Two prototype Mercedes-Benz “Urban Protoype” Econic trucks are being leased via a contract hire agreement in the UK and have gone into service this week, making multi-drop deliveries to customers throughout London, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). They are the first of the German truckmaker’s high-visibility models to feature refrigerated bodywork.
The high-visibility Econic has a deep, panoramic windscreen and a full-length, folding side door allowing the driver, who sits much lower than in a conventional distribution vehicle, to make direct eye contact with cyclists and pedestrians at junctions or in traffic queues.
Reynolds, one of the UK’s leading temperature controlled fruit and vegetable suppliers, is using 18-tonners that are fitted with Sentinel camera systems that give the driver a 360-degree view and also sound an audible warning when a cyclist is alongside, as well as strobe lighting for use when crews are unloading at night.
The Econic’s standout low-entry cab has just two steps rather than the traditional four, which also reduces the risk of access and egress injuries for the operator’s driver and ‘van assistant’, while easy through-cab access allows both to enter and exit safely on the non-traffic side.
Both trucks are Econic 1830 models with Euro 6 compliant straight-six engines developing 299hp. The insulated, temperature-controlled bodies are supplied by the Aberdeenshire-based convertor, Gray & Adams, with underslung Thermo-King refrigeration units that comply with urban noise legislation for overnight deliveries.