Waitrose stores in central London are taking deliveries via the first of Mercedes-Benz’s low-emission Atego BlueTec Hybrid trucks, which makes between 12 and 15 drops per day, six days a week.
It is operated by shared user distribution firm Lenham Storage, and has a personalised registration GR61 CER (GROCER), the Atego BlueTec Hybrid was supplied by Sittingbourne dealer Sparshatts of Kent, with support from Mercedes-Benz UK.
The 12 tonne truck has a Euro 5/EEV diesel engine and an electric motor, which can power the vehicle individually or in tandem, reducing fuel consumption by around 15 per cent, with a concomitant affect on carbon emissions.
The truck also has a version of the Mercedes-Benz motor stop-start system, which boosts fuel economy by switching off the engine whenever the vehicle is in neutral and stationary for three seconds – for example, in heavy traffic or at lights.
The Atego Blue Tec is operating within the M25
In standard Atego models with manual gearboxes the system re-starts the engine automatically as soon as the driver drops the clutch; however, the Atego BlueTec Hybrid has an automated transmission, so the engine is switched on again when the accelerator pedal is depressed.
The 60hp electric motor offers instantly accessible maximum torque of 420Nm. It draws its energy from a high-performance lithium-ion battery which is charged mainly during braking, through the conversion of kinetic energy into electrical energy.
When starting off, the vehicle is driven by the water-cooled electric motor, ensuring quiet, fuel-efficient and low-emission progress. The 218hp, 4.8-litre internal combustion engine is idling during this stage. More fuel is saved during acceleration, when the electric motor assists the diesel.
The cab’s wind-cheating “Freddie” roof deflector and collar are by aerodynamics specialist Hatcher Components. The trailer Bevan21 box body has a curved roof, tapered sides and roof-mounted rear diffuser, manufactured from lightweight, recyclable panels supplied and built by Bevan.
Justin Laney, fleet general manager for the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Using this vehicle for deliveries to our Waitrose shops will help us to assess the contribution that the latest hybrid technology can make to our own carbon reduction plans.”
Lenham Storage has been working for Waitrose for nearly 10 years. As well as making daily deliveries of high volume bulky goods to its customer’s stores nationwide, the vehicles return with used cardboard which Lenham then bales – it delivers some 25,000 tonnes of recycled Waitrose cardboard to mills every year.
Keith Abrehart, managing director of Lenham, said: “What we like about the Mercedes Atego Hybrid is that it’s a genuine, ‘real world’ solution that combines the environmental attractions of electric power with the operational reassurance of a conventional diesel engine.”
Lenham Storage typically runs its trucks for between three and five years, but envisages a longer service life of up to seven years for the hybrid. Abrehart said: “We’re keen to monitor factors such as servicing costs and battery life over a longer period.
“There will always be unknowns when you’re piloting innovative new technology but Mercedes-Benz has been very supportive over the years and we’re confident that if any issues do crop up they will be dealt with. Certainly, we’re very proud to be the first customer for such an important new vehicle.”
Lenham Storage is headquartered near Maidstone, in Kent, and has a depot in Andover, Hampshire. It provides storage and distribution services to customers across the grocery, beverage and FMCG sectors. 126 of its 130 vehicle fleet are Mercedes trucks.