Exceed minibus turns out to be a ‘van’

A Derbyshire minibus operator has been left high and dry by the liquidation of Exceed Autocraft last month, with a minibus which won’t reach the legal speed limit.

Tony Bott, whose business A & A Minibus is based in South Normanton, bought a VW Crafter-based conversion from Exceed Autocraft in November 2019, and has since discovered it is registered as a van, with the speed limiter set at 56mph.

“I was told at the time that I purchased this that the speed was only 56mph as it was basically a van and after the conversion it would get a memory code from Germany so that the speed would be put up to 62mph in line with UK legislation,” Tony told Bus and Coach Buyer.

This was tried five times. I went to VW at Sheffield four times and even VW in Hull but they could not get the speed as promised. In the end they said that it couldn’t be done and basically I had to put up with it.

I said this was not acceptable as I purchased this vehicle on the understanding that the speed would be lifted to the legal speed limit. As we know, the legal speed for coaches is 62mph for safety reasons. This is stuck at 59mph so I can’t pass large lorries and, on long runs, I lose a lot of driving time.”

The discovery that the Crafter had been registered as a van came a year later at its first MoT: “This was a shock. I was hit with the fact that this bus wasn’t even a registered PSV vehicle. I had five V5s and each one was wrong as they kept coming back as a van. Now I know why.

Now it does say minibus, even has 17 seats, but it’s not a PSV. There was no COIF, and when we contacted Exceed’s Matthew Flett about this, he argued that the paperwork was all in order because the IVA was on it.

DVLA say this is not correct for this vehicle, and it was down to Exceed to have put all of this in place before it was sold.”

Tony said that the original salesman was Peter Vernon: “I contacted a solicitor who sent all of the paperwork to Matthew Flett , who responded by saying that Peter Vernon was nothing to do with Exceed Autocraft, and had no authority to promise that the correct speed would be set. The fact that his name is on all of the paperwork blows that out of the water.”

But as soon as Tony instigated legal proceedings, he had another shock in store: ‘My Solicitor issued them with a court letter on the 19t February 2021 and they have now gone into liquidation, on the 23 February.”

Tony pointed out that Matthew Flett was also a director of Excel Conversions, which went into liquidation in 1998, and of Excel Minibus Sales, which went into liquidation a year later. Both were based in Doncaster.

Covid has put my business on hold big time.. but now Exceed has just about finished me off,” said Tony.

Minibus Options’ Director and expert in registration of conversions, Steve Moore, told Bus & Coach Buyer that the implementation of the four EC Vehicle Approval systems began in Autumn 2011, so it is likely that the majority, if not all, pre-2011 vehicles may be caught up in the ULEZ problem, because the vehicle classification is based on the V5.

“Indeed, a number of converters still convert base vehicles already registered as vans, and get a Certificate of Initial Fitness. These vehicles will also be recorded as N2, not the M2 passenger vehicle class which Minibus Options and others achieve with Individual, or Whole Vehicle, Type Approval systems.

“The attraction in buying minibuses converted and COIF’d is price; there are cost savings in taking this route. Another attraction is that, for example, an extra-long wheelbase vehicle can be converted to take more wheelchairs with COIF than would be passed under IVA.”

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