New Mercedes-Benz Citan Is The Perfect Concept
One visit to a ground-breaking Mercedes-Benz Vans customer event was all it took to convince businessman Steve Smith to switch his entire fleet to the three-pointed star.
The founder in 2002 of Cardiff-based Concept Fire & Security, Mr Smith was previously running seven light commercial vehicles, six of them by a rival manufacturer. His only Mercedes-Benz at that time was the Vito he inherited from wife Amanda, when she sold her florist’s business.
But since attending the Mercedes-Benz Van Experience last year as a guest of South Wales dealer Euro Commercials, Mr Smith has invested in two more Vito models as well as his first vehicle from the new Citan range, and is resolved to replace his three remaining vans with new Mercedes at the first opportunity.
The recently-launched Citan marks the entry of Mercedes-Benz into the small van market. Concept’s Citan 109 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY combines a frugal 90 hp diesel engine with a series of clever measures designed to further reduce fuel consumption. These include the ECO start/stop function – which turns off the engine whenever the vehicle is stopped in traffic, then restarts it as soon as the driver depresses the clutch – low rolling resistance tyres and optimised alternator and battery management systems. The result is a market-leading economy figure of up to 65.7 mpg and CO2 emissions as low as 112 g/km.
Concept Fire & Security specialises in the design, installation and maintenance of cctv, intruder, access control and fire detection systems for customers nationwide. Meanwhile, Mr Smith launched Concept Fire & Electrical three years ago in partnership with former Pontypridd RFC and Celtic Warriors player Nick Kelly, and Ceri Sweeney, capped 35 times for Wales and recently recruited from Cardiff Blues by Exeter Chiefs. Concept Fire & Electrical offers a range of cabling, lighting and other installation, testing and fault rectification services.
Staged over a couple of weeks each year at the Warwickshire test facility of race and rally car builder Prodrive, the hugely successful Mercedes-Benz Van Experience has given thousands of existing and prospective customers the chance to put Britain’s finest light commercial vehicles through their paces and compare them with equivalent models by rival manufacturers.
“I had an excellent day at Van Experience,” Mr Smith recalls. “Having driven Mercedes-Benz vehicles and seen for myself how much better they are than other makes of vehicle, particularly in terms of their brilliant safety systems, I’d never go back now.
“I came away determined to move my whole fleet across to Mercedes-Benz as soon as possible. Not only are they much safer, they’re also driver-friendly in terms of both comfort and practicality, while the prestigious brand image can only reinforce our own company’s reputation for quality.”
One of Concept’s new vans is a dynamically-styled Vito 116 CDI Sport Dualiner with second row of seats, which Nick Kelly uses as his personal transport. The others are assigned to the company’s field engineers. “It’s a case of ‘horses for courses’,” continues Mr Smith. “We use the bigger Vito for installations and the smaller, more fuel-efficient Citan for lighter maintenance and repair work.”
Concept’s new vans are the subject of highly flexible Agility funding packages from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. Agility offers all the benefits of conventional hire purchase with a Guaranteed Future Value (GFV) – including low monthly repayments – but gives operators extra options at the end of the term. Customers can choose whether to pay off the final lump sum and keep the vehicle, use the vehicle as a part exchange for a brand new one, or return it free of any further obligations, apart from an excess mileage charge if the initially agreed limit has been exceeded, and damage charges over and above fair wear and tear.
“Euro Commercials is a great dealer,” adds Mr Smith. “It offers out-of-hours servicing, so our vans are always available for work when we need them.”