Story: COLIN DAWSON
Switching to a new fleet of low-emission Mercedes-Benz vans was certainly not money down the drain for Buckinghamshire-based drainage service firm Clear Drains.
The company says it has begun to make valuable savings in its fuel bills and improved its environmental profile after investing in 18 Mecedes vans – nine 3.5-tonne Medium-length high-roofed Sprinter 313CDIs, the other nine 2.8-tonne Vito 113CDI Longs.
All have been specified for ultimate economy with BlueEFFICIENCY packages, which combine a range of measures aimed at reducing both fuel use and exhaust emissions.
These include ECO-Start, which boosts economy by automatically cutting the engine whenever a vehicle is stationary – for example, in heavy traffic – then automatically re-starting when the driver is ready to move off and depresses the clutch.
This, together with other features such as low-rolling-resistance tyres, and efficiency improvements to items such as the power steering system, fuel pump and battery management, combine to help deliver an average combined cycle fuel consumption figure of almost 40mpg for the Vito 113CDI.
Clear Drain’s vans are all equipped with pumps, jetting and other equipment used to unblock drains. The smaller Vito is suited to inner city work, particularly in underground car parks, while engineers using the Sprinters also undertake CCTV investigations, the vehicle’s roof height is said to make the van an ideal mobile workshop.
Clean Drains managing director John Stottor told Business Vans: “Clear Drains has been successfully riding the recession by offering the best service possible, and this has now been made easier by the change of policy that has led to the introduction of these new vans.
“When you run a 24-hour emergency business you need repeated reliability – it is just not acceptable to tell a customer, ‘Sorry, our van broke down’. Mercedes-Benz is renowned for its reliability and the build quality of its products is streets ahead of the competition.”
He said: “Between them our vehicles cover some 60,000 miles a month, so diesel is a massive cost to our business. As BlueEFFICIENCY models, our new Vito and Sprinter vans are in a different league in terms of fuel efficiency and environmental compatibility.
“They help us to convey a professional image. The Mercedes-Benz brand speaks volumes for the quality of our own business – it says we know what we are doing, and that we have done our homework. We’ve only been running our new Mercedes for a few weeks but have already received half a dozen phone calls from people who’ve seen them on the road and are interested in using us to look after their drainage.”
The vans were supplied by Mercedes-Benz dealer Hughes of Aylesbury, which will also maintain the fleet, and are the subject of a Mercedes-Benz Financial Services contract hire agreement.
Clear Drains previously sourced its business vans through specialist leasing companies, but has welcomed the opportunity to finance its new vans through Mercedes-Benz. “The contract hire rates were certainly attractive,” Mr Stottor said. “More importantly, though, we’re confident that this ‘one-stop shop’ solution, by which the manufacturer is also providing the finance, will give us a better, less diluted service than we’ve received in the past.”
Keep up to date with developments in our Business Van News section.