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CV Focus

Business & Economics Podcasts

Matt Eisenegger interviews leading figures in the commercial vehicles sector. Matt and his guests discuss current issues, future issues, future technologies, and where the industry seems to be going in the short, medium, and long term.


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Matt Eisenegger interviews leading figures in the commercial vehicles sector. Matt and his guests discuss current issues, future issues, future technologies, and where the industry seems to be going in the short, medium, and long term.



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23: CV Focus episode 23 - Graham Holder

Graham Holder, Head of Compliance and Certification at FORS, joins our host for this week’s episode on compliance in the fleet operations industry. A membership scheme designed to support best practice within the industry, giving fleet operators accreditation which demonstrates their quality assurance to clients and customers, FORS gives peace of mind to every operator and creates a centralised criteria for operations. In this episode Graham discusses the benefit of joining FORS for vehicle operators and managers across the industry, and how fleet operators can get involved to support road safety, industry efficiency, and optimised operations.


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22: CV Focus episode 22 - Andrew Scott

Where is the world with Electric Mobility? Here Andrew Scott, Head of Electromobility at Renault Trucks UK gives his take on the progress with vehicles in the commercial vehicle sector. Andrew thinks that the tipping point for take up on zero emission vans is coming and the demand for trucks won’t be far behind. The current supply and demand issues across the sector means that there is a great choice already on offer to fleet operators. With a full range of vehicles from 3.1 tonnes to 26 tonnes for 100% electric, the Renault Trucks UK team have plenty for operators to consider…


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22: CV Focus episode 22 - Graham Holder

Graham Holder, Head of Compliance and Certification at FORS, joins our host for this week’s episode on compliance in the fleet operations industry. A membership scheme designed to support best practice within the industry, giving fleet operators accreditation which demonstrates their quality assurance to clients and customers, FORS gives peace of mind to every operator and creates a centralised criteria for operations. In this episode Graham discusses the benefit of joining FORS for vehicle...


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21: CV Focus episode 21 - Chris Chandler

In this episode of CV Focus, our host talks all things EV with Chris Chandler, who is Principal Consultant at Lex Autolease. A key focus for Chris is sustainability and he has been a major influence in gaining greater market acceptance and take-up of EVs across the UK. In fact, he’s been in GreenFleet’s '100 Most Influential People in Fleet’ for the last four years running. Throughout the episode, the discussion revolves around the journey from traditional fuel to EV both for private and commercial users. Chris introduces business owners to the top tips for embracing EVs, before talking about operational considerations and how to ensure that every business can transition sustainably and efficiently.


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20: CV Focus episode 20 - Simon Turner

Are people at the centre of your business? Have you ever thought about the drivers behind the wheels of your business vehicles? In this episode, Simon Turner joins Matt behind the mic - bringing to the table his experience with the organisation ‘Driving for Better Business’, an initiative created by National Highways which offers a free service to help businesses nurture the talent and value they hold in their drivers and vehicles. Simon talks about the ‘Driving for Better Business’ government-backed awareness program, which engages with businesspeople using business language to communicate the benefits of managing their drivers and vehicles more safely and effectively. Understanding the value of better drivers, driving better vehicles, leading to better business, is at the heart of this episode.


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19: CV Focus episode 19 - Kieran Smith

Getting to the bottom of the driver shortage If you only select one podcast episode this year, then this is the one you must to listen to. In a powerful analysis, Kieran Smith, CEO of Driver Require, explains why the current HGV driver shortage has happened, why no-one saw it coming and what should be done to solve it. He describes the current situation like “trying to grab onto a train passing through the platform – it’s just ripped our arms off.” Kieran heads an influential think-tank comprising key people from the e-commerce, grocery, pallet, training, fleet, trade body and statistical analysis sectors, that has produced a comprehensive, thoughtful, detailed report setting out everything you ever needed to know about HGV drivers.. Host Matt Eisenegger asks Kieran: “Have we been carried away on the news hype?” In the most comprehensive, accurate, compelling and fully-validated study of the UK HGV driver market ever produced, the think-tank uses original research and hard facts. It also debunks the distorted views and numbers bandied around over the past weeks and months – such as the impact of Brexit and EU drivers – to uncover the real truth. The results are truly surprising. Kieran then sets out the root of the current problem and why no-one saw it coming. And, the think-tank sets out the short, medium and long-term measures that the industry and government need to take to address the situation - which also draws on best-practice from the EU.


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18: CV Focus episode 18 - Mike Strahlman

Breaking down barriers There's a growing range of electric vans now available, but one of the hurdles is what you do when you want to charge your van, particularly as so many employees take their vans home, but around 80% don’t have a driveway in which to charge it. That's all about to change, as JustPark is introducing a new charging solution, enable businesses to accelerate their transition to electric vehicles. JustPark will identify a suitable location to install a private charger within five minutes’ walk of a fleet driver’s home, allowing them to charge overnight without a home charger. In this week’s CV Focus, JustPark Director of EV, Mike Strahlman, explains all.


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17: CV Focus episode 17 - Alan Hunt

Intelligence is the difference… From the outside a trailer looks like a box on wheels; but now technology will tell you everything about it from where it’s going, where it is in real-time, what the temperature is (if it’s refrigerated) and so much more – even when the door was last opened. Alan Hunt, MD at Schmitz Cargobull UK and Ireland explains why the intelligent trailer – such as reporting the brake pad and tyre pressures – is so important, by benefitting operators with reduced downtown and improved productivity. Chatting with Matt Eisenegger, he talks about why – curiously - Schmitz Cargobull wants to see fewer trailers on the road, and how intelligence from local markets is incorporated into its trailer designs. Its technology ranges from fuel efficiency, to telemetry and the running gear. Alan talks about why an integrated trailer makes more sense as it brings everything together in one portal to increase operating efficiency. The system can also recognise ‘smart pallets’ as they are loaded and unloaded from a trailer, removing the burden of keeping track of your loads. Alan also explains how its trailers’ telematics work with the tractor unit – and how it is integrated with all major manufacturers – so that operators can decide what reporting they want, to get the best utilisation from their trailers. Looking to the future, they chat about removing diesel-powered generators for refrigerated trailers with Schmitz Cargobull’s new move to electric-only refrigeration, and how the changes to the market are influencing trailer design.


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16: CV Focus episode 16 - John Proctor

It’s the star of the silver screen, from James Bond movies to Top Gear and soaps, yet the Bedfordshire-based test facility is also a top-secret site. John Proctor, Technical and Special Projects Director – UTAC CERAM Millbrook, lifts the lid on what happens at the comprehensive testing facility, comprising laboratories and real-world testing environments. He explains how they test electric vehicle’s batteries to destruction – literally - by setting fire to them, and simulating high-impact collisions. The work to test vehicle emissions – 19,000 large vehicle tests completed and counting – is explored as is the new VTEC2 chamber, designed to deal with the next generation of vehicles, such as electric. They also chat about the developments in autonomous controls, such as emergency braking, and how ‘connected vehicles’ will ‘talk’ to each other and other equipment, such as traffic lights. They conclude by considering the different driving styles needed for electric vans and trucks, and how the facility trains drivers to break their ‘bad habits’. More info about UTAC CERAM Millbrook UTAC CERAM Millbrook is a market-leading group in vehicle testing, type approval and emerging technologies for autonomous, connected and electric vehicles. It provides services and systems to customers in the automotive, transport, tyre, petrochemical and defence industries. The group delivers regulation and homologation support, specialist vehicle conversions and test systems as well as training, consulting, audit and certification, technical inspection, standardisation and events. UTAC CERAM Millbrook operates eight test centres - in France (including the official Euro NCAP facility), the UK (including the 5G-enabled Millbrook Proving Ground), the USA and Finland; it has subsidiaries in Germany, Russia, China and Japan. The group will be opening a proving ground in Morocco in 2021. UTAC CERAM Millbrook employs around ,1280 people across its various locations. In 2019, the group recorded turnover of €173m.


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15: CV Focus episode 15 - Russell Fowler

Where are we going to get all the power from to charge electric vehicles? Russell Fowler, Senior Project Manager Transport Decarbonisation, National Grid, answers the key questions as the nation’s electricity distributor gears up for the 2030 deadline. Over the next nine years National Grid is preparing for all new cars and light vans to be electric, ready for the 2030 deadline. Russell says that current forecasts are for around 10-11 million EVs on the road by 2030. What does this mean for commercial vehicles? Russell discusses speculation around the end-date for diesel-only new trucks. Will it be 2040? Could it be staggered by truck size, with lighter ones first? A consultation is expected soon, as part of the UK’s route to being net zero by 2050. This will mean building more electricity distribution infrastructure and Russell explains how through National Grid’s ‘do it once, do it right’ approach, to upgrades this will be achieved. EV growth will be steady, he points out, not all at once and National Grid has been planning network upgrades for EVs for more than over a decade. He also explains how much electricity car/van EVs will consume. By 2030, it’s estimated to be around 100 terawatt-hours (TWh). Currently UK consumption is around 300 TWh, but this is falling due to improved energy efficiency in homes and commercial premises. In a detailed conversation about matching supply and demand, Russell explains why we don’t need to find an extra 100 TWh, but also how PM Boris Johnson’s announcement of providing an extra 40 gigawatt (GW) of new offshore wind generation, roughly equals around 100 TWh, and the smart technology that glues together supply and demand. They also discuss trucks looking at whether battery-electric or hydrogen fuel-cell electric will be the way forward, and how the government’s Transport Decarbonisation Plan – due in next six months – will give a bit of a steer on trucks.


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14: CV Focus episode 14 - Jarlath Sweeney

The view from Ireland: Jarlath Sweeney, Editor-in-Chief of the Irish trade magazine ‘Fleet Transport’ ( chats with Matt Eisenegger about everything from the state of the economy to secondhand vehicles in this must-listen specially-extended podcast. He starts by explaining the impact that the withdrawal, over the next 3-5 years, of Ulster Bank from the Republic of Ireland will have on small businesses. “Ulster Bank has been a strong supporter of small and medium business,” he says” “and its withdrawal will reduce competition in commercial lending landscape.” He then moves on to business in Ireland, with an overview of the economy and the effects of Brexit on transport and the supply chain. We discover why the ‘land bridge’ to Europe via Britain is important, especially for perishable goods, and why the shift of trade to other routes might not be plain sailing. The conversation turns to the effect on the used vehicle market in Ireland, which has previously seen large numbers imported from the UK. Previously, around 600 used trucks and 6,000 used vans were imported a year, but now big import tariffs have affected business. “Previously it kept the trade buyout with good prices for buyers,” says Jarlath “while the specification of secondhand vehicles coming from the UK was generally higher than those sold new in Ireland, while the wear and tear was less due to the UK’s better-quality roads.” The challenges of running EVs in a relatively sparsely-populated large country are mulled over, along with the options for running CNG. Having considered this, they chat about the EV Maxus van and the unusual business model deployed by importer, Dublin-based Harris Group, which gives it a head-start in market They conclude their conversation by examining the pick-up truck market and ponder for how long diesel will survive. Finally, Jarlath bravely has a stab at predicting where he thinks the commercial vehicle industry will be, in 10 years’ time.


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13: CV Focus episode 13 - Richard Crump

Staying ahead of the game “This is the change decade. We will see more change this decade than we’ve seen since the switch from horse-drawn vehicles.” So says Richard Crump, MD of Pelican Group - the West Yorkshire-based truck, bus and coach dealership, service and parts supply operation. Pelican Group is the oldest truck dealer in the country, founded 102 years ago by Richard’s grandfather after he was de-mobbed from the First World War’s trenches. Having started by converting steam and petrol vehicles to diesel, lead to a relationship with Gardner. This blossomed into selling and maintaining Foden trucks and later Hino. Today, it looks after DAF and MAN customers with an award-winning servicing and parts business. Today, Pelican – which remains family-owned - embraces zero-emission technology too, having expanded into bus and coach market as the sole UK importer of Yutong products. More than just a sales operation, Pelican is noted for its outstanding customer service that goes way beyond the workshop. Richard talks about the family-business ethos, which stands Pelican in good stead for working with family-owned operators. He talks with great enthusiasm about the deep passion that drives the business and how it generates ‘expansion from nothing’, by eschewing the traditional big-cash takeover model. Explaining the benefits of a family-owned firm with a flat management structure, he says that one of those is being able to respond quickly when new opportunities present themselves. But he’s not gung-ho or reckless: “Never be over-confident, always question everything,” he says. And that’s borne out by the Yutong coach and bus business. From a standing stand in 2014, six years later Pelican has 600 PCVs and now has a 10% market share. So, what’s the secret of success? Richard says: “The first thing above everything else is that we set out our stall to recruit the very best people in the business. Then I ensure that we can retain these people and that they are properly motivated. “Being at Pelican it’s more than ‘just going to work’ or ‘thank goodness it’s Friday’,” but you do need to resource the business correctly, he adds. “If you’ve got brilliant people but a lousy building with holes in the roof, no parts on the shelves and not enough tooling, then it’s not going to work.” He talks about the clean air agenda and how it is likely to develop for smaller CVs and light trucks. Electric buses are now a key part of the Yutong portfolio – with its first all-electric coaches already in service in Scotland and London. Richard says of the British bus market: “We’re pretty close to a time where there will be no further orders placed for diesel-only single decker buses.” That’s because the current zero-emission offering is “fully usable for most bus operators” as we approach a 200-miles daily range, “which is about as much as a bus operator is reasonably likely to do in a day.” He makes a bold prediction: “An electric single-decker bus is already feasible for most operators. By the end of the decade the majority of the UK bus fleet will be electric.” Already, Yutong’s electric coach will do 200 miles on a single charge, Richard adds, before talking about the scaling of production of zero-emission commercial vehicles. He explains why China has had a head start in the market – and how its labour costs are more on a par with eastern Europe than most people think - and the key questions about electric vehicles that operators should be asking. And, he closes by revealing the unusual reason why the business is called ‘Pelican’.


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12: CV Focus episode 12 - Jorge Asensio López

LNG, CNG, green gas, brown gas, grey gas, bio-gas – many different names, but it’s all the same stuff. So you’re confused? Be confused no more as Jorge Asensio López from Iveco explains the reasons for the different names and what it really means for operators looking to switch to gas. Matt and Jorge go on to unpick in detail the positive impact of using gas – compared with diesel – and on operators’ bottom line. They also cover government incentives to go greener, what’s available from 3.5T to 44T that suits all operations and what operators should be really thinking about.


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11: CV Focus episode 11 - Tim Campbell

This episode ends the year with industry expert and analyst Tim Campbell getting out his crystal ball for his vision for the truck industry. He talks passionately about the Government ten-point plan, the 2040 target for zero emission trucks and the opportunity for accelerating decarbonisation in transport. With logistics and trucks on everyone’s lips and screens in the run up to Christmas this is a pivotal time for commercial vehicles. A powerful and positive episode to end 2020 on with some strong messages of confidence for manufacturers and operators to take away.


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10: CV Focus episode 10 - Aaron Thomas

Arguably, there’s been more development in vehicles and technology over the last five years, than the previous 15. This week Matt Eisenegger talks with one of those genuinely at the cutting edge: Aaron Thomas, Co-Founder and MD of TRAILAR, which uses solar panels on the roofs of vehicles to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. He explains how, along with Co-Founder Denny Hulme, the idea was developed as part of a DHL management development program, to fulfil a brief of ideas to ‘seriously disrupt the UK transport industry’. Having got their idea - putting solar panels on a trailer to power ancillary equipment – past first base, they then found a supplier of flexible solar mats and developed a prototype. Having presented to the DHL UK board, who loved the idea, the project rolled on with further vehicles fitted as proof of concept. Then, testing at Millbrook proved the CO2 and fuel savings. From here, he explains, the project went into DHL’s ‘accelerator programme’ and, rather than keeping it to itself, DHL provided funding for Oldham & Rugby-based TRAILAR to be set up as a limited company in 2018. Aaron explains how the fit-and-forget system works and the many hidden advantages, which now has DHL, Royal Mail, Ryder and others among its customers. It provides power for all ancillary equipment on the vehicle including refrigeration, tail-lifts, air conditioning and even takes better care of the vehicle battery.. And, despite the firm’s name, it is fitted to rigids, vans, waste collection vehicles and works on coaches and buses as well where it is especially beneficial due to passenger vehicles’ higher power requirements. He explains how the system saves up to 2,800 litres of diesel and 8T of CO2, , per year, and how its telematics report those savings to customers. The conversation concludes with TRAILAR’s current work with Ocado on electric vehicles, and the potential for alternative fuel vehicles.


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9: CV Focus episode 9 - Adam Purshall

The logistics sector has seen sweeping changes this year and had to adapt rapidly to circumstances. To find out more, Matt Eisenegger chats with Adam Purshall, Fleet & Procurement Director at leading logistics operator Bibby Distribution. “We’ve had to change, but it forces you to change – such as in digitalisation – it brings forward a lot of things,” says Adam of the business that has 1,400 staff operating from 45 UK locations. Adam talks about its all Euro 6 fleet, and the extra fuel savings at Euro 6d - 5% year-on-year - compared with Euro 6a. On the back of this year’s £14m fleet investment, the conversation turns to drivers and Bibby’s use of telematics: “It enables you to have very focused conservations with drivers.” They talk about how Bibby engages its 900 drivers to “win hearts and minds” and examples of improvements that have come from this to make drivers’ lives easier “often it’s the simplest things,” explains Adam.


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8: CV Focus episode 8 - Daniel Hurcombe

Here’s a challenge: How do you make home deliveries greener and more economical? One answer is lightweighting the vehicle and increasing its capacity – both in payload and space terms – so that it can do more deliveries before returning to base, have lower running costs and be easy for drivers to use. That’s not a new challenge, but thanks to the clever use of new technology, Penso Group’s ‘Blue Ocean Pods’ is delivering a solution that works. Daniel Hurcombe, MD of the long-established Coventry-based manufacturer chats with Matt Eisenegger to explain why it’s getting into supermarket delivery vehicles and what’s so radical about the project, which already has Asda signed up as a customer. He explains how, with its background in automotive and aerospace projects - clients include Jaguar Land-Rover, Mercedes-Benz’ London Taxi, Boeing, Airbus, BAE Systems - it’s been able to refine carbon-fibre technology to make it cheaper and more suitable for mass-market production. Although Penso uses high-value manufacturing, thanks to a clever business model the vehicles have roughly the same monthly cost as traditional solutions, we learn. And they do more miles-per-gallon. We discover how the ‘pods’ are the result of a project started three years ago with Mercedes-Benz to work on the supermarket home-delivery sector. The challenge is to get right amount of payload and best economics for daily operation. As experts in lightweighting and vehicle integration, Penso was well-placed to step up to the challenge. It also dealt with the conundrum of how to insulate the vehicle, and make it green. Part of the solution comes in the use of 5,500 recycled plastic bottles in every van it builds. We discover that the savings – of up to 500kg on a 3.5T van – are used not only to create extra payload, but also extra space, of up to 140 totes (the trays shopping is delivered in) from a maximum of 120 (although often lower) in conventional designs. With Penso’s experience in ‘vehicle packaging’, it has also produced a design that means it’s as easy for women to use as men – especially in the crucial area of easily-reaching the top totes. We also learn about where this technology could go; if you’re thinking 7.5T trucks and overnight freight, then listen on…


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7: CV Focus episode 7 - James Westcott

CNG, LNG and biogas - it’s all methane - so what’s the difference? Explaining everything you need to know about gas is James Westcott, Chief Commercial Officer for Gasrec, which supplies infrastructure, such as refuelling stations. He sets out the advantages of using gas - that it’s cleaner and cheaper than diesel - and ready technology that’s available now for heavy-duty-cycle trucks and buses. With Gasrec’s DIRFT, Daventry, station already filling around 350 trucks from 20 different operators a day, the switch from diesel is already well underway, learns Matt Eisenegger. That’s not surprising with the attraction of a clear duty differential for 10 years, thanks to the CO2 benefits, which are up to 90% on biogas, and with savings of up to 40% on fuel costs. While supermarkets have been early adopters of gas trucks, James explains why family businesses are now starting to make the switch. With shorter decision-making process, they can move quickly and with a choice of Iveco, Scania and Volvo vehicles - plus a payback time of around two years - family-owned businesses can see an opportunity; and, they are taking it. While electric works well for shorter distances, and with hydrogen fuel-cells yet to come to market for trucks and buses, James predicts that up to 50% of the heavy-duty sector could be gas powered in 10 years time. Listen to why he thinks this will be the case.


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6: CV Focus episode 6 - Rob Fowler

It’s not everyday that a new manufacturer arrives on the truck market. Even less so when their product is electric and radically different to anything else on the road. In an exclusive interview with Volta Trucks’ CEO Rob Fowler, CV Focus discovers the driving forces behind this exciting new venture, and why such a radical and different delivery truck will be on streets all over the country pretty soon. Part of this is that Rob Fowler doesn’t come from a vehicle manufacturer, but an operating background, having spent 10 years at parcel firm DPD, latterly on its EV programme. Now one of the largest commercial EV operators in the country, DPD has an aggressive strategy having gone from five vehicles to 700 EVs in just three years. With his background of being a customer, that gives Volta a unique perspective and a radical approach to business - everything from the vehicle’s design principles, to modelling costs and working with operators to deliver the solution. Drivers, safety and productivity are all to the fore in the design, and Rob explains why they are so important; not only for the bottom line, but also for the men and women behind the wheel. And, for those who worry about the sustainability of batteries, he also explains why Volta Trucks has eschewed traditional EV battery technology, to use safe, durable cells that don’t involve mining precious metals. This change to the landscape also extends to property, and Rob chats about the effect that the EV revolution will have on landlords.


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5: CV Focus episode 5 - Paul McGerty

At 64,000 sq ft - the size of a football pitch - and with 39 vehicle bays, AGS’ brand new Heathrow dealership is the largest undercover workshop of its kind in the country. What’s more, of the £6m investment to build it, £1m has been spent on making it ready for electric commercial vehicles, from bespoke bays and equipment to its own sub-station. AGS Joint MD Paul McGerty tells us why it’s been future-proofed and what working with customers based at Heathrow is really like. Heathrow, says Paul, is a ‘mini-city’. Employing 76,000 people, it is the largest single-site employer in the UK, and directly supports another 114,000 local jobs, from AGS to hotels, airline caterers and more. Airside at Heathrow, where many of his customers’ vehicles work, AGS has Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in place that demand a response within 15 minutes for a ‘code red’ - and financial penalties running to thousands if the SLA is breached. That’s tough - but AGS wants to cascade that type of SLA to the wider transport industry, with same-day booking for maintenance (rather than waits of up to two weeks elsewhere) and 24-hour servicing. This is needed, says Paul, as fleets become ‘tighter’ with fewer spare vehicles. Finally, he talks about the firm’s work on films - a separate arm, but still vehicle-based - which has equally testing demands. And, why you’ll never see the Batmobile on the M6….