Central England Co-op switches on to zero-emission Mercedes-Benz eVito for home delivery trials

Customers of Central England Co-op are now receiving eco-friendly doorstep deliveries of food and essentials from a fleet of eight fully electric Mercedes-Benz vans.

The retailer is trialling its new services after linking up with two online shopping platforms, Appy Shop and Snappy Shopper. Using their apps, shoppers can choose items which are picked and packed at local Central England Co-op stores. They are then delivered in mid-sized eVito PURE models supplied by Dealer Midlands Truck & Van.

Like its larger eSprinter stablemate, the eVito produces zero tailpipe emissions and allows businesses to meet their carbon-reduction targets without having to compromise on practicality or performance. Central England Co-op has underlined its commitment to the environment by also eliminating the use of plastic bags for home deliveries.

Charging points have been installed at participating stores. The Appy Shop trial is operating from selected outlets in Norfolk, Leicestershire and Staffordshire, and allows customers to select a timed delivery slot. The Snappy Shopper initiative, which commits to deliver within the hour, is focused on Birmingham and Derby.

The vans are the subject of a Mercedes-Benz Finance contract hire agreement – the attractive rates incorporate a grant contribution from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). Mercedes-Benz Vans and its Dealer have held training sessions in Birmingham and Derby to ensure the retailer’s drivers achieve the very best performance and efficiency from their electric vans.

The eVito’s 41 kWh battery is securely mounted in a protective housing beneath the floor, which means it does not impinge on the 6.0m3 of cargo area offered by Central England Co-op’s long L2 variants. Given that deliveries are relatively local, the vehicle’s range of approximately 93 miles is ample. So, too, is its 923 kg payload allowance.

The eVito PURE also comes in extra-long L3 form, with a 6.6m3 load volume and 898 kg carrying capacity. Meanwhile, eVito versions with the PROGRESSIVE trimline benefit from extra features, both internally and externally, but incur corresponding slight payload reductions.

Jamie Joyce manages Central England Co-op’s flagship Boley Park Food Store in Lichfield, which has just undergone a £3-million transformation. “Recent times have highlighted the benefits of being able to shop local with a trusted, community-focused retailer,” he said.

“We are proud to be one of the main hubs hosting this exciting home delivery trial, which provides shoppers with quick and convenient access to food and vital essentials from their local Central England Co-op store.”

While all prices are the same as those in-store, there is a minimum order value of £15 and a £3 charge for delivery, which is being waived for first-time orders.

Central England Co-op Transport Manager Gary Tomlinson explained: “The impact of our operations on the environment sits at the heart of every decision we make, which is why the eco-credentials of the vehicles we were going to use to launch these two new services had to be front and centre. The eVito’s zero emissions driveline is a key selling point for both services and is heavily promoted in all of our marketing activities, as well as on the vans themselves.”

He continued: “We researched the environmentally-friendly vehicle market thoroughly before concluding that the eVito represented the best fit for our business. It is perfectly sized for our requirements, and the sliding load doors on both sides are a definite advantage when loading and making deliveries.”

The eVito’s electric motor produces 114 hp and drives the front wheels via a single-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration is instantaneous, while top speed is restricted as standard to 50 mph (80 km/h), although this can be increased on request. The steering wheel-mounted selectors allow drivers to choose between C, E and E+ (Comfort, Eco and Extended range) settings.

“The feedback from colleagues who are using these vehicles every day has been entirely positive. They appreciate the eVito’s quietness and comfort, as well as its all-round driveability.”

He added: “From our initial enquiry through to delivery and driver training, the support we’ve received has been brilliant. Midlands Truck & Van Fleet Sales Managers Erica Stredwick and Natasha Ho have done all we could have asked, and the same is true of Strategic Account Manager Kirsty McKinnon and Head of Fleet Andy Eccles at Mercedes-Benz Vans.”

One of the UK’s largest independent retail co-operative societies, Central England Co-op has interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment. It trades from more than 430 outlets across 16 counties and takes pride from its reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.

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