What is on the Agenda for Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Mr. Buchner?
Daimler Trucks is based on three strategic pillars. Technology leadership means supplying advanced technologies in fuel efficiency, safety and connectivity. In terms of a global market presence, Daimler Trucks is represented in all the major world markets. Intelligent platforms refer to the consistent pursuit of the platform strategy around the world. Stefan Buchner, who is responsible for Mercedes-Benz Trucks, explains how the brand is implementing the strategy.
How is the Daimler Trucks strategy reflected in the strategy of Mercedes-Benz Trucks?
Buchner: Much of the DT strategy recur here in our area. Just to mention a few examples: Global presence is very important at Mercedes-Benz Trucks. With our five production plants and numerous CKD sites such as those in Chelny (Russia), Rouiba (Algeria), East London (South Africa) and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), we sell our products worldwide. And we have just signed an agreement with our local partner in Iran for local production of Mercedes-Benz trucks and components. Secondly: Technology leadership is of the utmost importance for our products. Fuel efficiency, safety and connectivity play a crucial role in this regard. And we have always been industry pioneers when it comes to fuel efficiency and safety. We have cut fuel consumption per ton kilometer by 60 percent since 1965.
Of course, the power train is always our first line of approach. There are a variety of options here. For the OM 346 engine, the conversion from prechamber injection to direct injection in 1964 alone resulted in a 25 percent reduction in fuel consumption. And with the new generation of the OM 471 engine, our engineers have once again demonstrated that further efficiency gains are possible even at this high level. Since 2011, we have cut the fuel consumption of the Actros by an entire 13 percent.
We will continue to improve our engines, because one thing remains certain: In the foreseeable future, the combustion engine will remain unchallenged for commercial vehicles. Aerodynamics is yet another important lever for efficient vehicles. We optimized every detail of our current Actros model over the course of around 2,600 hours in the wind tunnel.
Otherwise, how is Mercedes-Benz Trucks positioned in the area of active safety?
Buchner: The current list of safety and assistance systems includes around 20 items. Many of those were introduced well in advance of any statutory regulations. Just to give a few examples: To help prevent rear-end collisions, Active Brake Assist comes standard in our vehicles. Using radar, this emergency braking assistant detects when the distance to other vehicles becomes too short. If necessary, it slows the truck to a complete standstill. Our Active Brake Assist 3 is capable of even more. In the event that the driver does not react to optical and acoustic warning signals, this system can also slow the vehicle to a complete standstill for stationary objects. In short, we have a very clear vision – accident-free driving. Next, our aim with a new assistance system is to mitigate dangerous situations involving turning.
In addition to the vision of accident-free driving, Daimler trucks also deals with connectivity topics. How are you positioned in that field?
Buchner: Cameras, radar sensors and telematics are increasingly becoming more common in our vehicles. Concerning telematics solutions, FleetBoard is essential to us. The telematics system provides a wide range of data related to the driver, fleet and order, using its modular services to network with the logistics system of transport companies. This results in optimized vehicle utilization, lower fuel consumption and greater vehicle availability. All of these directly influence greater efficiency and lower operating costs. And ultimately, this is what our customers care about.
In the long term, the networked truck extends the functions to autonomous driving. And in 2014, we showed that with our Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, not only do we operate safely and efficiently, we can do it autonomously, too. We just recently achieved another major milestone in October 2015: the maiden voyage of the first automated driving series-production truck in the world. For this, we equipped a normal standard Actros with Highway Pilot and are now allowed to test it on German highways.