Canter test drive pays off for prize draw winner HTA Group

Metal products manufacturer HTA Group has made a flying start to 2014 after winning a smart FUSO Canter truck.

The Coventry-based company scooped a year’s free use of the 7.5-tonner in a national prize draw staged by Mercedes-Benz – the German firm’s franchised Dealer network is also responsible for sales and support of the popular FUSO light truck range in the UK.

Hundreds of commercial vehicle operators taking Canter test drives at dealerships nationwide were automatically entered in the competition.

Handover: HTA Group’s Mark Vale, right, receives the keys to the new Canter from sales executive Jim Coton, of Midlands Truck & Van

“This is great news,” declared Group Finance Director Mark Vale, on learning that HTA’s name had been ‘pulled from the hat’. “Neither I, nor our Managing Director Adam Thomas, has ever won anything before – apart from new business of course.

“We were considering a Canter anyway, which is why we took the test drive. So to win the use of a brand new vehicle for a full year is a real bonus, and came as a very welcome early Christmas present.”

HTA’s new truck arrived via local Dealer Midlands Truck & Van. Powered by a fuel-efficient 110 kW (150 hp) engine mated to a DUONIC transmission – the world’s first dual-clutch automatic for light trucks – it has a curtainside body by Fred Smith & Sons, of West Bromwich, which also applied HTA’s livery.

The Canter 7C15 came with a 12-month Mercedes-Benz Repair and Maintenance Contract – Midlands Truck & Van will be undertaking the mandatory six-weekly inspections and all servicing, as well as replacing tyres when necessary, at its workshop on Wheler Road in Whitley, Coventry.

The prize could not have come at a better time for fast-growing HTA Group, which is based on the city’s Middlemarch Business Park and is one of the UK’s most advanced specialists in the design, development and manufacture of prototype and production sheet metal components and fabricated assemblies.

As well as a pair of 18-tonne Mercedes-Benz Axor trucks also supplied by Midlands Truck & Van in 2012, the company ran a 7.5-tonne Mercedes-Benz Atego which it was preparing to stand down after six years’ reliable service.

“The Canter is a ready-made replacement for our Atego,” said Mr Vale. “It’s fulfilling an operational need and has been quick to impress, particularly because of its exceptionally high payload potential.”

He continued: “The beauty of this truck is that although it’s clearly very well built and has a reputation for durability, it is also the lightest vehicle in its class. That means we’re able to carry approximately four tonnes, which is the best part of a tonne more than we’d get on a conventional 7.5-tonner.

“Given that we’re carrying steel, weight rather than cubic volume is the limiting factor in our operation. So a payload gain of this magnitude makes a welcome contribution to increased efficiency and productivity.”

As well as delivering finished products, the Canter transports items to sub-contractors’ premises for plating and painting.

HTA Group has a diverse customer base that includes companies operating in the oil and gas, construction, defence, automotive, rail, marine, nuclear and exhibition sectors. Its own trucks serve businesses operating within the Midlands region – for deliveries further afield, HTA relies on third-party transport providers.