In another major announcement at the Hannover Truck Show this week Mercedes-Benz Trucks has announced it has teamed up with trailer-maker Krone to offer a package of aerodynamic components that promise to improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon emissions.
The announcement came as part of a raft of ‘environmental’ announcements for Benz at Europe’s biggest truck show.
Benz and Krone will demonstrate the new products tomorrow at the 66th IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hanover, demonstrating a growing commitment to the environment and cleaner greener trucking.
In Europe the EU is seeking to reduce emissions in the long-haul transport sector by 30 per cent by 2030.
Despite this Daimler has been critical of Brussels for focusing narrowly on tyres and engine improvements, rather than the whole picture of how vehicles are actually used.
Head of Daimler’s truck division, Wolfgang Bernhard, said EU regulators were trying to cut grass that had already been mowed adding there is still grass standing sky high in places where no one is looking.
“It’s more cumbersome to look at trailer aerodynamics than it is to look at tyre classifications. We need to start looking there — there is a lot to be gained,” he said.
Last year Daimler performed efficiency runs to determine what sort of fuel savings could be gained on heavy-duty trucks equipped with optimised trailers, tractors and tyres, as well as “predictive powertrain control”, a cruise control unit that uses GPS and 3D maps to look ahead and maintain an efficient speed on inclines and declines, saving fuel. The result was 12-14 per cent fuel savings.
The reality is that just a few tweaks to the aerodynamics of the truck delivers a completely different air flow for the vehicle.
Of course Daimler makes the prime movers, not the trailers which is why Herr Bernhard commissioned Krone, a major family-run trailer maker and the second largest in Europe, to come up with fuel saving trailer at an economical price.
Krone was able to develop a package comprising side panels, a four-part rear wing and “A-label” low-resistance tyres that delivers a seven to nine per cent improvement in fuel efficiency.
The “Profi Liner Efficiency” package will cost just under $AUD3000 and will be available immediately following the launch at Hannover.
In the past something similar would have cost 2.5 times more than this but the lower price is aimed at enticing haulage companies buying new vehicles.
“The average truck drives around 120,000km per year in Europe and if a company can save seven to nine per cent in diesel, at the equivalent fuel price of $AUD1.60 per litre, the savings would be around $AUD3000 to $3600 per year,” said Gero Schulze Isfort, managing director of sales and marketing at Krone.
Transportation accounts for one-quarter of all man-made CO2 emissions and while heavy-duty vehicles account for just four per cent of vehicles in the EU they are responsible for 30 per cent of on-road emissions, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation so a more efficient truck and trailer package could have a big affect on emissions.
“Seven to nine per cent improvement is a huge step,” said Mr Bernhard. For context, he points out in the past 20 years Daimler trucks has improved its fuel efficiency by 22 per cent.
Lab-tested fuel efficiency figures have looked suspect since the since the VW emissions cheat scandal was revealed a year ago. As a result Daimler and Krone first offered the efficiency package to five transport companies for three months of on the job testing. The companies then used the trucks for everyday operation to compare their fuel efficiency with its normal fleet.
“If you want to give a message to customers, you use real-life customers under their weather conditions, their roads, their vehicles,” Mr Isfort said.
Separately, Daimler will be showcasing in Hanover its latest generation Mercedes-Benz Actros model with an OM 471 engine, which saves up to 6 per cent on fuel. Combined with the Krone products and its cruise-control unit, Daimler says the vehicle is 20 per cent more fuel efficient than a standard semi-trailer-tractor combo from 2014.