The promise of fast, efficient, round-the-clock support from Orwell Vans and other members of the Mercedes-Benz Dealer Network was key to a major investment in a new fleet by R&D Construction.

The Suffolk-based groundworks and civil engineering specialist has ordered 40 Mercedes-Benz Citans for use by site personnel. The first 20 are now in service, with another 10 scheduled to go on the road this month (June) and the remainder due in September. All 109 CDI Long models, they offer outstanding economy of up to 65.7 mpg (combined cycle).

R&D Construction was founded in 1986 by Richard Pratt and David Thorrold, and moved in 2008 to its purpose-built head office and yard complex in Walsham le Willows. The company, which also has a successful plant and equipment hire and sales business, serves a variety of sectors and is proud of its skilled and dedicated workforce – an exceptionally low level of staff turnover owes much to its commitment to the training and development of its people.

R&D has enjoyed strong growth over the last few years. The firm undertakes most of its work in East Anglia, Cambridgeshire and Essex, but in recent months its teams have ventured as far afield as Somerset, Sussex and Yorkshire.

The new Citans are the subject of a flexible, low-cost Agility finance agreement from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, and will be serviced under a comprehensive Mercedes-Benz Repair and Maintenance Contract which includes tyre cover.

R&D Construction’s first Mercedes-Benz vans have joined a mixed-marque fleet of more than 150 light commercial vehicles. The operator decided to seek a new partner after finding that its previous vehicles were spending unacceptably long periods off the road.

Head of Plant Fraser Morey explained: “The Mercedes-Benz reputation for reliability was a real attraction. So, too, was the fact that Orwell’s Newmarket and Ipswich workshops are both less than 25 miles from us, and its Norwich branch is only a little bit further away.

“What’s more, because its Service departments remain open at night, our operatives can drop their vans off for maintenance at the end of the afternoon, then pick them up again first thing next morning. Our guys need their vans to work so the Dealer’s commitment to maximising uptime is very refreshing.”

Prior to winning its breakthrough order, Orwell Vans provided the operator with one of its demonstrators for trial. The 109 CDI model is powered by an advanced 90 hp engine and, like all Citans, is fitted as standard with a number of fuel-saving BlueEFFICIENCY measures, including the ECO start/stop function – which turns off the engine whenever the vehicle is stopped in traffic, then restarts it as soon as the driver depresses the clutch – low rolling resistance tyres, and optimised alternator and battery management systems.

“The Citans have been well received by our site teams and although these are still early days they look to be living up to Orwell’s promises when it comes to their mpg returns,” continued Mr Morey. “What’s more, the three-pointed star can only complement our own brand image as a quality service provider, while the finance deal was competitively priced and allows us to keep our options open for as long as possible.”

Key to the Agility concept is the agreement of a Guaranteed Future Value (GFV) for the vehicle. At the end of the agreement the customer can choose whether to pay off the final lump sum and keep the vehicle, extend the agreement by spreading the balloon payment over a further term, or return it free of any further obligations, apart from an excess mileage charge if the initially agreed limit has been exceeded, and damage charges over and above fair wear and tear.

Orwell Vans has arranged for Hudson Signs, of Needham Market, to apply the vehicle liveries at its Ipswich headquarters, prior to delivery of the vehicles to R&D Construction. “That’s a big help,” confirmed Fraser Morey, “because it’s meant that we’ve been able to send the vans straight out to work as soon as they’ve turned up in our yard, rather than having to wait a day or two.

“The Dealer’s Fleet Van Sales Manager Mark Gittens has done everything we could have asked, and the same is true of his after sales colleagues, who responded very quickly to a couple of minor electrical issues. As a result, we’re very happy with the way the new relationship between our two companies is developing.”

Like all Mercedes-Benz vans, R&D Construction’s Citans are backed by three-year, unlimited mileage warranties and come with Mercedes-Benz MobiloVan support, which includes free, round-the-clock emergency roadside assistance for up to 30 years, provided they continue to be maintained within the manufacturer’s official Dealer Network.