Mercedes-Benz adds 12-speed PowerShift gearbox to UK Econic lineup

Mercedes-Benz has made its Econic more attractive to general haulage operations with the addition of a 12-speed gearbox, with Travis Perkins taking delivery of the first 10 UK equipped examples.

The low-entry vehicle has previously only been available with an automatic six-speed Allison transmission gearbox.

This Allison option, according to Mercedes, remains the most comfortable option for the refuse operations with which the Econic is more traditionally associated with.

But market demand has prompted it to introduce a 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 system for both the 4×2 and 6×2 Econic axle configurations, which is intended to provide better fuel economy for haulage operations.

The 229hp Travis Perkins trucks have straight-six engines and are fitted with Massey Engineering dropside bodies and HMF long boom cranes.

Dressed in the traditional green and gold Travis Perkins colours, the trucks will work in and around London with two already on the road in Sutton.

Travis Perkins central fleet manager James Taylor said: “We have been leading calls for the Econic to be offered with the Mercedes PowerShift transmission, and it is gratifying that the manufacturer has listened to what we’ve been saying and acted on it.

“The Mercedes-Benz system offers improved fuel economy and significant cost savings, compared to the Allison version. It is our intention, therefore, to standardise on Mercedes PowerShift when placing future Econic orders.”

New Arrival in commercial vehicle sector plans to electrify the market

Arrival remains bullish about the prospects of its electric-powered light commercial vehicle, and the disruptive impact its technology-led approach will have in the broader market.

Aiming a shot at its larger, conventional rivals, Matt Key, chief of business development at the Banbury-based start up, said: “The world we live in, especially within the commercial vehicle sector, is behind what’s technically possible.”

“Overpricing is what makes electric vehicles niche. Manufacturers claim there’s no demand for them. But operators are interested until they find out how expensive they are compared with conventional designs,” he told delegates at yesterday’s (8 November) Freight in the City Expo.

Arrival, previously Charge Automotive, made headlines earlier this year when it revealed Royal Mail was conducting a long term trial of nine of its T4 [a working title], which is described as a 4.25 tonne all-electric autonomous-ready truck.

“Electric trucks should be simpler than conventional powered vehicles,” said Key, making the point that there are examples of fully electric vehicles from more than 100 years ago in automotive museums, so the concept is far from new.

“Retrofitting conventional vehicles is where it gets expensive. If you build from the bottom up as we have done – the Lego block approach if you will – you end up with something simpler.

“We are also trying to do more in software rather than hardware, which is typically heavier,” he said.

“Ultimately, we approach our truck as a device. Think of our four-tonne truck as a big phone on wheels.”

Arrival plans to put its 4-tonne vehicle into full production at the end of the year and already has designs for a 7.5-tonner.

Key claimed that the company would be able to deliver it at broadly the same price of a conventional vehicle with similar payload.

We believe it’ll be priced at £35,000, which will include the battery. This is without factoring in any available government subsidy,” said Key.

The T4 is claimed to have a range approaching 200km and can take a full charge in an hour with 100% more payload and 50% more volume than a conventional equivelent.

However, Key said: “This is a very specific vehicles for inner city deliveries.”

Arrival has designed its vehicles with shared components. Key likened the approach to a plug and play PC, which is easily upgradable.

It is using the technology to develop other variants such as a small bus, as well as a taxi and an electric-assisted bike that could be used for delivering post or pizza.



TfL went too soon with Direct Vision Standard, claim panel

Industry experts have accused TfL of putting the cart before the horse with its Direct Vision Standard (DVS).

Speaking at Freight in the City Expo at Alexandra Palace today (7 November) Ross Paterson, head of product and marketing at Mercedes-Benz, said customers were asking what star rating each model had on a daily basis.

“We can’t simply answer that question; there is so much uncertainty about it, but nonetheless, customers need to buy some vehicles. They have to safeguard themselves; they don’t know what to buy at the moment,” said Paterson.

He later added: “From my perspective regrading the Direct Vision Standard and working with TfL, a lot of hard work is ongoing but it not complete. But I do feel the announcement was made a bit too early – the research should have been done first and then announced afterwards. So there is confusion.”

James Hookham, deputy chief executive at the FTA, agreed. “The mayor’s ambition, noble as it is, has seen him progressing too quickly with this. It has gone ahead of the checks and balances required and means we remain in the dark over DVS,” he said.

Hookham said there was an urgent need for clarity about the DVS specification so manufacturers could factor this in to designs where possible and customers, pressured to upgrade their vehicles to meet London’s Ultra Low Emission Standard (ULEZ) coming in 2019, could make the correct purchasing decisions.

Paterson added: “We build vehicles for the European market rather than for specific cities or city agendas.”

Announced last year, DVS is seeking to introduce a rating system running from zero to five based on the level of direct vision a driver has from their cab.

Trucks with the lowest, zero rating would have been banned from London by 2020, with only those achieving three stars or above permitted entry from 2024.

Although TfL published interim ratings in September these have subsequently been removed from its Safer Trucks website.

Tim Ward, freight and fleet engagement manager at TfL, reminded delegates that 78% of fatalities involve cyclists and HGVs with truck blind spots the key issue identified in police reports.

“Since the first announcement, which was’ DVS or nothing’ we have now looked at the research, spoke to the manufacturers and re about to consult on a permit scheme.”

“The permit scheme will mean a vehicle fitted with suitable equipment [potentially sensors or cameras] could bring a zero star truck up to the [basic] standard,” he said.

Ward said TfL would launch a consultation in regards the permit, what it might contain and how it might work, within the next month.

Regulations and the ULEZ

Hookham said that while operators weren’t against change, many now felt overwhelmed by the pace of it and wanted clear guidance on how to conform.

“We really need an overall look at all the restrictions that are coming in too. The incremental approach that has been taken is adding cost to operating in London and also living in London, which can’t be good for anyone,” said Hookham.

On the subject of the ULEZ and purchasing decisions, Paterson said that while conforming with the ULEZ was not an issue for Mercedes, it was a huge one for its customers, many of whom were delaying making a purchase due to fear of getting it wrong.

He added that many would have upgraded to Euro-5 and would have planned to run the vehicles well beyond the new 2019 ULEZ start date and instead will now face a £100 penalty to enter certain areas.

Freight industry recognised for commitment to quiet deliveries at John Connell Awards

The freight industry was recognised for its commitment to reducing noise pollution during the 16th annual John Connell Awards in London this week.

Dubbed the ‘noise Oscars’, the awards champion advances in reducing the negative impact of unnecessary noise on the general public.

Winner of the John Connell Quiet Logistics Award was a partnership between forklift manufacturer Hiab and retailer Pets at Home.

Deliveries to Pets at Home’s 1,400 UK stores in the evening and at night were generating complaints from residents, mostly concerning noise emitted from diesel-powered forklift trucks.

To continue its efficient out-of-hours delivery movements, Pets at Home had to find a solution that came in the form of Hiab’s first all-electric truck-mounted forklift with a lift capacity of 2,000kg, which was completely silent.

Gloria Elliott, Noise Abatement Society chief executive, said:”‘NAS applauds Hiab and Pets at Home’s investment in quiet delivery technology which will benefit residents and colleagues alike.”

Highly commended in the same category was Whitbread, which owns popular food and hotel outlets such as Costa Coffee and Premier Inn.

Whitbread was recognised for its high standard of quiet delivery and servicing operations, which had brought efficiency gains into the business from responsible retiming.

Elliott said: “Whitbread is to be congratulated as a great example of showing care to the communities in which it operates by exercising quiet policies and investing in low-noise technology.”

Scooping the Innovation Award was Brigade Electronics for its work on developing a ‘Quiet Vehicle Sounder’ to put the noise back into near-silent electric vehicles to enable them to be heard by pedestrians and cyclists when in close proximity.

The noise reacts to the ambient background, is not invasive, and dissipates quickly.

Also Highly Commended for innovation was Aecom for working closely with TfL to create a visual matrix of ‘Quiet equipment and vehicles: making the right choice’, using case studies to demonstrate their benefits.

The matrix is now published on the FORS website to help operators stay well informed about the positive benefits of quiet technologies in their supply chains.

Highly commended in the Soundscape Award was operator Martin Brower.

An early adopter of quiet technology and staff training in its delivery to McDonald’s restaurants, the operator was commended for its understanding of the “holistic spirit of soundscape principles” shown through a variety of sustained best practices to enable efficient servicing without causing noise disturbance.



Dennis Eagle to show Direct Vision-ready Elites at Freight in the City Expo

Dennis Eagle will be bringing two of its Elite urban trucks to Freight in the City Expo next week, which have a five-star rating in the TfL’s interim ratings for the Direct Vision Standard.

The manufacturer will have a 44-tonne Elite tractor unit on display, which has been developed with Explore Transport for the operator’s last leg journeys inside the M25.

Lee Rowland, sales and marketing manager at Dennis Eagle, said: “Their plan in operational terms is to use their conventional vehicles outside of the M25. Then for the final stage of delivery they’ll change the trailers at a satellite depot on the outskirts and use the Elite tractor units to bring the trailer into the city.”

Dennis Eagle will also have a 32-tonne tipper grab with an Elite chassis, owned by London-based customer FM Conway.

“It’s a big show for us next week,” Rowland said. “There’s a lot of momentum behind the Clocs project. We really want to promote the Elite product. It’s the best for direct visibility in the marketplace and it’s a UK manufacturer.”

Dennis Eagle staff will be on the manufacturer’s stand at the expo to talk to visitors about the benefits of the low-entry truck and the support available with the purchase of the vehicles.

Rowland said: “It is different to a standard vehicle, it’s not a day cab, it’s not what most people are used to. So a lot of it is education about how our vehicle works.

“It’s an automatic, but is geared for stop start operations. So our vehicle is tuned for the London environment. We’re confident that that’s going to go down well.”

Terberg Urban Safety Logistics vehicle in the spotlight at Freight in the City Expo

The recently launched Terberg Urban Safety Logistics Vehicle is taking pride of place on the manufacturer’s stand at the Freight in the City Expo 2017.

The 18-tonne refrigerated truck was designed in conjunction with Terberg’s recently acquired sister company Dennis Eagle and bodybuilder Gray & Adams.

The vehicle is designed to go beyond the current trend for low-entry, high-visibility trucks and create a complete package to enable safe, quiet and efficient urban deliveries.

The truck is based on Dennis Elite 4×2 rigid chassis and has a Volvo D8K 280bhp Euro-6 engine and Allison MD3000 six-speed automatic gearbox.

It also features the low-noise, low-emission Carrier TRS Twin Cool undermount 2CPT refrigeration system as standard, which is fitted to a Gray & Adams dual compartment reefer body with an internal moveable bulkhead.

The walk-through cab has seating for a driver and two passengers, with storage for extra kit. Nearside access is through a bus-style full length glass panel folding door, giving direct vision capability.

Another safety feature is the Dhollandia 500kg side loading lift, incorporated into the rear nearside corner of the body to form the load floor, which complements the standard Dhollandia tail-lift.

The truck is also installed with the latest Mobileye Shield + collision avoidance system, which combines proximity intrusion information from around the vehicle, removing the need for the driver to monitor individual cameras.

  • See the Terberg Urban Safety Logistics Vehicle for yourself at the Freight in the City Expo 2017, taking place at Alexandra Palace on 7 November. Register for your free place today.

Martrans Trailers to exhibit new urban Walking Floor trailer at Freight in the City Expo

Martrans Trailers is preparing to impress visitors to the Freight in the City Expo 2017 with a new compact version of its Walking Floor trailer, designed to give greater maneuverability than traditional straight tippers in tight urban areas.

The Compact V Floor Walking Floor trailer is targeted at companies transporting aggregates and coated tarmac materials.

The body, which can be adapted to any make of vehicle, is fitted to an eight wheeler rigid DAF chassis with a 5.1 wheel base to keep the vehicle compact.

It has a rear steer back axle to aid maneuverability in confined spaces which lifts when the vehicle is empty to relieve wear and tear on road surfaces.

Martrans Trailers, which is a subsidiary of Paneltex Group, developed the trailer for ABH Haulage of Mansfield.

The brief was to create a Walking Floor trailer which could give maximum payload and be able to deliver into cramped urban areas, sites with limited space or access, and areas with overhead power cables or services. The build took 20 weeks.

Morris Abbott, site and trailer development manager for Paneltex Group, said the Compact V Floor Walking Floor trailer stands out from the competition by being able to take almost the same payload as a straight tipper.

“One of the biggest problems is the reduction in payload to 18-tonnes in previous rigid tipper vehicles, which requires more vehicle movements than the traditional tipper, which has a 19- to 20-tonne payload.

“By getting the payload on this vehicle to close to 19-tonnes, we have gone a long way to reducing that problem.”

He added: “The other advantage is the vehicle’s suitability for road and rail tunnel work which unlike traditional tippers, which have to leave their load at the mouth of the tunnel can deliver into the tunnel, eliminating all that extra movement to feed the pavers.”

Abbott added that Martrans is seeing strong interest in the Compact V Floor Walking Floor trailer with a steady stream of orders.

  • See the Compact V Floor Walking Floor trailer and tonnes more at the Freight in the City Expo 2017, taking place at Alexandra Palace on 7 November. Register for your free place today.

Renault Trucks returns to Freight in the City with latest vehicles to meet the urban challenge

Renault Trucks returns to Freight in the City Expo this year with a set of new vehicles designed to meet the challenges of the urban environment.

The manufacturer is showcasing the brand new C320 8×4 Tridem in 2.3m cab variant on stand V01 along with the Range D18 4×2 R Low 250 E6 with a Boughton skiploader body.

The Range C320 Tridem (pictured below) delivers the load capacity of an eight-wheeler with the manoeuvrability of a six-wheeler and comes with factory-fitted extra axle adaption.

Its smaller, lower cab has a factory-fitted vision window and short front overhang allowing greater manoeuvrability and vision in congested urban environments.

A rear-lifting axle delivers a narrower turning circle which also keeps the truck closer to the kerb when turning left, compared to traditional 8x4s, reducing the high-risk area for cyclists when turning.

The Range D skiploader (main picture) includes two-step access with a step height of just 375mm. Equipped with a factory-fitted vision window in the nearside door, the vehicle is specified with a full CLOCS safety system, including cycle sensors and the Roadcrew 4 camera system with recorder.

Nigel Butler, Renault Trucks commercial director, said the urban concept C2.3 Tridem is particularly suited to the construction, logistics, distribution and refuse sectors.

“The combination of the low cab with the tridem rear axle lends itself to use as a walking floor tipper, a concrete mixer or a rigid distribution model where the urban concept’s weight advantages and manoeuvrability will be of particular benefit to operators working in constrained urban environments,” he added.

Meanwhile on stand V53, visitors to the show can see the new Renault Trucks Master Welfare Van and the Master Optilogistics Van on display, both of which are from Renault Trucks’ ‘Ready for Business’ range.

Freight in the City Expo takes place on 7 November at Alexandra Palace, London. It is free to attend, so why not register for your pass today!

Volvo Trucks to exhibit Direct Vision-friendly FMs at Freight in the City Expo

Volvo Trucks will focus on London’s Direct Vision Standard at the Freight in the City Expo, displaying its construction FM range in light of TfL’s interim announcement on the standard’s rating scheme.

The transport body began its second consultation on the scheme last month, along with the release of its permit proposal for its star rating system.

With TfL’s permit system based on floor height and level of vision, Volvo will have an N3 FM with a factory-fitted lower door window, narrow mirrors and camera with integrated dashboard screen.

Its stand at the Expo will also host an FM tipper grab with a medium-height chassis.

Volvo said it is displaying the trucks to engage with operators over the Direct Vision Standard, and to give them the chance to explore options other than its N3G extra-high trucks.

Volvo Trucks head of product management John Comer said while the manufacturer supports the standard, it addresses just one aspect of safe driving in urban environments.

He said: “In the city, relative speeds and traffic flow change by the second. This, to some degree, has been acknowledged in the proposed permit scheme.

“At this stage the direct vision star ratings are interim and we are now entering the second phase of the consultation process, he says.

“By exhibiting these vehicles, Volvo wants to invite operator reaction on vision and how these lower chassis will perform in service, in order to formulate views and information so that all can take part in the second consultation.”

Volvo Trucks will also display its cyclist and pedestrian training materials from its ‘See and be Seen’ scheme, which recently extended from targeting the eight plus age group to participants in secondary and adult education.

  • Don’t miss out on a free event with all the latest equipment and information about safe operations in an urban environment – register for the Freight in the City Expo today

Fraikin’s compliance and technology guidebooks available at Freight in the City Expo

Fraikin will be giving away free printed copies of its latest ‘What You Need to Know’ guidebooks at next month’s Freight in the City Expo in London.

They have been designed to help commercial fleet operators stay up-to-date with key legislative issues and changing technology in the road transport industry.

The ‘Sustainable Transport and Clean Air’ guidebook is essential reading for operators working in an urban environment, according to the rental and fleet management firm, and will help inform them ahead of crucial fleet investment decisions.

It includes topics such as Euro-6 and beyond, ultra-low-emission zones and future fuels, and gives details of where operators can turn to for independent advice.

“It’s clear to many in the sector that the road transport industry has to become more environmentally aware than it is at present,” Fraikin sales director Colin Melvin told

“Operators with urban fleets understand this most, with a myriad of legislation coming into effect that will directly affect their operations.”

He added: “At Fraikin, we work hard to be ahead of this curve, offering fleet solutions that suit the requirements of any customer operating in an urban environment.”

The second guide available at the show will be ‘What You Need to Know on Vehicle Safety’ and will include information about recent developments such as the proposed direct vision standard in London, as well as refreshers and best practice surrounding the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

Both 12-page guides are also available to download free of charge.

Fraikin said the new guidebooks revive a popular series of booklets it produced a decade ago on essential topics such as Driver CPC and digital tachographs, which saw tens of thousands of copies requested by fleets.

Further guidebooks in the range will be published later this year.