South Wales operator Hicks Logistics has marked its 35th anniversary by making its first investments for more than two decades in fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz trucks.
Leading the way is its first New Actros tractor unit, which entered service on 1st March and is already returning an extra half a mile per gallon compared to the family-owned company’s established trucks.
The New Actros 2545 has a 450 hp straight-six engine and flat-floored BigSpace cab. It is on general duties but spends much of its time pulling bulk timber products in curtainside trailers for leading customer Premier Forest Products.
"It’s heavy-duty work which takes us all over the UK," says Managing Director Terry Hicks. "The fleet average is 8 mpg but the New Actros is already up to 8.5 mpg. These are still early days, though, so there’s every reason to think this figure will improve still further as it gets more miles under its belt."
So impressed was Mr Hicks with his first New Actros that he quickly returned to dealer Euro Commercials (South Wales) with an order for a second, which has just arrived. Again, the company has opted for the 450 hp engine but the latest vehicle has an aerodynamic StreamSpace cab in its narrower, 2.3m form.
Hicks Logistics specialises in the transportation of plant and construction equipment and Mr Hicks explains: "The second New Actros is assigned to our contract with UK Platforms, which entails delivering powered access equipment on semi low-loader trailers nationwide. We have to negotiate some tight country lanes while access to construction sites can also be an issue, so the narrow cab should be an advantage."
Hicks Logistics has acquired its New Actros through flexible Agility funding packages from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services – the first will cover 130,000 km per year, with the second scheduled to clock-up 100,000 km annually.
Agility offers all the benefits of conventional hire purchase with a Guaranteed Future Value (GFV) – including low monthly repayments – but gives operators extra options at the end of the term. Euro Commercials will service both trucks under five-year Mercedes-Benz Repair and Maintenance Contracts.
Sandwiched between the two New Actros, Hicks Logistics has taken delivery at short notice of four 2544 Long Distance units from the current Actros range, and has a fifth on order. These vehicles are the subject of highly competitive CharterWay contract hire agreements with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. The first four are now hard at work in the colours of UK Platforms, and the next truck will be on the same job.
Hicks Logistics’ impressive headquarters at Caldicot, close to the Severn Bridge, were purpose-built in 2008. Its fleet of 60 vehicles is dominated by a Swedish brand.
Mr Hicks’ father Bill started his own haulage business in the 1950s but Hicks Logistics was founded in 1979 – the company’s first New Actros wears a livery that proudly acknowledges its 35th anniversary.
"It’s been more than 20 years since we last ran a Mercedes truck but we’ve now taken six since the beginning of March, with another due very soon," says Mr Hicks. "The drivers are over the moon with the New Actros in particular, as am I – a saving of half a mile per gallon, if replicated across the fleet, would make a huge difference to our bottom line.
"I’ve been impressed, too, with the service we’ve received from Euro Commercials and Mercedes-Benz, who provided us with three demonstrators before we ordered our first New Actros on a ‘suck it and see’ basis. Well we’ve tried it, and we like it very much, so provided the back-up is also there when we need it, there’s every chance that we’ll choose Mercedes-Benz again the next time we need new trucks."