Within days of setting its first 25 new Mercedes-Benz Citans on the fleet last March, van rental specialist Global Self Drive had seen them all snapped up by two major account customers.
The fast-growing company, which recently opened a new corporate office at Stansted to serve operators based in and around London, has since purchased another 52 Citans from East Anglian dealer Orwell Truck & Van, as well as 29 Mercedes-Benz Vito models and 54 Sprinters.
Global Self Drive was founded in 1995 by Chris Webb, who remains at the helm, and has a head office in Peterborough as well as other outlets in Cambridge, Colchester, Grantham and Ipswich.
It has a total fleet of more than 1,000 vehicles, ranging from cars to 7.5-tonne trucks – the vast majority, though, are vans, most of which wear three-pointed stars.
Launched earlier this year, the Citan marks the entry of Mercedes-Benz into the small van market and leads the field in terms of fuel efficiency, achieving up to 65.7 mpg and producing CO2 emissions as low as 112 g/km.
Global Self Drive’s Citans have all been Long-bodied 109 CDIs with 90 hp diesel engines. Meanwhile, most of this year’s 136 hp Vito models have been Compact and Long vans, while its 129 hp Sprinter Mediums and Longs have been supplied as panel vans and chassis cabs.
Global Self Drive has been buying Mercedes-Benz vans in big volumes since 2006, when it purchased some 400 vehicles together worth in excess of £7.3 million.
Darren Reeves, Managing Director of the vehicle rental operation, says the Citan represents an exciting new addition to the portfolio of products which his company offers for long-term contract and ‘spot’ hire.
"The Citan fills a gap in the Mercedes-Benz line-up and is a very welcome addition to the range," he says. "It offers all of the attributes of quality, reliability and driver appeal that make Mercedes-Benz vehicles such a popular choice with our customers, but in a small and highly fuel-efficient package.
"Indeed," he continues, "the Citan’s economy is its biggest advantage. Many of our vehicles cover big mileages and as it’s the customers who pay at the pumps, being able to offer them the most fuel-efficient vehicles is crucial to the success of our business. We’ve been greatly encouraged by some of the savings in diesel costs that customers are reporting."
Global Self Drive maintains its fleet in-house but relies on Orwell Truck & Van and other members of the Mercedes-Benz dealer network for parts and warranty support, and for emergency back-up.
"The service we receive from Orwell and particularly its Van Sales Manager James Russell is first class," adds Mr Reeves. "Our vans always arrive on time and to the correct specification, and are very well presented."
Citan panel van versions are also available in Compact and Extra-long lengths. The Citan Traveliner is based on the Long wheelbase and has a folding rear bench seat, allowing it to carry the driver and up to four passengers. And the Citan Dualiner has the same seating configuration but, because it is based on the Extra-long format, also offers a practical cargo space.