Balloon architect Aurelija Meakin is bursting with pride after acquiring her first zero-emission vehicle, a battery-powered eSprinter supplied by Mercedes-Benz Vans Dartford.
Aurelija’s company Balloonista Ltd specialises in creating stunning bespoke displays for events and celebrations. “As one of the UK’s leading luxury balloon styling companies we do a lot of our work in central London for five-star hotels and other clients, as well as at the private homes of high net worth individuals,” explained the award-winning entrepreneur. “Naturally, therefore, branding is very important to me – logos matter, and the association with the three-pointed star is perfect.”
Aurelija established Balloonista in 2016, following a successful career in the corporate sector. It was the fulfilment of a dream. “I’d always wanted to run my own business and balloon décor appealed to the creative side of my personality,” she explained. “The styling possibilities are endless.”
The ‘window’ available for setting up her displays at locations is often limited. This means that rather than spending valuable time inflating balloons on site, Aurelija and her team prefer to do so beforehand.
Volume capacity is crucial, and as the eSprinter’s 55 kWh high-voltage battery pack is securely mounted beneath the body it does not impinge on the available space. At 11m3 the L2 (medium length), H2 (high roofed) electric van’s cargo bay is every bit as large as its diesel-engined, front-wheel drive stablemate, and half a cubic metre bigger than its rear-wheel drive equivalent.
“We really do utilise every inch of space to the fullest, which is crucial to my business. Additionally, the van is beautifully constructed and effortless to drive; as smooth and comfortable as you’d expect from Mercedes-Benz,” reported Aurelija.
Thanks to its fully electric driveline, the eSprinter is also exempt from the £15 per day London Congestion Charge.
“I’m an environmentally-conscious individual but had been wary of buying an electric van because of concerns over range,” she recalled. “A visit to Mercedes-Benz Vans Dartford put my mind at rest completely.
“Van Sales Executive David Krastev provided me with an unrivalled customer service, added to which the Retailer’s immaculate and welcoming showroom made the entire customer journey a really positive one for me. David was able to confidently answer all of my questions and, taking everything into account, arranged for me to trial an eSprinter demonstrator. Needless to say, I loved it!”
The eSprinter, which comes in the PROGRESSIVE trimline, will travel 95 miles (combined WLTP with 80 km/h speed limiter) between charges; recuperative energy recovered when decelerating supplements the batteries’ output. This range is ample for installations undertaken in and around London by Balloonista, given the 18-mile journey into the heart of the city from the company’s headquarters in Orpington.
The van’s electric motor drives the front wheels and produces 114 hp and 295 Nm of torque. Its four parallel batteries are fully rechargeable in around eight hours using a 7.4 kW wall box charger. Aurelija plans to install her own system but currently relies on public facilities – the 80 kW DC fast-charging option will top up the battery pack from 10% to 80% of maximum in just 30 minutes.
In addition to the eSprinter, Balloonista continues to use its previous, diesel-engined van to fulfil more distant commissions, and for larger projects that require both vehicles. “The acquisition package arranged by Mercedes-Benz Vans Dartford will allow me to upgrade after 12 months to a new model that might offer more range or an even greater load volume,” said Aurelija. “For the time being, though, I’m very proud to be an early adopter of this exciting new electric technology.”