Mercedes-Benz Vans has loaned 15 Sprinters to Tesco so the supermarket can to continue carrying out driver assessments.
Demand for online grocery shopping has grown significantly since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, pushing resources to their limits.
Tesco has recruited 12,000 extra pickers and more than 4,000 new drivers in the last 12 weeks.
Usually, Tesco temporarily reassigns vans from its home delivery fleet to assess new drivers. However, given the unprecedented volume of online orders now requiring fulfilment, all of these vehicles are needed to serve customers.
Mercedes-Benz Vans has therefore provided 15 Sprinters on a loan basis for a minimum of three months, and longer if needed. Allocated to assessment hubs nationwide, nine of these vehicles are new, the other six being pre-owned examples.
As standard panel vans, they cannot be used to make home deliveries. But they are perfectly suitable for driver evaluation purposes. Crucially, this frees-up front-line units for the home delivery work that is Tesco.com’s priority.
Mercedes-Benz Sprinters account for approximately half of the 5,000-plus vehicles on the Tesco.com delivery fleet. This year alone the manufacturer will supply 1,105 new 314 CDI chassis cabs, which are being fitted with insulated bodies by Solomon Commercials and Thermo King refrigeration systems.
Tesco has taken various other steps to manage the enormous surge in demand, including increasing its order for new Mercedes-Benz vehicles and retaining others that would normally have been stood down after five years’ service.
It is not essential, though, to use a Tesco.com vehicle for driver evaluations. The company’s focus is on assessing the ability of each candidate to handle a 3.5-tonne van safely and responsibly. It is therefore irrelevant as to whether or not that van is refrigerated.
Mercedes-Benz Vans managing director Steve Bridge said: “Our commitment is always to do whatever it takes to keep our customers’ businesses moving. This is particularly important during the pandemic, though, when those businesses are providing essential services and their own customers include some of the most vulnerable in society.
“Tesco.com is a perfect case in point, so we were delighted to work with its team to ensure they are able to evaluate new drivers who will go on to serve even more people through this most challenging of times.”