Archive for April 2008

Daimler to become new key shareholder in Tognum


Daimler AG to acquire 22.3% equity interest from EQT
Daimler to participate in growth potential: protection of
long-term supply relations between Daimler and Tognum
Blocking minority stake targeted

Stuttgart, Apr 30, 2008 - Daimler AG aims to acquire EQT’s 22.3% equity interest in Tognum AG and has entered into an agreement in this matter. The proposal on this matter has been approved by the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG today. Thanks to the optimized shareholder structure and the initial public offering in 2007, Tognum AG has become a globally leading producer of off-highway engines with above-average operating margins. As EQT indicated its willingness to sell its stake in Tognum, Daimler will now be able to protect its long-term supply relations with Tognum by taking over this equity interest.

The price per share is €20.00. On this basis, the purchase price would be approximately €585 million, making Daimler the largest shareholder in Tognum.
Daimler has also arranged to acquire an additional nearly 1% of the shares in Tognum.
In the short to medium term, Daimler aims to acquire a blocking minority stake in Tognum. As a consequence of the equity interest, Daimler will appoint two of the members of the Supervisory Board of Tognum in the future.
The former Daimler AG disposed of its off-highway activities at the end of 2005 because the company then faced numerous operational challenges and was about to consolidate its operations. This led to a focus on the core business, and Daimler therefore did not want to make the substantial investment required to improve Tognum’s competitiveness.

Daimler and Tognum continued their traditionally intensive cooperation also after the sale of Tognum. For example, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Mannheim supplied more than 17,000 diesel engines and the Detroit Diesel Corporation plant in Detroit more than 5,000 diesel engines to Tognum in 2007. They are used for example in agricultural machinery, industrial applications such as cranes, pumps or snow cats, marine applications, as well as in power generation systems. In particular, volumes in the fast-growing worldwide industrial-agricultural market are to be further expanded in the future, thus also making a contribution to the long-term supply with engines from Daimler.

Tognum generates annual revenue of more than €300 million from sales of engines from Daimler and an additional €160 million from sales of drive shafts to Daimler.
Furthermore, Daimler and Tognum are currently discussing the possible future supply of Daimler’s new and technologically leading medium-duty engine generation (MDEG) in the power segment below MTU’s future new engine Series 1600.
Tognum today is one of the world’s leading suppliers of off-highway engines whose profitability could be improved significantly in recent years. In 2007, revenue increased by 12% compared with the prior year to €2.8 billion and adjusted EBIT rose by 26% to €390 million. Adjusted return on sales increased to more than 14% in 2007.
The transaction is to be completed in the third quarter of 2008 at the latest, after receiving the approval of antitrust and other authorities.

About Daimler

Daimler AG, Stuttgart, with its businesses Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler Trucks, Daimler Financial Services, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses, is a globally leading producer of premium passenger cars and the largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles in the world. The Daimler Financial Services division has a broad offering of financial services, including vehicle financing, leasing, insurance and fleet management. Daimler sells its products in nearly all the countries of the world and has production facilities on five continents. The company’s founders, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, continued to make automotive history following their invention of the automobile in 1886. As an automotive pioneer, Daimler and its employees willingly accept an obligation to act responsibly towards society and the environment and to shape the future of safe and sustainable mobility with groundbreaking technologies and high-quality products. The current brand portfolio includes the world’s most valuable automobile brand, Mercedes-Benz, as well as smart, AMG, Maybach, Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, Mitsubishi Fuso, Setra, Orion and Thomas Built Buses. The company is listed on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt, New York and Stuttgart (stock exchange abbreviation DAI). In 2007, the Group sold 2.1 million vehicles and employed a workforce of over 270,000 people; revenue totaled €99.4 billion and EBIT amounted to €8.7 billion. Daimler is an automotive Group with a commitment to excellence, and aims to achieve sustainable growth and industry-leading profitability.

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E 63 AMG spotted

A photographer has recently caught a beautiful still picture of the next generation E 63 AMG. Under the heavy camouflage, we can barely distinguish any lines, but overall, we can say the car will have a very muscular presence, judging by the massive 'shoulders' and hood.

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10th Anniversary of Mercedes-Benz Customer Center in Bremen


Ceremony with Bremen Mayor Jens Böhrnsen and Mercedes-Benz Director of Passenger Car Sales Germany Peter Küspert
Mayor Jens Böhrnsen: “The Mercedes-Benz Customer Center strengthens Bremen’s position as an attractive city for tourism and special events.”
Plant Manager Peter Schabert: "The Customer Center is a window on the plant, and at the same time it creates a link to the city and the region."
Berta Benz available as travel companion with historic patented motorcar

Bremen, Apr 28, 2008 - Today, the Mercedes-Benz Customer Center Bremen will mark its tenth year with an anniversary celebration. It was opened on April 27, 1998, after a construction period of 15 months. The imposing glass structure was the third customer center in a Mercedes-Benz passenger car plant, following Sindelfingen and Rastatt. Every day, about 140 customers pick up their new cars here, and roughly 100,000 visitors experience the Mercedes-Benz brand at the site every year.

On April 27, 1998, the Mercedes-Benz Customer Center was opened at the Bremen plant. Today, ten years later - almost exactly to the day - 400 invited guests, including Bremen Mayor Jens Böhrnsen, will gather here to celebrate the tenth anniversary. Plant Manager Peter Schabert comments: “In our Customer Center, people can experience the Mercedes-Benz brand at first hand. For customers and visitors, it’s a window on the plant, and at the same time it creates a link to the city and the region as a whole.”

Peter Küspert, a member of the management team at the Mercedes-Benz Sales Organization Germany and responsible for sales for Mercedes-Benz Cars, underscores the Customer Center’s role for building brand loyalty: “Our Customer Centers are a crucial part of the brand strategy of Mercedes-Benz. Our company recognized the importance of direct contact between the customers and the plant very early on.” The Sindelfingen Customer Center was built in 1981, replacing a car delivery office that had been there since the 1950s. In 1997, the Mercedes-Benz Customer Center in Rastatt was opened, followed half a year later by the Customer Center in Bremen.

“The site of production is the best place to generate enthusiasm for the Mercedes star and the Mercedes-Benz brand,” Küspert adds. “And if you experience the brand and the people behind it at first hand, you have a much more emotional bond with the brand and the product.”
In January 1997, development began on the site at the northern edge of the “Holter Feld” area, on a piece of land the company had purchased in the late 1970s for the purpose of expanding the plant. The impressive edifice of steel and glass was built in only 15 months at a cost of €18.5 million. The main hall, which is more than nine meters high, is covered by a wave-shaped aluminum roof that modulates the austerity of the large structure. A sweeping, single-story section of the building shaped like the quadrant of a circle extends beneath and beyond it, framing a lake specially created for the Customer Center and welcoming customers and visitors as though with open arms.

Fourfold brand experience

Inside the building, customers and visitors can enjoy a variety of activities related to the Mercedes-Benz brand. Doris Heitkamp-König manages the Customer Center with a staff of 73 employees. “Our approach for giving customers an experience of the brand is based on four pillars: vehicle pick-up, support for groups of visitors, the events, and the exclusive product consultation,” says Heitkamp-König.
About 140 customers arrive every day to pick up cars, often in the company of family and friends. Mostly, they drive away in cars built at the plant, in other words, the C, CLK, SLK and SL-Class. But if the customer chooses, any other Mercedes-Benz passenger car can be delivered and picked up here as well.

The Customer Center also offers plant tours, which are very popular. “We want to give customers and visitors a clear idea of the production processes and show them how a Mercedes-Benz is created,” says Plant Manager Schabert. “We offer hands-on quality, innovation, and high-tech.” Last year, 510 groups with 11,100 guests visited the Customer Center just to take these tours. Many of them combine the trip with a visit to the city of Bremen.
“The Mercedes-Benz Customer Center attracts many visitors. That’s a welcome development to the Bremen senate too, because it underscores and strengthens Bremen’s position as an attractive city for tourism and special events. One thing I find especially impressive is the fact that a remarkable note has been struck with the architecture too. There are many reasons to offer our warmest thanks,” says Mayor Böhrnsen.

The Bremen Customer Center has become an established venue for business conferences and evening activities, too. On average, more than one event per week takes place there.
On the other hand, the automotive customer is the sole focus of the exclusive consultations involving the customization packages designo, Mercedes-Benz Guard, and AMG. In these discussions, customers can get expert advice on highly personalized and exclusive equipment options for their new Mercedes-Benz cars, based on samples of material and paints.

Berta Benz available as travel companion with historic patented motorcar

To mark the anniversary, the Customer Center will host the Benz patented motorcar - complete with an actress portraying Berta Benz - until April 30. After all, this year is also a centenary of the first “long-distance trip” by Berta Benz, the wife of Karl Benz. In 1888, she drove the roughly 100-kilometer-long route from Mannheim to Pforzheim together with her two sons and thus proved that the first gasoline-powered car in the world was fit for extended travel.
The current exhibit in the Customer Center likewise deals with a historical theme, namely, the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart. Until mid-July, visitors will find selected museum exhibits replicated accurately in every detail, as well as all manner of valuable, interesting information and curiosities from over 100 years of automotive history.

More information about the Mercedes-Benz Customer Center in Bremen is available on the Internet at:

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Leaked photos:2009 BRABUS SL

2 photos showcasing the upcoming 2009 BRABUS SL were prematurely leaked on the internet today. As we don't have any information about the car itself apart from the pics, I think it would be unfair to start speculations about the technical capabilities of the supercar. Maybe waiting for the press release will be rewarding...

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Mixed Tape 20

Mercedes-Benz has recently released the Mixed Tape 20, which is available for free download at the next web address:

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Mercedes-Benz IPTV Weekly Show 29.04.2008

The new weekly show on Mercedes-Benz IPTV brings to its viewers 3 exciting movies:

1.Interview with Gary Paffet, the man who regularly switches from F1 to DTM and viceversa.

2.This week we meet Kurt Oblander, once in charge with the engine development at Mercedes-Benz, and Leopold Miculic, his succesor.

3.How to create a very stylish film;Mercedes-Benz IPTV went behind the scenes of the anticipated 'Sex and the City' movie.

Head over to Mercedes-Benz IPTV

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Daimler achieves EBIT of € 1,976 million in first quarter of 2008


Net profit of € 1,332 million (Q1 2007: €1,972 million)
Revenue of €23.5 billion at prior year’s level
Full-year EBIT from ongoing operations (excluding Chrysler) expected to be well above 2007; earnings forecasts confirmed for the divisions

Stuttgart, Apr 29, 2008 – Daimler AG (stock-exchange abbreviation DAI) today presents its interim report on the first quarter of 2008. Daimler achieved EBIT of €1,976 million in the first quarter (Q1 2007: €3,292 million).

The Mercedes-Benz Cars division improved its EBIT and thus compensated for the lower earnings recorded by Daimler Trucks and Daimler Financial Services.
Earnings decreased primarily because EBIT in the first quarter of 2007 included a special gain of €1,563 million related to the transfer of EADS shares. In the first quarter of 2008, special gains were realized in connection with the sale of the real-estate properties at Potsdamer Platz (€449 million) and in connection with the transfer of EADS shares (€102 million). There were opposing effects from expenses of €491 million related to Chrysler (special items are shown in the table on page 8).
Net profit amounted to € 1,332 million (Q1 2007: €1,972 million), equivalent to earnings per share of €1.29 (Q1 2007: €1.89).
Unit sales up by 9% in Q1 2008
In the first quarter of 2008, Daimler sold 503,800 cars and commercial vehicles worldwide, thus surpassing the figure for the prior-year period by 9%.

Daimler’s revenue increased slightly from €23.4 billion to €23.5 billion in the first quarter of 2008. Adjusted for exchange-rate effects and changes in the consolidated group, revenue growth amounted to 4%.
At the end of the first quarter of 2008, 273,902 people were employed by Daimler worldwide (Q1 2007: 270,986). Of this total, 166,661 were employed in Germany and 24,108 were employed in the United States (end of Q1 2007: 165,753 and 25,114 respectively).

Details of the divisions in the first quarter of 2008

Mercedes-Benz Cars increased its unit sales by 17% to 318,300 vehicles in the first three months of this year, thus setting a new record for the first quarter. The Mercedes-Benz brand sold 284,000 vehicles, an increase of 10%, also achieving a new record for the first quarter. The smart brand almost tripled its unit sales from 10,800 to 31,200 cars. The division’s revenue grew by 4% to €12.5 billion.
Mercedes-Benz Cars’ EBIT improved by 45% to €1,152 million.

The significant increase in earnings was mainly a result of the good development of unit sales for both the Mercedes-Benz and smart brands. Unit sales of the C-Class and the smart fortwo were particularly positive. Further efficiency advances also contributed to the EBIT improvement. Exchange-rate effects and increased raw-material prices had a negative impact on EBIT in the first quarter of 2008.
Daimler Trucks sold 107,700 vehicles worldwide in the first quarter of 2008 (Q1 2007: 119,200). The decrease is primarily due to the significantly lower sales volume in the USA and supplier bottlenecks in Germany. Revenue decreased from €7.3 billion to €6.3 billion.

The Daimler Trucks division posted EBIT of €403 million (Q1 2007: €528 million). The decrease in earnings is primarily due to the tense economic situation in the United States and the weaker demand caused by the introduction of the EPA 07 exhaust-emission standards in the US in 2007. Earnings were also reduced in Europe as a result of production losses caused by a supply bottleneck of one supplier. But Daimler Trucks assumes it will be able to compensate for this production loss during the rest of the year. Earnings were positively affected, however, by the ongoing favorable sales trend in Latin America and in some important Asian markets. There were additional positive effects from efficiency improvements and improved product positioning.

The Trucks Europe/Latin America unit (Mercedes-Benz) sold 33,800 vehicles in the first quarter, once again achieving the high level of the prior-year quarter. Trucks NAFTA (Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses) sold 27,500 vehicles, which was significantly fewer than in the prior-year quarter (Q1 2007: 46,200). In the first quarter of 2008, there was a significant negative impact on demand from the economic slowdown in the USA. In addition, the introduction of the US emission standard EPA 07 had led to purchases being brought forward until the first quarter of 2007 and a subsequent drop in demand from the large fleet operators. Unit sales of Trucks Asia (Mitsubishi Fuso) increased in the first quarter by 18% to 46,500 vehicles.

Daimler Financial Services increased its contract volume by 2% to €58.3 billion in the first quarter of 2008. In the first quarter of 2008, 15 subsidiaries were fully consolidated for the first time (mainly in Eastern Europe and Asia). Adjusted for these consolidation effects and for exchange-rate effects, the increase was 7%. New business of €6.7 billion was 2% below the prior-year level. After adjusting for the two aforementioned factors, there was also a decrease of 2%.
EBIT of €168 million reported by Daimler Financial Services for the first quarter of 2008 was lower than the result for the prior-year period (Q1 2007: €214 million). The decrease in earnings was mainly due to the expenses incurred to set up a new financial services organization in the NAFTA region following the transfer of a majority interest in Chrysler. Increased risk costs also had a negative impact, but remained below the long-term average. There was a positive impact on earnings, however, from the increased contract volume.

EBIT of the Vans, Buses, Other segment amounted to €371 million (Q1 2007: €1,872 million). The decrease in earnings was primarily caused by the lower special gain of €102 million related to the transfer of EADS shares (Q1 2007: €1,563 million). The sale of the real-estate properties at Potsdamer Platz resulted in a special gain of €449 million in the first quarter of 2008.
The Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses units profited from the continued positive development of unit sales and both achieved higher earnings, which are now reported individually for the quarters due to the growing importance of the business. Mercedes-Benz Vans reported EBIT of €186 million and Daimler Buses reported EBIT of €75 million.

Daimler’s share of the earnings of EADS amounted to €22 million (Q1 2007: €165 million). The company’s 19.9% interest in Chrysler, which is accounted for using the equity method, reduced EBIT by €340 million in the first quarter of 2008; this result includes expenses of €94 million resulting from the restructuring actions at Chrysler. As the Group generally applies the equity method of accounting for its interests in EADS and Chrysler with a three-month time lag, these figures mainly reflect the developments in the fourth quarter of 2007.
These results are by no means indicative for the results to be reported by Chrysler Holding LLC due to substantial valuation differences between US-GAAP used by Chrysler and IFRS accounting used by Daimler.

In connection with the transfer of a majority interest in Chrysler, the Group retained certain rights contingent upon the development of economic circumstances, in particular the development of residual values of Chrysler vehicles. At the time of the Chrysler transaction, these rights were measured and recognized as an asset in an amount of €185 million. In light of falling residual values of Chrysler vehicles, Daimler had to impair these assets by €151 million in the first quarter of 2008. Neither the equity result of Chrysler nor the impairment of the assets is cash effective.

The Mercedes-Benz Vans unit increased its unit sales by 11% to 68,600 in the first quarter of 2008, thus setting a new record.
The Daimler Buses unit sold 9,200 buses and chassis in the first quarter of this year, exceeding the high level of the prior-year quarter by 11%. Market developments in Brazil played a particularly important role; unit sales in Latin America increased by 19% to 5,700 vehicles.


Although economic growth has slowed down as a result of the international financial crisis – particularly in the United States – making life harder for the automotive industry including Daimler, the Group continues to assume that the unit-sales targets it has set for its divisions will be met in 2008.
Based on the divisions’ planning, Daimler expects its total unit sales to increase in the year 2008 (2007: 2.1 million vehicles).

Mercedes-Benz Cars expects to further increase its worldwide unit sales in 2008, thus surpassing the record level of the prior year. The full availability of the sedan and station-wagon versions of the new C-Class and of the new smart fortwo will make a decisive contribution to this development. Mercedes-Benz Cars expects to achieve a renewed increase in EBIT in 2008.

The Daimler Trucks division anticipates rising unit sales for full-year 2008. This will result on the one hand from the positive development of some Asian markets and on the other hand from higher unit sales in Europe – primarily due to the growth of markets in Eastern Europe. Based on these unit-sales expectations and the ongoing implementation of our Global Excellence program, Daimler Trucks assumes that the division’s earnings in full-year 2008 will be higher than in the prior year.
Daimler Financial Services anticipates a moderate increase in its business volume as the year progresses. Despite the expenses connected with developing its own financial services organization in North America, Daimler Financial Services continues to assume that it will achieve a return on equity of at least 14% in full-year 2008.
Due to the strong demand for the new Sprinter and the positive sales trend of the Vito/Viano, Mercedes-Benz Vans expects a significant increase in unit sales and a new unit-sales record in the year 2008.

Daimler Buses also anticipates a continuation of strong demand and is therefore confident that it will match the high level of unit sales achieved in the prior year.
The Daimler Group assumes that total revenue will increase moderately in full-year 2008 (2007: €99.4 billion).

On the basis of the divisions’ confirmed projections, in 2008 the Daimler Group continues to expect to post EBIT from ongoing operations of well above the prior-year level. Effects related to Chrysler are not included therein. In the year 2007, earnings included positive contributions in particular from the transfer of shares in EADS and negative contributions from Chrysler and related to the new management model.

The special items shown in the following table affected EBIT in the first quarters of 2008 and 2007:

About Daimler
Daimler AG, Stuttgart, with its businesses Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler Trucks, Daimler Financial Services, Mercedes-Benz Vans and Daimler Buses, is a globally leading producer of premium passenger cars and the largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles in the world. The Daimler Financial Services division has a broad offering of financial services, including vehicle financing, leasing, insurance and fleet management. Daimler sells its products in nearly all the countries of the world and has production facilities on five continents. The company’s founders, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, continued to make automotive history following their invention of the automobile in 1886. As an automotive pioneer, Daimler and its employees willingly accept an obligation to act responsibly towards society and the environment and to shape the future of safe and sustainable mobility with groundbreaking technologies and high-quality products. The current brand portfolio includes the world’s most valuable automobile brand, Mercedes-Benz, as well as smart, AMG, Maybach, Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, Mitsubishi Fuso, Setra, Orion and Thomas Built Buses. The company is listed on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt, New York and Stuttgart (stock exchange abbreviation DAI). In 2007, the Group sold 2.1 million vehicles and employed a workforce of over 270,000 people; revenue totaled €99.4 billion and EBIT amounted to €8.7 billion. Daimler is an automotive Group with a commitment to excellence, and aims to achieve sustainable growth and industry-leading profitability.

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Exemplary reliability: the Eifel Integro


The Mercedes-Benz Integro has covered 1.2 million kilometres without a hitch

“Nothing at all has been tampered with here” explains Walter Hoffmann proudly “but we do pay very careful attention to oil changes and clean air filters.” The energetic 72-year-old bus and coach services operator from the town of Nohn in the Eifel region, is standing in front of one of his Mercedes-Benz Integros. He is happy to allow a peek into its well-kempt engine compartment. The Mercedes-Benz Integro has already covered 1.2 million kilometres and is still powered by its original engine.

Day after day, since 1997. But the 184 kW (250 hp) OM 447 hLA engine with manual 6-gear transmission hasn’t always had an easy job of it: far from it, for the topography of this area is very demanding. Especially Regional Bus Line 300, a run which the Hoffmanns plied for many years. The odometer would really start to spin: at a rhythm of a trip every two hours from Daun to Bernkastel and back, 120 km for each round trip - and on the weekends usually drawing a bicycle trailer. Because there are so very many “pedal knights” who love to ride this stretch of road, but only downhill! After all, there is a difference in height of up to 400 metres between Model and Maar (Daun). In spite of these altitude differences, the Integro consumed only 27 litres per 100 km: Excellent figures which speak well both of the driver and of the vehicle’s engineering.

Bus and coach operator Walter Hoffmann

Founded in 1898, this family business has been involved with mobility right from the very start. First of all, as blacksmiths, with horse-drawn carts of their own, later on as a motor car rental firm with its own filling station. In 1957 the first bus was bought, to provide transport services on behalf of the Deutsche Bundes­bahn (Federal German Railways). One by one, bus lines of their own and school bus services were added. The bus fleet grew continuously. As did the depot and the filling station, which had to be enlarged several times, and were later comple­mented with a vehicle repair workshop. Since the 90s the activities of this successful bus and coach operator has been neatly rounded off by a travel agency, with a branch in the nearby town of Adenau in the Eifel.

Today Hoffmann-Reisen employs 21 people and operates 18 buses. Apart from lines of their own in the area of Adenau, Hoffmann-Reisen also drives on behalf of Ahrweiler Verkehrs GmbH & Co KG (today TRANSDEV) and the Rhein-Mosel Verkehrsgesellschaft (RMV).

Senior manager Walter Hoffmann, a trained automotive mechanic, learned his trade from scratch. Just like his father Fritz and his grandfather Johann Michael Hoffmann. So it can simply be taken for granted that a keen eye is always kept on maintenance and value conservation of the vehicle fleet. In the very best family tradition, the next generation is already active in the family business: his daughter Maria (commercial direction) and his son-in-law Dieter Trierscheid (vehicle fleet).

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Interview with Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes


The Spanish Grand Prix has been something of an emotional roller-coaster for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. The main thing, though, was that Heikki Kovalainen didn’t suffer any serious injuries when he crashed at Turn Nine.
"Absolutely. He has had a full head scan and there is no significant bruising or damage - that’s extremely good news. Heikki was briefly unconscious but he was lucid soon after the accident and I’m told he was actually quite jolly, which is fairly typical."

What happened to cause such a dramatic accident?
"We think he suffered a wheel rim failure that caused his front-left tyre to deflate almost instantaneously. It’s possible that some debris worked its way inside the rim, but we still have to analyse that. It was a new wheel and we don’t think it was a structural failure. There were some score marks, but we don’t know whether they were caused by debris or by his trip across the gravel trap. We’ve got to answer that later."

Turn Nine is a high-speed right-hander. What sort of forces were involved?
"It was a big accident. Cars brake from about 260km/h at that point on the circuit and he didn’t scrub off a huge amount of speed before impact - he was still travelling pretty quickly when he hit the tyre wall and the impact lasted about 100 milliseconds, which might not sound much but 20-30 milliseconds would be more usual."

"His misfortune overshadowed the event, but people shouldn’t overlook the quality of his performance. He had still to pit for fuel at the time of the accident and wasn’t due to come in for a few more laps yet. That gives you some idea of the fuel load he was carrying during qualifying, when he did an absolutely fantastic lap."

The car is presumably a write-off, but it stood up incredibly well.
"It was destroyed, yes. The front of the chassis broke off. The chassis is wedge-shaped and we imagine it went in to the barriers until the point at which it snapped. A section of about 450-500mm broke off the front of the chassis, but everything worked as it was supposed to. The car absorbed a massive amount of energy, Heikki received no physical injuries and the circuit emergency staff and the FIA medical team at the track did an absolutely fantastic job in getting him out of the car safely and then looking after him thereafter."

After a relatively fraught couple of weekends, Lewis Hamilton returned to the podium. How pleased were you with his performance?
"Lewis drove a great race. He took a very measured approach at the beginning, because we reasoned that Fernando Alonso, who was running just ahead of him, was possibly a little bit lighter on fuel. It would have been very easy for Lewis to chase down Fernando at that stage and damage his tyres, which might have prevented him from taking advantage of Fernando’s earlier stop. In fact, Lewis did just the right job in holding back and doing minimal damage to his tyres, so as to be able to press on later, and that clearly put him in good shape. During the second and third stints he was as quick as the Ferraris and able to catch up, but trying to pass a rival car at the Circuit de Catalunya is another matter altogether."

Most teams took a step forward in performance terms during the Spanish GP weekend. How do you assess the situation?
"The three quickest teams - ourselves, Ferrari and BMW-Sauber - looked to be very closely matched; and Renault has taken a major step forwards, too. It looks good for the sport, but we have to build on our own solid performance. We know we have some more developments coming through and we have to make sure we get them as soon as we can. There will be some more new parts on the car in Turkey and we simply have to keep pushing."

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AMG turning green, but staying mean

The eco fever has crucial impacts even on the most exclusive carmakers and tuners. What was a mere supposition a few months ago has turned into a quite weird reality, beginning to take shape in the near future. The Affalterbach-based tuner of Mercedes-Benz will entirely change its current power approach. If green it's the colour of the years we live, why not try to build a passional sports engine, while keeping in mind that global warming is the main issue of the 21st century?Simple as that. AMG will kill it's 2006-released 6.2 litres V8 aspirated engine and will replace it with a detuned V8 twin-turbo, with a total displacement of 5.0 litres. Some say the basis output for this new AMG 'baby' will be a staggering 570 BHP, while the top of the range will go as high as 700 BHP. AMG is taking seriously into account the environmental problem(for sports cars addicted ones, this may turn into a complete drama...), so it may offer even a hybrid version of the exquisite V8 to come, that will probably be dubbed "BluePOWER" plus an all new, electrically-governed direct drive gearbox, which they say will be more efficient than the current automatic gearboxes. Only God knows what they hide in their bright, 'Greenpeace' minds...

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Interview with Heikki Kovalainen after yesterday's terrible crash


Following his accident yesterday during the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Heikki Kovalainen was taken to the Hospital General de Catalunya in Sant Cugat del Valles in Spain.

The team has established that Heikki’s speed was approximately 240km/h when the tyre deflated and about 130km/h when he hit the tyre barrier. He experienced a 27g deceleration.

CT scans at the hospital confirmed that Heikki had no head injuries and no broken bones but the Finn was kept in overnight for observation.

This morning Heikki underwent further tests and scans which all went positively and showed no problems. Consequently Heikki will be released from hospital later today. He will then stay in Spain for a few days relaxing before returning home to start a light training programme.

How do you feel at the moment?

“I have a slight headache and a stiff neck, but apart from that I am feeling well and in good spirits. My focus is on getting better as soon as possible so I can pass the FIA medical inspection required to allow me to race in Turkey.”

Do you remember anything from the accident?
“I don’t remember anything from the accident or what happened afterwards but would obviously like to thank all the circuit emergency staff, the FIA medical team at the track and the doctors at the hospital for all their efforts in looking after me. Also thank you for all the messages I have received – they all mean a lot.”

What do you think might have caused the accident?
“The team told me that the left front wheel rim might have broken which could have lead to the sudden deflation of the tyre. However we have to wait for further inspections to be able to confirm the exact cause. What is especially important is the fact that the monocoque withstood the heavy impact, so credit should also be given to everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for that.”

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F1 Barcelona - SUN - The race


Barcelona, Sunday 27th April 2008

Lewis Hamilton MP4-23 04
Heikki Kovalainen MP4-23 03


Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton finished the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona in third place. After 66 laps (307.104 kms), Lewis came home 4.1 seconds behind winner Kimi Räikkönen. Lewis’s team mate Heikki Kovalainen hit the tyre barrier at the Campsa corner on lap 22 and the exact cause of the accident is still to be confirmed. Lewis was on a two-stop strategy and came in on laps 21 (8.4 seconds) and 47 (7.6 seconds). After the fourth of 18 Grands Prix, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is third in the Constructors’ Championship with 34 points; Ferrari took the lead with 47 points ahead of BMW Sauber on 35 points. Lewis moved up to second in the drivers’ ranking with 20 points; Heikki is sixth with 14 points. Räikkönen leads with 29 points.


“First of all I am really happy to hear that Heikki is OK. During the race I saw a car had gone into the barriers and was told it was Heikki. As soon as the team knew he was OK, Ron came on the radio and told me which was a great relief. With regard to the race it’s good to be back on the podium. After qualifying, we knew it would be a difficult Grand Prix so I am actually pleased to be third. I made a good start and was able to get lots of traction and could go to the right alongside Robert almost immediately. I managed to overtake him which is usually not easy as I recall from our battles in Formula 3. I pushed extremely hard, particularly in the second and third stints and tried to keep up with the Ferraris. Actually I was pleasantly surprised about how close the competition at the top was which is great for Formula 1. We did a good job today, but there are areas where we definitely need to improve, but it’s comforting to know that we are relatively close to Ferrari. I look forward to the Turkish Grand Prix where hopefully Heikki will be back in his usual fine form.”


“Lewis drove very well to third place today – but for obvious reasons our main concerns during the race were with Heikki. I am therefore extremely pleased to be able to report that he is safe and well.
Heikki was airlifted to the Hospital General de Catalunya in Sant Cugat del Valles, for precautionary checks, and will remain there overnight. However, he has no broken bones and CT scans performed at the hospital confirm that he has no head injuries and the team is optimistic that he will make a full recovery over the next few days. Subject to the results of an FIA medical examination we hope that he will be able to compete in the Turkish Grand Prix. The precise cause or causes of his accident are not yet known. Our data shows evidence of a sudden tyre deflation shortly before the accident, but it is still too early to identify what triggered that deflation other than to say that it is likely to have been the result of a wheel rim failure. The impact was a relatively heavy one, but our car’s passive safety devices, designed in compliance with the FIA’s safety regulations, protected the driver in the way they were intended to do. Equally, I would like to pay tribute to the FIA Medical Team, whose work was both rapid and efficient. Finally, the local Spanish marshals also did an excellent job.”


"According to the circumstances, Heikki is OK, and this is the most important news today. We all would like to thank the medical team for their professional actions. Lewis was competitive and drove a great race with an excellent start. The drivers in the top three stayed reasonably close together with a maximum of eight seconds on lap 46 from the restart after the Safety Car on lap 28 until the finish line on lap 66. We will now work very hard to make a further step forward."
Race Results

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Excerpt from Interview with Kim Cattrall at the Laureus World Sports Award 2008 and Mercedes-Benz Thoughts on Sex and the City


Stuttgart, Apr 25, 2008

Mercedes-Benz Thoughts on Sex and the City

Transportation of vehicle from Stuttgart factory to Rodeo Drive

Although the all new GLK small SUV isn’t scheduled to hit dealers until October 2008 (January 2009 for the U.S.), the opportunity for a vehicle to be showcased in a scene of the summer’s hottest film, Sex and the City, was too good to pass up. It was however, quite challenging to secure an early release from the prototype vault at the Stuttgart factory.
Having not made its debut prior to the shoot on Rodeo Drive, the vehicle had to travel to the US in a cloak of secrecy. Accompanied by a designated Mercedes-Benz representative from Germany, there were many steps taken to protect the visual identity of the beautiful prototype from the outside world. Even the key which opened a tamper-proof container holding the car was locked away in a safe place and only accessible by one security personnel!
The GLK arrived in Long Beach California just days before shooting and was transported to Beverly Hills and kept secret until the cast and crew were ready for the scene. Given that the car had to sit on a public street, security had their hands full keeping the car under wraps until the scene was ready.
Finally, when the shoot was over, the same security personnel responsible for handling the container upon its arrival, was the only person who could lock it back up on its return trip to Germany.

Prepping the vehicle for the scene on Rodeo Drive

Nothing in Hollywood is left to chance, and every aspect of filmmaking is perfectly prepared, reviewed, and double checked to ensure that the scenes are absolutely perfect. For the Rodeo Drive shoot the set design and inclusion of the GLK were no exception. In the short weeks leading up to the scheduled shoot, costume designer Patricia Field recommended the color of the car match the rest of the set design. Since the car was originally black, the paint shop at the factory had to work their own magic in order to repaint the entire vehicle, as most of the car parts on prototypes are unique, handmade and not available in large quantities the way they are on traditional assembly line vehicles.
As it was, the car arrived in the US without its side mirrors, and had to have them attached at the Mercedes-Benz Long Beach Tech Center the night before the shoot. While this doesn’t sound complicated, side mirrors on prototypes cannot just be screwed into the doors, but instead need to be adjusted in a very meticulous process.

Security for the GLK

Because the design and entire shape of the vehicle had never been exposed to the public before, and was scheduled for its first public debut at the NAIAS Detroit Motor Show 3 weeks later, the vehicle require high security at all times. Therefore, there was a team of 12 security guards whose job it was to prevent photos from being taken by bystanders and the press. Camouflage was placed over the dash to prevent images of the interior from being taken.
To visually protect the car as much as possible, the shoot was scheduled for 6 am on a Sunday morning on Rodeo Drive. Despite their best efforts, all bets were off once the paparazzi arrived. At one point, in the middle of the shoot, one of the security guards and three deputy sheriffs had to grab the cover of the vehicle and jump into the middle of the scene in order to shield it from paparazzi cameras. Additionally, a photographer was spotted lying on the roof of a hotel across the street with a telephoto lens focusing in on the scene. Even though a photo was leaked to the internet just a few hours later, it was an incredible effort by the security team to protect the privacy of the car. Keeping a high profile car secret when it is exposed to the pubic for the first time is hard enough. Add that to an association with a high profile film shoot, and sneak peaks are bound to get out.

Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

When watching the film, it may seem that the scene featuring Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week actually happened during the event itself, but it wasn’t that easy. With the permission of M-B and IMG, Production was given the original Sept., 2007 Fashion Week tent, sets, props, graphics, etc. so they could re-create the event for this scene of the film. This was as challenging for the film production team as getting the GLK prototype out of the factory was for Mercedes-Benz: Its hard to imagine how many things need to be orchestrated and how many people need to be involved to recreate such an event in New York for a movie scene. It took approximately 36 hours and plenty of explanation to the many New Yorkers who were surprised to see the tent being constructed in November (Fashion Week season is normally in September and February). The Mercedes-Benz SLR Roadster display alone took 12 hours to rebuild. It was amazing to watch a film set with more than 200 people, each with their own assignment, get the scene shot - from the caterer serving a hungry crew, to the director watching every single detail in order to have the perfect sequence locked in. Mercedes-Benz was even given 7 “extra” spots and engaged their employees in a small contest to win one of these 7 walk-on spots. While the lucky winners were on set for 14 hours on the day of their shoot, they were treated like true VIP’s, had their hair and makeup done, and were made to feel like real movie stars.

Mercedes-Benz Manhattan dealership

In another scene, the outside of the Manhattan Mercedes-Benz dealership was used for filming. The dealership allowed the production crew to disguise the outside of the dealership to look like a night club by covering their side windows in a red film. When you see the movie you won’t be able to tell that this is usually a Mercedes-Benz car dealership.

Additional Thoughts

The filming of the GLK scene on Rodeo Dr. took approximately 7 hours to shoot. The 7 hours of work will eventually become only 2 minutes of time in the final cut of the film. It is easy to understand how a 2-hour movie can take over 100 days to shoot.

Excerpt from Kim Cattrall interview at the Laureus World Sports Award 2008
(St. Petersburg, February 17th, 2008)

Interview transcripted from original TV recording, incomprehensible interview questions and passages were cut

I = Interviewer
C = Kim Cattrall

I: Kim, I heard that in the new 'Sex and the City' movie there's gonna be a Mercedes involved which nobody saw yet.
C: Yes, when we were filming with my co-star - it was the GLK Mercedes SUV - there were so many photographers in Beverly Hills and there have been very many photographers in New York. When we were filming.I thought, there's all these photographers, I felt so proud and happy, but they weren't interested in me, they were interested in the new Mercedes GLK. They were all trying to photograph the dashboard, which was completely new, so they would have the first photograph - so I was upstaged by the Mercedes car (laughing).
I: By the car! (laughs)
C: Exactly, a newer model, I guess (laughing).
I: Do you drive a Mercedes in your private life?
C: I just ordered an SL. I've had a romantic love affair with a Mercedes for a very long time, especially when I was a struggling actress - but now I am so happy that I am successful enough to own one myself.
I: And why is it the Mercedes - that you like so much, is it because of the style, or is it the technical details?
C: You know, I think that the Mercedes is made by very, very smart, passionate people. I've been playing this very passionate character for a very long time - I think it goes very well hand in hand, with me as a person and with me as an actor. I also very much like something that has that steel around me, I feel very, very safe in it and I live in New York where we have a lot of weather conditions. It's not like sunny California. So it put a lot of demands on the car that you drive, I feel very happy and safe.
. . .
(end of interview excerpt)

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F1 Barcelona - SAT - Qualifying


Barcelona, Saturday 26th April 2008

Lewis Hamilton MP4-23 04
Heikki Kovalainen MP4-23 03


Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen will start Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona from fifth and sixth positions on the grid respectively. In the third part of Saturday's qualifying, Lewis set a time of 1m22.096 whilst Heikki's time was 1m22.231.


“I am actually quite surprised that we are not higher up the grid as the car felt very good, and I put in some strong laps. Throughout qualifying one and two the car felt extremely well balanced, but it’s so close which means that it will be an exciting race tomorrow. Being on the third row is not the end of the world as we are surrounded by good drivers who all want to finish the race. The key is now to make a strong start and hopefully gain a couple of positions, and I am confident as I believe our race pace is competitive, and we have a good strategy.”


“I didn’t expect to be on the third row as I thought the last part of qualifying wasn’t too bad. However the times are very close and with just a tiny bit more I would have been able to gain a few positions, but that is life. We will now dig deep, and tomorrow is another long day where anything can happen. I don’t know if the lack of running yesterday had any influence as the more laps you have the more confident you are – but I don’t think it would have made too much of a difference, and the team has done a great job in getting the car ready and competitive. I believe we should be able to go for it in the race tomorrow.”


“Of course we would have preferred to be higher up the grid, but from row three anything can happen. We are well prepared, and I believe our strategy will prove competitive. The race will be interesting as there are a number of drivers capable of winning which is great for the fans, and I am sure that Lewis, Heikki and the entire team will put in strong performances.”


"Positions five and six are not our dream result and as less than three tenths are missing to pole position we have to wait who of the four or five competitors ahead of us are running how long in the first stint. Both Lewis and Heikki feel confident in the car, our long runs during testing produced consistent lap times, so the aim is to get better positions tomorrow in the race than today in qualifying."
The results of the day

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F1 Barcelona - FRI - Practice Day



Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen finished today's second practice session in 11th and 16th places respectively. Lewis set a time of 1:22.685 whilst Heikki did 1:23.264. Lewis completed 33 laps and Heikki did eight. In the first session Lewis' time of 1:21.192 (20 laps) put him third whilst Heikki did 1:21.758 (10 laps) and finished fifth. During the break between the sessions, the team changed the gearbox on Heikki's car following a problem with the oil pump. In the second session, Heikki stopped on the track, when a problem with the throttle control caused the engine safety system to activate.


"We struggled with the balance of the car throughout both sessions today. There was too much oversteer and we tried a lot of different things to improve but didn’t make the progress we wanted. We will look at the information overnight, and I am confident we will find the improvements needed. As is often the case we ran with heavy race fuel loads throughout the long runs in both sessions so the times don’t really mean that much. Tomorrow is when it counts and I am looking forward to getting some more running under my belt."


"A disappointing day for me unfortunately. I managed to do a bit of running in the first session, but the time was cut short when a problem developed with the gear box oil pump and the guys had to change the gearbox between sessions. Then in the second practice all of a sudden I lost all power when the engine switched off and was told to pull over, and that was the end of that. We will have a good look at the car overnight to understand what caused the problem in the second session and then start a new day tomorrow. There is still time left and a lot can happen."


"An unsatisfactory start to Heikki’s Spanish Grand Prix weekend. Following the gearbox oil pump failure in the first session we lost some time as we had to change the rear of the car. Then in his second run in the second session the systems lost control of the engine throttle and the safety system activated and stopped the engine. The engine did come back to life but we stopped as a precaution. We will now establish what caused this problem as there are a number of theories at the moment. Lewis suffered from oversteer throughout, and we will look at all the data overnight to find a solution. As is normal on a Friday both drivers ran with heavy fuel loads on the long runs, but there is no doubt that our competition looks strong."


"On a difficult and very windy day with changing track conditions Lewis completed his preparation programme for Saturday and Sunday. The times during the long runs didn’t look too bad but Lewis felt more comfortable with the car during testing here last week. Heikki had an even more difficult day with limited running. Between both sessions, the team changed the gearbox on his car. During the second session he stopped on the track because the engine safety programme set in following a problem with the throttle control."
The results of the day

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GLK-Klasse Promo Video by

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Mercedes-Benz Actros heavy-duty tractor unit brings BURAN space shuttle to the Technik-Museum in Speyer


Actros SLT 4160 8x6/4 heavy-duty transport vehicle for 500-tonne gross combination weight
Rare Mercedes-Benz heavy tractor unit in operation
Russian spaceship BURAN fascinates thousands of onlookers
Kübler heavy-load transport operator: specialised in transport operations
of the highest level of complexity
It was also an Actros SLT that took the Concorde to the Technik-Museum Sinsheim

Stuttgart/Speyer, Apr 23, 2008 - In the first days of April, in the port of Rotterdam a crane hoisted the BURAN onto a sixteen-axle low-bed trailer with a Mercedes-Benz Actros SLT 4160 8x6/4 heavy-duty tractor unit, which had previously been placed on a pontoon barge. The first thing onlookers saw when the barge carrying the BURAN came around a bend in the Rhine, was the leaf-green Actros heavy tractor unit of the Kübler haulage company. The Russian space shuttle BURAN (= snow­storm) fascinated spectators all along the Rhine valley, past Cologne, past the famed Loreley rocks and all the way to Speyer, the home of the Technik-Museum.

In the natural harbour at Speyer it was not just the BURAN that riveted the atten­tion of visitors. Numerous heavy transport vehicle fans had also come to see the Actros SLT 4160 8x6/4 and its exotic cargo. Its drive configuration, approved for a maximum gross combination weight of 500 t, makes it a very rare sight indeed in the field of heavy-duty haulage. The Actros SLT 4160 8x6/4 is one of very few four-axle tractor unit with three driven and two steered axles. The all-wheel drive with the three driven axles and differential locks improves traction considerably compared with the 8x4 variant. And that this increased level of traction pays, can easily be seen, whether it is on the muddy ground of the natural harbour at Speyer, or simply on any large building site.

The two steered axles improve the tractor vehicle’s manoeuvrability immensely - and that is what the heavy haulage business is all about, whether it means centi­metre-precise manoeuvring when driving off the pontoon barge, or just negotiating a roundabout.

Everything about the drive train of the Actros SLT tractor unit speaks of compe­tence in heavy-duty haulage. The Mercedes-Benz OM 502 LA V8 16-litre turbo­charged BlueTec 5 engine with charge-air cooling, delivers 447 kW/ 609 hp and a maximum torque of 2400 Nm at engine speeds between 1080 and 1800 rpm. The Actros SLT is equipped ex works with the largest radiator available. The Actros SLT heavy truck uses a Mercedes-Benz 16-speed G 240 range-change trans­mission with a WSK 400 torque converter clutch and retarder. The two-gear Mercedes-Benz VG 2400-3W transfer case with reduced-torque off-road ratio makes it possible to avoid gearshifts which entail an interruption of tractive force on slippery ground.

One look at the Actros SLT is enough to feel how it radiates power and self-assurance. Above the sun visor there is a chromed bar upon which four powerful searchlights are mounted, flanked by a compressed-air horn on one side, and a yellow rotating flashing beacon on the other. On the cab rear wall there are three searchlights for working at night. The red-and-white painted bumper and the Titan logo next to the Mercedes-Benz star all add to the powerful impression the Actros SLT makes; and it can afford to look powerful, simply because it is power­ful. While the L comfort cab is air sprung, the Actros 4160 SLT 8x6/4 has an additional leaf spring on each of the three axles, giving it a harder suspension than that of the series-production SLT. The cab is tailored to the needs of the heavy-load specialist, because they frequently have to wait out the day at a services area before being allowed back onto the motorway at night under police escort. The cab therefore has ambient lighting, a CD music centre, air condition­ning for hot climate zones and additional thermal insulation as well as the Webasto Air Top 2000 hot-air auxiliary heating system for cold climate zones.

Thanks to its strong backbone the Actros 4160 SLT is the ideal tractor vehicle for towing weights of up to 500 tonnes. The dumper truck frame of 9 mmthickness was reinforced; in particular the rear section and the transverse members, in order to mount the trailer hitch for a towing load of up to 500 tonnes. The Rockinger E 56 trailer hitch is attached by means of ten bolts. At the front of the SLT 8x6/4 a heavy-duty coupling is mounted with a maximum shunting capacity of 250 t. The front axle has an axle-load capacity of 9 t. The lifting/ steered stub front axle retrofitted by Titan has an axle load rating of 8 t and is air-sprung. This second front axle enhances the vehicle’s manoeuvrability, in parti­cular when carrying or towing a heavy load. The pneumatic suspension makes variable loading of the axle possible. For this reason, when manoeuvring while carrying a heavy load, the vehicle’s steerability can be increased even more. The leading axle is always mounted 1350 mm in front of the first rear axle. The plane­tary-gear HD 7 rear axle has a crown wheel diameter of 300 mm, and a load rating of 13 t. The HD 7 axle can thus transfer a very high torque. The small size of the crown wheel of the HD 7 makes a high ground clearance possible. The tyre sizes are: at the front 385/ 65 R 22.5, and at the rear: 315/ 80 R 22.5.

A new feature of this 8x6/4 chassis is its wheelbase of 4200 mm, increased to accommodate the BlueTec 5 system and the radiator adapted to heavy-duty transport operations. Behind the cab, the 900-litre tank, the battery and the compressed-air tank are located. On the right-hand-side of the cab rear wall is the large-capacity oil cooler: the oil from the transmission and the torque converter clutch, subjected to extremely high thermal loads, is cooled by means of this air-oil radiator and a hydraulically-driven fan at the rear. This ensures the best cooling at all times, in spite of the high output demands, the low vehicle speeds and travel over topographically challenging terrain. A hydraulic system for the semi-trailer steering is installed as optional equipment.

This massive concentration of engineering was now waiting to be awakened to life. Before dawn the heavy load transport specialist crews from Kübler, from Scholpp heavy-load crane & transport operator and from the Technik-Museum Speyer, began the preparations for the last phase of the BURAN’s journey, this time overland, to cover the three kilometres separating the Rhine from the Technik-Museum. Unloading the spacecraft in Speyer was impressive: a huge 300-tonne crane hoisted the wings and tail unit of the space shuttle from the barge onto three low-loaders drawn by Actros tractor vehicles in an hour-long high-precision operation. Then at noon the engine of the Mercedes-Benz Actros SLT 8x6/4 was started and the mighty truck, pulling the 16-axle Scheuerle low-loader, dwarfed by the gigantic proportions of the space shuttle, began to inch its way across the specially-built ramp onto firm ground.
Here the driver was able to apply his year-long experience, because, as it was being progressively relieved of the weight of the 195-tonne Actros combination the pontoon began to rise constantly; at the same time, the driver had to negotiate a slight curve in a space of reduced dimensions. This was not as easy as driver Frieder Saam and his Actros 4160 SLT team made it appear to the onlookers. The fuse­lage of the BURAN with its dead weight of over 70 t, its length of 36 m and its height and width of 9 m, had a very high centre of gravity, meaning an extremely high risk of tipping over in a curve with simultaneous lateral inclination. For this reason the sideways tilt of the low loader was permanently monitored with an electronic level. With the 18 steered axles of the tractor vehicle and its trailer, the driver skilfully manoeuvred the 48-metre-long BURAN transport in an extremely tight space, to place it in the correct starting position for its overland drive.

The convoy, consisting of the Actros SLT 4160 8x6/4 with the fuselage of the BURAN, an Actros SLT 4160 8x4, an Actros 3353 AS with both the shuttle’s wings and a light Actros 2658 LS with the tail, was now ready for the 3-kilometre drive to the Speyer Technik-Museum. These were accompanied by the Scholpp crane trucks and articulated vehicles and the museum workshop vehicles. The convoy was led by police vehicles and motorcycles and enough reporters to make up around fifteen football teams.
The convoy with the BURAN now rolled at walking pace towards Speyer, having to repeatedly open its way through the crowd of around 15,000 onlookers. Punctually, as required by the specially-issued police permit, the BURAN motor­cade arrived at the premises of the Speyer Technik Museum. The last official act of the day was the handing over of the shipping documents by Kübler proprietors Hanne and Heinz Rössler to Hermann Layher, head of the Technik-Museum Speyer. They had already worked together transporting the Concorde, and the near future will surely hold further surprises in store for them.

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Ten years of the Mercedes-Benz Econic: the waste disposal sector's favourite low-entry vehicle


1998: the first ever low-floor vehicle from Mercedes-Benz
Continual increase in sales
Already established as a waste collection vehicle with gas-powered drive
Newly available in a gas-powered semitrailer tractor version

Stuttgart, Apr 23, 2008 - When it was first unveiled at the "Ent­sorga" environment fair in 1998 as the true specialist for municipal, waste collection and short-radius distribution applications, the Mercedes-Benz Econic fused into a single vehicle all of the characteristics which were expected at that time of vehicles from many different sectors: from waste disposal trucks and fire engines to airport ground service vehicles, from tankers and furniture delivery trucks to milk collection vehicles and fuel oil delivery trucks. For the first time, the low-floor cab with up to four seats offered the ideal credentials for getting in and out quickly, as well as offering plenty of space for the driver of a waste collection truck and its crew. With sales of around 8000 units in the space of ten years, the Econic has secured itself an exceptional market position, and has long since been the yardstick by which all of its competitors must measure themselves.

This success could be achieved thanks to ongoing facelift measures and the optimisation of product features in response to customer demand. Hydraulically steered leading and trailing axles were made available in the same year it was launched, for instance, the 6x4 drive configuration was introduced in 2001, the gas-powered Econic followed in 2002, and in 2003 the 240-kW (326-hp) Econic made its debut. The 8x4/4 drive variant (8 wheels, including four driven and four steered) was brought out in 2004. In 2005, the 5000th Econic rolled off the production line in Wörth to where the vehicle's manufacture had been relocated from the NAW commercial vehicle factory in the Swiss town of Arbon in 2003. The Econic appeared at the 2006 Commercial Vehicle Show in Hanover sporting a host of new features, including a rear axle with an increased load-bearing capacity, mirrors with a larger field of vision to eliminate the blind spot, as well as new instrumentation for the driver's workstation, such as a display of the current axle load.

Highly advanced engines - also available with natural gas drive

The Econic comes in a two, three and a four-axle variant, with permissible gross vehicle weights of 18, 26 and 32 tonnes respectively. Power is provided by six-cylinder in-line engines taken from the 900 series. The OM 906 LA engine with its 175-kW (238-hp) and 210-kW (286-hp) power ratings was supplemented in 2003 by the OM 926 LA delivering 240 kW (326 hp). All diesel-powered variants of the Econic - which come with a Euro 5 emissions rating as standard - are fitted with an aluminium fuel tank with a capacity of 200 litres. The Econic is also available with a natural gas drive as an alternative to diesel. The M 906 LAG natural gas engine generates 205 kW (279 hp) from a displacement of 6.88 litres. Power transmission is handled in all cases by a six-speed automatic shift from Allison.

The trucks operated by waste disposal companies, the fire service, at airports and as beverage delivery trucks or tankers mostly have to drive through densely populated areas where emissions are a major concern. Econic vehicles equipped with the natural gas drive are even certified as complying with the EEV emissions standard. This means that they already undercut the Euro 5 limits which are only due to come into force from 2009. The emissions from the natural-gas-powered Econic contain practically zero particulate matter. A further bonus is the low noise levels emitted by the gas drive.
Whereas the gas-powered Econic has been used predominantly as a waste collection vehicle to date, from 2008 it is also available as a semitrailer tractor and as a chassis for box bodies. The first models are being put into service in the short-radius distribution and city logistics segments by Dutch haulage company VOS and Tesco in Londonrespectively.

Virtually no particulate matter with natural gas drive

The higher octane number of natural gas means that it burns far more "gently" than petrol or diesel fuel. This is why gas-powered vehicles are considerably quieter compared to diesel and even petrol engines. Both natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) leave hardly any residue when they are burned in internal combustion engines: up to 25 per cent less carbon dioxide than a petrol engine, and as much as 99 per cent less soot particles than a diesel. It is because natural gas is so clean that its use as a fuel attracts major financial incentives. In Germany, for example, the petroleum tax levied on natural gas is 80 per cent lower than the regular rate, meaning that the higher purchase price of natural-gas vehicles is usually quickly redeemed. In contrast to biodiesel fuel, this tax con­cession is fixed until 2020. What's more, the public utility companies and gas suppliers are opening new natural gas filling stations nearly every month.

Econic also runs on biodiesel

The Econic also reaps the benefits of today's advanced diesel technology. The diesel power units from the 900 series, which are also used in the Axor and Atego, are cleaner than ever. The sustainability of the SCR (Selec­tive Catalytic Reduction) emission control technology is proven day after day by the regis­trations of new trucks already meeting the Euro 5 emissions standard that does not come into effect until 2009.
These engines are suitable for biodiesel fuel too without the need for any modi­fications. Daimler does impose the condition, however, that the fuel is a "FAME" (fatty acid methyl ester) fuel that complies with DIN E 51606. Suitable engine oils must furthermore be used and the engine oil, oil filter and fuel filter replaced at much shorter intervals.

Versatile scope of applications

The Mercedes-Benz Econic does not just make the ideal municipal service vehicle. The well-conceived cab concept, with a completely flat floor on the frame's lowered front section, as well as the low frame height in general of just 874 mm mean it is equally suited to fire service applications, use as an airport ground service vehicle, delivering beverages or fuel oil, tanker transport, or even operating underground.
The Mercedes-Benz Econic is equipped with full air suspension as standard. The improvement in manoeuvrability and efficiency brought about by the electro­hydraulically steered trailing axle with progressive steering featured on the three-axle variant of the Econic makes a substantial contribution to the vehicle's ergonomics. The frame of the Econic has a weight-optimised and exceedingly robust design. As there are no parts protruding over the top edge of the frame, it is suitable for virtually any type of body.

Mercedes-Benz has a tradition of working in close cooperation with the body manufacturing industry to ensure that its customers receive a purpose-built vehicle that is tailored to their specific transportation requirements and will prove to be a major aid in their day-to-day work.

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The new GLK-Klasse goes www

Mercedes-Benz has prepared a special website for its new GLK-Klasse. By typing, you will be able to find exciting stuff about the most awaited MB model of the year. The webspecial contains, among the most interesting sections, a handy configurator featuring both versions of the GLK(Sports Package Exterior & Off-Road Styling Package) and a mobile-addressed downloading section. Enjoy!

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