A pair of fridge-bodied Mercedes-Benz Econics have arrived on the London fleet of fruit and veg supplier Reynolds Catering Supplies.

Reynolds’ new 18-tonne ‘urban prototypes’ have been designed to make deliveries safer and quieter during multi-drop deliveries in the capital.

The Econics feature panoramic windscreens and full-length, folding side-doors to give the drivers a better view of cyclists and pedestrians than you get from conventional HGV designs.

The Econics’ single-compartment Gray & Adams insulated bodies feature a curved front to the roof, which blends into the cab’s air deflector. They also have aerodynamically profiled panel cappings, access doors on both sides and a Dhollandia tail-lift rated at 1,500kg.

Early start

The trucks leave Reynolds’ national DC at Waltham Cross around 2:30am, returning to base at approximately midday having typically made 30-35 deliveries.

To ensure these early hours deliveries are as quiet as possible for residents in the capital, the trucks are fitted with Thermo King’s underslung UT-800 fridge. This is claimed by the manufacturer to be 20 decibels quieter than a standard fridge unit.

The trailer is also specified with sound-deadening Marothaan floor coatings.

Reynolds has also opted for a Sentinel camera system to provide a 360-degree view and an audible warning if a cyclist is alongside. The vehicles also have strobe lighting for use when crews are unloading at night.

Reynolds, which runs a 250-strong fleet, is a bronze level member of Fors, although it is looking to reach gold.

Head of fleet support at Reynolds, Steve White, has previous experience of using Econics in the waste sector, but realised the potential for the fresh food deliveries in the capital.

He said the new Econics came at a higher capital cost than a conventional 18-tonner, and carry around 750kg less, which is “partly down to the fact that we’ve chosen to rack-out our Econics, which is not something we’d usually do – this is not a problem though, because we always bulk out before weight becomes an issue.”

White added: “What’s most important, is that our ‘urban prototypes’ serve to reinforce our commitment to compliance and road safety, while also demonstrating innovation in our field of expertise.”

Leon Daniels, MD of Surface Transport at TfL, said: “I’m pleased that Reynolds is at the vanguard of forward-thinking companies by using safer lorries with higher levels of driver direct vision.

Our recently-published Direct Vision Standard will help other companies bring their fleets up to modern safety standards and make London’s roads safer for all.”