Change is one of the few certainties left 04 February 2016

We’re just a few short weeks into 2016, yet the CV Show (26–28 April, NEC) marketing machine appears to be in top gear, with visitor registration already live on the website. Early, maybe. But, with the pace of change – technical, legislative and market driven – this premier event can’t come a moment too soon.

Analysis of the SMMT’s (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) 2015 CV registration data (pages 5 and 21) demonstrates operators’ changing requirements: shifting away from mid-range to heavier but also lighter trucks and vans. And that’s just in terms of gvw. As city authorities increasingly bear down on emissions, safety fitments, noise and congestion, we must expect more movement.

Developing technologies – the art of the possible – will doubtless play an important part in determining directions. Operators seeking new efficiencies to fit their evolving businesses will rightly take advantage. And winners and losers will inevitably follow – not only among suppliers, but also operators that fail to spot the turning tide.

As ever, timing is everything. Too early and the risks include high costs of ownership and poor support. Too late and you’re into an unedifying spiral of catch-up, attempting to make uncompetitive assets pay and turning reluctantly to the banks to fight your way back.

And we can forget support. For high-profile bus operators, funding is still readily available not only to encourage investment in shiny green vehicles, but also for renewing older fleets with emissions-busting equipment. It is a matter of great regret that for the rest of the transport industry – the vast majority – that luxury isn’t on the table.

So, yes, roll on the CV Show. Given the challenges facing the industry and still conflicting advice on everything from aerodynamics to telematics, it behoves us all to hear it from the proverbial horses’ mouths. Remember, making ill-informed choices isn’t an option.

Brian Tinham BSc CEng MInstMC FSOE FIPlantE FIRTE

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