Drivers at Inverness-based Highland Haulage have given a resounding thumbs-up to their latest trucks, a pair of Mercedes-Benz Actros 2548 tractor units which are also proving impressively fuel-efficient.
“We have some highly experienced professionals on our staff and we respect their opinions greatly,” said Director Sandy Catto. “The feedback they’ve given us on the new trucks is very positive indeed.”
The Actros are powered by 350 kW (476 hp) straight-six engines, which drive through smooth-changing Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmissions, and fitted with fuel-saving Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) systems. They were supplied by Dealer Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles Aberdeen, which is due to deliver another two identical vehicles in October.
The Actros are now hard at work, double-shifted on daytime runs to Fort William on the west coast, and hauling bulk materials from local factories to Inverness harbour at night.
“The roads in this part of the world are rarely straight or flat,” continued Mr Catto. “The A82 to Fort William in particular is one long series of twists, turns and undulations. Our drivers report that the Actros are very stable and easy to handle, while the BigSpace cabs are roomy, comfortable and well-appointed.”
Such challenging topography also offers the Predictive Powertrain Control technology a chance to shine. Particularly effective in hilly terrain, PPC is an innovative cruise control that employs digital 3D mapping and GPS data to scan the road ahead. Armed with this information it manages gear changes and vehicle speed, making full use of the truck’s EcoRoll function to restrict diesel consumption and CO2 emissions.
By also applying engine braking at every opportunity the system reduces component wear and tear, while drivers are less stressed and safer because it leaves them free to concentrate fully on the road ahead.
Tests have shown that PPC can deliver savings of 5%, although many UK operators have reported much higher gains. The system is available as an option on new Actros and can now also be retro-fitted to vehicles already on the road.
Highland Haulage’s Actros have lifting rear axles for optimum manoeuvrability. “We’ve been running a tag-axle fleet for over 40 years now,” said Mr Catto. “Having heard good things about the Actros from owner-drivers who work for us, we were keen to try it ourselves.
“The two trucks are producing some encouraging fuel returns and are already ahead of our fleet average, while we’ve also been impressed by Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles Aberdeen’s service. So there’s certainly an opportunity for the Dealer to win more of our business in the future.”