Held at Millbrook Proving Ground, Bedfordshire, there were 241 Mercedes-Benz Vans available for guests to put through their paces across key sections of the site, including the famous off-road track, high-speed bowl and Alpine Circuit.
A complete display of vehicles was also available to access, including vans from more than 41 body builder and conversion exhibitors to show how flexible a van can be.
A total of 46,500 miles were travelled during the two-week event, with 23,620 cups of tea and coffee and 1,136 litres of milk drunk, and 1,480 Danish pastries and 7,730 sausage, bacon and egg rolls consumed in the morning. For lunch 1,960 chicken breasts were served, alongside 320kg of beef and 3,500 punnets of strawberries.
Reflecting on his visit, Jason Gadsby, Group Fleet Manager at Phoenix Healthcare Distribution, said: “VanExperience presents a great opportunity to network and see if we can learn anything new that might be useful to our business. The ‘Test It’ section was particularly impressive – as the operator of a fleet of road-going Sprinters, I was staggered by the off-road capability of the 4x4 version.”
Carmine Vivone, the proprietor of Pronto Gas Maintenance in Blackpool, said: “I liked the fact that Mercedes-Benz gave you the opportunity to test vehicles by other manufacturers, alongside its own. It was a clever move, because the difference in the quality of the ride was obvious – at one point, we transferred from a Vito to one of its competitors and my wife’s instant reaction was ‘Woah! This van is all over the place.’”
Ian Shacklock, the proprietor of MTF Training from Winkleigh, Devon, added: “We’ve been in the driver-training business for 30 years now and specialise in 4x4 instruction, so we do know a little about the subject… I was genuinely surprised by the steepness of the terrain which the Sprinter 4x4 was able to handle; it was a real eye-opener. There were a lot of Mercedes-Benz staff and, despite some dreadful weather, they all had a smile on their face throughout, which made a big difference.”
And Steve Seeds, the proprietor of Car Care in Bournemouth, said his first visit to VanExperience Live had been great. “I own a Vito, and I was particularly reassured by the safety technology we were able to experience in action on the ‘Trust It’ wet grip area. You try not to put yourself in that position, of course, but it’s nice to know it’s there should you need it.”
Summing up the occasion, Steve Bridge, the Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, said: “VanExperience Live is like no other LCV-focused event in the UK. We pride ourselves on providing our guests with the ultimate test drive; a real-life brochure to better understand our products, people, and processes that we adopt to keep businesses moving.
“We had nearly 1,000 additional guests attending compared to 2015, which is a fantastic achievement and a sign of how popular the event is. We’re going to continue making it the best van event for UK businesses and are already look forward to 2017.”