The first Euro VI Mercedes-Benz Econic refuse vehicles to join the London Borough of Redbridge fleet are out-performing expectations in terms of reliability and fuel-efficiency.
All 16 are Econic 2630 rear-steer models with dual-compartment Heil-Farid compactor bodies that mean they can be used to collect recyclable waste – glass, paper, plastic and metal for example – thereby securing operational savings.
Supplied by Dealer S & B Commercials and operated on Redbridge Council’s behalf by its environmental and waste services partner Amey, the trucks are powered by advanced 7.7-litre, six-cylinder engines that produce 220 kW (299 hp) and drive through six-speed Allison automatic gearboxes. They ride on full air suspension and are equipped with axle weight measuring systems.
Redbridge Council’s Fleet Engineer Eddie Cross commented: “We did have reservations about the move to Euro VI but the drivers underwent training on the operation of the diesel particulate filters and the trucks have given us no problems at all.
“There were concerns too, about increased fuel consumption, but these have also proved to be unfounded. It’s difficult to provide comparative figures for refuse collection vehicles because of the nature of the work. But the Euro VI Econics are certainly doing far better than we expected, and anecdotally I gather from conversations with industry colleagues that they have had similar experiences.”
Redbridge purchased its first 23 Econics in 2008 after conducting an evaluation exercise involving several specialist refuse collection vehicles. “The drivers loved the Mercedes-Benz for its comfort, ease of operation and manoeuvrability,” recalled Mr Cross.
“Our local Dealer S & B Commercials supported the tendering process and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the Econic was also the most competitively-priced of the trucks under consideration.
“Since then, we’ve typically gone out to tender for 10 refuse collection vehicles a year, and the Econic always scores well in the evaluations,” he continued. “This is true not only in terms of capital purchase price but also projected whole-life running costs, which have proved to be accurate.
“The Econic has proved to be highly reliable and we’ve not had any unpleasant surprises, while when the time comes to sell them on they invariably achieve strong prices at auction.”
The panoramic, low-entry cab that makes the Mercedes-Benz Econic a particularly safe chassis for urban operation mean it is now attracting buyers from beyond the refuse collection market. “I understand a vehicle from the last 2009 batch we disposed of has been converted to a scaffolder’s truck,” added Mr Cross.
S & B Commercials has now supplied a good number of the 300 trucks resulting from tendering – in addition to its Econics, the local authority also runs vehicles from the Mercedes-Benz Atego and Axor ranges, as well as 7.5-tonne FUSO Canters. The Dealer provides technical and parts back-up to the council’s own workshop team.
“We continue to invite other manufacturers to provide demonstration vehicles and take part in our acquisition tendering process, but currently the Mercedes-Benz Econic best satisfies our overall needs,” Mr Cross concluded.