The six-month-old Mercedes-Benz truck was hauling a cargo of bulky but light pharmaceuticals in a 13.6-metre refrigerated trailer, working at 20 tonnes gcw.
Plated for 40 tonnes, the 4x2 Actros 1845 was supplied by Blackburn Dealer Ciceley Commercials, and is one among a 350-strong fleet that also includes Sprinter and Citan vans, and six Atego rigids.
GBA Services’ Actros was specified with the 449bhp 12.8-litre, six-cylinder engine, driving through a 12-speed PowerShift 3 AMT (automated manual transmission).
It was assigned to experienced driver George McGlashan back in January, who received training from Ciceley Commercials’ driver-trainer Gary McMurray.
Nine weeks after entering service, the Actros was retrofitted with Mercedes-Benz PPC (Predictive Powertrain Control) system, which uses 3D digital mapping and GPS technology to manages gear changes, vehicle speed and EcoRoll.
GBA Services general manager Paul Birkbeck says the following week the truck’s fuel consumption improved by a full mile per gallon – and three weeks later, on a run to Budapest McGlashan achieved 15.35 mpg.
“I managed to hit 15.56 mpg shortly afterwards,” recalls McGlashan. “Then, on 18 June, I picked up a load from a customer near the German border with Austria, and set off to deliver it into Vienna.
“In Austria HGVs are banned from 3pm on Saturdays to 10pm on Sundays, so I had to pull in at the Rosenberg truckstop before I reached the city – that’s when I took a look at my figures for the trip. I’d covered 103 miles, mostly on the motorway but with quite a few hills, at an average of 17.1 mpg.”
“The figure achieved by George for this journey is almost unbelievable for an artic, albeit one that was relatively lightly loaded,” comments Birkbeck.
And he adds that the truck is not always so light, often working at up to 36 tonnes gcw – yet still achieving an average of 12 mpg and improving (figure recorded by week 16, with 19,509 miles on the clock).
“Obviously, the technology built into this vehicle has played a significant role,” continues Birkbeck.
“But so, too, has the driver training and support we’ve received, and the way George has taken on board all of the techniques he was shown, including how to make the most efficient use of the three-stage engine brake, EcoRoll, cruise control and PPC.”
Birkbeck admits that when Ciceley Commercials first presented the potential fuel savings available with the new Actros he was highly sceptical.
“Six months down the line, though, their figures have been validated – the truck’s lifetime average is now up to 12.3 mpg, which is remarkable for a vehicle that’s on continental temperature-controlled work and regularly crosses the Alps.”