Lightweight rigids buck the trend in 2018 with strong sales

Sales of light commercials, between 3.5t and 6t GVW (such as the 3.5t Isuzu Grafter - pictured above), bucked the industry trend in 2018 registering a 23.3% year-on-year gain in sales.

According to the latest figures from the SMMT some 8,722 rigids at the lighter end of the weight range were registered in 2018, compared to 7,075 in 2017. However December was a difficult month for registrations, with 384 units registered in the final month of the year, compared to 675 in December 2017.

The SMMT classifies vehicles in this weight bracket as part of its reporting on the performance of the van sector. Speaking about the overall market SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “This sector is a key indicator of business confidence in the UK, and operators need stability to renew their fleets. December’s performance was worrying, as was the overall drop in fleet purchases.

“Business confidence depends on government providing the right conditions, which first and foremost means taking a ‘No Deal’ Brexit off the table,” he warned. “We have a strong and competitive commercial vehicle market in the UK, one that can flourish in the right economic climate.”

Full year registrations for commercial vehicles between 6t and 44t are expected from the SMMT in February. As of the end of the third quarter it said that some 30,038 trucks had been registered, down 7% year-on-year. Speaking in December, DAF UK managing director Robin Easton said that the manufacturer was anticipating a 41,000 unit year.

Haulage company boss gets 18 months

HMRC


A haulage company boss who was caught smuggling 2,000kg of hand-rolling tobacco into the UK, evading £442,360 in duty, has been jailed for 18 months.

Border Force officers stopped a truck at Dover on 12 September last year. Officers searched the trailer and found tobacco hidden in boxes marked “tents”. The driver, Attila Tanko, 44, from Hungary, was arrested, the tobacco seized and the matter referred to HMRC.

Tanko, owner of the Hungary-based Chariots of Fire KFT haulage company, claimed he was “tapped up” at a rest stop in Luxembourg by a man who asked him to deliver the tobacco in exchange for €2,000. He pleaded guilty on 13 September and was sentenced on 17 December at Maidstone Crown Court.

Paul Morgan, director of Border Force, South East and Europe, said: “This is just one example of the crucial work that Border Force officers do every day to help keep the UK safe and protect the economy. Detections such as this are testament to their dedication and expertise.

“We will continue to work with HMRC to bring those engaged in smuggling to justice.”