Professional Builder’s Lee Jones checks out the Peugeot Partner Overload Indicator.
We’ve probably all been there – loading the van up until the back axle groans just a little and you take it as a sign to call it a day. When it comes to any kind of measurement or weight builders have an uncanny knack for accurate calculation by eye, but in this context the consequences of getting it wrong can be very serious indeed.
Purely in safety terms a vehicle that’s heavily overloaded represents a danger to the driver, and other road users. It puts increased pressure on the tyres, makes the vehicle harder to handle and steer, whilst stopping distances will be increased. Not only that, but if you’re an employer, and one of your employees is guilty of overloading a van you own, and it is judged that you’ve neglected to put proper procedures in place to ensure it doesn’t happen, then you might be surprised to learn that you can still be held responsible.
That’s why the Police and DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) have powers to stop and check LCVs and, depending on the seriousness of the transgression, can impose fixed penalty fines up to the value of £300. If the vehicle is so far over the maximum weight that’s it’s deemed to be potentially hazardous, then a court summons can be issued and the driver can be charged with dangerous driving, an offence that can even result in a prison sentence.
Even for relatively minor offences, there will be the added inconvenience of the vehicle being immobilised until it is once again deemed roadworthy. Of course, the problem is exacerbated by the fact that tradesmen are invariably the kind of chaps who are instinctively averse to reading instruction manuals, which means there’s every chance a builder might not know what the permitted maximum payload is, especially if they’re driving a company vehicle that’s not their own.
In order to calculate the payload capacity you need to check the owners’ manual for the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), which is simply the maximum allowable weight of the entire vehicle, including passengers, the contents of the fuel tank and any cargo. This is also usually printed on the doorframe. The kerb weight is how much the vehicle weighs on its own, without people, tools or materials, but does include a full tank, as well as other liquids, like oil. It’s then a simple calculation – GVW minus kerb weight equals maximum permitted payload.
So how do you make sure you stay the ‘light’ side of the law? As a solution the Peugeot Partner Overload Indicator is one of those ideas that appears so blindingly obvious that you’ll wonder it hasn’t been introduced previously. Not only that but its operation is as simple as the concept itself – a button in the load bay switches the system on, which will then flash to let you know it’s activated. Then comes the hard work, as you merrily start loading until, when you have achieved 90 per cent capacity, a further white light will serve as a warning. Go over the new Partner’s maximum 1,009kg capacity and an orange light, which flashes on the load bay control panel and in the dashboard, will leave you in no doubt of your heavy-handedness.
The Overload Indicator is an optional extra, unless you opt for the construction-orientated Peugeot Partner Grip spec, which equally benefits from some further builder friendly and site-specific additional features. Grip Control, for example, will optimise traction whether you’re off-road, in snow or sand. Simply select the required setting and the vehicle will do the rest, whilst 30mm of additional ground clearance and mud and snow tyres completes the package.
The new Peugeot Partner is already a very accomplished option in the small van sector, a fact ably demonstrated by some impressive sales figures. Payloads ranging from 660kg to the aforementioned 1,009kg on the Grip make it eminently practical, whilst cargo volumes extend from 3.3 to 3.8m3. It can boast the kind of safety features you’d expect on a passenger car, with electronic stability control, traction control, hill start assist and emergency brake assist as standard, whilst eminently useful touches like the Overload Indicator set it further ahead from much of the competition.
Indeed, technology is a recurring theme in the features of the new Partner. Long gone are the days when automatic windows were the only electrics you could aspire to in a van, because the light commercial vehicle sector is now connected like never before. An 8in. touchscreen is your gateway to a network of support and information, including Bluetooth Handsfree and Apple Carplay. Not only that, but Peugeot Connect will keep you on track through 3D navigation, with real time traffic information, as well as directing you towards everything from car parks, to service stations. If that’s not enough then Peugeot Connect SOS raises the alarm in the event of an accident, whilst the Assistance function will put you in touch with a suitable recovery service.
Whatever the make or model, van drivers really have never had it so good, which is why the detail really counts. Flexible configurations to suit the different trades, connectivity, and a full suite of safety specifications are no longer just optional extras but demanded, at least at some level, as standard. With innovate solutions like its Overload Indicator, and much more besides, Peugeot has proven that its vehicles could be your perfect Partner in business.