Brit European is running its first fleets of fuel-efficient New Actros tractor units and carbon-busting dual-fuel trucks from Mercedes-Benz.
The high-profile operator, which has headquarters in Crewe, is investing some £5 million this year on vehicles bearing the three-pointed star and on new trailers, with a similar outlay planned for 2014 and a further £3 million earmarked for 2015.
This year’s new arrivals from Stoke-on-Trent dealer Enza include 10 low frame-height New Actros 1842 LSnR Volumer models with air suspension front and rear, and wind-cheating StreamSpace cabs, which are now operating from Zeebrugge for Brit European (Belgium) NV.
Plated for operation at 38 tonnes gcw, these vehicles are being used to distribute palletised goods, carpets and floor coverings throughout Europe. Over the next couple of years Brit European plans to stand down the remaining 50 non-Mercedes-Benz vehicles currently in service with its Belgian arm and potentially replace them with New Actros too.
Brit European has also embarked on an ambitious carbon reduction programme and, together with consortium partners CNG Services and Microlise, has secured £1 million of funding from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board to help it achieve its goal of a cut in emissions of at least 25 per cent over the next five years.
In line with this strategy the operator will be opening a gas refuelling facility on the A50 corridor in Derbyshire, and has just assigned 18 dual-fuel units from the current Actros range to its long-standing distribution contract with JCB, a company with similar CO2 reduction targets.
By the end of the year Brit European will be running a further 14 of these Actros 2444 LS units, which have low-roofed Long Distance sleeper cabs and small-wheeled mid-lift axles, and are being converted to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) as well as diesel by approved specialist Hardstaff.
Brit European enjoys a 15-year relationship with JCB and recently won a 5+2-year extension to its contract to deliver equipment from the manufacturer’s production facilities in Staffordshire, to its UK dealers and to ports. With predicted savings of 15 per cent, the two companies expect to pump 3,877 tonnes less CO2 into the atmosphere over five years as a result of their adoption of dual-fuel technology.
In addition to the tractor units which work in JCB’s familiar yellow colours, Hardstaff has converted a quartet of low-height 4×2 Actros 1844 LnR drawbar chassis on air suspension, to which Wheelbase Engineering has added mid-lift axles. Fitted with purpose-designed Hercules bodywork by Italian builder Rolfo, and pulling similarly-equipped trailers, these trucks are also used to distribute JCB equipment, as well as tractor units and Long-bodied Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans – Brit European has long been a supplier to MBUK’s vehicle logistics team.
Brit European Managing Director Graham Lackey confirms: "Mercedes-Benz trucks are reliable and efficient, while we also receive first-class back-up from the Mercedes-Benz dealer network, and particularly Enza.
"First impressions of the New Actros units based in Zeebrugge are entirely positive – it’s the best-looking truck on the road right now, driver feedback has been excellent and we’re very encouraged by the initial fuel returns which appear to be some six per cent of the existing fleet. These trucks do a mixture of long stem mileage and local ‘milk round’ operations, and the New Actros appears efficient in both cycles.
"We’re excited too, about the introduction of our dual-fuel Actros. Innovation and creativity are in the DNA of our company and the same is true of Mercedes-Benz. We believe carbon and cost reductions can go hand in hand and with the full support and drive of JCB, we’ve now set about proving it."