Bakery group Warburtons is the first operator in Britain to trial a new tractor unit from Mercedes-Benz that combines a low-entry cab with a low-emission, gas-powered engine.
The 4×2 Econic 1828LLG is on a six-month loan, after which Warburton’s will have the option of adding the vehicle to its national fleet on a long-term lease.
Working with a 13.6m Gray & Adams insulated box trailer, the truck is now trunking between Warburtons’ national network of 25 depots which stretches from Aberdeen, to Newton Abbott to Thetford, as well as making bulk deliveries to the company’s larger customers.
As well as assessing the vehicle in terms of the reduction in carbon emissions, Warburtons is also considering its operational suitability.
Group transport manager Mark Sutcliffe said: “We’ll be monitoring its performance closely and won’t have the full picture for some time. But it’s fair to say that the early signs, and initial reactions from our drivers, are positive. The low-entry cab, with its easy access and excellent visibility, has certainly been well received.”
Warburtons has been operating gas-powered and dual-fuel trucks for ten years. A quarter of its 100 tractor units and a number of its 800 delivery trucks, which range in size from 12 to 15 tonnes gvw, run wholly or partly on gas.
“Gas offers two big advantages. First, of course, it produces fewer emissions and so helps us to reduce the impact of our operations on the environment,” said Sutcliffe. “But the Econic’s gas-powered engine is a lot quieter too, which is another important attribute when we’re operating in city centres or near residential areas.”
Warburtons has its own gas refuelling facilities and is keen to make as much use of these as much as possible. The gas-powered trucks it has operated previously have been by various manufacturers but all have been converted to run on the alternative fuel by after-market specialists.
“The Econic is different,” says Mr Sutcliffe. “For the first time we’ve been able to source a gas-powered vehicle straight from the production line of a mainstream manufacturer, and it’s come with full back-up and bumper-to-bumper warranty cover.”