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Is the LEVC VN5 the electric van for us?

We recently had the pleasure of testing out the new VN5 electric van from LEVC (the makers of those swanky electric black cabs). Here’s what we thought after a few days of driving, delivering and charging our potential new delivery vehicle.

Day 1

Early mornings aren’t often exciting but when a new van to trial is being delivered, it’s cause for ignoring the snooze button and making our way in to meet the driver. Our first impressions were the size of the VN5, it strikes somewhere between our existing Caddy Maxis and perhaps the Mercedes Vito? It really does have a presence which I’ll come onto in a bit more detail shortly.

The keyless start was a great change and immediately feels useful when it comes to multi drop delivery days where time is often of the essence and fumbling around for keys whilst trying to move from double yellows is less than ideal. Once you’ve unlocked the van, the interior is pretty unique in the van market – you sit high, atop of the battery bank and have a seating position akin to that of a cabbie. It takes a little bit of getting used to but after a while, around town, you realise how well it works and the comfort that comes with it certainly surprises.

It was definitely clear that this van is a gamechanger and has a great amount of appeal, from those who know and those who don’t. With what’s normally a 30 second run in to our suppliers turning into a 20 minute conversation with a neighbouring business who had seen the VN5 advertised and wanted to find out more. He likewise agreed the size is impressive but we did also find some middle ground on the question of cost.

Day 2

With a few installations and deliveries, the VN5 was really put to the test – using Smart drive mode, the van recharged using kinetic energy and utilised battery power before switching over to its petrol range extender (more on this later before you bash it!) – the smooth drive and silence are strangely pleasing after a while, feeling almost stress free as you glance left and right at those diesel van drivers sick of changing into first only to inch forward and sit idling.

In Summer of 2020, we utilised the lockdowns to trial a Renault Kangoo ZE which we purchased and sold just under a week later. Why? The dreaded range. EV range is probably best compared to that of politicians – there’s a huge load of promise and you believe it but quickly realise you’re in for a long ride of disappointment. Real world range becomes the phrase you have to hunt for in reviews to actually grasp some concept of how far you can really go. The VN5 though… you guessed it, is different.

Using a petrol range extender, which does mean Congestion Charge and road tax is payable, is a great feature for a business like ours and likely so many others. Delivering around London all day then get a job 100 miles away? Not a problem. Driving to site visits or trade events and back? Not a problem. Whilst our test drive was conveniently a week before the ‘fuel crisis’ meaning we couldn’t pull a smug face as we pulled up at the pumps only to run in and buy a Mars bar, the petrol running cost on the VN5 was still considerably less than our current diesel bill.

With a total of 230 miles covered on day 2, the range certainly help up and delivered, with a lot of gawks and comments from fellow van drivers and EV geeks. So it’s definitely easy to see the marketing power of owning a VN5 given the road presence and intrigue.

Day 3

With an overnight charge at home taking 7 hours, it was time to see how the UK’s charging infrastructure truly held up. With stories of broken chargers, queues, pulling up to find a Range Rover dumped in the charging bay and every other horror story, it had a lot to live up to. The first charger we tried was at South Mimms services on the M25, with a huge array of Tesla spaces but only 4 EV chargers. The faff at first of signing up to the charger specific app, topping up the account and waiting for the charger to accept was frustrating and felt like a waste of all the time saved by not queueing for fuel. But, a services KFC provided the less than desirable opportunity to discuss with our fleet mechanic the pros and cons of this vehicle.

I’ll come back to the size, because even at a services, it felt like it needed two spaces and a wide load warning to ensure no one parked too close as they ran in for a desperate wee. But, it bloody stands out doesn’t it – the VN5 can be seen from across a car park and the beautiful LED halo headlights just add to the pizzazz. (Would have preferred a hawaiian over the lacklustre Colonel’s offering but hey ho). By time my paper straw had gone soggy, it was time to head back to the van and see how much juice we’d gained. And the fun begins… an hour’s charge had added 10 or so miles, you see there are three types of chargers and so many speeds that you’d be forgiven for wondering why switch to electric.

But, with some Instagram advice, we gained some clarity and upon some further research, the VN5 can be charged in 30 mins, with our likely charge speed being 1 hour to full at our London unit.

Verdict

So, what did we think? Am I writing this with a VN5 key on the desk? Well, no, not yet anyway. You see, purchasing an electric van is much bigger than just the van – you have the site surveys and lead time of having a 22kw charger installed, which takes up our last 3-phase point, then the logistics of day to day. Do our drivers take the VN5 home to charge or return to base and take their own vehicles home? Do we market it as fully electric knowing some are aware of the petrol element? Or do we find the ever ridiculous Congestion Charge cost prohibiting as opposed to a Euro 6 van? At the time of writing, the VN5 is a £50k+ vehicle which does become justifiable when you get to grips with what’s on offer and the versatility but with the daily improvements in EV technology, how well will that hold up in even say 12 months? Tesco were the first to take on Modec trucks in the early 2000s who pioneered quite a smart EV commercial vehicle design, only to go bust and perform badly practically.

Whilst we have no doubt the proud UK manufacturer of the VN5 is here to stay, how do we continue to capture that appeal and intrigue to further our brand awareness?

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Warehouse Signage for Zapp

Zapp deliver groceries in minutes, we print and deliver signage in hours… so you could say the two of us have something in common.

We were approached by Zapp to provide internal branding to their new West London hub, specifically to the outer walls of a newly constructed cold room. Knowing warehouse environments are typically cold and high traffic areas, we opted for Metamark MD5-H High Tack Vinyl, to provide a strong and high quality result.

Zapp Signs installed in West London by Citiprint - Same Day Printing and Signs 24/7

The overall sign, measuring it at 2.5 x 7m is hugely visually striking and visible from outside the unit with the shutters open, providing additional impact to those on site. The comments from our client on site in relation to the vibrancy and depth of colours just highlight the power of our Epson SureColour range of wide format printers.

Material choice here was the most important factor with the wall also being recently painted – with MD5-H eliminating the need for primer, speeding up installation to just under an hour. Matt lamination to the graphics adds a large degree of durability to what should be in place for years to come.

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Wind Turbine Branding for Octopus Energy


“We’re a company that likes doing things that have never been done before. For that you need partners you can trust to go above and beyond, and Citiprint are exactly that. They push the boundaries of what can be done with signage, so they were the first people I spoke to when we needed to get a team suspended from a wind turbine 50 meters above the ground.”

Peter Miller, co-founder at Octopus Energy


Few phonecalls in history, infact no phonecall ever has begun with the words ‘can you brand a wind turbine?’ – but when you’re Octopus Energy‘s go to for pulling off groundbreaking ideas, we pause our office Spotify playlist and tune in to the unusual enquiry instead. After fairly quickly realising this wasn’t a prank or some scale model turbine in question, it became apparent we had less than one week to get this project underway and completed.

We’re no stranger to unusual and impressive projects but this has never been done in the UK before. Some turbine manufacturers brand the Nacelle (part at the top containing the motor) at the point of manufacture but never has a firm taken on the daunting task of branding an already erected turbine.

As part of their aptly named Fan Club initiative to provide discounted energy to communities in Market Weighton and Caerphilly, Octopus has recently acquired two 500kw wind turbines, capable of powering 800 homes each year. But, if you live in these areas, walk your dog locally or just drive past, you’d never know who owned these fans, until now…

With the green light given just 72 hours before from the deadline, our focus was instantly turned to the logistics involved in the project, which meant working closely with not just Octopus, but also our own installers, third party specialist installers and preferred materials supplier Metamark. Their huge range of M7 sign vinyl meant we could send a digital swatch to Octopus who instantly found the right colour match. From the point of ordering the required material, we had a very tight turnaround to produce the vinyl and get it to site in Hull. This was light work with our 1600mm Summa S160D plotter, making production a breeze (see what we did there). In no time we had 80m of cut and printed vinyl produced and labelled up for installation.

As a SafeContractor Accredited Business, and with a large percentage of our work being for high profile clients, we have a huge interest in site health & safety and proper planning for all jobs. The nature of our 24/7 service means things like a Risk Assessment being typed up on the M62 at 10pm on a Sunday night isn’t too alien to us. It was completed and signed off in time for our 6am team meeting on site, aided by the beautiful invention of Costa coffee.

Fitting begins of the 3x3m Octopus vinyl printed on Metamark MD5

The first task was branding the base of the turbine using a portable scaffold tower and our PASMA trained installers; staring a 3m wide Octopus in the face at 7 in the morning was certainly new to us all but we soon had a strict schedule to work on to ensure the next stage of the branding could be carried out. Shame we didn’t have eight tentacles to hold the giant vinyl in place!

Anyone could look at this job and suggest a cherry picker, after all there are plenty of huge machines available in the UK to hire – but it’s never that simple. Due to the location and terrain, it was apparent we’d also need Trakway to support the vehicle and we’d be extremely limited with windspeed limits, the turbine itself swaying slightly causing possible damage and the fact that it doesn’t really look that impressive now does it.

So, if we can’t send a team up in the sky, let’s find a team who will come down from the sky – in comes Media Abseiling, our go to partners and long term Instagram lovers. Their specialism in working from any height is not only ridiculously scary quite frankly but at the same time exactly what we needed – with an experienced team of IRATA abseilers ready to take on the mammoth task.

Team of three abseilers ascending to begin branding the top of the turbine in Hull.

It would only be worth us taking this project on if we could be certain to meet our client’s brand guidelines and expectations which was where working with Metamark, a UK manufacturer of sign materials came into play. In fleeting conversation with our sales rep Paul, we mentioned the nature of the project, not realising the turbine isn’t in a factory on ground level but quite the opposite. This particular turbine, manufactured by EWT, stands 50m off the ground with the blades stretching to a further 25m. Needless to say, the setting for this install was beautiful on all fronts, set in Market Weighton near York. Although, the less said about the lack of warmth and phone signal the better!

Being confident that the material chosen would be the best choice for longevity, ease of install and environmental properties, we sent three fitters up to begin the branding process, led by lead abseiler Kyle. Using anchor points on the roof of the turbine, Kyle and his brave team descended, cleaning the turbine before laying the vinyl on, hoisted up in bags from ground level. It’s beyond us how a man who has hung from a rope for five hours can touch the ground, hands freezing to the touch and legs failing to hold themselves and hear ‘that material was so easy to work with’ before any attempt to regain a sense of normality. The skills these boys have is enviable.

Despite strong winds to contend with and the orientation of the logo proving tricky at times to read from up close, the huge team effort between 15 of us on site made for an enjoyable installation for all with the results speaking incredible volumes. Each side is branded with a 2 x 15m logo – more than visible for some way.

Our mentality as a business has always been to ensure we have everything we can ever need for every possible eventuality – and it proved to come into its own on this project, as it has many others since we started in 2016. Having the right kit, vehicles, team and contacts allowed this job to go without a hitch with the satisfaction and feedback from all involved totally empowering.The impact from this job is certainly unlike anything we’ve ever achieved before and we’re already scratching our heads to see how we can top it. This is the first of its kind in the UK and possibly worldwide, but it won’t be the last for as long as we’re printing and the wind is blowing. As Octopus continues to acquire fans, we will continue to step up to the challenge and meet their signage project requirements.

Photography Credit: Octopus Energy


Job Completed on 23rd March 2021 in Market Weighton, Yorkshire.
Using Metamark MD5 Printable Digital Vinyl & M7 Sign Vinyl

https://www.metamark.co.uk/blog/wind_turbine_m7-series.html

For all PR enquiries and for further images, please email jacob@citiprint.co.uk

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Citiprint scoops Title in Corporate Excellence Awards

Over the past few years, we’ve worked hard to win several industry and wider Awards and were pleased to find this week that we’d been titled the ‘Leading Specialists in Printing and Sign Services’ in the 2019 Corporate Excellence Awards.

It’s a huge accolade for us as we continue to push boundaries and redefine the Print and Sign industry as we continue to grow and plough ahead.

It joins the other Awards we’ve been lucky to receive including the Bark Certificate of Excellence, RAR Digital, Best Website (HDA 2016) and more.

 

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Same Day Foamex Signs Printing London – Royal British Legion

Fast Turnaround on 3mm Printed Foamex boards (A0 Size) for Paddington Central in support of the Royal British Legion. We specialise in Same Day turnaround Print and Signs including Foamex Printing London.

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Who’s PRINTING your PRINT?

It’s now been 25 years since the introduction of digital printing, pioneered by Indigo (now HP). Now, to put that into perspective, this revolution in printing has been around for longer than Citiprint’s owner but it comes a mere 554 years after the origins of mass print production.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention, whilst print advertising has declined over the past decade, the print and sign industry has boomed – now worth nearly $1 trillion Worldwide. That means there’s a hell of a lot of print and sign companies out there, with the UK alone responsible for keeping 150,000 people in employment in the industry each year. So, that means we’ve got a lot of history to cover and a lot of stats, but we’ll keep it short and sweet.

Where did we come from?

In late 2015, consumer demand was transformed by the boom of apps such as JustEat, Uber and TaskRabbit. This meant getting what we want, when we want it became as simple as a few taps on a screen. Taking that ease and simplicity and the increasing demand for last minute printing, we built M25Print.com – servicing all businesses and customers within the M25 for Same Day Printing of Business Cards, Flyers and Roller Banners. Quickly realising there was a huge market for other products and services – wide format, graphics, digital printed vinyl etc led us to start Citiprint and well… it’s grown more than we’d ever imagine.

Do we print or outsource?

The UK print market is flooded beyond belief with outsourcers. Sure, it’s simple – you buy a cheap laptop, find a few online trade printers and run your ‘print’ business from home. BUT… how many times do we get calls and enquiries from clients who have been let down by these so called print partners. There’s no doubt the outsourcing and marketplace business model can work; take Amazon for example, over half their products are in other people’s warehouses around the world and they still continue to grow year on year with amazing customer retention. That’s all well and good for retail but Print and Signs require knowledge and your online outsourced print supplier simply won’t have that. We’ve built up a wealth of knowledge from working closely with manufacturers, suppliers and experience to deliver a first rate solution to every client requirement.

Less than 6 months into our journey, we realised it was time to invest in our own equipment and go fully in house for production. Taking on premises and purchasing two existing print companies gave us the overnight ability to produce high quality digital print in house. We have continued to reinvest and now operate three Epson SureColour solvent printers, the workhouse of our business and the heroes behind every job we print. At the end of the day, we’re a bricks and mortar business – you can visit us, see your job being printed and ask for advice and see how that advice results in the end product. Your outsourced partner can’t come close to offering that.

Are we growing?

In short, every day we’re growing faster than expected. We’re responsible for turning around bespoke projects, signage and solutions for some of the World’s biggest brands (you can read more about our clients here). We work so closely with our clients to deliver the right print or sign solution, even if it’s a simple batch of business cards or a few graphics because we know when our customers grow, we grow and the circle then never stops.

Our new 1500sqft unit in London will help us continue to grow – we’ve got even more capacity now for vehicle graphics, van signs, exhibition stands and so much more.

The moral of the story?

Use a printing company who prints. Work with a team who understand print and have extensive knowledge. Go with a company that works closely with suppliers and attends every possible course and open day possible to enhance their skills. We print in house, we deliver nationwide. We are the leaders in 24/7 Print and Signs.

 

 

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Same Day Vinyl Cut Graphics Lettering for Upping Your Elvis

“It looked great and the client loved it! Thanks again for the quick turnaround”

Great feedback from our client on these Same Day Vinyl Cut Graphics delivered to London direct to client.

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Same Day Roller Banners for McLaren and Aston Martin

Same Day Roller Banner Printing in London for McLaren and Aston Martin Dealerships. We’ve previously provided print for McLaren on numerous occasions and even installed last minute signage at their Ascot Dealership.

Feedback from our the dealerships: “Thank you so much for going out of your way to get these to me on time. They look fab and have definitely been a great addition to the day.”

Same Day Roller Banner Printing London McLaren Aston Martin

Same Day Roller Pop Up Banner Printing London

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Banners mean Business

Banners have long been a quick and cost effective way of advertising – be it your business, charity or event, they’re everywhere. Today there are literally thousands of places who print banners BUT – we also live in the day and age where we need things quick, often the Same Day. This expectation for a fast turnaround is fuelled by the rise of the apps such as JustEat and Uber. We’re so used to tapping here and there and getting what we want, when we want. It’s that ease and transparency that we apply to our business when it comes to Same Day Printing in London and across the UK.

With two fairly new Epson SureColour Wide Format Printers, we can produce up to 200ft of banners per hour, that’s the length of a whole football pitch. This means no matter what size banner you’re after, we can turn it around fast and with solvent inks, your banner is ready as soon as it comes off the printer, providing a long lasting high quality result that will endure all weathers and always look vibrant.

Our Same Day Printing Service covers nearly everything – including: Same Day Wide Format Printing, Same Day Roller Banner Printing, Same Day PVC Banner Printing, Same Day Twist Exhibition Stand Printing, Same Day Exhibition Graphics.

For a quote, simply use our LiveChat or Call us on 0203 167 0400.

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Same Day Roller Banner Printing in London for Acrotrix

Great results from these Same Day roller banners we produced earlier in the week for Acrotrix including delivery to London.

Our same day service covers many products and we have wide choice of roller banners in stock ready to print with the finished product available for collection or delivery in under an hour.

Call us on 0203 167 0400 or use our live chat for all your urgent print and sign needs.

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