Halfords has become the first customer for a radical truck body design that sets new standards for aerodynamic efficiency.
The work of leading dry freight specialist Bevan Group, the box body combines the curved roof profile, specially moulded air deflector and cab collar of its established – and highly successful – streamlined Bevan21 design, with new features to the rear quarter of the vehicle.
These include a tapering of the sides of the body and a rear air diffuser to smooth the airflow over and around the back of the truck, thus reducing drag. The resulting shape offers optimum aerodynamic efficiency.
Despite the fact that the sides of the body are tapered, the truck’s capacity to carry cages is unimpaired. Yet Halfords and its distribution partner DHL confidently expect the new vehicle to deliver valuable fuel cost savings and a reduction in carbon emissions.
The first next-generation Bevan21 body is mounted on an 18-tonne Mercedes-Benz Axor 1824 chassis with day cab. Halfords has also taken two more 18-tonne Axors from dealer Gerard Mann Commercials, one of which has a sleeper cab. Both of these vehicles are fitted with ‘standard’ Bevan21 bodies with curved roof profiles and cab fairings, but not tapered sides or rear diffusers – this will allow Halfords and DHL to compare the two designs in operation and assess the value of the extra features in terms of additional fuel cost savings.
They are Halfords’ first Mercedes-Benz trucks and fittingly, given their advanced specifications, all three are now working from the state-of-the art national distribution centre which the high-profile retailer opened in Coventry earlier this year. They make multi-drop deliveries to those of Halfords’ 466 stores nationwide, at which access is too restricted to accommodate larger vehicles.
As well as having impeccable environmental credentials, the Axors bristle with safety features, including ‘handbrake-off’ alarms and sensors for safe manoeuvring. Their 1.5-tonne Dhollandia column tail-lifts are also fitted with side ramps and safety gates to minimise the risk of accidents to drivers, while the undersides of Bevan’s rear headers and load compartments incorporate recessed LED lights to aid working in dark areas.
Halfords Logistics Controller Mark Shirley says: “Halfords strives constantly to improve the service we offer our customers. Our new DC, for instance, will enable us to deliver a wider range of products in a more timely fashion.
“Cutting fuel consumption is another way in which we can make savings to pass onto our customers. The vehicles promise fuel cost savings of around 5%, so we will be monitoring the performance of these trucks closely over the next three months.
“We’re also committed, along with DHL, to a carbon reduction strategy and we are keen to see the extent to which Bevan’s innovative new body design can help us to achieve our targets. The results of this exercise will then determine our vehicle commissioning decisions as we move forward.”
The three Axors are the subject of a five-year contract hire deal with Mercedes-Benz CharterWay, the manufacturer’s commercial vehicle finance arm, under which each will cover 125,0000km per year. They will be maintained in Gerard Mann’s Coventry workshops.
Mr Shirley continues: “We worked closely with DHL’s engineering and operational teams in developing the specification for the new truck body, and we have all been impressed by the enthusiasm and professionalism that Bevan’s Business Development Manager Simon Lake and his colleagues have demonstrated throughout this project.
“As for the chassis,” he adds, “we undertook a considerable amount of research that focused on reliability and whole-life costs, and this indicated that the Axor represented the best option. So we’ve decided to give Mercedes-Benz an opportunity to show what they can do.”
For more information: www.bevangroup.com