The second-generation OM 471 at Nüllig & Haß
Vehicle & Technology
The second-generation OM 471 six-cylinder in-line engine has even more pulling power and yet is more economical than its predecessor. Roland Wagner drives one of the first Actros trucks with the new engine.
Roland Wagner manoeuvres his truck in front of the trailer with
precision. He takes a look in the mirror, removes his foot from the
brake and reverses the Actros under the trailer. A slight jolt and the
kingpin is in place. The trip can begin. "The truck is quite new,
so driving it is really fun," says the 54-year-old driver with a
grin. Roland Wagner works for Nüllig & Haß where he drives an
Actros 1851 with a second-generation OM 471 heavy-duty engine. The
two-axle truck is currently being tested by the freight company which
is based in Wuppertal. Almost all the 170 trucks in the Nüllig &
Haß fleet are from Mercedes-Benz. The engines are ideal for the wide
variety of tasks and trips the freight company has to do – some of
which are within the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area and some for greater
distances such as Bavaria.
This time, Roland hitches up his trailer at a steelworks in Hagen. He attaches the connecting cables between the truck and the trailer, which has been loaded with steel girders. Then he walks round the tractor unit to check. As usual when the freight has to be transferred to the railway, the trip is within the region. "But we mostly drive for the automotive industry. For example, we drive from the suppliers to the distribution centres," says CEO André Nüllig. In 2014, his company bought 49 new Actros vehicles, and now 30 tractor units with the improved heavy-duty engine have been added. "In recent years our experience of the OM 471 has been excellent. If Mercedes-Benz goes that extra mile, then of course we want to, too," said the haulier.
By making a number of changes, the engineers at Daimler Trucks have achieved a great leap in development. The OM 471 has even more torque at low engine speeds, giving the Actros even more dynamism. The engine itself is more robust, and it uses up to three percent less fuel.
Roland presses the start/stop button, puts the Actros in gear and drives off. The slip road to the A45 Autobahn is only a few minutes' drive away. The freight needs to be delivered to Wuppertal freight station by 4.30 p.m. Is there any difference compared with the first version of the engine? "The drive is more direct, I notice that very clearly. Fuel consumption is between 29 and 30 litres per 100 km. That's a really good figure." And of course the 375 kW of power in the 1851 enhance driving enjoyment.
Roland drives onto the A1 Autobahn at the Westhofener Kreuz interchange. He presses the accelerator and immediately the machine transmits power to the wheels. "The nice thing is that the Actros is still in top gear. It's got loads of torque to spare."
Roland has been working for Nüllig & Haß since 1999. He knows the company's vehicles very well. He and his workmates know what fuel consumption is possible on which journeys, thanks to FleetBoard: "Our whole fleet is equipped with it," he says. "Above a mark of 9.5 the boss gives us a watch. But at the moment he's behind with orders," says Roland, grinning again. The current top mark in the workforce is 9.87. And three holidays are awarded by prize draw to the three best drivers: two weeks in Turkey, Spain or Egypt. Fuel-saving driving should be beneficial to everyone at the freight company.
Roland's tractor unit reached a speed of 80 km/h shortly after he joined the motorway. "A good thing it gets moving so quickly," he says. In places like this, I'm glad the truck has so much power. We all want to get on. But there are trucks that just crawl up a gradient like this. Also, I don't want to hold anyone up. There are lots of people around here who know me."
Because Roland doesn't have to worry about that in his Actros, he can now give his full attention to the traffic. The vehicles on this stretch of the A1 drive nose to tail. Nowhere else in Germany are there as many people as there are in the Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan area. "There's always a lot going on on the roads here," says Roland. The afternoon rush hour has already begun. But Roland's almost made it. After leaving the motorway at Wuppertal-Langerfeld, it's only a few metres to the freight station.
The Actros arrives at the terminal. From here, the steel girders will be transported by rail to Italy. There are many containers and trailers stacked next to each other at the railway freight depot. A huge crane loads freight on to the trains, without stopping. The steel girders that Roland has brought here are loaded together with their trailer. Roland now drives the Actros back to the company without a trailer. Before he parks it, he has to go through the truck wash. Nüllig & Haß place great emphasis on caring for their vehicles. "The trucks are often on the road day and night. It's possible that another driver will take it this evening. So it has to be in good condition."
It's almost time to clock off. His verdict on the new engine? "The Actros has been given an OM 471 with even more pulling power. You always have the performance you need, right when you need it. And yet it's become more economical too. You can't get better than that!"
Roland has done his work for today. He gets into his car and takes the shortest route home. "I've had enough driving pleasure for one day."
Photos: Matthias Aletsee
Video: Martin Schneider-Lau