Sustainability and environmental best practice are integral to the ethos of award-winning dry cleaner BLANC, but so, too, are sound economics – all of which explains why the West London-based firm has resolved to invest in zero-emission Mercedes-Benz eSprinters.
BLANC has already acquired two of the battery-powered vans from Rossetts Commercials, and will return to the same Dealer for another couple before the end of the year.
Describing itself as “a natural artisan dry cleaner, tailor and launderer”, BLANC operates from award-winning outlets in Chelsea, Marylebone, Notting Hill and South Kensington. The company’s vans transport garments between these stores and its large atelier, or cleaning centre, in Acton. They are also used to make home deliveries.
Ludovic Blanc, a former JP Morgan vice-president, quit banking to study French eco-launderettes before launching his own business in 2013. “Conventional dry cleaning is neither dry nor clean,” he asserted, “because the process entails soaking garments in solvent-based cleaners.
“BLANC, by contrast, cleans all clothes, even the most delicate, in a healthy, natural and sustainable way. We rely on healthier, biodegradable detergents instead of traditionally used chemicals, which are extremely toxic.”
Introduced late last year, the 3.5-tonne eSprinter is powered by a 114 hp electric motor that drives the front wheels. It will travel 95 miles (combined WLTP with 80 km/h speed limiter) on a single charge, which is ample for the majority of urban delivery and last mile applications; recuperative energy recovered when decelerating supplements the batteries’ output.
The 55 kWh high-voltage battery pack is securely mounted beneath the vehicle’s body, so does not impinge on the cargo area. As a result, the high-roofed, medium-length L2 eSprinter’s 11m3 volume carrying capacity is identical to its diesel-engined, front-wheel drive stablemate, and half a cubic metre larger than its rear-wheel drive equivalent.
Key to the eSprinter’s appeal for BLANC is the 2,079 mm height of its load bay. Head of Operations Evan Charalampous explained: “We clean a lot of longer garments, particularly evening dresses. Its high roof means these can be transported on rails in the eSprinter, something it’s not possible to do in smaller electric vans. The Mercedes-Benz vehicle’s cargo space therefore allows us to run a distribution operation that is efficient as well as sustainable.”
Further underlining BLANC’s ‘green’ credentials, the garments it cleans are now protected for deliveries in a compostable film – the product of a two-year development programme, this has replaced the plastic packaging used by competitors.
The transition to an all-electric fleet represents a logical next step for a company determined to do everything possible to minimise its carbon footprint. “Our customers are environmentally friendly too,” said Mr Charalampous. “They like to see us using fully electric vans that produce no harmful tailpipe emissions.”
He continued: “The eSprinter is beautifully smooth and comfortable to drive. Its range is more than sufficient for our purposes, while because electric vehicles are exempt from the Congestion Charge each van is potentially saving us £12.50 per day.
“Completing the picture, we like to think of BLANC as a premium brand, so we’re also attracted by the obvious synergies with Mercedes-Benz, a manufacturer whose name is synonymous with prestige and quality. The vans look great and we’re very proud of this new association.”
Rossetts Commercials represents the three-pointed star from branches in Surrey, Sussex and north Hampshire. Mr Charalampous added: “The Dealer’s Van Sales Executive Ian Burdett provided a fantastic service.
“From our first call to the point at which we took delivery, he kept us fully informed throughout. Given this outstanding level of communication we’ll have no hesitation in returning to Rossetts for our next eSprinters.”