Mercedes-Benz Vans and its Retailer of the Year Northside Truck & Van joined forces with the Freight Transport Association to present the first of a planned series of briefings that aim to keep operators safe, legal and efficient.
Held at the Dealer’s smart, modern Doncaster branch and attended by van customers representing a variety of industries and applications, the session was a ‘pilot’ for a programme that Mercedes-Benz Vans intends to roll out across its UK network.
The meeting was addressed by Mark Cartwright, Head of Vans & Light Commercials at the FTA and a ‘leading light’ in the development of the ground-breaking Van Excellence accreditation scheme. He congratulated those customers present, observing that their very presence showed they were highly conscious of their responsibilities as vehicle operators.
Mr Cartwright led a discussion on the issues of legal compliance facing businesses which run fleets of vans, and outlined ways in which the FTA can support those going through its voluntary Van Excellence programme.
Northside Truck & Van sales specialists Glyn Staley and Lizzy Hinchcliffe then offered insights into the unstinting efforts of Mercedes-Benz to build the safest light commercial vehicle on the road.
They looked back over the brand’s unrivalled safety heritage, recalling a long list of pioneering innovations, from crash testing and crumple zones in the 1950s, through developments such as anti-lock brakes and airbags, to more recent technology such as the remarkable Adaptive ESP® anti-skid system.
They also detailed the reassuring armoury of features available on the newest generation of Mercedes-Benz vans, among them: Crosswind Assist, which helps keep a vehicle on a straight path if hit by a sudden sideways gust; Collision Prevention Assist, which warns the driver if an impact is imminent; Attention Assist, which detects signs of drowsiness; Blind Spot Assist, which can ‘see’ a vehicle even if it’s not visible in the mirrors; and Lane Keeping Assist, which warns if a driver is starting to drifting across the carriageway.
“This level of safety equipment is unique in the van sector,” affirmed Glyn Staley. “And it doesn’t stop there. Mercedes-Benz is constantly investing in research and development to raise the bar by bringing new systems to the market.”
There followed an opportunity for guests to take a closer look at examples from the award-winning Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Vito and Citan model ranges.
LC Vehicle Hire owns more than 2,000 vans and trucks. Fleet & Compliance Manager Helen Cluderay said: “This has been an extremely interesting and useful exercise, and has certainly given me a more detailed understanding of how safe Mercedes-Benz vehicles are.”
Peter Tod, UK Transport Manager at industrial services giant Cape Plc, praised Northside Truck & Van – which represents Mercedes-Benz across Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire – for organising the presentation and said he hoped to see fellow van operators taking an active part in similar events in the future.
His colleague, Fleet Manager Matthew Hammond, added: “This kind of opportunity for sharing ideas and learning from each other is exactly what the van operating sector needs to help raise its standards even higher.”
Andy Eccles, Head of Business Development at Mercedes-Benz Vans, concluded: “This was the first of an ongoing programme of events. Our intention is to work closely with the FTA to stage similar meetings across the country.
“We feel more should be done to support van customers. At Mercedes-Benz we strive do so much more than simply sell vans, and this is a great example of how we can work with forward-thinking operators to encourage operational best practice in our industry.”