Abnormal loads no problem for Mercedes-Benz Vito

Jason Priest, owner of Priest Abnormal Load Services, has purchased a new Mercedes-Benz Vito 111 CDI, having been so impressed with the reliability of his previous one.

A third-generation heavy haulage specialist with 15 years’ experience in the industry, he established Priest Abnormal Load Services in 2016, to provide truck operators with a safe, reliable pilot car and escort service, as well as trailer attendant, operative and steersman support, permits and route surveys.

Priest’s biggest customer is the Allelys Group, which operates from nearby Studley and specialises in transporting the heaviest, longest and most precious locomotives.

His first vehicle was a pre-owned Vito, which he retains as a back-up, and for use by a colleague. “That’s been an amazing vehicle,” he said. “It’s covered 150,000 miles and has been exceptionally reliable, while returning 50 to the gallon.”

The new Vito has been equipped with Whelan warning light equipment and finished with Chapter 8 high-visibility chevron markings. It also came with anti-skid system Adaptive ESP, Crosswind Assist, Attention Assist, and airbags for driver and co-driver.

The 1.6-litre 111 CDI model’s 114hp output is transmitted via the front wheels. “When undertaking an escort assignment we may only travel at 10-15 mph,” explained Priest. “Nevertheless, the 57-58mpg I’m getting from my new Vito still represents exceptional economy.”

As well as an optional reverse warning device, the van’s Active Safety Package provides a combination of assistance systems that take the strain off the driver and help prevent accidents. It comprises Blind Spot Assist, which provides visual warnings if there is a vehicle in the van’s blind spot; Collision Prevention Assist, which warns the driver if the vehicle in front is too close, or if there is a danger of collision, and supports the driver when braking; and Lane Keeping Assist, which warns the driver if lane markings are crossed unintentionally.

“Blind Spot Assist in particular is a great piece of kit,” said Priest. “A red warning light in the door mirror alerts you to the presence of a vehicle you may not be able to see. It’s a brilliant idea and really useful for my job.”

In addition, the cargo area has been converted to provide sleeping accommodation – he can be away from home for anything up to three weeks at a time.

Priest Abnormal Load Services, which is based in Droitwich, Worcestershire, acquired the Vito from the Kidderminster branch of Rygor Commercials.

Dan Parton
Dan Parton
Dan Parton is a freelance journalist and former editor of Truck & Driver, the UK's biggest selling truck magazine. He writes for both The Van Expert and The Truck Expert.

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