Lex Vehicle Leasing believes that if van makers equipped vehicles with more security features as standard, it would save fleets millions of pounds each year in reduced insurance premiums. The company owns and runs more than 17,500 light commercial vehicles and in the past nine months has had 44 vans stolen. It estimates that each van costs on average £10,000 to replace, with the figure doubling by the time the load carried is taken into consideration.
'Many fleets are either self insured, so the cost of replacing the vehicle comes directly off the company's bottom line. Even if they are insured against fire and theft, a purpose-built vehicle with lots of specialist equipment on it may take two or three months to replace,' said Ian Yates, Lex Vehicle Leasing's van product manager.
'It's time for van makers to take as much time and trouble over van security as they have over car security. Items such as visible VIN, deadlocks and engine immobilisers should feature as standard equipment on all vehicles, not just passenger cars.'
Lex Vehicle Leasing singled out the new Ford Transit for special praise as it offered car-like levels of vehicle security, but claimed the rest of the major manufacturers treated security devices as a luxury rather than a necessity.
Lex Vehicle Leasing won support from Freddie Aldous, president of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, and chairman of the organisation's annual Security Awards judging panel.
'There should be no difference between the level of security on cars, vans and trucks,' said Aldous 'The features now fitted as standard on cars have made a huge difference to reducing vehicle crime and there is no excuse for similar features not being fitted to commercial vehicles.'
Renault hit back, with a spokesman saying: 'Either Lex Vehicle Leasing has not done its research or it has chosen to ignore the fact that Renault's whole range of Clio, Kangoo and Master vans is equipped with visible VIN plates, Thatcham standard engine immobilisers, and remote control central locking as standard - the same as our cars.'