Touring with the pros
Tour of the IAA
The innovations Mercedes-Benz Trucks is presenting at the trade fair also affect the working lives of the drivers, so it is only natural that the group of Truck Trophy professionals paid very close attention during their tour of the IAA Commercial Vehicles.
“Look, here is the logo again, above the last step.” Markus Merklinger shows Tony Maertens one of the small but exquisite details of the vehicle. In front of the two Truck Trophy finalists is the exclusive special-edition 20th anniversary model of the Actros, with which Mercedes-Benz Trucks is marking the 20th anniversary of its flagship model at the 66th IAA Commercial Vehicles trade fair.
The special edition model was of course a mandatory stop for the Truck Trophy crew as they were making their way around the trade fair. Many of the drivers in this group including Erick Poutsma, Sven Adler, Thomas Arnegger, Wolfgang Doppelhofer, Chris Roy and of course Markus Merklinger and Tony Maertens have experienced the various stages of the history of the Actros for themselves. They were therefore particularly impressed by the vast range of safety features through which successive models constantly set new benchmarks in the industry.
The Actros was the first truck to be made available fitted disc brakes on all axles and the advanced Electronic Braking System EBS. In combination, these features made the Actros the safest vehicle of its class. A position that the truck has been able to assert in subsequent years. It was a lead that the truck successfully retained over the years that followed, because it was in the Actros that almost all of today's truck safety technologies had their world premiere.
The 20th Anniversary edition of the Actros is once again the perfect embodiment of greater safety that is one of the pillars of the Mercedes-Benz RoadEfficiency concept, together with low total costs and maximised use.
The anniversary gem combines the typical characteristics of the Actros: safety, comfort and economy. They find their expression in the fitting of Active Brake Assist 3, which will also be available as Active Brake Assist 4 from December 2016, of automatic climate control, of a refrigerator and sound system on board, and of the new powertrain with optimised fuel efficiency, which will be showcased at the IAA 2016. The special model has a distinctive appearance thanks to special chrome appliqués with an anniversary signet in the casing of the exterior mirrors.
Today’s drivers: specialized efficiency experts.
Doing the rounds of the fairground, the drivers' conversation kept returning to the changes affecting their profession, such as the ever-increasing qualifications required to hold a driver's license these days, and the code 95. This trend towards greater specialisation is very much a live issue for Erick Poutsma, whose son Bo would like to continue the family's tradition of driving trucks for a living.
Another issue of growing importance for the drivers is how to drive a truck economically. During the Fuel Duel Truck and RoadEfficiency stage show, Truck Trophy finalist Wolfgang Doppelhofer highlighted the fact that an economical driving style matters not only for business owners, but that the drivers themselves are also taking this issue very seriously. And this is important. This is clearly demonstrated in the Fuel Duel Actros, which in over 2700 duels against companies’ own fleets all over Europe consistently averages a 10.7 percent fuel saving (status as of September 2016): despite the many assistance systems that help drivers use an economical driving style, the drivers themselves remain a major cost-saving factor. The Mercedes-Benz RoadEfficiency with its low total cost, greater safety and maximised utilisation ensures safe, economical and ecologically efficient working environment in order to meet these strict requirements even more fully.
eActros: the design and electric drive are astounding.
“Trucks certainly looked different when we first started out,” says Thomas Arnegger, pointing out the Mercedes star in the truck’s curved white front to his friend Sven Adler. The eActros also scored points with the other Truck Trophy veterans, and not only thanks to its spectacular looks. Inside the special show box body, they also took a close look at the rear axle, which was illuminated by blue light. The reason: The outstanding features of the eActros include its drive with electrically powered rear axle and electric motors directly adjacent to the wheel hubs.
Songs and snacks at the Driver’s Inn.
And since a visit to a trade fair isn't complete without music, pretzels and cool drinks, the Truck Trophy crew made the Mercedes-Benz Driver’s Inn their final stop.
Photos: Tom Roelecke
Video: Martin Schneider-Lau