The new truck on the way from Mercedes Benz should mean Daimler, as a group, and Mercedes Benz in particular have something completely new to show the world. 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.
Mercedes Benz is also increasing the intensity of its foray into the waste industry, with the introduction of the new dual control Econic, the first of its kind in the world, and set up specifically to handle Australian roadside bin collection.
The Econic is now one of three models introduced recently to compete with the Iveco Acco’s dominance of this market segment, one which it has dominated for a very long time. The others involved are the Dennis Eagle and the, new, Volvo FE dual control.
The big selling point for the new Actros, when it arrives later this year is, it will have been here for nearly two years already. In an unprecedented move the company has brought in a wide selection of pre-production models, put them in fleets around the country and tested them fully on our highways. The new shape is impossible to disguise, so Mercedes benz bit the bullet and painted the trucks up as evaluation models, making it clear they were not necessarily the final models which would go on sale.
The Benz organisation has used this time to really see what fits in the Aussie market and give the production facility back in Germany chapter and verse on what works and what doesn’t. The entire truck range has been honed in the place where it should be, out on the Australian highway.
One very small item which illustrates the depth of detail the team has gone to. An adaptation is now included so owners and drivers can fit UHF aerials directly on to the prewired set up in the truck. In the past, these were incompatible. Not a major thing, but it shows the level of work being put into this development process.
Driving the new Actros, as Diesel did, further emphasises just how new all of this stuff is. The information screens in the new truck are numerous and smart. The final offering is not yet settled, but there will be a smaller screen directly in front of the driver with all of the basic data plus selected camera feed, if fitted. One or two larger screens to the driver’s left are also likely, with one giving a higher level of information and using more camera feeds, and the other handling entertainment and communication.
In the Actros driven for this short test, it’s the model aimed at supermarket distribution-type operations, the number of drinks holders is impressive. It is possible to store a six-pack in the various positions, all with handy access for the driver. Another trivial observation, but illustrative of the quantum shift in design from the current Actros to the future model.