles on the market, and this contributes towards its current status of being a more expensive option. That said, the signs are promising. More manufacturers are investing heavily in the production of eco-friendly vans. We’ve already seen Peugeot, Citroen, Nissan and Renault add electric to their ranges of small and medium sized vans, and the choice is set to increase rapidly with Mercedes, Ford and VW joining them soon.

Pros

  1. Zero emissions – it’s the best option for the environment.
  2. Less expensive to run vs diesel and petrol engines.
  3. Perfect for urban and shorter distance journeys.
  4. Growing number of charging stations.
  5. Servicing can be less expensive.
  6. Exempt from congestion charges.

Cons

  1. Van choice is limited.
  2. No Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).
  3. Less reliable for small journeys.
  4. Reliant on the availability of charging points.
  5. More expensive to lease or buy (then petrol or diesel engines).

Hybrid

Hybrid vans have come a long way in recent years, with the principle of a combination of a traditional combustion engine and a battery powered one seen as a good step forward to a greener transition.

They fall into three categories:

Full hybrid – can run solely on the combustion engine, or the battery powered engine, or a bit of both.

Mild hybrid – where the electric motor and the combustion engine have to work together for the van to run.

Plug-in hybrid – where the van runs on electric, and when that runs out the petrol or diesel engine kicks in.

How much the electric motor is used therefore varies between models, generally the more basic the model, the less ground is covered by the electric motor alone. Whilst their popularity is some way off the traditional diesel or petrol, manufacturers continue to invest in hybrid technology with Ford leading the way on the number of models available and Mitsubishi as one of the longest serving hybrids available.

A hybrid van is a great choice if a business or individual is environmentally conscious, but worried about committing to a full-electric van and the potential limitations they bring around charging points or running distance. Similar to electric vans, the hybrid is particularly good for urban journeys, and most vans will be able to go through the low emission zones with no charge. They offer lower running costs than diesel or petrol engines since they use the electric motor and are known for keeping their residual value well. That said, they are generally more expensive to lease or purchase.

One downside is that maintenance is known to be expensive for hybrid vans, with specialist skills required and replacement batteries expensive to purchase.  On the whole, they come with smaller engines which aren’t seen as favourable for carrying heavier payloads.

Pros

  1. Lower emissions  (in comparison to petrol and diesel engines).
  2. Less expensive to run.
  3. Most models are congestion charge free.
  4. Vans are quiet – ideal for evening deliveries.
  5. Great for shorter, urban journeys.

Cons

  1. More expensive to lease or buy.
  2. Less reliable for longer journeys.
  3. Expensive to repair.
  4. Reliant on the availability of charging points.
  5. Less environmentally friendly than fully electric vans.
  6. Van choice is limited.

As you can see, there is lots to think about when it comes to making the decision on fuel type, and it largely depends on each individual business and the factors that are important to them. Hopefully this article has gone some way to helping clarify the difference and supporting the decision when it comes to leasing or buying your next van.

If you’d like to know more our team is alway on hand to help.

In the UK there are now laws against smoking in vans that are used for work activities. Different parts of the UK have different regulations with Scotland being the first country in the Union to enforce these restrictions. With each part of the UK having subtle differences when it comes to smoking in work vans it is important to understand these, it could cost you or your company a fair bit.

 

Making Sure You’re Fully Compliant

 

Whether you drive an HGV a Transit or a small car and it is used for work purposes you are in danger of breaking the law if you choose to smoke in these vehicles. Your vehicle should also have a no-smoking sign on display within each compartment that a person can sit. This sign needs to have a minimum size of 75mm in diameter and clearly indicate that the vehicle is not to be smoked in. The ashtray should be removed if there is one and a smoke-free policy introduced to the staff. Vehicles conforming to these standards will be compliant no matter what area of the UK they are driving in.

 

When Can You Smoke in a Company Vehicle?

 

There are a couple of exceptions to the law that would allow a work vehicle to be smoked in, but they are quite vague and can be a little in the grey area of when it comes to proof and responsibility. It would be up to you or your company to prove that the vehicle falls into these exceptions.

 

A company car used solely by one employee is an exception only if the driver never has to pick up any employees to go to meetings or the car is used by another employee if the main driver of the car is on holiday or off sick for the day. Blatantly speaking the car can only be driven by one employee.

 

A privately owned car used occasionally for company business is also exempt from the regulations – occasionally is the keyword here and like mentioned above it is up to the company to prove the car is only used occasionally.

 

A vehicle which has a roof that can be removed will not have to be smoke-free when the roof is completely stowed or removed.

 

Variations Between England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland

 

In England, the no-smoking signs are required to have the no-smoking symbol at least 70mm in diameter. In Wales and Northern Ireland, the requirement is for a minimum 75mm diameter symbol. Scotland has no minimum signage requirement.

 

Scotland – In Scotland a slightly differing view with regards to company cars. The Scottish Executive has advised that if you use a car, your own or a company car, for business purposes, it will be exempt unless it is a private hire car. This includes situations when the vehicle is used by more than one person.

 

Penalties

 

The penalty for not displaying a sign is a fixed-penalty notice of £200 reduced to £150 if paid within 15 days. If the fine is not paid and you are convicted in court the maximum fine is £1000.

 

Individuals caught breaking the law can be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £50 reduced to £30 if paid within 15 days or a maximum fine of £200 on conviction.

 

Companies have a duty to prevent smoking in vehicles classed as smoke-free. The penalty for this is a maximum fine of £2500 on conviction. Compliance requires that reasonable steps are taken by a company to enforce the rules.

 

Conclusion

 

Following the advice above should ensure company vehicles are compliant throughout the UK saving both companies and employees from falling foul of the regulations regarding smoking in business vehicles across the United Kingdom. You can check the most recent legislation by visiting https://www.gov.uk/smoking-at-work-the-law

There are benefits and drawbacks to leasing a van, but the same can be said for purchasing. In this article, we’ll be shedding some light on the pros and cons of van leasing vs. buying so you can make an informed choice as to which is best for you.

Buying New or Used?

If you’re lucky enough to have bought a new vehicle before, you’ll understand how it feels to sit in the cabin, turn the key and drive away in it for the first time – there’s nothing quite like it and you’ll be left grinning for weeks. Buying gives you an asset and a new vehicle(s) can improve your company image too, which may be important depending on your industry. The unfortunate news is that new vans are expensive and they need to be paid for up front; whether that’s from your own (or business) funds, or by some kind of finance agreement. This is when buying used can seem like an appealing alternative and you could save quite a bit of money up front, but by doing so comes with additional risk. The used van market’s a bit of a minefield and you could be left pulling your hair out soon after closing that deal that really was too good to be true!

Take into Account the Overall Costs

The first thing you should do when considering buying a new vehicle or leasing a van is compare the overall costs between the options you have. If you’re buying a van outright, this means calculating how much the vehicle is likely to depreciate by in the time you own it, the maintenance and servicing costs, insurance, fuel, roadside assistance etc. Leasing a van only includes the costs associated with the vehicle for the length of the lease which is covered by your monthly payments, fuel and insurance. Like any new vehicle, you’ll still be covered by manufacturer warranties and any other cover they provide in the same way you would if you purchased a new van. Bundling together a number of different packages with your van can be arranged by a contract hire agreement – make one fixed payment each month that includes all the additional cover you choose.

Why Not Both? Lease Purchasing

If you’re torn between leasing a van and buying one you could benefit from the best of both by lease purchasing a van. A lease purchase begins just like a normal lease, but at the end of it you purchase the van and keep it as your own. By doing this you can keep your monthly payments low and treat the vehicle as your own with no mileage restrictions. You might even be able to afford a better vehicle or a higher spec model than you could afford if you didn’t lease purchase.

At the end of the day there isn’t an option that will be best for everyone as it all comes down to personal circumstances. If you’re still unsure about which finance option is best for you, or you’d like to discuss your possibilities with an expert, get in touch and we can point you in the right direction.

The term light commercial vehicle or LCV is used to describe any commercial vehicle up to a gross weight of 3.5 tonnes. Anything with a gross weight over 3.5 tonnes is classed as a heavy goods vehicle.

Knowing your Limits

If you are driving a light commercial vehicle for your business, it pays to know the facts and restrictions. You will probably already be aware that even the strongest of models can struggle with heavy loads. This isn’t just a practical issue though; it’s a legal one. Both the police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) take an overloaded van very seriously. In fact; according to RAC in 2015 89% of vans stopped by DVSA were overloaded and with the cost of your van being off the road on average £700.00 per day, can you really afford to risk it?

Every vehicle on the road has what is known as a plated weight and it is illegal to exceed this plated weight limit. The authorities have the power to stop, weigh, and restrict any vehicle on a UK road. This means that if your van is found to be overweight you could find yourself being faced with either a fixed penalty or a court summons and this is in addition to the inconvenience of not being able to continue your journey until your vehicle is within the legal weight limit. The fixed penalty amount depends on how much the vehicle has gone over the legal limit. 5% to 10% over the limit will result in a £100 fine, 10% to 15% will be a £200 fine and 15% to 30% will result in a £300 fine. Over 30% will result in a court summons and if the vehicle is overloaded to the point where it is a hazard to other road users, the driver can be charged with dangerous driving and the offence may carry a prison sentence.

What Does Gross Vehicle Weight (GVM) Mean?

All vans are assigned a gross vehicle weight (GVW) limit when they are certified for use. It is a legal requirement for all LCVs to display their gross vehicle weight on the manufacturer’s plate. The plates do however vary in position. The most common one is found inside the front door panel. Let’s take for example the Renault Master MH35 FWD dci 150ps. This van has a gross vehicle weight of 3,500 kgs. This means that the maximum weight of the Renault Master including the van, the driver, any passengers, fuel and the load itself must not exceed 3,500 kgs.

As well as gross vehicle weight, you may have also heard of kerb weight. This refers to the vehicle without driver, passengers or load. The weight includes all fuel levels, full fuel tank and any items of standard equipment. To work out the payload you would take the kerb weight away from the gross vehicle weight.

An Example: Renault Master MH35 FWD dci 150ps

The payload of 1,579 kgs is the amount of useable weight available in this van, however, from this number you have to deduct the weight of the driver, any passengers, personal items and any ancillary items including plylining, racking, roof bars etc.

Axle Weight Matters too

Another common mistake is not understanding your vans axle weights. It is extremely important that your load is distributed correctly across both axles. Each axle has a weight limit. If the vehicle exceeds either the Front or Rear Axle Weights then it is breaking the law. In fact it is possible for the van to be under the GVW weight limit but exceed the Rear Axle limit meaning that it is actually being driven illegally. You can be fined up to £300.00 or get a court summons if your van exceeds its maximum permitted axle weight.

It’s always best to know your restrictions so as long as you bear all of this in mind you’ll most likely just carry on business as usual. However, if you have any doubts, take your van to the local weighbridge and get your vehicle checked. It is also important to keep up to date with the latest laws when it comes to driving commercial vehicles. You can see the latest regulations here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/driving-a-van