Mercedes-Benz municipal vehicles: presence in every segment
IFAT – the International Trade Fair for Water, Sewage, Refuse and Recycling being held from May 5 to 9, 2008 – is a widely renowned forum for state-of-the-art products and services in the field of environmental engineering. Staged every three years, this year for the 15th time, the world's largest trade fair dealing with the environment and disposal will cover an exhibition area totalling 192,000 square metres in 2008 – some 22,000 square metres more than in 2005.
More than 2300 exhibitors have registered this year, with over 110,000 trade visitors expected from all around the world. The industry values IFAT very highly indeed on account of the high number of knowledgeable experts who visit the show, many of whom arrive with a firm intention to invest. In a survey of show visitors in 2005, aspects such as the completeness of the range of products on offer and the presence of the market leaders met with the most approval. The global outlook of the exhibitors was also highly valued, as was the character and role of the IFAT show as a leading event.
In addition, IFAT is traditionally Europe's most important trade fair for municipal vehicles and associated municipal technology. Commercial-vehicle manufacturers and suppliers of bodies, implements and attachments for municipal vehicles are taking part in increasing numbers, thus giving a comprehensive overview of this diverse and often fragmented industry. In many cases, it is ultimately the products and ingenious solutions provided by medium-sized operations that enable the base vehicles to perform their complex tasks. As a market leader in the field of comercial vehicles, Mercedes-Benz also leads the way when it comes to municipal applications and works closely together with body and implement manufacturers, whose requirements are taken into account whilst new vehicles are still in the development stage.
The Mercedes-Benz stand (Hall C4, Stand 319) showcases the brand's entire range of commercial vehicles for municipal applications, from vans to large implement carriers. Furthermore, Mercedes-Benz vehicles – works versions and variants used by body manufacturers – are taking part in the "Trucks in action" displays organised by the Verband der Arbeitsgeräte- und Kommunalfahrzeugindustrie e.V (German Implement and Municipal-vehicle Industry Association) near the North Entrance in front of Halls C2 and C3. Further displays, predominantly with implements, are taking place in the same area, organised by the Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau (German Machine and Plant Manufacturers Association) under the banner Praxistage (Practical Days). Numerous other Mercedes-Benz vehicles will be on show at the stands of many exhibitors, underlining the brand's high market presence.
10 years of the Econic
The Econic special-purpose vehicle for municipal, collection and distribution operations has been on the market for ten years already – making it a natural highlight at a show such as the IFAT. Even at launch it was immediately clear that the Econic had all the right ingredients to be a highly effective performer – whether for waste disposal, fire-fighting, airport operations, refuelling, collecting milk or distributing heating oil. The low-floor cab with up to four seats was the first to allow quick entry and exit as well as plenty of space for the driver and crew riding on board a refuse-collection vehicle. The Econic has carved out an enviable market position, boasting sales of over 8000 units in ten years, and has long been the measure of all things in its competitive environment. The Econic can be configured with two, three or four axles and a permissible gross vehicle weight of 18, 26 or 32 tonnes. Power is provided courtesy of the six-cylinder in-line engines from the 900 series. Customers can choose between the OM 906 LA developing either 175 kW (238 hp) or 210 kW (286 hp) and the OM 926 LA with an output of 240 kW (326 hp), the latter having been available since 2003. All diesel-engined Econic vehicles meet Euro 5 requirements, as standard, and are supplied with a 200-litre aluminium fuel tank. As an alternative to diesel, the Econic can be specified with natural-gas drive. The M 906 LAG natural-gas engine has a displacement of 6.88 litres and an output of 205 kW (279 hp). It can run on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG). In each case, the power is sent to the wheels through an Allison six-speed automatic transmission. The Econic with natural-gas drive is certified to the EEV emission standard and, therefore, already meets the requirements of the Euro 5 standard, which is not due to come into force until 2009. Emissions from the Mercedes-Benz Econic with natural-gas drive contain almost no soot and particulate. A further advantage is the low-noise operation of the gas-drive system. Thanks to its high octane rating, natural gas burns much more "softly" than petrol or diesel. Vehicles equipped with natural-gas drive are therefore somewhat quieter than their petrol or diesel counterparts. There is almost no residue when natural gas (CNG) or liquid gas (LNG) is burned in internal combustion engines: up to 25 percent less carbon dioxide than a petrol engine and up to 99 percent less particulate than a diesel engine. As a further alternative, the natural-gas engine can run on biomethane gas, which is obtained from purification-process residues and sewage, making it a regenerative product.
The Mercedes-Benz model series
The range of commercial vehicles offered by Mercedes-Benz is wide enough to cover all municipal applications. The line-up at a glance:
Vans in the Vito series (permissible gross vehicle weight up to 2.94 t, engines from 70 kW/95 hp to 170 kW/231 hp) and Sprinter series (permissible gross vehicle weight up to 3.5 t, engines from 65 kW/88 hp to 190 kW/258 hp) are used by municipal works depots as well as for road maintenance and sewer cleaning. Here the Sprinter pickup also performs wwwirably with a crewcab. The Mercedes vans incorporate a high level of safety technology, including the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), acceleration skid control (ASR), Brake Assist (BAS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and an anti-lock braking system (ABS). The Mercedes-Benz Vario (7.5 t, 95 kW/129 hp to 130 kW/177 hp) bridges the gap between vans and light-duty trucks and is especially popular as a classic municipal version (crewcab with all-wheel drive). It is used as a small implement carrier, including for snow-clearing operations, but can also be fitted with a compact refuse-collection body.
Atego (95 kW/129 hp to 210 kW/286 hp, max. 15 t), Axor (210 kW/286 hp to 240 kW/326 hp, max. 26 t) and Actros (235 kW/320 hp to 350 kW/476 hp, max. 33 t) vehicles are used for practically all types of municipal application, for instance as base vehicles for sweeper bodies, with a tipper and loading crane or with demountable container systems for waste disposal. Plus an increasing number of Axor and Actros units are being employed with refuse-collection bodies. All-wheel-drive variants of the latter are also ideal for snow-clearing and gritting operations. The third generation of the Actros heavy-duty truck series, outwardly recognisable by its dynamically designed radiator grille and bumper, has already been unveiled to the trade press. Some 37 individual measures have been implemented to further optimise this vehicle family in terms of cost-effectiveness, comfort, safety and design. One of the aspects that makes the Actros unique in this market segment is the inclusion of a fully automated gearshift system – the Mercedes PowerShift transmission – as standard. This development is testament to the leadership qualities of the Actros, which has been setting trends in the industry ever since it was launched in 1996. With some 550,000 units sold in more than 100 countries since then, it has rapidly become the most successful of all heavy-duty truck models. Production of the new generation is scheduled to commence in July. Drive is provided by economical BlueTec engines, which have proven themselves a hundred-thousand times over, with a choice of six V6 powerplants spanning the output range from 235 kW (320 hp) to 350 kW (476 hp) and three V8 units with outputs ranging from 375 kW (510 hp) to 440 kW (598 hp). BlueTec is a unique combination of economy and ecology, since the addition of urea eliminates nitrogen oxides. This technology is used for all Mercedes-Benz trucks and Unimog vehicles. To date, the Mercedes-Benz BlueTec trucks in service have saved around 300 million litres of diesel and reduced CO2 emissions by some 700,000 tonnes. Euro 5 versions of the engines are already available, even though this emission standard does not come into force until the autumn of 2009. The new Actros will not be making an appearance in Munich as series production is not set to start until July. The latest enhancements for the Econic series include a visual makeover as well as a raft of measures that make life much easier for the crew, in particular a wider folding door on the co-driver's side, UV protective film on the upper third of the windscreen – reducing the effect of solar radiation by 95 percent – and a 70-mm increase in the fore/aft adjustment range of the driver's seat. Plus there is a new rear axle with a load rating of 13 t instead of 11.5 t, not to mention shock absorbers designed to deliver greater driving stability.
One of the main factors behind the legendary reputation enjoyed by the Unimog implement carriers is their performance in the municipal sector. The "universally applicable motorised implement" (Unimog) offers high output and performance, a wide range of application options with almost countless attached or mounted implements and an exceptionally robust design. Launched this year, the U 20 (110 kW/150 hp, up to 8.5 t) is the third Unimog series to hit the market and is designed specifically to meet the needs of small local authorities with clearly defined performance requirements. The U 20 differs from the U 300, U 400 and U 500 professional implement carriers by virtue of its outstanding manoeuvrability (the turning circle of 12.60 metres is on a par with that of a passenger car), reduced weight, lower price and, additionally, its ideal suitability for specific operating conditions. The U 20 is perfect for occasional mowing work; if such jobs are more regular, however, the user may miss the power and mowing width of a U 400. The same applies to snow-clearing and gritting operations. Just like the U 20 models, the U 300, U 400 and U 500 implement carriers (110 kW/150 hp to 210 kW/286 hp, up to 16 t) are completely at home when performing snow-clearing duties, maintaining green spaces, carrying out road maintenance and completing transport tasks, in which case they are configured for high output volumes. One unique feature is the VarioPilot dual-mode steering system. Just a few moves are all it takes to move the steering wheel and pedals from the left to the right side of the vehicle, for example, to enable better supervision of mowing work at the edge of the road, for instance. The third Unimog series is the U 3000 to U 5000 series (115 kW/156 hp to 160 kW/ 218 hp, up to 14.1 t) for extreme off-road applications. These Unimog units are often seen fighting forest fires, serving the energy industry and performing disaster-aid operations.