Most customers acquiring fully-electric Mercedes-Benz vans this year will be gaining their first experiences of the manufacturer’s zero-emissions technology – not so Travis Perkins plc.
The leading supplier of materials to the UK building and construction industry has just commissioned two eVito models for operation from one of its branches in Edinburgh. They have replaced a pair of emissions-free E-CELL variants that were based on the previous Vito model range and had been in service since 2015!
Travis Perkins Managed Services is a supply chain partner to local authority and social landlords nationwide. Its contract with the City of Edinburgh Council, on which the new vans are now working, is serviced from a facility in the port area of Leith.
The long L2 eVito variants arrived, like their predecessors, via Intercounty Truck & Van, a trusted partner to Travis Perkins for the last 13 years. They are out each morning delivering materials to contractors responsible for maintaining and repairing the City of Edinburgh Council’s stock of housing and other properties.
Intercounty Truck & Van also provided its high-profile customer with a larger, L2 (medium length), H2 (high roof) eSprinter demonstration unit, which underwent a month-long evaluation at the same depot in Leith, and at another Managed Services location in Stockton-on-Tees.
Introduced towards the end of last year, the 3.5-tonne eSprinter is the latest addition to the Mercedes-Benz Vans range. Given the additional load volume it offers, compared to the 3.2-tonne eVito, it represents a more attractive long-term proposition for Travis Perkins. The eSprinter’s cargo area of 11m3 is identical to its diesel-engined, front-wheel drive stablemate, and half a cubic metre larger than its rear-wheel drive equivalent.
Andrew Hollingsworth, Travis Perkins’ Fleet Business Partner for Scotland and Northern England, explained: “We’ll be running the eVito vans for another year in Edinburgh, but it’s the eSprinter that we’re really excited about.
“We carry a lot of bulky items so tend to be more focused on volume than payload. The eSprinter can take 3.0-metre worktops and longer lengths of timber, as well as 8ft x 4ft sheets of plywood and other materials.
“We’d been looking forward to getting our hands on one and seeing how it performed, and it didn’t disappoint. The vehicle did everything we’d hoped, and the feedback from both of the depots that took part in the trial was resoundingly positive.”
Intercounty Truck & Van’s demonstrator was certainly a hit with the three colleagues at Travis Perkins’ Leith branch who put the van through its paces. Asked to rate its overall drive Contracts Manager Guy Cruickshanks and Gary Halliday both awarded it 10 out of 10, while Thomas Garland gave it a nine.
The eSprinter is powered by a 114 hp electric motor that drives the front wheels. Its 55 kWh high-voltage battery pack is securely mounted beneath the body, so does not impinge on cargo carrying space. The van 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.
Now superseded, the Vito E-CELL was the world’s first battery-powered light commercial vehicle to be built on-line at a mainstream production facility. As an early adopter of this ground-breaking technology Travis Perkins highlighted its commitment to carbon reduction and support for the City of Edinburgh Council’s environmental targets.
The eVito brings Mercedes-Benz Vans’ electric drivetrain technology up to date. Travis Perkins’ new vans offer 905 kg payload capacities, while sliding doors on both sides, and twin rear doors, provide easy access to up to 6.0m3 of cargo space.
Like the eSprinter, the eVito is powered by an electric motor that produces 114 hp and drives the front wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is instantaneous. Top speed is restricted as standard to 50 mph (80 km/h), but can be increased on request. The steering wheel-mounted selectors allow drivers to choose between C, E and E+ (Comfort, Eco and Extended range) settings. The eVito will cover an average of 92 miles between recharges; as with the eSprinter recuperative energy captured when braking can extend its range.
Andrew Hollingsworth continued: “We’re really passionate at Travis Perkins about driving carbon out of our own business and our supply chain, and working on a challenging path to reach net zero carbon. We’re already engaged in a number of initiatives designed to reduce our carbon footprint; for example, wherever possible we now buy only electric fork-lift trucks.
“Electric vans are clearly going to play an increasingly important role in our business, particularly in urban areas where low-emission zones are becoming increasingly common. Mercedes-Benz is already our preferred van brand and although the higher mileages involved means range remains an issue for our retail branch operations, the eSprinter looks to be ideally suited to work on Managed Services contracts nationwide.”
Travis Perkins plc is based in Northampton and purchased its 1,000th Mercedes-Benz van from its local Dealer in March 2018. It has since taken a further 265. The partnership between the two companies is so close that Intercounty Truck & Van’s Customer Service Manager Jason Roberts is dedicated to its Travis Perkins account.