Unmistakable: Philippe Lucchini drives an Edition 1 as a heavy duty tractor unit

Vehicle & Technology

Two in one.

Three-axle semitrailer trucks are a rare sight on French roads. Philippe Lucchini doesn’t just drive any old one of those; his is an Edition 1.

Philippe Lucchini didn’t start driving trucks until fairly late on in his career. He first trained as a butcher and worked as one for 14 years – two of which he spent in the States. After his return to the Agen region he changed jobs: “I learned to drive a truck, paying for the lessons from my own pocket, and then drove for a company for two years.” But this wasn’t enough for the former rugby player: he opened up his own business with a light-duty truck transporting general cargo. Even then his motto was “do it yourself”.

“I had a computer in the cab and a Minitel connection. That way I could look for freight while I was on the road.” That was 20 years ago. However he still has that “one-man-show” mentality even though he now employs six drivers. “I don’t have a secretary, a book-keeper or a dispatcher. I do everything myself.”

All you could want.

For three years now the 54-year old has been taking things a little easier. “A construction machinery dealer in Agen was looking for a haulage company to transport his large excavators to customers. So I bought a low loader. And the Actros,” he says as he points to the dark grey Edition 1 with the front of the cab painted black. The 2563 LSH 6×2 has everything a driver could want: Safety Package, 16-litre engine, sun visor with an array of roof-mounted headlamps, a 900-millimetre wide bed, leather seats and a refrigerator.

Heavy duty haulage is now a matter for the boss. But as that type of work doesn’t occur on a daily basis, Philippe now has more time for paperwork. “And I can sleep at night.” When he is on the road, he still takes his laptop with him: “When I’m at the wheel, my working day lasts 24 hours,” Philippe laughs.

With the laptop he can access freight exchanges where he looks for the necessary return loads. Those aren’t always machinery as the low loader is also suitable for blocks of stone or pallets carrying paving stones or kerb stones.

“The customers are waiting for their machinery so I can’t waste any time.”

– Philippe Lucchini

The permissible gross weight as a heavy duty transporter is 68 tonnes. “I travel across the whole of France with the low loader.” Thanks to the top-of-the-range engine, he achieves high average speeds. “The customers are always waiting for their machinery. So I can’t waste any time on the road.”

The other vehicles in the fleet are refrigerated vehicle combinations. Philippe’s Edition 1 is the wildcard. As refrigerated vehicle combinations only weigh in at 44 tonnes, he doesn’t need three axles for operations with a refrigerated semitrailer. That is why the leading axle is designed as a steered lift axle. Clever!

Photos: Hans Müller