“Love at first sight” (PDF)

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“Love at first sight”
A Lesotho magnate tells Alwyn Viljoen he relies on the most powerful
Mercedes-Benz truck in Africa to deliver ‘as reliable as the sun rises’.

T    he most powerful Mercedes-Benz truck in
     Africa, a 580 hp Actros 2658, now belongs
to Lebone Lephema, owner of Lesotho’s largest
transport company, Executive Transport.
   Lephema already operates a fleet of 48 ve-
hicles, including the Actros 3340 and 3348
trucks and a Sprinter 416 support vehicle. But
he recently signed a contract to transport fuel
from Durban and Sasolburg to Maseru, and ex-
pects to use his Actros 2658 for this task. “The
transportation of fuel is of national importance.
No allowance can be made for breakdowns, and
I have learned to rely on Mercedes-Benz to
deliver,” says Lephema, whose business motto
is ‘as reliable as the sun rises’.
   Lesotho’s steep mountains at high altitude
make powerful engines essential for transport-
ers, but Lephema admits the real reason he
bought the Actros 2658 was “love at first sight”.
   His love affair began when he saw the truck
on display at a family day for clients at John Wil-                                                                                                                                                                                                                          eight bar) and almost instant calliper action
liams Motors in Bloemfontein, and it required                                                                                                                                                                                                                                due to the electronics of the Telligent Brake
little encouragement from the Mercedes-Benz                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  System, which communicates the brake com-
                                                      Trust: Marius Barnard and his dealership colleague André Pretorius have forged a longstanding relationship
Commercial Vehicle dealership for Lephema to          with Lebone Lephema, owner of Lesotho’s largest transport company, Executive Transport                                                                                                                                 mand faster than any mechanical system. The
order the Actros 2658 on the spot.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Actros 2658 has a warranty of three years on
   “I cannot blame Lebone Lephema for falling            “I will never forget the trust they put in me as      men, Lephema still drives each new truck he                                                                                                                   the power train or a specified maximum mile-
in love with this vehicle,” says Peter Wraight,       a young man. My cheque required some time to             buys for 15 000 km – which he does in less                                                                                                                    age limit up to 450 000 km.
marketing manager for Mercedes-Benz trucks            clear in South Africa and I was prepared to wait.        than three weeks – before personally training                                                                                                                    A load sensor automatically distributes the
at DaimlerChrysler. “This particular vehicle          However, they encouraged me to take delivery of          drivers to attain maximum consumption fig-                                                                                                                    braking power across the axles, ensuring that
was meticulously spec’ed from the ground              the truck and start working immediately.                 ures, in order to extend the engine’s lifetime. “I                                                         600 000 km in less than five years and went        the brake linings are worn evenly on the stan-
up. It was built to be not only the flagship of          “The other top-of-the-local range Actros              mostly employ young drivers, but I train them                                                              only for scheduled services.                       dard disc brakes. ABS and ASR come standard
trucks in South Africa but also the envy of all       3348S models that Lephema owns produce                   well because I expect them to work as hard as                                                                A devout Roman Catholic, Lephema has each        on all wheels; an optimised constant-throttle
truckers; it has virtually everything that opens      102 brake horsepower less than the 2658, thus            I do,” he laughs.                                                                                          new truck blessed at church before he starts       engine brake and a Voith retarder round off the
                                                                                                                                                                    Luxurious: The black Actros 2658 has many optional
and shuts, including a microwave oven, cof-           making this model the most powerful Actros                  Wraight feels that because this is such a         extras, from a cell-phone handset, coffee-maker,      working it. “God gives better cover than any in-   extensive stopping package.
fee-making machine and fridge. This is truly a        not only in his fleet but also in Africa,” says          special vehicle, Lephema may well drive it for       microwave and fridge inside to optional chrome twin   surance company,” he said during the hand-over        An automatic distance control on the cruise
wonderful vehicle that will be proudly driven         Marius Barnard, sales manager for commercial             much more than 15 000 km before handing it           hooters on the roof                                   ceremony of the Actros 3685 in Maseru, “but I      control enforces safe following distances.
for many years,” adds Wraight.                        vehicles at John Williams Motors.                        over or, even better, he may decide to use this                                                            have also learned to trust in Mercedes-Benz.”         The Actros also exceeds the strict European
   The fully spec’ed Actros 2658 truck-tractor           “The Actros 2658 generates 2 700 Nm torque at         as his personal vehicle. “It is not only powerful,                                                           Such trust is well earned. With a payload of     ECE R 29 safety standard with ease, with struc-
was imported for special events and shows.            1 080 r/min and 425 kW (578 bhp) – this makes it         but it is beautiful and luxurious,” says Wraight,       At a glance                                        36 tonnes, the Telligent Brake System shortens     tural stability under crash-tested acceleration
   Lephema’s relationship with Mercedes-              more powerful than other commonly used truck-            who admits to having been rather heart-sore             Model      2658 Actros 2                           the stopping distance of the Actros, which is      figures of up to 40 g-force. The ergonomic cabin
                                                                                                                                                                       Engine     OM502LA V8 diesel
Benz extends back to 1987, when he bought             tractors in South Africa,” adds André Pretorius,         when the vehicle was sold.                              Torque     2 700 Nm at 1 080 r/min
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          superior by about a third compared to con-         is also constructed from flame-retardant, non-
his first 1417 truck from John Williams Mo-           commercial vehicle sales representative.                    Such personal involvement pays dividends:            Power      425 kW (578 bhp)                        ventional truck brakes. The Actros boasts in-      splintering materials with smooth surfaces
tors in Bloemfontein.                                    Despite being among Lesotho’s top business-           Lephema’s first Actros clocked more than                GVM        36 000 kg                               creased brake pressures (up to 10 bar from         and rounded edges.                            ■

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