Northumberland haulier T. James has ordered eight Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks following an impressive fuel trial which concluded earlier this year.

The first four have just been delivered by North-East Dealer Bell Truck and Van; two more will enter service in October, with the remaining pair following by the end of the year.

Although T. James has run Actros tractors in the past, over recent years it has favoured a rival brand. The company resolved to return to the three-pointed star after the mpg returns from Bell’s Arocs 2548 ‘seed’ vehicle left its established fleet favourite trailing.

Director Alan James explained: “We wanted to see how a current Mercedes-Benz product would perform and, as our work entails bulk haulage on difficult, hilly roads, thought the robust Arocs might be more appropriate for the extended trial.

“We quickly realised the Mercedes-Benz was beating our other trucks hands down at the pumps. Over 18 months, it averaged 0.5 mpg better than the rest of the fleet and on a long run the difference was even more pronounced. The Arocs was also more reliable,” he continued. “In fact, aside from routine checks and maintenance, I don’t think it was ever in the workshop.”

At the end of the trial Mr James sat down with Bell Truck and Van sales executive Scott Sewell to discuss an order.  “Scott took the time to get to know us and understand our business, and demonstrated great attention to detail,” he recalled.

“He wanted to ensure we has the specification of our vehicles absolutely right. As a result of these discussions it became clear that we didn’t actually need the construction-oriented Arocs – the Actros would provide the same reliability and economy, while also offering a slightly lower unladen weight, which is a benefit given that most of our loads are priced on a ‘per tonne’ basis.”

The operator duly ordered eight Actros 2548 StreamSpace tractors, with advanced 350 kW (476 hp) six-cylinder engines and optional, fuel-saving Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) systems. Acquired with competitive funding support from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, they will be inspected and serviced by Bell Truck and Van, under five-year Repair and Maintenance Contracts.

“The new trucks look great and we’re delighted with them,” Mr James added. “We haven’t had to test Bell Truck and Van’s back-up yet, but we’re confident of receiving high-quality support should we need it.”

  1. James runs a fleet of 14 top-weight tractor units which work with steel tipping trailers from its base in the village of West Sleekburn, near Bedlington.

“For most of the last 35 years we worked for a large aluminium smelting company, but the plant we served has now closed,” said Mr James. “The bulk of our work these days entails transporting scrap metal to recyclers. Many of the businesses to which we once delivered are now our customers, and we still use the same types of vehicle and trailer, so the transition has been relatively painless.”

  1. James also provides storage facilities for caravans, motorhomes, boats, horseboxes and trailers at its large, secure yard close to the A1 and A19 trunk roads.