Boat transporter buys new Mercedes-Benz Actros from Marshall13 July 2020

Reliability on regular runs into southern Europe meant that when the time came to replace his first Mercedes-Benz Actros, boat transport specialist Michael Whelan charted a course straight back to his local dealer for a new version of the same truck.

With bases in Lymington, on The Solent, and Plymouth, South West Boat Transport serves boat builders, marinas and yacht brokers, as well as private individuals. Its 4x2 tractor units move motor cruisers and sailing yachts on air-suspended boat trailers with adjustable supports, throughout the UK, Continental Europe and Scandinavia.

Whelan established his business in 2005, and for the next eight years ran trucks by another manufacturer. “It turned into a bit of a nightmare, though,” he recalled, “as we suffered a series of breakdowns.

“I acquired my first Actros in 2013 and was so pleased with its performance that I added a second two-and-a-half years ago. Our trucks typically cover 100,000 km each year, but I’ve not had one breakdown since I switched to Mercedes-Benz.

Whelan drives the new unit, which arrived via the Southampton branch of dealer Marshall Truck & Van. An 1848 model, it is smartly finished in South West Boat Transport’s favoured Sulphur Yellow.

The range-topping GigaSpace cab sports a roof-mounted Kelsa beacon bar with additional spotlights and contemporary StyleLine interior. A special order chassis, the Actros is also fitted with long-range tanks that carry up to 820 litres of fuel and 90 litres of AdBlue. Its second-generation 12.8-litre in-line six-cylinder engine produces 350 kW (469 bhp) and drives through a 12-speed Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated manual gearbox.

Whelan says he is particularly pleased with the new truck’s fuel efficiency. Over its first few weeks on the road, during which assignments included a five-day, 3,000-mile round trip to Málaga, in southern Spain, to collect and bring back to the UK a 37ft powerboat, the Actros averaged 12.6 mpg. This puts its more than a mile per gallon ahead of its predecessor. The company’s other Actros averages 10.9 mpg, although this unit tends to be used to transport bigger, heavier boats.

Its predictive powertrain control (PPC) system takes partial credit for the reduced fuel consumption – up to 3% on motorways and 5% on country roads, by ‘reading’ GPS and mapping data so it can manage gear changes for optimum economy on hilly main routes, but now factors in the curvature of the road as well, the truck manufacturer says. The digital rear-view MirrorCam also cuts diesel costs by an estimated 1.5% because the cameras’ compact, streamlined housings create far less wind resistance than mirrors.

The subject of a Mercedes-Benz Finance operating lease, South West Boat Transport’s new Actros is being inspected and maintained, like its stablemate, at the new facility opened by Marshall Truck & Van on Southampton’s Nursling Industrial Estate late last year. Developed on a two-acre site at a cost of some £4 million, it is immediately opposite the dealer’s former premises, which it had outgrown. The comprehensively equipped, much larger workshop remains open round-the-clock from Monday mornings until Saturday lunchtimes, while the two-storey parts department holds wider and deeper stocks than was previously possible.

William Dalrymple

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Mercedes-Benz UK Ltd

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