Shepherd Neame raises a glass to Mercedes-Benz 08 June 2012

Britain's oldest brewer is refreshing its distribution fleet and has used the opportunity to go for its first Mercedes-Benz 'urban artic'.

Shepherd Neame operates a fleet of 16 trucks, 10 of which are lightweight 4x2 tractor units popular with many drinks industry operators, but somewhat niche in the wider truck market. The brewer's new Atego 1329LS tractor unit, supplied by Sparshatts of Kent, has been down-plated from the standard 28 tonnes to a gcw of 25 tonnes.

The truck has an air-conditioned day cab fitted with a Kuda air management kit, adapted by Sparshatts at its Sittingbourne bodyshop. The dealer also undertook chassis modifications to ensure that the vehicle is configured for this application.

Pulling one of Shepherd Neame's new aerodynamic and fuel-saving twin-axle Don-Bur Teardrop urban trailers, the Atego is now delivering real ales in casks, as well as keg and bottled lagers, and spirits, to pubs and outlets throughout Kent and Sussex – typically making a couple of dozen drops a day.

"We've previously sourced all of our vehicles from another manufacturer, but on this occasion went out to the market to see what was available," explains Shepherd Neame Transport Manager Simon Fisher.
"The Atego enjoys an excellent reputation for reliability, of course, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was also very competitively priced," he adds.

The brewer's urban artics typically cover upwards of 75,000km a year and are worked hard. Shepherd Neame's oldest truck dates back to 2004.

"Obviously, time will tell whether the Atego proves to be the workhorse we hope it will, and we'll be closely monitoring its fuel and maintenance costs over the months to come," continues Fisher.

"First impressions are certainly very positive though. I took the Mercedes out for a trial the other day and found it very comfortable and easy to drive."

Shepherd Neame will maintain the Atego in its own garage, with parts and warranty support from Sparshatts of Kent.

Brian Tinham

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