In its 13th year, the Mercedes-Benz VanExperience Live event has welcomed more than 2,500 guests – an all-time record for the brand.
Held at Millbrook Proving Ground, Bedfordshire, there were 241 Mercedes-Benz Vans available for guests to put through their paces across key sections of the site, including the famous off-road track, high-speed bowl and Alpine Circuit.
Open for all van operators, VanExperience Live took place across 10 week days from 20 June to 1 July 2016, with three main hands-on demonstration areas to help guests assess how Mercedes-Benz vans perform in all areas:
• Drive It – A full range drive to experience the entire product line-up from Mercedes-Benz Vans, and compare them directly with competitor test vehicles
• Test It – A challenging off-road course to show the skills of the Sprinter 4x4 and 6x6 vehicles
• Trust It – A safety-focused activity, including handling on the all-new wet grip experience
With experts on-hand throughout the event, guests used their time at VanExperience Live to fully understand the range of products and services offered by Mercedes-Benz Vans and how the brand is keeping business moving, with a big focus on maximising uptime for vehicles, including discussions and demonstrations on: MobiloVan free roadside assistance; Accessories to personalise any Mercedes-Benz van; GenuineParts and their importance; and the adaptable finance and insurance solutions to suit the customers’ requirements.
A complete display of vehicles was also available to access, including vans from more than 41 body builder and conversion exhibitors to show how flexible a van can be.
A total of 46,500 miles were travelled during the two week event, with 23,620 cups of tea and coffee and 1,136 litres of milk drunk, and 1,480 Danish pastries and 7,730 sausage, bacon and egg rolls consumed in the morning. For lunch 1,960 chicken breasts were served, alongside 320kg of beef and 3,500 punnets of strawberries.
Reflecting on the day, Jason Gadsby, Group Fleet Manager, PHOENIX Healthcare Distribution, said: “Van Experience presents a great opportunity to network and see if we can learn anything new that might be useful to our business. The ‘Test It’ section was particularly impressive – as the operator of a fleet of road-going Sprinters I was staggered by the off-road capability of the 4x4 version.”
“I liked the fact that Mercedes-Benz gave you the opportunity to test vehicles by other manufacturers, alongside its own,” explained Carmine Vivone, Proprietor, Pronto Gas Maintenance, Blackpool. “It was a clever move because the difference in the quality of the ride was very obvious – at one point we transferred from a Vito to one of its competitors and my wife’s instant reaction was ‘Woah! This van is all over the place.’”
“We’ve been in the driver-training business for 30 years now and specialise in 4x4 instruction, so we do know a little about the subject… I was genuinely surprised by the steepness of the terrain which the Sprinter 4x4 was able to handle; it was a real eye-opener. There were a lot of Mercedes-Benz staff and despite the dreadful weather this morning they all had a smile on their face throughout, which made a big difference,” added Ian Shacklock, Proprietor, MTF Training, Winkleigh, Devon.
Steve Seeds, Proprietor, Car Care, Bournemouth, said of VanExperience Live: “This is my first visit to Van Experience Live and it’s been great. I own a Vito and was particularly reassured by the safety technology we were able to experience in action on the ‘Trust It’ wet grip area. You try not to put yourself in that position, of course, but it’s nice to know it’s there should you need it.”
Summing up the occasion, Steve Bridge, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, said: “VanExperience Live is like no other LCV-focused event in the UK. We pride ourselves on providing our guests with the ultimate test drive; a real-life brochure to better understand our products, people, and processes that we adopt to keep businesses moving.
“The great British weather didn’t even put a dampener on the event, as we had nearly 1,000 additional guests attending compared to VanExperience Live 2015, which is a fantastic achievement and a sign of how popular the event is. We’re going to continue making VanExperience Live the best van event for UK businesses and are already look forward to 2017.”