City Plumbing went ‘back to the future’ by returning to tried and trusted bodybuilder Bevan Group for the first vehicles to wear its striking new livery.
Key to the heating and plumbing specialist’s decision to place its order for 51 bespoke Luton bodies with Bevan Group, was the well proven durability of the manufacturer’s products, as well as its market-leading five-year warranty and competitive pricing.
True to form, the latest aerodynamically profiled additions to the City Plumbing fleet are based on 3.5-tonne Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis supplied by Intercounty Truck & Van. The same model accounts for the overwhelming majority of its 500-plus Lutons and panel vans.
Part of the Travis Perkins Group, City Plumbing won the prestigious Motor Transport Fleet Van Operator of the Year trophy in 2019. It operates from headquarters in Northampton and a network of more than 350 branches throughout the UK, which serve the trade and DIY markets with a comprehensive product range that includes everything from boilers and copper tubing, to bathroom suites, towel rails and electrical parts, all by top brand names.
The new vehicles are working from locations nationwide, and make the majority of deliveries directly to residential locations at which plumbers, heating engineers, bathroom fitters and other tradespeople are working.
Although it has been a valued customer of the West Midlands-based Bevan Group in the past, for the last four years City Plumbing has purchased its Luton bodies from another company. Fleet Operations Interface Manager Craig Kenyon made the decision to turn back the clock and entrust the reigning Commercial Motor Bodybuilder of the Year with its latest order.
He explained: “We depreciate our vehicles over seven years, so we need a body that can withstand rigorous use over that entire lifespan. We still have Lutons on the fleet that left the Bevan Group factory 10 years ago and look great to this day.”
Mr Kenyon continued: “Bevan’s five year-warranty represents a commitment that we value highly. It’s reassuring to know that the manufacturer is prepared to stand by its products and processes to such an extent.”
City Plumbing also relies on Bevan Group’s Aftercare Response division to provide planned and round-the-clock emergency back-up for all of its vehicle bodies, as well as ancillary equipment such as tail-lifts – the new Lutons are equipped with 500kg Dhollandia column lifts, with integral safety rails.
A consultative design process between customer, bodybuilder and dealer ensured that the latest vehicles are perfectly specified for their role. Bevan’s relatively high bodies have low floors and, crucially, the 2.4-metre rear apertures needed for loading and unloading pre-plumbed hot water cylinders, which cannot be laid down or tilted during transportation.
Wellingborough dealer Intercounty Truck & Van supplied heavy-duty Sprinter chassis cabs that meet Euro VI emissions regulations, rather than Euro 6 versions on which the requisite height would not have been permissible.
Eye-catching in City Plumbing’s first full vinyl wrap liveries, which were applied by Elliott Signs, of Castle Donington, the Sprinter 314 CDIs are powered by fuel-efficient 2.1-litre engines that produce 143hp and 330 Nm of torque.
All are rear-wheel drive long L3 variants, with the sole exception of a medium-length L2 with front-wheel drive, which is now working from City Plumbing’s depot in Oban, on Scotland’s west coast. As this vehicle is less than 6.0 metres long deliveries to the islands of The Hebrides are economically viable, because the ferry operator charges for crossings at the light goods vehicle rate; if it exceeded this length the much higher commercial vehicle rate would apply.
Craig Kenyon recalled: “Sales Director Roy Shelton and his colleagues were confident they would get our builds so they saved us some production slots, and the vehicles were ready when we needed them. The fact that this was achieved against the backdrop of the pandemic reflects the quality of the relationships between our two companies.”