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Sparshatt’s Actros 8×4 is First Automatic

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The first heavy Mercedes-Benz truck to wear the colours of recycling specialist London & Kent Metals is also its first multi-wheeler to be fitted with an automated gearbox.

The operator is based in Sittingbourne, and its 8×4 Actros 3241K was supplied by neighbouring dealer Sparshatts of Kent.

The truck transmits its 410 hp output via the 12-speed PowerShift 2 transmission, an optional alternative to the standard 16-speed manual.

London & Kent Metals’ Commercial Director Ryan Eastwood is impressed. “The drivers like the auto ’box because it makes their lives so much easier,” he said.

“From an operator’s point of view, meanwhile, it means they can’t thrash the driveline. Compared to a manual ’box an auto offers valuable savings in terms of reduced wear and tear on items like clutches, and less downtime.

“There’s also a safety benefit in that the driver is free to concentrate fully on what’s going on around him, rather than having to worry about which gear he’s in.”

He continued: “These are still early days but the Actros is definitely more economical on fuel than our other roll on-roll offs too. It’s returning 14-15mpg on a long run – that’s about 1.5mpg better, which represents a welcome saving.”

Family-owned London & Kent Metals runs a fleet of four tractor units which work with bulk tipping trailers, four multi-wheeled hook loaders and three skip vehicles, as well three 7.5-tonne car transporters with slidebed bodies, two of them Mercedes-Benz Ategos also supplied over the last couple of years by Sparshatts of Kent.

It will shortly take delivery of its first Mercedes-Benz tractor unit, a 6×2 New Actros 2551 with BigSpace cab, 510 hp engine and tipping hydraulics supplied and fitted by SB Components, of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Mr Eastwood added: “We’ve previously operated trucks by a Swedish manufacturer, so I ‘dipped my toe’ by buying the two smaller Mercedes to see how the dealer would perform in terms of back-up.

“Sparshatts have been fantastic – honest, helpful, and a really good company to work with. Sales Executive Martin Kemsley provides an excellent service and if the relationship continues to develop then I envisage switching the whole fleet to Mercedes-Benz.”