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Electric-bodied Mercedes-Benz Econics are Lewisham’s market force

21st November 2017

Market-goers and traders in the bustling south-east London borough of Lewisham are now benefiting from the introduction of a second Mercedes-Benz Econic refuse vehicle with Geesinknorba plug-in electric body.

The truck, which is based on an 18-tonne chassis supplied by Dealer Marshall Truck & Van, is the subject of a contract hire agreement with NRG Fleet Services, an established supplier to Lewisham Council. It made its debut at this year’s historic Cart Marking ceremony in the City of London’s Guildhall Yard.

Lewisham Council acquired its first Econics in 2013 and now relies exclusively on a fleet of approximately 40 vehicles, all 26-tonne models with rear-steer axles for enhanced manoeuvrability, to undertake mainstream waste collection and recycling duties.

Noel Everest, the authority’s Service Group Manager for Passenger & Fleet Services, said: “The Econic is superbly reliable, performs really well, and offers whole-life costs that blow its main competitor out of the water.

“The vehicle’s safety credentials, and the likelihood that it will get a five-star rating under the Mayor of London’s new Direct Vision Standard proposals, add significantly to its appeal. It is also driver-friendly, comfortable and easy to access, and therefore very popular with our crews.”

Lewisham’s latest, 4x2 Econic 1830 is powered by an advanced 220 kW (299 hp) engine and incorporates a number of recent refinements introduced to enhance the model’s appeal to operatives. These include a driver’s door which is higher and opens more widely, and a re-profiled floor that makes cross-cab access even easier.    

The truck has been acquired to fulfil a specific role. Lewisham Market is situated in the heart of the community and operates six days a week – the Econic is used to compact and remove waste that would otherwise accumulate around the traders’ stalls each day. A 6x2 Econic with plug-in body has been in operation at nearby Deptford Market since 2011.   

Whereas conventional refuse vehicles rely on their diesel engines to provide the power for bin-lifting, and the crushing and compaction cycle, Geesinknorba’s electric body fulfils these tasks almost silently and with the potential for zero carbon emissions. 

Mr Everest explained: “Our local markets are thriving, but because they’re in busy, high street locations they pose difficulties in terms of waste collection and removal services. We ruled out trucks with engine-driven bodies because they have to tick over all day to power the compactor, with resulting increases in local emissions. So we’ve been leaving a compactor skip on site at Lewisham market, but that’s not ideal because of the challenges arising from the need to drop and pick up the equipment in such a congested area. 

“The plug-in body is an ideal solution, as it means the vehicle effectively acts as a mobile compactor skip. The body runs on electric power so is very quiet, and when it’s full – which is usually by lunchtime – the driver can leave the market with relative ease to tip. The Econic then returns and remains on site, typically until 7.30pm, at which point it comes back to the depot for the body to be recharged overnight.”

Mr Everest said: “The battery pack adds about 1,200kg but tonnages are less of an issue for our markets operations. Safety and environmental considerations are far more important, and in these respects our Econics with plug-in bodies work superbly.”

Mr Everest also praised NRG Fleet Services as “a good, professional partner to us”. A fleet management and hire specialist which is active across a variety of industry sectors, NRG operates a nationwide network of 21 workshops and offers bespoke solutions via a number of integrated companies.

Russell Markstein, NRG’s Group Sales & Commercial Director, said: “Our Riverside Truck Rental business has been buying Mercedes-Benz Econics since the model’s launch in 1999, and has vehicles in operation with customers nationwide. We have dealt with Truck Sales Manager Tony Wright and his colleagues at Marshall Truck & Van for many years, and they provide an excellent service.”

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