Mercedes-Benz dealer City West Commercials has landed a breakthrough order for Actros tractor units from one of the UK’s leading independent transport concerns.
High-profile Somerset haulier RT Keedwell has just taken delivery of its first eight Mercedes-Benz Actros; a ninth, from the New Actros range which made its UK debut at last month’s Commercial Vehicle Show, is due to enter service this summer.
The new trucks – one of which has a blue, full vinyl wrap livery – are the subject of a two-year contract hire agreement with Mercedes-Benz CharterWay, a brand of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.
RT Keedwell is based in Highbridge and runs a fleet of approximately 400 tractor units and 1,000 trailers. Although it tried a couple of Mercedes-Benz Axors a decade ago, this is its first major order for trucks bearing the three-pointed star.
Those now on the road are all Actros 2546 models with flat-floored MegaSpace cabs and fuel-efficient 460hp engines which drive through 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift automated transmissions. RT Keedwell will also contract hire its New Actros, a 2545 BigSpace unit with Euro 5 engine, for two years.
Managing Director Stuart Keedwell confirmed: "The rental package was certainly attractive and I’ve no doubt that in terms of reliability, performance and driver acceptability these trucks will do a first-class job for us – no driver is ever going to be unhappy with an Actros.
"But of course, the most important factor in this day and age is the cost of fuel, and we’ve decided to give Mercedes-Benz a try now because we’ve been hearing good things about Actros returns. We want to find out for ourselves whether they can live up to their promise, week in, week out."
RT Keedwell’s new Actros are assigned to general duties and pulling high, curtainsided trailers. "We’ll run light occasionally but most of the time our Tautliners are freighted at a full 44 tonnes gvw and averaging around 8mpg. So if we can get 8.5mpg out of these Mercedes it will be a real bonus."
Like the operator’s other tractors, the Actros are speed limited to 85kph – "We’ve been doing this to preserve fuel for the last 10 years," said Mr Keedwell.
City West Commercials will be maintaining the new trucks and has also delivered a programme of instruction for RT Keedwell’s own driver-trainers; they, in turn, have passed on what they learned about getting the very best economy from the vehicles to the Actros drivers.
And to assess the fuel-saving benefits, RT Keedwell has specified three of its Mercedes-Benz tractors with Daimler FleetBoard telematics systems – FleetBoard analyses driver performance against a range of criteria and highlights areas in which improvements can be made, such as over revving, harsh braking, idling, speeding and ‘green band’ driving.
Mr Keedwell visited Mercedes-Benz headquarters in Stuttgart as a guest of City West Commercials, to see the New Actros for the first time. "I was very impressed," he said. "Everything about the truck looks very good so we’re particularly looking forward to taking delivery of our first unit from the new range. If it delivers on the promised improvement of up to seven per cent in fuel economy then Mercedes-Benz is going to have a winner on its hands."
The RT Keedwell Group was founded in 1969 with a single truck by Mr Keedwell’s father Ray, who still plays an active role in the business as Chairman. In addition to its 13-acre headquarters in Highbridge the company operates from 10 other locations across the UK, and provides a comprehensive portfolio of services from traditional general haulage to specialised logistics and freight distribution.