Brakes uses Mercedes-Benz Econic for London deliveries

London, UK: Brakes is using a fridge-bodied Mercedes-Benz Econic truck for deliveries in central London.

Brakes’ low-entry 18-tonner is powered by a high-torque, 7.7-litre straight-six engine which generates 220 kW (299 hp) and drives through a 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 system.

Mercedes PowerShift, although used in other Mercedes models, has not previously been available on Econic. Its introduction reflects the truck’s increasing appeal to operators working in distribution-related applications and require a more fuel-efficient alternative to the six-speed Allison automatic better suited to stop-start waste collection duties.

Working from the company’s Premier Park distribution centre in west London, Brakes’ Econic 1830L has an insulated body by Solomon Commercials, of Rossendale, Lancashire, and is making an average of 20 deliveries each day to hotels, restaurants, pubs and other outlets in the heart of the capital.

Paul Vernon, fleet and manual handling equipment manager, Brakes, says: “The Allison gearbox was not appropriate for an operation like ours, but we have high hopes for the Mercedes PowerShift system. We’ve already seen some very encouraging fuel returns.

“The Econic is averaging 10mpg, which is on a par with the 18-tonne Mercedes-Benz Antos trucks we operate from the same location.”

Like all Econics, Brakes’ vehicle is air-suspended and has a deep, panoramic windscreen and full-height, glazed passenger door, as well as the low seating position which allows drivers to make eye contact with vulnerable road users at junctions and in traffic.

“The Econic’s cab affords drivers great all-round visibility, which may help to make the roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Its easy cross-cab access also enhances safety for our own drivers, because rather than stepping down into the traffic when they exit the vehicle, they can always do so on the pavement side,” Vernon says.

The Econic is additionally fitted with a full complement of proximity sensors and recordable cameras, as well as an in-cab CCTV system for live streaming, a standard feature on the operator’s trucks for more than a decade.

Environmental compatibility was also a priority. Like other vehicles based at Premier Park, the Econic runs on Shell gas to liquid fuel, a ‘paraffinic diesel’ which does not require any engine modifications. The fuel reduces NOx and particulate emissions compared to a standard Euro 6 truck, while only rarely do catalytic converters require regeneration.

Carrier Transicold’s Piek-compliant Iceland Twincool fridges unit runs entirely on electric power generated by the Econic’s engine. This PTO-driven multi-temperature system provides adequate power even at idle speeds and helps to reduce the vehicle’s environmental impact by cutting emissions and improving fuel efficiency.

As with all new trucks commissioned by Brakes since 2013, the Econic’s refrigeration unit is underslung, rather then mounted above the cab roof in the conventional way.

This measure also mean technicians doe not work at height when servicing fridges.

Brakes operates approximately 1,500 temperature-controlled trucks, most of them 18-tonners, and 300 vans from 20 UK depots. Mercedes-Benz vehicles supplied by dealer Rygor Commercials account for roughly half of the total fleet, and include 50 Antos 18-tonners which entered service last year.

“We back our Mercedes-Benz trucks with Service Contracts so we know what we’ll be paying over the life of the vehicle. The impressive longevity of the product means those whole-life costs are highly attractive,” Verson says.

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