When you’re offering customers a four-hour emergency response time, you need vans you can rely on – that’s why air conditioning and refrigeration specialist Flowrite Services is placing its trust in the Mercedes-Benz Vito.
The Maidstone-based company took its first 20 Long-bodied Vito 113CDIs from Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicle Dealer of the Year Sparshatts of Kent, at the end of last year.
They’ve proved so fuel-efficient and been such an instant hit with its field engineers that Flowrite has just returned for another 20. As a result, Mercedes-Benz can now lay claim to the lion’s share of the operator’s fleet.
Flowrite Services installs and maintains air conditioning and refrigeration systems for the leisure, commercial and retail industries. The company also has a satellite office in Lichfield, Staffordshire, but its 70 engineers are strategically located nationwide.
The new Vito fleet is the subject of a two-year lease arrangement with Sparshatts, which includes tyre support; each van will typically clock-up 35,000 miles per year, with maintenance being undertaken by the most conveniently located Mercedes-Benz dealers.
Launched last year, the Euro 5-compliant Vito 113CDI is powered by a state-of-the art 2.1-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine producing 136hp and 310Nm of torque, both significantly up on the 111CDI model it replaced. CO2 emissions, meanwhile, are much reduced, and comfortably below the 200g/km threshold.
The Vito 113CDI drives as standard through a six-speed ECO-Gear manual transmission, which has been designed specifically for van applications. This improves flexibility and maximises fuel economy, as well as being smoother and quieter, and able to handle higher torque inputs.
Managing Director Andy Moore confirmed: "We’re very happy with our new Mercedes-Benz vans, not least because we’re achieving a 10 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency, which represents a very worthwhile saving indeed.
"So, too, are our engineers. They tell me the Vito is much nicer and more comfortable to drive than the non-Mercedes-Benz vehicles they were in before – more like a premium brand car than a van."
The engineers use their vans to carry all of the spares and tools they need to maintain systems and repair the overwhelming majority of breakdowns on the first visit.
"We’re very proud of our ‘first-time fix’ track record," continued Mr Moore. "Clearly, when you’re offering a four-hour emergency response time, you can’t afford to have your vehicles laid up at the side of the motorway, or out of action in a workshop for days on end.
"We like the fact that unlike our previous supplier’s agents, Mercedes-Benz dealers are commercial vehicle specialists and open round-the-clock. This means we can get our vans serviced overnight, which suits us perfectly because it means they’re always ready for work when we need them.
"And we take great comfort from the exemplary reputation for reliability that Mercedes-Benz enjoys. We’ve only had one minor breakdown so far – that was down to a battery fault but it was sorted by the local dealer extremely quickly, which was very reassuring."