More than 180 UK truck operators experienced at first hand what Mercedes-Benz is calling "the most important launch since the arrival of the first truck, built by Daimler over 100 years ago".
October’s customer events saw representatives of many of the biggest fleets on Britain’s roads travel to Germany as guests of the manufacturer, to get a close-up look at the stunning new Mercedes-Benz Actros – and, crucially, to take a fleet of demonstrator units out on the road.
Developed from a blank sheet of paper, New Actros is the ultimate premium truck for long-distance transport. From the outset, designers and engineers were determined to provide the best possible comfort, driving dynamics, safety, productivity and operating economy, as well as a sweeping range of cab sizes, engine ratings and options, allowing customers to tailor vehicles perfectly for any application.
Guests at the event heard Mercedes-Benz UK Truck Sales & Marketing Director Sam Whittaker describe how the New Actros had been built to provide maximum efficiency. He reminded attendees that the current Actros holds the Guinness World Record for fuel economy at 40 tonnes gvw. He then revealed that the new model – which goes on sale to UK customers from 1st January, is a remarkable seven per cent better at Euro 5, while even the Euro 6 version shows a four per cent improvement!
The main purpose behind the event, though, was to give prospective customers the opportunity to get behind the wheels of the assembled fleet of New Actros demonstrators, on the challenging Münsingen test track near Stuttgart. And the verdict, from straight-talking fleet operators not given to easy platitudes, was a unanimous and resounding ‘thumbs-up’.
The track offered a succession of tight bends, dips, crests, sharp climbs and steep descents, as well as sections which forced drivers to make simulated sudden lane changes and cross sections of broken or uneven road surface. The New Actros and its new, state-of-the-art Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated gearbox took all in their stride.
Ben Morris, Managing Director of Operations at logistics giant Howard Tenens, has been using Mercedes-Benz trucks for many years. He said: "I was really impressed with the new vehicle’s enhanced features, from driver comfort and handling, to additional vehicle options.
"But most important for us is the promise of improved fuel efficiency. As a long-standing Actros operator we are delighted with the level of investment Mercedes-Benz has put in to take the truck to a new dimension."
Meanwhile, Terry Potter, Fleet Engineer for North Yorkshire’s Black Sheep Brewery, was instantly struck by the cab comfort and driver appeal of the Actros 1842 model he tried. "Overall I’m very impressed," he commented. "Any driver could get used to being in that cab very quickly indeed! The power delivery is effortless and the gear changes are smooth and precise, while the way that body roll has been suppressed, especially given the size of the cab, is remarkable."
And Alan Newton, Head of Transport Planning & Fleet Management at heating, plumbing and building materials supplier Wolseley, added: "I sat in that cab and asked myself a simple question: As a driver, would I be happy to spend my working day in here? The answer was a definite ‘yes’!"