While Mercedes-Benz wasn’t at this year’s CV Show, its new Sprinter put in a surprise appearance. In front-wheel drive 3.5t guise and fitted with a nine-speed auto gearbox, it was on the Paneltex stand as a platform for one of the Hull-based company’s supermarket ambient/chilled/frozen home-delivery vehicles.
“It’s a pre-production model and we got it with the support of Mercedes-Benz in Germany,” said managing director Chris Berridge.
The cab was covered with the sort of crazy black squiggles that are used to help disguise prototype cars when they venture onto the public highway. “We had to agree to that,” he smiled.
Berridge believes that home-delivery fleets are increasingly likely to switch to front-wheel drive configurations and away from rear-wheel drive.
For drivers the low loading height is a definite advantage. So far as operators are concerned there is no need to fit fold-down side access steps, which are always being damaged, said Berridge.
“Front-wheel drive provides a payload benefit too,” he says. “At 3.5t we can achieve a payload of up to 1,140kg, which gives you a 100kg advantage.”
Also on display was a front-wheel drive Ford Transit 3.5t automatic, again bodied for supermarket home-delivery work. Like the Sprinter, it was fitted with a GAH fridge unit.