Clean green Mercedes-Benz Sprinters charge into SSE fleet 08 August 2011

One of the UK's largest energy producers has switched to a fleet of 400 environmentally-friendly Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans.

Scottish and Southern Energy's (SSE) new Sprinters are powered by low-emission 129hp Euro 5 engines and equipped with the BlueEfficiency package, which further reduces emissions and makes them even greener and more economical.

Mike Lauriello, Lex Autolease corporate business development director, who was responsible for arranging the five-year contract hire deal, says that fuel efficiency and safety were top of the specification list for SSE's new vans.

Hence BlueEfficiency, which bundles in automatic ECO-Start engine cutting technology and the low rolling resistance tyres, as well as higher efficiency power steering, fuel pump and battery management.

Hence also SSE's choice of the current Sprinter model, with its active and passive safety equipment. In this case, additional safety measures include passenger airbags and handles for each access point, so that operatives entering and leaving the vehicle have three points of contact at all times.

Further, since these vans frequently tow trailers weighing up to 2.5 tonnes, SSE liked Mercedes' Trailer Stability Assist system, which works with the vehicle's adaptive ESP (electronic stability program) to detect and correct any trailer swaying motion, automatically keeping the combination in line.

Most of the 383 vehicles bought are 3.5-tonne Sprinter 313CDI panel vans, which are now serving as SSE's workhorses. However, 79 are 5.0-tonne Sprinter 513CDI panel vans, fitted with Versalift 14m access platforms and stabiliser legs, primarily for maintaining street lighting columns.

All SSE's Sprinters have been fitted with racking systems, roof-racks and rear steps, by Tevo. Most are also equipped to tow generators, compressors and trailers for use with plant items, such as mini-diggers.

"The Sprinters were chosen for this order after we worked through a detailed evaluation, along with our client," states Lauriello.

"The order was based on a long list of criteria: the vans had to be fit for purpose. We also looked at driver acceptance, cab comfort and practical user acceptance – taking in factors such as the height of the rear step – then compiled a detailed analysis of projected whole-life costs," he explains.

Representatives of both SSE and Lex attended last year's Mercedes-Benz Van Experience, a showcase event.

"Features such as the adaptive ESP stability program are impressive enough on paper, but when you see and feel how well the system works on a skid pan, you really appreciate what a vital contribution to safety it makes," comments Lauriello.

Brian Tinham

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