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From northern Finland to southern Italy, from the most westerly point in Spain to the most easterly corner of Romania, the Mercedes-Benz Fuel Duel is held in numerous European countries. The first fuel comparison test took place approximately five years ago in the Netherlands. The conditions haven't changed since then: a Mercedes-Benz Actros takes on the tasks of a competitor vehicle in a logistics company fleet and drives with its load and route for two weeks. The driver is thoroughly trained beforehand and is initially accompanied by a professional trainer or an experienced Mercedes-Benz Trucks salesperson. The driver then carries out the usual tasks unaccompanied in the Actros, supported by the FleetBoard telematics system.
The vehicles have now taken part in 2100 Fuel Duels against the most important European competitors – a total of approximately 9.6 million kilometres (as at March 2016). The Mercedes-Benz Actros has been the clear winner in over 90 percent of these duels. The consumption savings compared with the competitors averages 10.4 percent.
Martin König, who is responsible for truck sales at the Mercedes-Benz Center in Hildesheim, recognised the opportunities for carrying out the Fuel Duel at an early stage. He is behind four of the fuel consumption comparison tests that have been held in Germany. "Fuel Duel provides the unique opportunity to demonstrate the strengths of the Actros in an objective way. At the same time, the driver can check how cost-effective a driving style they have and improve on it," he says.
The latest technology combined with highly qualified drivers – that is the only way to reduce fuel consumption in the long-term. At Kreykenbohm Spedition in Holzminden, Martin König has raised awareness about it by means of the Fuel Duel. Each truck belonging to Willi-Ingo Kreykenbohm, the founder of the company, travels about 120,000 kilometres per year. Container transport between Hamburg, Bremerhaven and the company's own container terminals in Holzminden and Adelebsen is their daily business. The fuel consumption of the 22 trucks competing: an average of 29 litres per 100 kilometres. An Actros 1845 took up this challenge at the Fuel Duel on the same stretches of road with the same driver and the same load – and it won: 26.5 litres which corresponds to 8.6 percent less consumption. This means a possible fuel saving of 3000 litres of diesel and 7.9 tonnes less CO₂ emission for each of Kreykenbohm's trucks.
The basis of the result: driver Christian Krukemeyer, who received the top score of 9.67 for the FleetBoard Driving Analysis, and the Fuel Duel Actros. This series-production vehicle with a StreamSpace cab is equipped with the whole range of fuel-saving features. These include aerodynamically optimised components, reduced weight and highly efficient driver assistance systems. The truck is made more streamlined by the side skirts, the door extensions, the underbody panelling, the radiator shutter and the air horns under the cab, for example. Technical refinements such as the tyre pressure monitoring system, the two-stage air compressor, the two-stage water pump, Mercedes PowerShift and Predictive Powertrain Control reduce fuel consumption yet further.
And in future, the result may be even more marked. Because since last autumn, Actros trucks with the second generation of the OM 471 engine on board have also been taking part in the Fuel Duel. This has demonstrated a further reduction in fuel consumption of up to three percent!
This is how much less the Fuel Duel Actros consumes on average throughout Europe. (As at March 2016)
Photos: Henrik Morlock