The new Mercedes-Benz Actros truck can save South African fleet owners up to 6% in fuel compared with the previous model, says Daimler Trucks & Buses Southern Africa (DTBSA) executive director Jasper Hafkamp.
If calculated over a four-year period, this could mean a saving of up to R300 000 per truck, especially in the long-haul market, he adds.
“The fuel saving globally is 7%. Extensive testing in South Africa delivered a 6% saving.”
Service intervals of up to 50 000 km for Euro III Actros trucks and up to 80 000 km for Euro V vehicles, can also result in up to 6% lower maintenance rates.
Cost of ownership is becoming increasingly important in the current tough economic environment, says Hafkamp.
The irony, however, is that South African fleet owners could have achieved even more fuel savings, and much sooner, had DTBSA been able to bring the European-specced Actros to the local market earlier.
South Africa was to have cleaner diesel available in 2017 already, but government has failed to implement legislation to enforce this transition.
The delay in the introduction of clean fuels in South Africa will halt the flow of new vehicle technology to South Africa, the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa warned last year.
Some fuel companies have, however, on their own initiative, worked to have cleaner fuel available at the pump, ahead of South African legislation which are currently still at Euro II standards.
The new Actros was introduced in Europe in 2011 – seven years ago – with an advanced, environment-friendly Euro VI engine range.
“Over the years we have adapted the Actros for South Africa,” says Hafkamp. “We are not introducing the European-specced Actros to South Africa.”
Daimler has been forced to implement a dual-engine strategy for the domestic truck market, with the Actros extra-heavy commercial vehicle range now available in South Africa with a Euro V and Euro III engine.
The Euro V engine is for those fleet operators with access to cleaner fuels, such as in Gauteng, while the Euro III engine can do duty anywhere in Africa.
“Some operators want a truck with more European technology, with a better carbon footprint. Their focus is on low cost of ownership, and we can provide them with the most fuel efficient truck in South Africa through the Euro V version,” says Hafkamp. “The availability of clean diesel, at 50 ppm, is such that these trucks can operate without problems.”
The lower-cost Euro III truck is more suited to operations outside cities.
Hafkamp believes that a drive to legislate clean fuel in South Africa will provide a significant boost to the local truck industry.
“This renewal of the South Africa truck fleet will really support our industry, the economy and the environment. We could phase in Euro V trucks, step by step.”
Apart from the difference in engine, the new Actros for the South African market also has higher ground clearance than the European version, as well as a different front axle, bumper and headlights.
“South Africa is an important Actros market,” emphasises Hafkamp. “We sold more than 25 000 trucks here since the Actros’ first introduction in 1998.”
The Actros is assembled at the Mercedes-Benz South Africa plant in East London.
Hafkamp expects the South African new-truck market to remain flat this year compared with last year.
“The truck market is linked directly to the economy. Logistics suppliers will invest in their operations again if trust and confidence return to the market.”
The New Actros
The new Actros is available in South Africa with eight new air-suspended models initially – four 4 x 2 air-suspended truck-tractors and four 6 x 4 air-suspended truck-tractors.
Further steel and air-suspended truck-tractors are to be launched later this year.
Unlike its predecessor, the new Actros is exclusively available as a truck-tractor. Rigid distribution, construction, off-road and specialised application vehicles will be supported by the new Arocs models, which will be available from September.
The Arocs will also be assembled at the East London plant.
The new Actros is available in two engine variants.
The Euro III OM460 is based on proven technology, however, the new in-line 6-cylinder layout boasts higher torque at lower engine speeds and a broader torque range.
The OM460 engine is available in four engine output ratings, ranging from 360 hp (265 kW) up to 450 hp (330 kW), with torque ranging from 1 800 Nm to 2 200 Nm.
The new OM471 Euro V engine is available in two engine output ratings of 420 hp (310 kW) up to 450 hp (330 kW), with peak torque from 2 100 Nm to 2 200 Nm.
All new Actros models are fitted with Mercedes Powershift 3 fully automated 12-speed transmissions as standard.
The new Actros boasts a new cabin called the StreamSpace, which is standard on all long-haul truck tractors.
In addition to lane keeping assist, a driver airbag and stability control assist, which were already standard on the outgoing Actros, the new range features a host of additional safety features.
Attention assist and a seat belt monitor are now standard. Attention assist alerts drivers when they begin showing signs of fatigue behind the wheel.
The newest active brake assist system initiates emergency braking if there is a risk of a collision. It also warns the driver of imminent collisions with pedestrians.
Proximity control assist maintains the set desired speed, similar to cruise control on cars. When the truck approaches a vehicle, the speed is adapted automatically according to the set distance. The distance is set on the multifunction steering wheel.
Proximity control assist’s new stop-and-go function slows the vehicle automatically to a standstill in stop-and-go traffic, moving the truck again after a short stop of less than two seconds, without any intervention from the driver.
Roll control assist adapts and varies the damping hardness automatically in order to suit the current driving situation and road conditions. Sensors monitor the vertical movements at the front and rear axle, as well as the brake pressure, vehicle load, accelerator movements and road speed.
In an effort to address cost concerns, the new Actros Pure model aims to offer increased value for money. It is equipped with the same driveline as the standard model, but has a reduced scope of standard equipment to address the customer requirement of having a more basic, yet efficient and safe truck.