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Customised transport “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. ■ 22 Transport 1| 2006 Transport 1| 2006 23
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