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Advancing with class

April 11, 2019
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Bakers SA Limited and Mercedes-Benz South Africa have a relationship that stretches back more than 40 years. With more than 650 units in the current Bakers Transport fleet, the two parties have just celebrated the latest addition of 77 Euro-5 Actros prime movers. GAVIN MYERS joined the celebration.

Bakers and Mercedes-Benz are like good cheese and fine wine – a classy combination; they both go well together and get better with age. Their more than 40-year relationship is testament to that.

“Without question, Bakers is one of the most loyal customers we have in South Africa,” says Maretha Gerber, head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks at Daimler Trucks & Buses Southern Africa (DTBSA). “It is a privilege to hand over 77 new Actros with Euro-5 emission technology. This represents a phenomenal leap and a benchmark for the industry,” she comments.

The 77 rigs are split 80/20 between 6×4 and 4×2 configuration. While they’ll cover most national long-distance routes, some might operate on cross-border routes. The 4x2s are reserved for lighter line-haul loads.

Abdul Tayob, chief executive at Bakers SA Limited, explains that there were numerous reasons behind the decision to go the Euro-5 route.

“Despite the challenges of fuel quality in South Africa, DTBSA has managed to meet our needs. One reason we chose these vehicles is the minimum three-percent nett fuel economy improvement (including AdBlue consumption). Euro 5 represents an extensive reduction in carbon emissions, which is also important to us.”

Gerber adds that choosing Euro-5 vehicles speaks to the Bakers core value of dedication: “Bakers has taken a leap of faith in the knowledge that a Euro-5 vehicle produces 90 percent fewer emissions than the South African minimum-standard of Euro 2.”

Improved safety, productivity and driver comfort were also driving factors.

“Reduced trip times and driver fatigue means greater productivity. With the push of a few buttons, the truck does all the hard work for the driver; it’s a magic technology,” Tayob asserts.

Gerber agrees that the improved technology in the latest-generation Actros affords greater safety, economy and total cost of ownership. However, she says, the two parties are not stopping there.

“In the future we will conduct a digitisation pilot project with Bakers to further improve uptime utilising Fleetboard. Driver performance is central to this. If drivers are happy, safe and comfortable – then the rest of the road users will be, too,” she comments.

For the moment, though, Tayob remains enamoured with the new fleet members. “This is a superb machine; in my mind it’s the best truck in the world,” he smiles.

Even “the best trucks in the world” need some after-sales care, and this is where Bakers turns to Garden City Motors (the Pietermatizburg-based dealership with which it’s had a longstanding relationship) for complete outsourced maintenance. All the trucks have a 60 000 km service interval and are on competitive maintenance plans and extended driveline warranties.

With a fleet-replacement policy of 800 000 to one-million kilometres (before moving to second-tier, medium-distance operation to around 1,1-million kilometres), these Euro-5 Actros have a long journey ahead of them as ambassadors for the relationship between Bakers and Mercedes-Benz. It will be a low-emission, fuel efficient journey.

Now that’s classy. Break out the cheese and wine!

My life has always revolved around anything with wheels and an engine. It doesn’t matter if its an old banger, the latest hot-hatch or a fancy 4×4 – any excuse is a good excuse to take it for a cruise, spank it at the track or go bundu-bashing (the mud-and-rocks-side-of-a-mountain type, not the exploring-Joburg’s-pavements type). Otherwise, chances are you’ll find me lying underneath one of my beloved toys or with my head buried in its engine bay, tinkering away.

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