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The respected Leicester-based haulier, whose 150-strong fleet has been 100 percent Scania for the last three years, elected to order five flagship Stralis AS440S45TX/P 6x2 twin steer tractors after trialing a demonstrator from Iveco dealer Chatfields Commercials for four weeks.

Harry Hawksworth, Technical Director of the Widdowson Group, says: "With the prices of certain marques rising as much as they have, we simply had to consider other options in the market. We looked carefully at the flagship tractors from Daf, Mercedes-Benz and Iveco, and agreed to run a Stralis demonstrator for the best part of a month.

"With our fleet enjoying such a high profile I was well aware that some manufacturers would be keen to ‘buy our business', but I was adamant we didn't want that. With Iveco this is the start of a new relationship and one which I am confident will continue to grow to the benefit of both organisations."

Supplied on a five year operating lease from Iveco Capital combined with an Iveco Elements ‘Motion' repair and maintenance contract, this delivery marks the first Iveco commercial vehicles to ever join the Widdowson Group fleet. They will be used on general haulage nationwide, clocking up approximately 85,000 miles a year, transporting anything from Caterpillar plant on step frame trailers through to curtainsiders loaded with foodstuffs.

"The Stralis demonstrator came in for a lot of praise from our drivers. They loved the new AS Super³ cab and it scored top marks for providing a comfortable working and living space. This is crucially important as they typically spend at least two nights away each week. One of them even remarked the cab was ‘big enough to dance in!'" he adds.

Each of the new vehicles joining the fleet benefits from a specification which includes air-conditioning, slide-out fridge, Eberspacher night heater, electrically operated roofvent and windscreen blind, door roller blinds and smart black curtains to enclose the cab area. The cab also features a three-piece modular bunk which incorporates a built-in table for maximum cab versatility, whilst first class driver comfort is ensured thanks to a heated and air-suspended seat with four separate comfort level settings, together with a pneumatic adjustable lumbar support.

The Widdowson Group is committed to maximising fuel economy from its vehicles and during the four week trial, the Stralis demonstrator averaged 9mpg, which compared "favorably" with the company's regular running costs.

"Prior to these new vehicles going on the road, Iveco sent one of its training managers to educate our own internal training staff about the vehicle, and in particular the Cursor engine and EuroTronic gearbox. This ensures we can help our drivers extract the maximum performance and economy from the new fleet, and I am looking forward to closely evaluating the Stralis' performance over the next 12 months," concludes Mr Hawksworth.

Each of the new Stralis tractors has been adapted by Chatfields to ensure its susie connections are mounted on a high bridge on the rear of the cab wall. This coupling method has been pioneered by the Widdowson Group to ensure ease of coupling with trailers across its fleet. The Stralis' have also been fitted with Masternaut telematics systems.

All five vehicles are powered by identical Iveco 10.3 litre Cursor 10 engines, which are particularly suited to an economical driving style, with a peak torque of 2,100 Nm available at low engine speeds (1,050 to 1,550 rev/min), simplifying hill starts with a full load, protecting the clutch and guaranteeing flexibility and quiet running. The maximum 450 hp is also delivered at intermediate speeds; helping to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, since it is not always necessary to increase the engine speed.