OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
Stuttgart, Germany, Jul 21, 2009
- Drastically reduced fuel consumption and exhaust emissions
- Hybrid drive technology leading to the fuel cell
- Mercedes-Benz presents three new hybrid concepts
- Natural-gas drive going from strength to strength
- Active Brake Assist: only from Mercedes-Benz and Setra
- Around half of all serious commercial-vehicle accidents are preventable
- Daimler leads in the introduction of safety systems
- Unique: the Front Collision Guard for touring coaches
Shaping the future of transport on a sustainable basis is more than just an economic or technical challenge for Daimler and its well-known brands as the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer – it is a social responsibility. "Shaping Future Transportation" is the name of an initiative that takes a comprehensive approach to place the focus on both environmental aspects and safety.
Drastically reduced fuel consumption and exhaust emissions
Daimler AG continues to place the highest priority on the drastic reduction of fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and exhaust emissions in commercial vehicles, as part of the Shaping Future Transportation initiative which commenced at the end of 2007.
BlueTec diesel technology, which is already proving its effectiveness in more than 220,000 Mercedes-Benz trucks and 17,600 Mercedes-Benz and Setra buses and coaches, emphatically demonstrates the fuel-saving potential of conventional diesel engines. More than 90 percent of these vehicles already meet the EU's Euro 5 exhaust emission standard coming into force from autumn 2009. BlueTec vehicles consume between two and five percent less fuel than Euro 3 vehicles, and emit correspondingly less CO2. At the same time their exhaust gases contain at least 80 percent fewer particulates and up to 60 percent lower nitrogen oxide levels.
The development work also continues apace where vans are concerned. The automatic start-stop function, which is available as an option for the Sprinter, allows significant fuel savings of between five and eight percent in city traffic and pays for itself within just a few months.
World market leader for hybrid drive systems in the commercial vehicle sector
A key role on the road to the drive systems of tomorrow is played by hybrid technologies, which appear capable of reducing diesel fuel consumption by up to one third depending on the type of operation. This is indicated by the experience in the USA and Japan, where buses and trucks produced by the Daimler brands Orion, Freightliner and Fuso are in customer operation in large numbers.
With around 2,000 Orion hybrid buses on the roads of North America, more than 500 Freightliner trucks and about 600 light trucks and Fuso buses, Daimler is the world market leader for hybrid systems in the commercial vehicle sector. Including natural-gas-powered Mercedes-Benz trucks, buses and vans in Europe, the total number of commercial vehicles with alternative drive concepts delivered to customers for day-to-day operations is well over 10,500.
Continuous expansion of activities
Alternative drive technologies from Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses are now due to enter customer operations in further product segments and regions. In North America, Freightliner will be delivering 1,500 M2 hybrid trucks to customers over the next two years, and producing hybrid versions of the legendary school buses by Thomas Built Buses. In Japan the second hybrid bus generation is already on the market in the form of the Fuso Aero Star Eco Hybrid. In Germany the first example of the Mercedes-Benz Atego BlueTec Hybrid distribution truck has entered pilot operations with customers in 2008 and was recently allocated with the “Environment Engineering Award” of the German Federal State of Baden-Württemberg In August 2008, Europe's largest fleet trials of hybrid trucks began in London with ten Fuso Canter Eco Hybrids.
In the short-range public transport sector, the articulated Mercedes-Benz Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid bus entered the customer trials at the turn of the year 2008/2009. This new vehicle concept already marks a technological turning-point on the way to the Zero Emission Vehicle.
Alternative fuels in fleet trials
A lower fuel consumption for trucks and buses with hybrid drive systems also leads to a reduction in exhaust pollutants, especially in the case of the much-debated CO2. In parallel with alternative drive technologies, the use of alternative fuels is also being researched in order to conserve resources of fossil fuels and reduce atmospheric pollution.
Daimler AG has been actively involved in the development and testing of biofuels for many years.
Latest example is a joint pilot test project focusing on fuel from sustainable production which was presented by the Daimler AG, Deutsche Post DHL, the energy group OMV, the Stuttgarter Straßenbahnen AG public transportation company, and the Finnish oil company Neste Oil in the beginning of June 2009. Since mid-2008, 14 series-produced Mercedes-Benz trucks and buses that run exclusively on sustainably produced NExBTL renewable diesel have been in service under everyday conditions in Germany. The vehicles have already covered one million kilometers. The field test shows that the combustion of the alternative diesel fuel from hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) in the engines results in significantly reduced emissions of pollutants. For example, emissions of nitrogen oxides decrease up to 15 percent. The overall CO2 balance is also positive: From the sustainable cultivation of palm oil and its processing to the fuel’s use in a vehicle, the CO2 emissions of the fuel used in the pilot test have been reduced by more than 60 percent compared to fossil fuels.
A further step are so-called second-generation biofuels : they can be produced from various forms of biomass, have a CO2 reduction potential of up to 90 percent and do not stand in direct competition with plants grown for food production.
Natural gas drive going from strength to strength
Around 2,100 natural-gas-powered Mercedes-Benz buses and municipal vehicles from the Mercedes-Benz Econic series (CNG/NGT) have been in customer use for the last eight years. Development is progressing at a rapid pace for natural gas power: the new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter NGT has performed excellently in customer trials, and also entered series production recently. Around 1,700 of these vehicles are now on the road.
On the road to zero emissions
Thanks to continuous further development over the years, Daimler diesel engines have become high-tech power units that will continue to be developed further as the backbone of commercial-vehicle drive systems for many years to come. They show their great potential through constantly reduced emissions and increasing energy yields. Over several development stages, particulate and nitrogen oxide emissions have been reduced by an average of well over 90 percent since 1990 alone. Mercedes-Benz trucks and buses with the latest BlueTec diesel technology combine these ecological advances with economic benefits for the vehicle operator. This is because compared to other emission control technologies, fuel consumption has been drastically lowered even further, producing a saving of around 2,000 litres per year for a long-distance truck, for example. This corresponds to a good five tonnes less CO2 over the same period for a single long-distance truck.
Compared to other vehicle types and in terms of fuel consumption per 100 km per tonne of cargo, the "one-litre vehicle" has long been a reality in the truck sector.
This was demonstrated by a series-production example of the new Mercedes-Benz Actros, which showed its outstanding performance and economy by establishing a world record. In Nardo, southern Italy, a 40-tonne semitrailer combination covered a distance of just under 13,000 kilometres in seven days, with a fuel consumption of only 19.44 litres per 100 km under test conditions – a world record. In the case of a 25-tonne cargo this represents a fuel consumption of only 0.8 litres per 100 km per tonne, and in other words only 20.5 grammes of CO2 emissions per tonne of payload and kilometre – a fraction of that achieved by current passenger cars with hybrid drive. Accordingly the truck has entered the Guinness Book of Records as "the most fuel-efficient 40-tonne truck".
Hybrid drive technology leading to the fuel cell
Until zero-emission fuel-cell drive systems are economically viable, further significant advances in fuel economy are only conceivable with the use of hybrid technologies. Two different drive systems are used in hybrid vehicles. The energy released during braking is recuperated in the form of electrical energy, stored in batteries and used to power an electric motor. Thanks to this additional drive unit, a smaller and lighter diesel engine can be used to obtain the same overall performance.
For trucks Daimler has decided in favour of the so-called "parallel" hybrid. In this case the electric motor is integrated into the drive train, and usually contributes its output in parallel with the diesel engine. The hybrid buses produced by the Daimler brands Orion, Fuso and Mercedes-Benz employ what is known as serial hybrid drive. In this case a generator directly connected to the diesel engine supplies the energy to the electric drive motors.
In the hybrid buses from Fuso and the new Mercedes-Benz hybrid bus all the peripheral units are also electrically powered, therefore the bus is able to cover limited stretches under electrical power only, i.e. with zero emissions. The innovative concept of the Mercedes-Benz Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid, which features wheel hub motors, marks a technological transition towards the Zero Emission Vehicle. When the time comes to develop this future vehicle generation, it is basically only the diesel generator that will need replacing with fuel cells, as the electric drive components are already tried and tested.
In the beginning of June 2009 Daimler celebrated the world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid in Vienna. The fuel cell hybrid bus is the first vehicle in Daimler Buses’ new generation of fuel cell buses. It combines the advantages of the diesel-electric Citaro G BlueTec Hybrid, which was unveiled a few months ago, with those of the hydrogen-powered Citaro fuel cell buses, which have delivered impressive performance in fleet tests. An exceptional feature of the Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL Hybrid is its outstanding environmental friendlyness. The bus runs without emitting any pollutants and is virtually silent, making it ideal for use in highly congested inner cities and urban areas.
Economy is what counts
Given that the procurement costs for hybrid vehicles are around one third higher than for conventional diesel vehicles, economic aspects will be the deciding factor for the acceptance of alternative drive systems among operators in both the passenger and goods transport sectors.
Thanks to the achievable fuel savings, hybrid technology has come considerably closer to overall cost-effectiveness over the vehicle's operating life. At least in the early years, a general introduction in vehicle fleets will, however, require subsidies, for example on the part of governments and municipalities. The success of alternative drive technologies thanks to public subsidies in the USA and Japan confirms this.
Fleet operators in Europe still lack the benefit of such a decision-making basis as yet. The scheme for the use of hybrid-drive buses in city traffic announced by the German government is a first incentive for the necessary rethinking on the part of vehicle operators.
Focus on safety
Along with environmental protection, the focus of Daimler AG and its commercial vehicle brands is also on safety, with the ambitious vision of accident-free driving. The company's commercial vehicles are known to be innovative leaders where safety is concerned.
Active Brake Assist: only from Mercedes-Benz and Setra
With the emergency braking aid Active Brake Assist (ABA), Daimler Buses leads the field among premium touring coaches with the Mercedes-Benz Travego and Setra TopClass 400. No other coaches in the world are currently able to offer this emergency braking aid. If there is an acute danger of a rear-end collision with a slower-moving vehicle ahead, the patented system automatically initiates emergency braking after a series of warnings, thereby having the potential to save lives.
Active Brake Assist celebrated its debut in the Mercedes-Benz Actros three years ago. Mercedes-Benz continues to be the only manufacturer offering trucks with an emergency braking system. While this is not always able to prevent accidents, the automatic initiation of emergency braking when acute danger threatens can substantially mitigate the consequences.
Around half of all serious truck accidents are preventable
Safety experts are convinced that Active Brake Assist helps to prevent rear-end collisions, thereby helping to save lives. Along with other safety systems it has long proved its worth in practice. The positive effects of safety systems have been shown by a large-scale fleet test, involving 1,000 Mercedes-Benz Actros semitrailer tractors, and the findings from comprehensive analyses of real accidents. Around half of all serious truck accidents on motorways are preventable. 50 percent of the trucks in the test were equipped with a safety package consisting of the lane assistant, proximity cruise control and stability control. The result was that compared to conventionally equipped semitrailer tractors, the number of serious accidents was halved for the vehicles with this safety package. And in cases where an accident did occur, the financial damage was an average of 90 percent less severe. These results were based on a monitoring period of twelve months and a total mileage of 106 million kilometres.
Mercedes-Benz is actively furthering the introduction of safety systems: both for the Actros and the Axor, the company has already put together attractive safety packages that have a noticeably positive effect on the buying decision. At the same time, negotiations with the insurance sector in Germany have led to the first premium discounts for trucks and buses equipped with particularly extensive safety systems.
Daimler leads in the introduction of safety systems
The ongoing safety initiative by Mercedes-Benz and Setra in Europe already began in the mid-nineties, with the introduction of the Electronic Braking System (EBS) and disc brakes all round for all new truck and bus model series.
Up-to-date assistance systems were then gradually introduced for the trucks, buses and vans – the majority as a market first. The Electronic Stability Program ( ESP ) has been standard equipment for all newly launched Mercedes-Benz touring coaches and vans for many years. In the case of vans, Adaptive ESP even recognises the vehicle's centre of gravity and therefore the load parameters.
The Lane Assistant, DISTRONIC and stability control are available for the heavy Actros and Axor truck series. The Mercedes-Benz Travego and Setra TopClass 400 touring coaches are also available with the Lane Assistant, and they include the Continuous Braking Limiter which prevents unwanted acceleration on gradients. The development progress in safety technologies was impressively demonstrated with the Safety Truck, Safety Coach and Safety Van fleet presented Europe-wide in 2006.
Active safety has a long tradition in the company: in the early eighties Mercedes-Benz and Setra already led the field when the anti-lock braking system (ABS) followed by acceleration skid control (ASR) were introduced. The same applies to the early introduction of driver training courses and safety training, for even the most sophisticated technology can only provide assistance – the responsibility continues to rest with the driver.
Strong emphasis on operating safety
Drivers benefit from the best possible support during their working day thanks to ergonomically perfected, driver-oriented cockpits, first-class mirror systems and the drive train itself. Trucks, buses and vans from Mercedes-Benz and Setra are traditionally particularly easy to operate. As early as the mid-eighties, Mercedes-Benz was the first manufacturer to offer semi-automated and later fully automated transmissions in its trucks and buses. The standard features of the new Actros include the fully automated Mercedes PowerShift 2 transmission. The new, automated GO 240-8 PowerShift eight-speed transmission has been introduced for the premium Mercedes-Benz Travego and Setra TopClass 400 touring coaches as the only specialist bus transmission in this class in the previous year.
The company’s commercial vehicle brands are also the leaders in passive safety. Mercedes-Benz conducted rollover tests on buses and coaches in the 1950s, for example. The protection of other road users also plays a major role in all these developments. A collision between a passenger car and a commercial vehicle must not be wholly at the expense of the car.
Unique: the Front Collision Guard for touring coaches
The Front Collision Guard (FCG) shows how the two can be combined. This new and unique passive safety system for the protection of the driver and co-driver/courier during a frontal collision is included as standard in the new-generation Mercedes-Benz Travego and Setra TopClass 400 touring coaches. This complex, patented technology begins with a transverse section which acts as an underride guard. The structure behind this section consists of impact-absorbing elements that dissipate energy in a controlled manner in the event of a collision. In addition, the cockpit including the steering, pedal cluster and seat is now mounted on a solid subframe which can move to the rear as a complete unit during a frontal impact, thereby increasing the space for the driver by several crucial centimetres. The developers not only established the effects of the Front Collision Guard on a calculatory basis, but also verified them during crash tests to be sure.
Safety knows no boundaries
Although safety levels can vary greatly in the individual markets and regions, the development of new safety systems by Daimler AG’s commercial vehicle brands knows no national frontiers. In the early summer of 2008 Fuso presented a new Safety Truck based on its Super Great heavy-duty truck, for example.
Copyright © 2009, Mercedes-Benz-Blog. All rights reserved.
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