Whether for waste disposal, snow clearing, street cleaning, grass cutting or just on the building site, municipal vehicles are used in a wide variety of ways. Cost-effectiveness, performance, safe handling and environmental friendliness are top priorities for companies. Mercedes-Benz Trucks offers a vast portfolio for this purpose, as shown by its attendance at this year’s IFAT Munich, the world’s leading trade fair for water, sewage, waste and raw materials management.
From 30 May to 3 June, 2022, the company will be giving global decision-makers, procurers and users detailed insights into its vehicle range and customer-oriented mobility concepts at Stand 341/343 in Hall C6, as well as outdoors. Highlights include the battery-powered eEconic and eActros trucks as well as various Unimog vehicles.
As Dr Ralf Forcher, Head of Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks, says: “We are facing the challenge of reconciling safe mobility, the environment and quality of life in an urban context. Our all-electric commercial vehicles are locally CO2-neutral, emit low levels of noise and are therefore the ideal solution, especially for municipal use.”
All-electric municipal use: First time at a trade fair for eEconic
Early-morning commuter traffic, turning into narrow, double-parked residential streets, quickly emptying bins and containers: waste disposal is an important part of the modern circular economy. Refuse collection is hard work that requires great care, attention and strength, and the Econic from Mercedes-Benz Trucks has proved itself the chassis of choice among many waste collection companies over the years, as can be seen in various municipalities across the world.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks is heralding a new era in this series in the form of the eEconic, which is being showcased for the first time at a trade fair at this year’s IFAT and is due to enter series production in the second half of 2022. Since May, FES Frankfurter Entsorgungs- und Service GmbH has been testing how the waste disposal expert measures up in practice with a battery-powered electric drive in a customer trial. This low-floor truck with a permissible gross weight of 27 tonnes and an e-axle with integrated drive unit, as well as the two electric motors, is based on the eActros for heavy-duty distribution haulage, which celebrated its world premiere at the end of June 2021 and has already joined the fleets of numerous transport companies.
The series-production eEconic model employs three battery packs, each with an installed capacity of 112 kWh1 and a usable capacity of around 97 kWh2. The e-truck can cover the vast majority of typical Econic waste collection routes in single-shift operation without intermediate charging. Disengaging the gears when driving downhill or rolling to a traffic light can even recover some electrical energy through recuperation. This is a great advantage, especially as part of stop-and-go operation in waste collection. The Interactive Multimedia Cockpit installed as standard in the eEconic provides a continuous stream of information on the state of charge, the remaining range, and the current and average energy consumption in kWh per 100 kilometres.
The truck can be charged with up to 160 kW: three battery packs require just over an hour to charge from 20% to 80% at a standard DC fast charging station with 400 A charging current3. The eEconic is also ready for use in harsh winter conditions, having been extensively tested by Mercedes-Benz Trucks in the Arctic Circle, where a near-production vehicle worked reliably even at ambient temperatures as low as -25 °C. Engineers evaluated the thermal management, pre-conditioning and energy-efficient pre-entry climate control of the eEconic, using various charging stations and also simulating a waste collection route.
Features for high driving comfort and safety
Features of the conventional Econic that have proved particularly popular with customers have also been transferred to the eEconic. For example, the deep, panoramic windscreen, combined with a low seating position provides the driver with excellent direct vision of vulnerable road users, not to mention urban traffic. The coated and heated Thermocontrol windscreen prevents the cab from weather-related fogging, increasing the clear view of the traffic area. The windscreen coating also reduces the extent to which the vehicle interior heats up due to sunlight.
The eEconic’s low position allows for joint-friendly, one-step access to the spacious cab, which offers space for a crew of up to four people. The electric drivetrain also makes it possible to have a flat cab floor, making it easier to climb through the cab – a particular advantage if the driver wants to get out through the folding door on the front passenger side facing away from traffic. As far as safety equipment is concerned, the eEconic is equipped as standard with S1R Sideguard Assist for greater safety when turning, as well as the fifth-generation Active Brake Assist emergency brake assistant with pedestrian detection. An external Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System is also fitted to make it easier for pedestrians or cyclists to hear the truck, in accordance with legal requirements.
At IFAT, Mercedes-Benz Trucks will be showcasing the eEconic with a waste collection body from Zöller: the Medium X4 22.5 Clean Drive. The Clean Drive body, specially designed for all-electric chassis with high-voltage interface, consists of an electrified collection box (22.3 cubic meters capacity) with two internal electric motors including directly-mounted hydraulic pumps, converter and a rectifier.
eActros with an all-electric PTO solution
Like the Econic, the Actros from Mercedes-Benz Trucks has also been one of the most popular commercial vehicles in the municipal sector for many years thanks to its flexible body options. Since the start of eActros series production, the premium truck has been hitting the streets with a battery-electric drive. So far, it has been used specifically in heavy-duty distribution haulage, but the eActros can also benefit operators in other applications with its CO2-neutral and low-noise transportation of goods.
For this purpose, and as part of a pilot project, Mercedes-Benz Trucks has set up the eWorX all-in-one solution developed by ZF together with a PALFINGER skiploader in an eActros. The aim is to efficiently electrify PTOs for operating hydraulic equipment such as skiploaders or hookloaders, cranes or lifting platforms. The advantage: Complete locally emission-free operation and greatly reduced noise levels, which in particular makes it easier to use in cities and residential areas.
PALFINGER electric skiploader in conjunction with eActros and eWorX from ZF
This year’s Mercedes-Benz Trucks stand at IFAT will feature this all-in-one solution in the form of an eActros 300 with the PS T 18 skiploader from PALFINGER. Thanks to its user-friendly design and the asymmetrical and individually controllable lifting arms, the tipper with radio remote control is able to load containers quickly, even when awkwardly positioned. A new feature is the integration of ZF’s eWorX system. This establishes the connection between the vehicle’s energy management system and the body. For optimized operational efficiency, eWorX integrates components such as the electric motor, power inverter, electronic control unit and application-specific software modules into a plug-and-work one-box solution.
The traction battery of the eActros provides the ZF eWorX system with electrical energy over a DC interface. The eWorX electric motor in turn uses this to drive the hydraulic pump for the tipper. Thus, there is no need for a mechanical connection to the traction motor. eWorX ensures smooth communication between the eActros and the body via the CAN bus interface.
Together, ZF, PALFINGER and Mercedes-Benz Trucks created various test and demonstration vehicles to gain a holistic understanding of the system across a wide range of different applications and to create a standardised approach to the communication between vehicle and body. As a full-service provider of lifting solutions, PALFINGER contributed its expertise to the requirements of its wide-ranging product and solution portfolio, from different types of loading cranes to hookloaders and skiploaders and access platforms.
An eActros 300 with the RS21.65 hookloader made for transporting containers is also being showcased at the MEILLER stand. It features the eWorX ZF system acting as a link between vehicle and tipper. The advantage of the system is the hydraulic operation on demand. In other words, the pump only runs when the body is moved. This prevents unnecessary energy consumption. There is also none of the noise a combustion engine would generate, which is a huge advantage when the vehicle is used in sensitive areas such as residential streets in the early hours. The tipper itself is equipped with a radio remote control, a load-dependent overdrive system for high working speeds and hydraulic scissor-type under-run protection with front position lamps.
High-tech for sustainable performance
Mercedes-Benz Trucks relies on the ePowertrain for the eActros in the form of an electric rigid axle with two integrated electric motors and a two-speed transmission. Both liquid-cooled engines generate a continuous output of 330 kW as well as a top performance of 400 kW. The batteries of the eActros comprise either three (eActros 300) or four battery packs (eActros 400), each of which offers an installed capacity of 112 kWh4 and a usable capacity of around 97 kWh5. With four battery packs, the eActros 400 has a range of up to 400 kilometres6. The eActros can be charged at up to 160 kW: Three battery packs in the eActros 300 require just over an hour to charge from 20% to 80% at a standard DC fast charging station with 400 A charging current7.
The standard safety equipment includes the external Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System in accordance with legal requirements, the fifth generation of Active Brake Assist with pedestrian detection and the S1R Sideguard Assistant. The Sideguard Assist uses the MirrorCam display for visual warning notices, which is installed in the eActros in place of conventional main and wide-angle mirrors. The second generation of the mirror camera system has been in use since April 2022. It provides the driver with even better support in many road-traffic situations thanks to the camera arms being 10 centimetres shorter on each side, plus new imaging parameters.
Smart digital solutions for even more efficient use
In order to maximise the use of the eActros and eEconic, to integrate electric trucks into an operator’s daily routine in the best possible way, save time and effort, and to make the switch to e-mobility as easy as possible, Mercedes-Benz Trucks provides its customers with a whole range of digital solutions from the Fleetboard Portal. This includes, for example, individually devised charging management for creating charging profiles and a logbook with detailed information on driving, idle and charging times. Also available is a mapping tool that shows in real time the current location of a vehicle, whether it is driving, stationary or charging, and the state of charge of the battery.
The Mercedes-Benz Complete service contract is also available for the eActros and eEconic to ensure optimum vehicle deployment. The comprehensive service package covers workshop work for maintenance and repair of the overall vehicle as well as the drivetrain, including wear and tear parts. The service contract always covers intensive customer support provided by Mercedes-Benz Uptime. The intelligent system records all relevant vehicle data, from tyre pressures and the engine status to battery status. In this context, Mercedes-Benz Uptime has already been expanded by more than 100 e-specific regulators that continuously monitor charging processes or voltage curves related to the high-voltage battery. The information is also available via the new cloud-based customer portal. By connecting vehicles to Mercedes-Benz Service and haulage companies, it becomes easier to plan workshop visits and significantly reduce unforeseen breakdowns.
Expert advice for tailored e-mobility
Irrespective of the drive technology, every investment in a commercial vehicle needs to pay off in the everyday activities of transportation companies. In addition, a whole series of questions must be clarified in advance, especially with regard to all-electric trucks: On which routes can I use electric vehicles? How developed is the charging infrastructure? What structural measures and investments are needed for depot charging? This makes it all the more important not only to sell customers an electric truck, but also to accompany them on their journey to fleet electrification. After all, e-mobility is more than just a new kind of drive. This is precisely why Mercedes-Benz Trucks has integrated the eActros and eEconic into a business ecosystem that also includes consultancy services for high vehicle usage and optimisation of the total costs of ownership.
For example, our eConsulting teams use existing driving routes to determine usage profiles for electric trucks that are as realistic and meaningful as possible for a particular customer. Depending on the customer’s demands and in addition to the electrification of the depot, eConsulting also includes all questions related to planning, ordering, and implementation concerning the charging infrastructure as well as the grid connection. Mercedes-Benz Trucks has concluded a strategic partnerships specifically for this purpose with Siemens Smart Infrastructure and ENGIE. Mercedes-Benz Trucks can also provide assistance with sourcing possible public funding for infrastructure and vehicles.
Unimog: Utilisation throughout the year thanks to various bodies and detachable equipment
At IFAT, Mercedes-Benz Trucks will be showcasing battery-electric trucks and vehicles with conventional diesel drives, such as the Unimog, a model that is in demand in the municipal sector. Specially developed for use with implements, the great strength of the Unimog lies in the fact that customers can carry out completely different tasks throughout the year with a single vehicle. Working together with many qualified implement partners, individual system solutions are built which increase fleet utilisation rates and productivity. Standardised interfaces make it quick to change implements, while the open-view cab and short front overhang provides a great view of the work area, at same time increasing safety.
Another highlight of the Unimog implement carrier is the EasyDrive system. This combines the advantages of the automated manual transmission for driving at up to 89 km/h with the hydrostatic traction drive for seamless driving and working in the speed range up to 50 km/h. The benefit of this system is that the working speed can be continuously adjusted regardless of the engine speed, and maintained using the cruise control function. At the same time, the Unimog can also be started up and turned without wear on the clutch.
In the Unimog, the fully-synchronised electropneumatic manual transmission converts the power of the low-maintenance, economical, smooth-running and high-torque Euro VI engines to propulsive force. The synchronised Electronic Quick Reverse turning unit makes it easier to change direction quickly, for example when clearing or manoeuvring.
Unimog U 219 and Unimog U 423
Mercedes-Benz Trucks will be showcasing the Unimog U 219, a representative of the compact 200 model series, at this year’s IFAT. The exhibit is equipped with a Bucher Municipal Yeti L brine spreading mechanism and Mulag front mowing equipment with GE watering unit. The vehicle also has a low steel platform from Eggers. This significantly reduces the height of the loading sill, making loading much easier. The short wheelbase of 2,800 mm and the compact dimensions – the vehicle is just 2.15 metres wide – make the U 219 extremely manoeuvrable. As a result, the implement carrier is particularly suitable for use in municipalities with very narrow streets.
The Unimog U 219 also has other special features, such as VarioPilot dual-mode steering – one of the Unimog’s USPs. The driver can move the steering wheel and pedals from one side to the other in just a few minutes. This gives the driver the confidence and safety to be on the same side of the cab when driving on the road, and they can then slide the wheel and pedals across to the passenger side of the vehicle to be afforded a much better view of the working area when operating implements. In addition, the Unimog now has new comfortable suspension seats on both sides, with seat heating and active ventilation ensuring maximum driver comfort for effortless and healthy working.
For the attachments shown: Buchner’s Yeti L series is a spreader that precisely spreads saltwater up to a width of eight metres with a spreading plate. In addition to snow clearing duties, the Yeti L is suitable for summer-time work such as plant-watering, soaking and cleaning. The advantage of the Mulag front mowing equipment with GE watering unit is that the driver can water plants from the comfort of the vehicle and does not have to leave the vehicle every time watering takes place. For the driver, this is not only more economical but also safer. Mulag’s front mowing equipment can also be fitted with a variety of other implements, such as a mowing head or weed brush instead of a watering head.
Another exhibit at IFAT is the Unimog U 423 implement carrier. The vehicle is also distinguished by its manoeuvrability, with a wheelbase of just 3.0 metres and a permissible gross weight of 14.1 tonnes. Complementing the established advantages of this vehicle concept, such as EasyDrive or automated manual transmission, it offers new comfort steering. This electrohydraulic steering reduces steering forces at low speeds as well as when stationary – an advantage when working with heavy-duty front attachments. The U 423 shown also offers the optional Light, Safety and Winter packages. The Light package includes bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime driving lights and LED spotlights on the cab. The Safety package adds front- and rear-view cameras, a reversing warning device and a large instrumentation cluster with a 12.7cm monitor to display videos, ensuring good visibility even in difficult conditions. The Winter package includes, among other things, hot water heating and a heated windscreen – benefiting safety in frosty temperatures.
In terms of bodies and attachments, the Unimog U 423 presented at IFAT is equipped with the Dücker FKM 2200 front sweeper, the Jotha CombiCon 5018 U spreader and the AEBI-Schmidt Syntos S15-18 VESN wet salt spreader. On request, the FKM model series from Dücker can also be equipped with features such as a hydraulic side brush, a water high-pressure facility or a dirt collection tray. The quick-change skiploader body from Jotha is powered by Unimog vehicle hydraulics and offers many other advantages besides snow-clearing. For example, the ability to tip the bulk material at the construction site and to deposit it in wide variety of switchable containers at the construction site and collect it again later. This reduces the vehicle’s construction site downtime. Ergonomic working is also a priority, as containers with equipment such as vibratory plate compactors, lawn mowers and barrier material can also be placed on or even below road level, for example in construction ditches, which means construction workers do not need to wait around a loading sill.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks is also exhibiting two more Unimogs in this year’s IFAT outdoor area: The Unimog U 530 with Dammann brine sprayer and the Unimog U 323 with a Fischbacher (“Kranimog”) quick-change loading crane attached to the rear.
Unimog Partner Portal
The “Unimog Partner Portal” shows how well the Unimog can be incorporated by various attachment and implement suppliers. Thanks to the practical search function at www.unimogpartner.com operators can discover ideal Unimog device combinations for a wide range of jobs – from the airport to agricultural applications. The focus of the portal is the detailed description of the attachments and body implements, with photos and contact details of the Unimog device partner. The personal descriptions provide precise information on product advantages and important technical data for operating the selected device solution. In addition, the website is optimised for desktop, tablets and smartphones.