The three-pointed star on the grille of LJA Miers’ first Mercedes-Benz truck represents a triple bonus for the Cambridgeshire operator.
Not only did the 18-tonne New Actros 1842 cost less to buy than an equivalent vehicle from the brand it replaced, but it will also be cheaper to maintain and repair, and is already outperforming its predecessor in terms of fuel efficiency by a full two miles per gallon.
Based at LJA Miers’ factory in St Neots, the New Actros has a BigSpace cab and was supplied by Wellingborough dealer Intercounty Truck & Van, while its high-volume curtainside body is by Kurt Hobbs Coachworks, of Great Addington, Northamptonshire. It is now delivering the operator’s range of rubber, plastic and textile parts to automotive manufacturers nationwide.
At 420 hp, the new arrival’s state-of-the-art, 12-litre engine offers significantly more power than the 360 hp, 9.0-litre unit in LJA Miers’ previous truck. Despite this, the Mercedes-Benz is also around 15 per cent more economical to run.
Managing Director Andrew Miers says: "Our last vehicle returned 12 mpg, which we thought was good. But the New Actros has recorded 14 mpg, which represents a very significant saving, especially given that it covers a lot of miles.
"Its purchase price was also lower than the latest version of the truck we’d used previously, as are the r&m costs. Combine those two factors with the savings we’re making on fuel and it’s easy to see why we’re so pleased with the latest addition to our fleet."
And he adds: "I’ve also been very impressed with the service we’ve received from Intercounty Truck & Van – the dealership team are extremely professional and helpful."
Key to the truck’s fuel-efficiency are the Mercedes-Benz Predictive Powertrain Control and Daimler FleetBoard systems with which it is fitted.
Predictive Powertrain Control is a clever cruise control that employs 3D GPS mapping to read three kilometres of topography ahead, then responds by controlling speed, braking and the transmission to maximise fuel efficiency. Optionally available at a cost of £1,349 on all New Actros models, the system really comes into its own when the vehicle is travelling up or down hills.
The "far-sighted" cruise control makes maximum use of the truck’s standard-fit EcoRoll function when travelling downhill, and applies carefully judged single or double downshifts of gear at an early stage. Mercedes-Benz claims the easy-to-operate system reduces fuel use by approximately five per cent.
FleetBoard, meanwhile, provides clear, easy-to-read reports on fuel use and driving style, highlighting positive aspects such as ‘green band’ driving as well as factors which can impact negatively on consumption, such as harsh braking or over-revving.
"We’ve had trucks with telematics systems before but FleetBoard is a big improvement on what I’ve seen from other manufacturers," says Mr Miers. "It’s extremely user-friendly and the comprehensive reports it provides help to show us how to get the maximum efficiency from the truck."
He continues: "The Mercedes is out on the road for most of the week so we have equipped it with extras like a fridge, microwave and reversing cameras, to make life as comfortable as possible for the driver."
Although it is only working solo at present, the New Actros is also equipped for drawbar work. Mr Miers explains: "Our products are light so volume is a much more important factor than payload.
"An artic unit would be unsuitable because some of the locations to which we deliver just don’t have enough space, but a drawbar set-up will give us the best of both worlds. We’re currently working on creating a holding area within our building where we can store a trailer when it’s not in use, at which point we’ll return to Kurt Hobbs to have one built."