Daimler has made a clear statement of its zero emission intentions at this year’s IAA Transportation Expo in Hannover, but unlike its rival and hydrogen fuel cell joint venture partner Volvo, Daimler did have some diesel trucks on its extensive stand.
Karin Radstrom, the CEO of Mercedes Benz Trucks was the key presenter on stage at the company’s IAA display, with her key message being about the need to drive sustainable transportation.
Radstrom was a double act along with another key executive, Stina Fagerman, the head of sales and marketing for Mercedes Trucks. It was refreshing to have two senior women as the only presenters on the Benz stand.
Stina Fagerman interestingly did not start her delivery with zero emission, rather announcing some significant changes to a couple of its ‘ICE’ (internal combustion engine) Actros models.
However the headline acts were Daimler’s electric offerings with the eActros, eEconic and Fuso eCanter all front and centre with the company claiming it now has a complete range of electric trucks for urban transport operations.
The IAA was the premiere for the eActros 300, the heavy-duty prime mover version of the eActros.
Benz made a point of its use of an eAxle for better efficiency and usage of space, unlike rival Volvo’s current central motor location and mating to a traditional AMT.
Karin Radstrom said that the company was convinced it couldn’t just take a diesel truck and electrify it but that it had to design the truck to be electric from the start.
“ We have done this 100 per cent the Mercedes-Benz Trucks way, our electric trucks are the “real deal” and that means we have carried over all our features from the diesel line-up in terms of safety, comfort and reliability but using an eAxle to deliver better range and efficiency than what would have been possible with a central engine plus propeller shaft,” Radstrom said.
“We now have a complete range of electric for urban transport, with the eActros for heavy distribution introduced a year ago, and which is now in series production, the eEconic for waste disposal and municipal applications that is also now in series production,” she said.
“We have also started working on the medium-duty eAtego, which will come in the next years, Radstrom added.
“We’ve been selling the Fuso eCanter since 2017 and it is very popular in Europe, with the next generation due to go into production during 2023 with more variants and a modular battery design,” she said.
The eActros LongHaul was revealed for the first time at IAA and Benz announced that it will bring the truck to market as early as 2024, probably later that year in Australia.
On the ‘ICE’ side of the ledger, Benz revealed a special limited edition truck, the Actros L, which it has dubbed its ‘premium long-distance truck’, although it is not truck that will be seen in Australia. It has a very limited run in Europe of just 400 units.
The biggest revelation with this particular Actros version was the inclusion of an updated MirrorCam, which in this evolution of the concept has seen its wings clipped, with the arms the cameras are mounted on having been shortened by 10 cm. Benz claims the new design for the camera wings now deliver the same perspective as normal mirrors, and makes for better vision, particularly for reversing driving backwards even easier.
The company says that the new mirror system with its shorter arms reduces the potential for collisions with objects at the edge of the road.
The company says that it has also improved the ‘tone mapping’ of the cameras meaning there is better contrast than the first gen system which it says delivers better rear vision when driving in the dark.
The company also announced its third generation drivetrain with an optimised version of its heavy-duty OM471 engine and its AMT, which it claims will give up to 40 per cent faster gear shifts, with a reduction in torque interruption during shifts fuel savings of up to 4 per cent compared to the previous generation. Benz said it will be making the improvements available on all of its heavy-duty models from next month in Europe. When we might see them in Australia is unclear at the moment.
Benz also showed the same approach with its other ICE powered Actros, which it has dubbed the Actros F plus, basically the intra state or shorter distance version, announcing improvements in efficiency, safety, and driver’s comfort.