08 July 2019 09:14
Road trip with the Actros “Job No. 1”
Developers and test drivers bring the first new-generation Actros from the deserts of Abu Dhabi back to Germany.
Really, it was clear what would happen to the truck. Five years after being the first of the new generation of Actros to roll off the production line at the Wörth plant in 2011, and after driving a half a million kilometres, the truck was only destined to donate its parts to the testing department. After all, it had long since fulfilled its purpose. As the test truck for the first truck engine to comply with the Euro VI emissions standard, it had been put through some hard tests. For example, during the winter tests in Finland where the testers checked the cold start behaviour of the Actros at minus 35 degrees centigrade or during the continuous operation tests at 48 degrees centigrade in the desert sand of Abu Dhabi. The truck was transported by ship to the Arabian peninsula.
When Walter Klatte, team leader at Truck Engine Development at Mercedes-Benz predicted the end of “Job No. 1”, the answer from his colleague, Jochen Mast, was clear enough: “You can't do that!” The department was fond of the Actros. It was to go back to the Wörth plant. “To do that, we had to first whip the vehicle back into shape and get it ready for European roads,” says Klatte.
A race against time through Iran.
The team completed the first stage from Abu Dhabi to Iran by ship – still fairly relaxed. However by the time Klatte and his driving colleague received approval from the Iranian harbour authorities, their driving permit for the journey across the country was only valid for two days. Before the road trip really got underway, it had become a race against the clock. Then there were traffic jams, police checkpoints and tiredness. The journey through Iran became a challenge – especially when the team had to leave the motorway. Walter Klatte: “Overtaking on two-lane roads with wide hard shoulders took place whether someone was approaching or not. Sometimes there were three vehicles travelling in one direction. Epic!”
Destination Istanbul: metropolis between Asia and Europe.
In the end they reached the Turkish border on time: even though more than 1000 trucks were waiting at the border between Iran and Turkey. It then took four days to clear customs before the Actros could continue its journey. In Turkey, the intermediate stages were the skiing region of Erzurum and Aksaray, where, of course, the team visited colleagues in the Mercedes-Benz plant. A further highlight: Istanbul. The fascinating metropolis, with a population of almost 15 million, lies both on the Asian and European continent. The Actros was driven over 2000 m above sea level on this journey through Turkey – including the “driving rain and hail test”.
In Bulgaria: Highways like farm tracks.
After crossing the EU's external borders, “Job No. 1” drove a 21 hour stretch through three countries – 1200 kilometres. "Across Bulgaria with roads and highways full of potholes which, here, we would call farm tracks." The journey then continued through Romania and Hungary to the Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét.
Back in Germany.
After another stage in Austria, the Actros drove across the Alps to Ulm where it was parked in the EvoBus test halls. There, the heads of development, Sven Ennerst and Uwe Baake got into the cab and completed the last stage. “This was, of course, a fantastic mission – and not just for the team, but for me, too. The vehicle and I go back a long way,” says Ennerst.
6700 kilometres, seven countries and several driving teams – Number 1 did this job, too.
Team 1: Mohammed Qasim/Walter Klatte
Team 2: Ozgur Ergen/Mehmet Basol
Team 3: Ozgur Ergen/Wolfgang Sladek/Jochen Mast
Team 4: Ozgur Ergen/Thomas Weber/Daniel Schöllhorn
Team 5: Sven Ennerst/Uwe Baake