Kent County Council has taken delivery of five new IVECO Daily 7.2 tonne GVW 72C18HA8P mobile library vehicles.

The vehicle design and specification are the result of an 18-month collaboration between supplying dealer, Haynes Trucks of Maidstone, Kent County Council and a local specialist bodybuilder.

Haynes Trucks has delivered on Kent County Council’s ambition of future proofing its vehicles for the next decade, reducing its environmental footprint and standardising the design and specification across its mobile library fleet.

Built on the 5.1m wheelbase, twin rear wheel 7-tonne Daily chassis cab, these have been specified with the 180-horsepower F1C turbo diesel engine coupled to IVECO’s HI-MATIC 8-speed automatic transmission.

The heavy-duty homologated, 3.0-litre provides a low emission and efficient power unit when working on the open road or in urban areas. The council opted for the HI-MATIC transmission to create a more relaxed environment for drivers through its smoothness and simple operation.

Typically, the Daily will be carrying around 800-900kg of books on purpose-built shelving and fitment of a single passenger seat in place of the standard bench enables the driver direct access to the library area from the cab, as well as helping reduce unnecessary weight. Rear air suspension has been specified to maximise ride comfort and to minimise disruption to on-board displays and equipment.

The Daily chassis cab’s payload capacity of up to 4,900kg was a key consideration during the vehicle’s development due to the size of the 6.1m long and 2.5m wide GRP body. The design incorporates a rear passenger side wheelchair lift, a powered door and internal librarian’s workstation.

Air conditioning and heating is standard throughout the vehicle. Two large solar panels have also been fitted to the roof to support the running of the vehicle’s air conditioning unit when dispensing books, as well as powering the internal LED lighting. It stores power on board in lithium-ion batteries and negates the need for a petrol generator to power the vehicle’s systems while parked up, thus reducing noise and emission pollution during its daily stops.

To ensure the safety and security of both operators and users of the vehicles, an internal CCTV system is installed. A reversing camera, sensors and warning buzzer, coupled with new extra-long door mirrors, homologated for vehicles up to 2.55m wide, maximise visibility for the driver at all times on narrow urban streets.

The 7” HI-CONNECT touch-screen infotainment system adds DAB Digital Radio, USB connections plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with Voice Control. Buttons on the steering wheel permit hands-free telephone calls through its Bluetooth interface.

Wi-Fi is fitted to each mobile library to enable it to electronic checking in and out of while linked to Kent’s central library system. The 3/4G system also gives the vehicle the capability to accept payments and order books online for customers whilst they are travelling around the county.

Each Daily benefits from the latest range of IVECO ON smart connectivity services which are free to operators for the first five years. It enables the centralised IVECO Control Centre to constantly monitor the vehicle’s performance. Any issues that are identified enables Haynes Trucks to proactively take preventive action to maximise vehicle on the road times and the system can upgrade engine software over the air at the roadside.

James Pearson, head of libraries, registration and archives at Kent County Council said: ‘I am delighted that the first of our new mobile libraries is being enjoyed by our customers. There was a real need to replace the entire fleet of vehicles so that we can maintain the excellent customer service residents expect from Kent Libraries. In addition, these vehicles have a number of features that mean they are a real step forward in reducing the impact we have on the environment a further important factor in these times.

‘We know from customer feedback that the mobile service has been a real lifeline to many residents during lockdown, and I am pleased that our new vehicles will be reliable, comfortable and improve the customer experience.’

Kent County Council has purchased the vehicles outright, supported by IVECO’s five-year Repair and Maintenance package which provides fixed monthly costs on everything except tyres and includes access to IVECO Assistance Non-Stop (ANS) for the whole five-year term. ANS is IVECO’s in-house roadside recovery service, operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year across the UK and Europe.

‘We are extremely proud of the mobile library design developed by Haynes Trucks. It has accommodated all of Kent County Council’s major needs, enabling it to provide a valuable all-year round community service across the county. The collaboration between all parties has been fantastic,’ said Mike Cutts, IVECO UK’s Light Business-line director.

‘The 7.2 tonne Daily provides a strong and reliable base chassis on which to build any conversion and its unladen weight, payload capacity, low emissions and driver comfort provide a perfect match for Kent County Council’s needs,’ he added.