Here’s a new Mercedes Benz Actros preview, in the lead up to the new model’s first official public appearance, next week. The next generation Actros is all-new from stem to stern. There’s a completely new engine platform to go along with the all new cabin. In fact, the new cabin design is a necessity, the new engine is an in-line six and a completely different shape to the V6 and V8 engines powering the current Actros.
Evaluation models have been in and out of the training room at Mercedes Benz HQ in Mulgrave, Victoria, as a succession of technicians from around Australia attend training courses in the all-new product. It’s not just the technicians, there are the parts teams, sales support staff and anyone else needing to be brought up to speed on a product range which is completely different to the product they are dealing with on a day to day basis, at the moment.
“Having the evaluation vehicles in applications is giving those people supporting the new trucks in the relevant areas some direct, real life experience with the vehicles,” said Andrew Assimo, Mercedes Benz National Sales Manager. “Nine have been in operation and there will be fifteen, in total, before the evaluation period ends.
“Some are approaching 200,000 km. One in the West is a road train truck which is running between Perth and Onslow every day, about 2,500 km. It’s running at 110 tonnes GCM, all day, every day. It’s been a good test for that truck in the hottest, toughest type of environment and it’s been really successful. We’ve been able to keep it there for a long period of time.
“This performance and durability testing is evaluating reliability. In Germany we can get so many options, but not all of them make sense for what we want to offer in Australia. As much as further adapting local equipment and local OEM supplied components, it’s a process of finding what makes sense for our market in key applications. If we want to grow and focus our attention on capturing the mainstream on highway business, we’ve got to know what works and what doesn’t.”
Assimo needs to be able to say to customers, when the new Actros is launched, that a particular model is suitable and capable of handling a specific application. The work going on now means the person selling the truck will be able to tell a customer running the Eastern Seaboard at a particular average mass and average speed, what sort of fuel usage and durability they can expect from the truck.
The evaluation will also enable Benz to give precise details on servicing costs. It will also enable the team to develop fully maintained packages which can accurately predict the whole of life cost of a truck over periods up to five years.
The initial trucks brought in were specified as a baseline from which to work. Later introductions have adjusted options like rear axle ratios and tyres to further optimise parameters like fuel consumption and service intervals. The last models used in the testing program between now and the launch will be those with the specification options found to maximise performance.