North Yorkshire haulier Liam Quinn saved £700 on his insurance bill thanks to the latest, state-of-the-art truck safety systems from Mercedes-Benz.
His new Actros tractor unit came with an optional Safety Pack, an investment that has enabled Mr Quinn to secure a 5% reduction in his company’s annual fleet premium.
Quinns Transport is based in Shipton by Beningbrough, near York. Its four tractor units pull bulk tipping trailers which carry a variety of agricultural commodities, but predominantly potatoes, grains and fertilisers.
The Actros is a 2453 model with flat-floored BigSpace cab, weight-saving, small-wheeled mid-lift axle, and optional, high-performance engine brake. Managing Director Mr Quinn had already placed his order when he attended Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ second RoadEfficiency LIVE presentation as a guest of its reigning Dealer of the Year, Northside Truck & Van.
Staged at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, this event provided operators with the chance to experience first-hand the awesome stopping power of the automated Active Brake Assist 4 system, which incorporates pioneering pedestrian recognition capability.
As the vehicle in which they were lapping the high-speed bowl bore down on a stationary van, the staged braking intervention came in two waves, with significant pressure applied initially, and full pressure in the closing stages.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day but that was definitely the highlight,” recalled Mr Quinn. “The braking performance was unbelievable. I was left in no doubt that this technology can save lives, either by preventing an accident altogether, or dramatically reducing the effects of a collision.”
Indeed, so impressed was Mr Quinn that he promptly updated his Actros order to add the Mercedes-Benz Safety Pack. In addition to Active Brake Assist 4, this comprises Proximity Control Assist – which works in conjunction with the cruise control, intervening automatically to restrict the truck’s speed and maintain a pre-set distance from the vehicle in front – a driver’s airbag, and an instrument cluster with larger screen. Customers for the Safety Pack can make a substantial saving on the price they would pay if they specified its four elements individually.
Armed with comprehensive product information supplied by Northside, Mr Quinn then contacted his insurer, NFU Mutual. “You can’t put a price on safety,” he said. “But having demonstrated my commitment to responsible operation by investing in these high-tech safety aids, I hoped I might be able to negotiate a reduction on the premium I’d already agreed.
“My agent took it on board totally. He acknowledged that I was clearly taking the issue of safety very seriously, and that I had proactively reduced the risk of my truck being involved in an accident. He agreed that this should be reflected in the cost of my insurance.”
Mr Quinn was delighted shortly afterwards, to accept the offer of a £700 cut in the price of a year’s cover for his new Mercedes-Benz, three other tractor units and a couple of company cars.
Mark Easy, Business Insurance Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “The advantage of our 300 local offices is the personal service, advice and expertise we offer our customers to meet their bespoke needs. We underwrite each risk individually based on the client’s specific circumstances, and as part of that process we absolutely support customers that take steps to manage their risk and safety.”
Acquired with competitive funding support from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, the Actros is smartly turned out in two-tone paintwork with light bars, airhorns and alloy wheels.
It is Mr Quinn’s first vehicle to wear a three-pointed star since he founded his business 32 years ago.
“My dad was an owner-driver who ran a succession of Mercedes-Benz trucks, and I started out with a 1626 model,” he said. “It got me up and running but I replaced it after a year, and never went back to the brand.”
Until now, that is. A series of positive reports about Actros fuel-efficiency from other operators, coupled with the availability of the lightweight mid-lift axle and high-performance engine brake – neither of which was on offer from the Swedish manufacturer that supplied is previous trucks – prompted Mr Quinn to come full circle and purchase his first new Mercedes-Benz for more than three decades.
Powered by a top-rated 390 kW (530 hp) version of the advanced, 12.8-litre OM 471 straight-six, the Actros is driven by Mr Quinn’s son Joe, and is certainly living up to expectations in terms of economy.
“We work our trucks hard, and they’re usually fully freighted both ways,” said Mr Quinn. “Bulk tipping will never be the most fuel-efficient application, but after just a few weeks on the road the new truck’s returns are up to 7.4 mpg. That’s a pretty good figure already, and as the vehicle loosens up they’re still getting better.”
More of an eye-opener, however, has been its performance. “The Actros absolutely flies,” Mr Quinn continued. “During long runs up to Scotland it’s proved more than a match for our higher-powered vehicles on the hills. Everyone is really surprised and impressed by how well it goes.”
The subject of a four-year Mercedes-Benz Repair and Maintenance Contract, the truck is being inspected and serviced at Northside’s York workshop, which, like the Dealer’s six other facilities, remains open round-the-clock.
Mr Quinn added: “I’ve dealt with a lot of truck salesmen over the years and Northside’s Chris Dyer has been like a breath of fresh air. He’ll always get back to you when he says he will.”