All 33 vehicles wear an updated version of the familiar orange and white chevron livery worn for years by the London Evening Standard’s Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans.
Rygor is the UK’s largest Mercedes-Benz Dealer – the German manufacturer’s franchised network is also responsible for sales and support of the popular FUSO light truck range.
The Standard chose the 7.5-tonne Canter for its market-leading payload and the compact external dimensions that make it ideally suited to multi-drop, urban operation.
The trucks’ lightweight curtainside bodies, meanwhile, are by TLC Auto Refinishing, of Feltham, and also feature a promotion for ESTV’s London Live, the first 24-hour, seven-days-a-week general entertainment television channel for the capital, which launches next year.
Based at the newspaper’s new distribution centre in Greenwich, the Canters are used to collect newspapers from the printing facility in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, then distribute them to retailers and newsstands. They will be maintained under a CharterWay contract hire agreement from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, by South London agent SG Smith.
The trucks are all Canter 7C15 models, powered by fuel-efficient 110 kW (150 hp) engines mated to DUONIC gearboxes – the first twin-plate, dual-clutch automated transmission to be fitted to a light truck, DUONIC provides smooth shifting and economical performance with none of the frictional losses found in traditional automatics. Features include a ‘creep’ function for low-speed manoeuvring, which is sure to be invaluable to drivers working on London’s congested streets.
First published in 1827, the London Evening Standard was acquired in 2009 by Russian businessman Alexander Lebedev and his son Evgeny, who is now its Chairman. In October of that year, having always been a paid-for title, it went free in central London.
The change of strategy in 2009 meant the Standard’s previous distribution model, based on a large fleet of Sprinter vans, was no longer viable. The number of ‘drops’ was slashed, but the volume of newspapers delivered to the approximately 8,000 outlets which remained shot up.
Over the last four years copies of the Standard have been distributed aboard rented trucks shared with other titles, notably The Metro, as a result of which the once familiar Standard livery has been absent from London’s streets. But now, prompted by the move to its new distribution centre, the newspaper has taken the strategic decision to bring the operation ‘in house’ again.
Tim Freeman, Head of Distribution at the London Evening Standard, explains: "Our Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans were exceptionally reliable so Rygor was the obvious choice when we were looking to invest in larger vehicles."
He continues: "The Canter’s turning circle and outstanding manoeuvrability are big plus points given that we are working in central London. But payload is even more important, as we strive for maximum efficiency to contain fuel costs and minimise our carbon footprint.
"The Canter’s carrying capacity of almost four tonnes is roughly half a tonne more than that of a conventional 7.5-tonner. This equates to about 3,000 extra copies per vehicle, which represents a major saving."
Mr Freeman adds: "Excellent supplier relationships are imperative to ensure our business runs smoothly. Rygor’s Truck Sales Executive Rish Channa and his colleagues provided a first class service throughout the specification and ordering process, and the vehicles arrived on schedule and in perfect condition."