Australia Post sends 3.3 billion items to over 11.9 million places in Australia per year. Getting all those parcels from point to point needs a fleet of reliable, hard-working vehicles. That’s why, when Australia Post were looking to modernise their fleet, the Sprinter was at the top of their list.
“We had the luxury of being able to go through a very in-depth process, considering a lot of very professional companies,” Terry Bickerton, Australia Post’s National Fleet Manager, explains.
“We’ve chosen Mercedes - so that tells me that we’ve got the right vehicle.”
Sprinter = safety first
Australia Post sends 20,500 delivery vehicles out on the road every day, and that includes a fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans, Sprinter Cab Chassis, and Vito vans.
That amount of driving requires state-of-the-art safety, and Australia Post found that in the Sprinter’s PSM (Programmable Special Module) technology - which allows Australia Post to create an automatic safety system tailored to their needs.
“Delivery drivers are in and out of the vehicle, and they do so many stops per day,” Bickerton says.
“So there is the chance they might jump out of the vehicle and not fully apply the park brake.”
With their customised Sprinter, this isn’t a concern thanks to an intuitive electronic park brake, which automatically activates as the driver leaves their seat. Another standout is the 360° camera, which gives every driver an extensive view of their vehicle’s surroundings.
“You just can’t operate in the kind of environments we operate in without those,” Bickerton says.
“Even as simple as backing into a pole that damages the bumper bar and breaks a tail light - that justifies the cost of the camera.”
The PSM keeps its driver alerted of other potential hazards using a roll-away protection buzzer and Active Lane Keeping Assist. For Bickerton and Australia Post, these optional safety measures were an automatic inclusion.
“It’s only got to save you once and it’s been well worth it”, he affirms.
The van the drivers require… and desire.
While those key safety features help keep employees and the vans protected, the ergonomic design keeps the drivers comfortable. That’s important, because Australia Post Sprinters travel up to 100,000 kilometres a year and drivers are in and out of the vehicle as many as 150 times a day.
“When you've got a wide and low entry like a Sprinter Cab Chassis rather than a small truck - where you have to swing yourself up and over the front wheel - it makes their life so much easier,” Bickerton says.
“All of the drivers enjoy driving them, and we get very little negative feedback. In fact we get lots of positive feedback!“
Adaptable for all Aussie conditions
With the Sprinter, Australia Post has found a vehicle that goes beyond a simple transport. Three Sprinter vans have been converted to mobile offices, which can act as business hubs that take to the road. Last year, Australia Post took them across the country to promote its Great Aussie Coin Hunt.
The trip went the length and breadth of Australia - from Broken Hill to regional WA, and even made a head turning appearance at the Deniliquin Ute Muster.
“Those vehicles were ideal for that. They ran faultlessly, they were comfortable,” Bickerton recalls.
Along the way, he got to drive one of the Sprinters up the east coast.
“They’re very car-like, similar to a Mercedes passenger car. You get out feeling refreshed - even after three or four hundred kilometres,” he says.
That’s a great benefit when weaving through the urban streets or heading cross country. For Australia Post, there’s a commercial incentive too.
“It helps with staff retention,” Bickerton explains.
“If you say ‘come to us, you can drive a current model Mercedes Sprinter, with all the bells and whistles’ … well, I know which one I’d want to live in all day!”