Mercedes-Benz is breaking new ground in releasing the company’s new-generation models refresh. The launch of these rigid trucks follows on from the successful launch of the prime mover models last year. The trucks have just emerged from a similar process to the one the company used in developing the prime mover range. A number of evaluation trucks were put into different fleets around the country. In all, 35 customers tried 20 trucks, covering over 1.8 million kilometres.
These trucks represent a seismic shift in the way Mercedes-Benz presents itself to the Australian truck market. In the past, the large rigids supplied by Benz were able to be sold into specific niches, areas of the truck market where the numbers sold annually remain relatively small.
This time the trucks have been developed specifically from the options available in Germany to sit squarely in high-volume segments of the truck market. These trucks have been specified in a way which will suit a large number of operators in Australia. The analysis of the Australian truck market done by Mercedes-Benz in the run-up to this launch has been well targeted and organised.
The world of the heavy rigid truck has been a difficult space for Mercedes-Benz in the past, apart from the niches into which the specifications have slotted. Although part of the new-generation Actros range, the name Actros does not appear on the trucks – they are to be known by their numerical tags alone.
Now, with these new models the trucks do look to be a good fit. It is now up to the Mercedes-Benz organisation itself to get out there with the message about the new in-built flexibility in the range and the improved fit of the brand with high-volume sectors of the market.
The 6×2 rigids, the 2530 and 2535, do the business and use the combination of the 7.7 litre engine and the eight-speed AMT to get the job done in a major market segment. The specification looks to be effective, productive and, probably, fuel efficient.
There is a wider choice in the 6×4 version of this chassis, with two engine options – the 7.7 litre and the 11 litre. This gives a choice of power output all of the way from 354hp to 455hp. Covering everything from a small around-town distribution vehicle to a Performance-Based Standards (PBS) truck and dog combination approaching 60-tonnes GVM.
Flexibility in the Range
A strong point for these new trucks is the flexibility within the control systems. With a little help from the trainers who are now available to anyone purchasing a new Mercedes truck, it is possible to program your truck to use automatic systems which suit your needs rather than imposing systems on you which you might find unnecessary.
A good example of this is the crawler mode. It is possible to program the truck so that if a driver is in a position where they need to crawl away from the situation, as they release the brake the truck will automatically engage a crawler gear and move slowly forward. If the driver puts their foot on the accelerator, the truck will go into normal gear and set off at normal speed.
This would be especially useful in situations where the truck has to reverse into an awkward position. The driver simply lines the truck up, puts their foot on the brake, engages reverse and takes their foot off the brake. Then the truck will crawl slowly backwards, as the driver manoeuvres the truck into position.
It is refreshing to see all of these new systems and improved technology arriving alongside the reinvigorated Mercedes-Benz organisation in Australia. For too long, the quality of the trucks being designed in Europe and arriving here mismatched with Australian needs and the trucks were poorly supported by the brand managers.
These new trucks are only the first flush of options to arrive on our shores. We can expect a second and third wave of models with bigger engines and cabins, plus those aimed at more specific applications.