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Targeted training: Mercedes-Benz Truck’s new Customer Experience Centre

Used van and truck businesses split, to create experience centre and boost training capacity, says Dan Gilkes.

Mercedes-Benz’ new Truck Experience Centre

Mercedes-Benz Vans has moved its used vehicle remarketing team to new offices in Leeds. The firm’s used van processing operation will now be delivered by BCA in Doncaster, in the same way that the company already works with Mercedes-Benz Cars. Used van preparation had traditionally been carried out at the Mercedes-Benz Trucks facility at Wentworth Park, Barnsley.

By moving out of Wentworth Park, Mercedes-Benz Vans is looking for increased flexibility, with the aim of boosting its used van sales. It will allow the company to deliver improved customer service and more cost-effective SMART repair solutions. BCA will also provide Mercedes with an independent return inspection facility, ensuring a more transparent relationship with van customers.

In turn, the Barnsley site is to become a Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ Customer Experience Centre, similar to the firm’s car facility at Brooklands in Surrey. The site is being developed, with upgraded training rooms, a new cafeteria and a range of event facilities, that will be available to dealers, major customers and key account managers. The site also boasts an off-road course for Unimog and all-wheel drive training.

One major focus for the centre will be to increase the availability of Driver CPC training, with many companies expected to require additional courses this year as the Driver CPC passes its second five-year milestone. Mercedes offers a wide range of driver training at the site. This starts with licence acquisition for new drivers, along with staged training through smaller rigids and on into C and then C+E articulated truck qualifications.

A series of intermediate courses deals with product familiarisation, offering specific training for drivers of Canter, Actros, Unimog and the other trucks in the Mercedes-Benz line-up. Advanced driver training then offers specific, targeted courses, looking at how to get best out of the various driver assistance systems incorporated into the latest generation of trucks.

As an example of this, the site has a demonstration area for the Active Brake Assist 4 safety system, which includes pedestrian recognition. In a safely coned-off area drivers can experience a fully laden 44-tonne truck being automatically brought to a halt, when a pedestrian is sensed walking out in front of the truck. Safety and eco driver training courses can be bespoke to a customer’s needs.

Van Fleet World spent the day at the Wentworth Park site undergoing the Eco Truck Training module of Driver CPC. This one-day course is designed to help drivers already familiar with the Actros model, to get the best out of the many assistance systems on offer. With fuel equal to around 25% of the whole life cost of a truck, any saving can be significant.

Having run through the various systems in the classroom, we spent much of the day on the roads, experiencing Mercedes’ Predictive Powertrain Control system in action. This system uses GPS mapping technology, along with weight, speed and temperature data, to automatically change gear and use the truck’s eco-roll function, in effect seeing the road ahead and ensuring that the truck is in the right gear for the upcoming terrain.

Using a three-junction stretch of the nearby M1 motorway in South Yorkshire, we ran the truck without PPC and then again over the same route with PPC engaged. The result was an impressive 10.7% fuel benefit, taking the 44-tonne truck from 7.2mpg to 8.0mpg. Proof, if it were needed, that driver training can have a real positive benefit on the bottom line.

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Written by Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.

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