Brakes is now servicing customers in central London with the first fridge-bodied Mercedes-Benz Econic to feature the manufacturer’s own automated manual transmission.
Its low-entry 18-tonner is powered by a high-torque, 7.7-litre straight-six engine that generates 299PS and drives through a 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 system.
The Mercedes PowerShift was not previously available on Econic but demand from operators has increased for a more fuel efficient alternative to the six-speed Allison automatic.
Working from the company’s Premier Park distribution centre in west London, Brakes’ Econic 1830L has an insulated body by Solomon Commercials, of Rossendale, Lancashire, and is making an average of 20 deliveries each day to hotels, restaurants, pubs and other establishments in the heart of the capital.
The company’s fleet and MHE (Manual Handling Equipment) manager Paul Vernon said: “The Allison gearbox was not appropriate for an operation like ours, but we have high hopes for the Mercedes PowerShift system. We’ve already seen some very encouraging fuel returns. The Econic is averaging 10 mpg, which is on a par with the 18-tonne Mercedes-Benz Antos trucks we operate from the same location.”
Environmental compatibility was also a priority. Like other vehicles based at Premier Park, the Econic runs on Shell GTL (gas to liquid) Fuel, a ‘paraffinic diesel’ which does not require any engine modifications.
This fuel offers reductions in NOX and particulate emissions compared to a standard Euro VI truck.
Brakes operates approximately 1,500 temperature-controlled trucks, most of them 18-tonners, and 300 vans from a network of 20 depots nationwide. Mercedes-Benz vehicles supplied by Dealer Group Rygor Commercials account for roughly half of the total fleet, and include 50 Antos 18-tonners which entered service last year.