Two of Britain’s best-known tyre businesses are investing in new fleets of Mercedes-Benz vans – but while one has been relying on vehicles bearing the three-pointed star for two decades, the other is gaining its first experience of the nation’s fleet favourite.
Sister companies National Tyres and Autocare, and Viking Wholesale Tyres and Equipment, are leaders in their respective fields: National Tyres is the UK’s largest independent fast-fit specialist, and Viking offers nationwide coverage from its warehouses located throughout the UK.
The two firms, which share the same owner in Axle Group Holdings, have ordered a total of 60 fuel-efficient Euro 5 Sprinter vans from Glasgow dealer Western Commercial. The new vehicles are the subject of a four-year Mercedes-Benz Financial Services operating lease; the first are already on the road and all will be in service by the end of the year.
Most – a combination of 3.5-tonne 316CDI Long and 3.0-tonne 210CDI Medium models – will wear the colours of Viking, which has also just taken delivery from Western Commercial of two box-bodied 7.5-tonne Mercedes-Benz Atego trucks and has a third on order.
Viking has been operating Mercedes-Benz vans for some 20 years. Its latest Sprinters will be used to distribute tyres from the company’s network of eight strategically located warehouses to retailers, dealerships and other customers which, depending on their locations, can receive up to three deliveries a day.
The remaining 23 Long- and Medium-length Sprinter 316CDIs are being equipped with tyre-fitting machines, wheel balancers and compressors, for use by National Tyres and Autocare’s highly-trained mobile fitters. They are the first Mercedes-Benz vans to be operated by National Tyres, which has more than 200 branches nationwide and has previously sourced its vehicles from another manufacturer.
Stewart Mackenzie is Logistics Manager for both businesses and responsible for a fleet of 90 Viking and 40 National Tyres vans. He led a comprehensive evaluation exercise that involved presentations by various manufacturers and considered the merits of several models before coming down firmly in favour of the multi-award-winning Mercedes-Benz contender.
"Viking’s experience over a number of years has confirmed the Sprinter to be an extremely reliable and economical vehicle to operate, with very few issues being reported by our depots," he said.
"It is also comfortable to drive and therefore popular with our drivers, and the market-leader in terms of safety, which is another major attraction given our Duty of Care obligations to staff and other road-users."
He continued: "Western Commercial’s Key Account Manager David Rae provides a first-class service and although we will undertake most routine maintenance in-house, we know we can also rely on the Mercedes-Benz network for back-up should we need it.
"All of these factors, taken together, convinced us that this was the right time to introduce the Sprinter across the board."