Fleets are finding that inconsistencies by dealers when registering sub two-tonne vans are effectively creating two speed limits.
The Highway Code says car-derived vans weighing up to two tonnes can travel at 60mph on single carriageways and 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways, effectively making them the same as cars.
But in addition it says goods vehicles under 7.5 tonnes are restricted to 50mph on single carriageways, 60mph on dual carriageways and 70mph on motorways. There is no clear lower limit on this rule.
Some dealers register these vans as ‘car-derived’ and others as ‘commercial vehicles’, meaning two vehicles exactly alike are subject to different speed limits.
These include some Ford Transit Connects, Citroen Berlingo and Peugeot Partner.
Alan Phillips, a buyer for Morris Vermaport, which runs Vauxhall Combos and Citroen Berlingos, contacted Fleet News after receiving conflicting advice from police and transport authorities.
Phillips said: ‘I have spoken to two police representatives who deal with safety camera tickets and they gave me conflicting limits for car-derived vans under 2,000kg.
‘One said the limit was 60mph on a dual carriageway – the other said 70mph. ‘I also spoke to the DfT, which hadn’t got a clue and told me to phone a dealership to find out.
‘I did that and got the same confusion.’
The Department for Transport has so far been unable to shed any light on the problem, as civil servants tried to provide a definitive answer. So for the moment it has been left to the industry to work it out.
Manufacturers admit it is something that has to be tackled and the solution may lie at the dealership.
A Citroen spokesman said the company regarded the Berlingo as car-derived, but was aware of confusion elsewhere.
He believed all vans under two tonnes were regarded as car-derived. He said: ‘As we understand the situation, it depends on whether the van was registered as a commercial vehicle or a car-derived van when it was first sold.
‘The salesman in the showroom fills in the form and he or she can put the vehicle down as either.
‘This means that, potentially, two identical vehicles could have different speed restrictions. It is a bizarre situation but we are not aware of any problems to date.’ A Vauxhall spokesman said the Combo, as well as Vauxhall’s other small commercial vehicles, the Corsa and Astra van, was car-derived.
He said: ‘Anything ordered from us will go through our central processing. It would be registered by the dealer and would come out as a car-derived van.’