Automotive

Published on August 7th, 2020 | by Joshua Chin

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Mercedes Actros 5 Lorry Adds Tech From The Car World

Thought your GLS is the biggest, baddest Merc around. Think again. 

You may have just clicked on this link out of curiosity and have no interest in the road hauling industry whatsoever, but these next few paragraphs give you a glimpse into the fascinating world of trucks with the launch of Mercedes’ latest articulated lorry, the Actros 5. 

As in the name, the Actros 5 is the 5th iteration of Mercedes’ lorry. On the face of it, it looks like any other lorry on the road. Even next to the old Actros 3 (Mercedes seemingly forgot to bring in the Actros 4 to Malaysia) the Actros 5 could only be differentiated by the most discerning of lorry enthusiasts. That said though, there have been many new improvements made to this all-new Mercedes lorry.

To us mere specks on the road from the perspective of the Actros driver, the most reassuring feature that comes with the new Actros would probably be the safety features as the coming together between the Actros and a car would end worse for the latter. 

So in the safety department, most versions of the new Actros 5 will come standard with a whole suite of active safety features, like Active Brake Assist 5 that is capable of detecting, warning and even braking the lorry in the event of an impending accident. Most new Actros will also feature the option to have Lane Keeping Assist and Attention Assist, features that you previously only found in the car world. 

On the topic of the tech borrowed from the car world, most people will be surprised to hear that now the new Actros also comes with remote central locking, keyless go and an electronic parking brake with auto hold. Features that debuted on cars for many many years now. One more thing that was taken from the Mercedes passenger car range was the MBUX infotainment system, bringing the cabin of this Actros right into the 21st century. 

Coming standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the two new 10 inch screens that make up the Multimedia Cockpit, as Mercedes calls the Actros’ MBUX interface is only the tip of the interesting features in the cabin of the Actros. And it really is a cabin, as the L(arge)-cab variants of the Actros comes with a ‘luxury bed with reclinable back section’ behind the two front seats. 

The driver is treated to supremely comfortable air-sprung seats that are electrically adjustable, and there are more storage cubbies in this Actros than in most studio apartments with lockers beneath the bed, shelves on the sides and a cavernous compartment overhead. There is even a sunroof to let fresh air in if one desires. 

All is not rosy however as most of these features like the touchscreens and the comfy seats only features in this ‘luxury’ cabin, which undoubtably is an upgrade from the bare bones standard ‘classic’ cabin. 

Stepping into the standard cabin is very much like stepping back in time 20 years ago with the scratchy fabric on the seats and the old fashioned dials. Just goes to show that even the truck division isn’t immune from the Mercedes’ penchant for making you spend money on the options list. 

In terms of powertrain, the Actros 5 is powered by the a brand new OM460 straight-six turbodiesel. It might be the same inline-six configuration you’ll find in many German cars, but at 12.8 litres it is a hell of a lot bigger. Up from the 11.9 litres of its predecessor, the new Actros now outputs a reasonable 360 to 480 hp (depending on variant) and a massive 2,300 Nm of torque. 

This mountain of torque is transferred to the rear wheels through a new Powershift 3 automated manual transmission. All things transmission related are dealt with using a little stalk on the steering column. Gone are the days where truckers change gears more times than they blink, nowadays just flick the column into D and you’re good to go. There are even four driving modes to choose from: Economy (which is the default mode), Standard (which is confusingly not the default), Power and Manual. 

Like what was mentioned prior, unlike in the car world where each successive generation has a different look to it, being a big boxy lorry there is not much that can be done in terms of styling. The only thing the PR man at Mercedes can say was that the Mercedes logo on the Actros, which incidentally is backlit by the way, is the biggest three pointed star on any Mercedes vehicle. Bragging rights to the trucker I presume. 

That said though, Mercedes claims that the new Actros 5 is the most tested truck in the wind tunnel and the body of this moving block of flats is as aerodynamic it can be. So with this new super slippery body and new straight-six engine, the new Actros can best its predecessors fuel efficiency figure by a staggering 4%. Yes it might not seem like much, and frankly it isn’t, but 4% over many hundreds of thousands of kilometres will eventually make a difference. 

To the truck enthusiasts who bravely sat through all that waffle, you’ll be pleased to hear that the new Actros also comes with the best in class service intervals of up to 55,000 km. The Actros 5 has also just won the 2020 International Truck of the Year, an achievement that has been held by the Actros for 5 years now and simultaneously doesn’t mean much to anyone. What will carry more weight though to truckers is the best in class warranty of 3 years or 450,000 km (whichever comes first). 

Mercedes is also offering a new reconditioned parts for the Actros. A measure implemented to keep repair costs down for cost conscious business owners. These remanufactured parts are made in Germany and claim to be up to 26% cheaper than the new parts. To put truckers at ease too, these recond parts will come with the same warranty as if it were a new part. 

Priced at RM 360,000 to RM 480,000 for the truck alone, this locally assembled Actros 5 may not be the cheapest Mercedes in the range, but it certainly is the biggest. 

More information can be found in the press release below: 

The new Actros is a compelling proposition – first of all in daily operation with more and more European transport companies, and then also as the winner of numerous awards across the whole of Europe. Such awards underline the fact that the flagship of Mercedes-Benz Trucks continues to set standards for safety, efficiency and connectivity. The new Actros is the truck for the 2020s.

The most significant prize from a European perspective is the “International Truck of the Year 2020” award. “With the introduction of the new Actros, Mercedes-Benz has brought a highly sophisticated truck onto our roads which smooths the way to the automated driving of the future”, was the rationale for the award as explained by jury chairman Gianenrico Griffini. The committee, comprising specialist commercial vehicle journalists from 24 countries, cited Active Drive Assist as well as further innovations such as the enhanced cruise control and transmission intervention system Predictive Powertrain Control, the fully digital Human Machine Interface in the form of the Multimedia Cockpit and the state-of-the-art safety systems, including the improved emergency braking assistance system Active Brake Assist 5, among the reasons for the award. Throughout the history of the “Truck of the Year” award, Mercedes-Benz has not only been its most frequent recipient, but has also won the competition, the most important for the industry in Europe, with all previous versions of the Actros.

In 2019, the “Ferdinand Porsche Prize” of the Technical University of Vienna, a widely respected award presented to leading automotive developers, also acknowledged the innovative strength of the new Actros: Professor Dr Uwe Baake, Head of Product Engineering at Mercedes-Benz Trucks, and Dr Werner Lang, Managing Director of MEKRA Lang GmbH & Co. KG, were honoured jointly for their development of the MirrorCam in the new Actros, fitted here for the first time in a series-production truck.

While the “Truck of the Year” award reflects the views of journalists and the “Porsche Prize” those of engineers, the “Truck of the Year Austria – Driver’s Choice” award from the online magazine “1Truck.tv” is based on the opinion of truck drivers. Some 6000 votes went to the new Actros in this instance, setting it well ahead of its competitors. But that’s not all: the truck has also been the recipient of numerous further accolades in other countries. In Spain the vehicle was voted “Camión de Año en España 2019” by more than 100 journalists and truck experts. The Catalan industry federation Transcalit awarded the truck the prize for “Innovation en el Transporte 2019”. Specialist magazine “Fleet Transport” in Ireland, meanwhile, distinguished the new Actros with the “Truck Innovation Award 2020”. And the Italian commercial vehicle magazine “Vado e Torno” declared the new Actros the “Sustainable Truck of the Year 2020”. In the view of the magazine’s editors in Milan, the vehicle marks a “powerful turning point that will bring long-term change to the way trucks are perceived, as well as to the way transport tasks are undertaken in the future”.

Even more safety thanks to Active Brake Assist 5 and Sideguard Assist as standard 

There’s another new key feature that has helped the new Actros to take a further step forward in terms of safety: Active Brake Assist 5, which since the beginning of 2020 has been part of the standard specification for Actros and Arocs in those European countries where an advanced emergency braking assistance system is prescribed by law. This latest version of the tried and tested emergency braking assistant works with a combination of radar and camera systems. Amongst other things, the reaction to moving individuals in the speed range up to 50 kilometres per hour has been improved. 

The new Actros also sets a benchmark with its Sideguard Assist system: in 2016, the vehicle became the first truck to feature a cornering assistance system that was fully integrated into the vehicle architecture. The warning system minimises the likelihood of dangerous accidents occurring on the co-driver’s side of the vehicle during a nearside turn. During the course of development of the new Actros, Sideguard Assist was linked to the mirror camera system. The system now works hand in hand with the MirrorCam: if Sideguard Assist is installed, the MirrorCam display shows the warning messages of that system in critical driving situations. All hints and indicators of relevance for the driver are thus grouped in one place – which avoids the driver being overwhelmed with information. It is not least with reference to Active Brake Assist 5 and Sideguard Assist that transport operator Klaus Wagenstetter is able to summarise: “With the assistance systems, Mercedes-Benz Trucks offers a complete package which works harmoniously to sustainably improve the safety and economic efficiency of our business.”

The new Actros as part of the “Internet of Things” – for added economic efficiency and comfort 

The development engineers working on the new Actros were keen to configure it systematically, right from the start, for a networked world. The truck is permanently connected to the cloud and thus part of the “Internet of Things”. The basis for all connectivity solutions is the Truck Data Center. It receives data from the sensors, cameras, etc., in the truck and analyses them for different applications. This gives company owners and fleet operators real-time control of the truck via Fleetboard and Mercedes-Benz Uptime – with the objective of significantly improving the ability to plan jobs, workshop visits and downtimes and so of delivering a clear increase in vehicle availability.

The drivers, too, benefit from the connectivity solutions in the new Actros: with the new Multimedia Cockpit. The first fully digitalised cockpit in a series-produced truck brings hitherto unknown operating possibilities and improved operating convenience. For example, through the integration of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Multimedia Cockpit has two large displays. The primary display replaces the conventional instrument cluster. All the assistance systems and the new traffic sign recognition function are shown here, for example. A second touchscreen on the instrument panel serves to operate selected apps from the Mercedes-Benz Truck App Portal along with virtual switches, as well as for the representation of the new navigation system. “Our aim is to give drivers the best possible tool for their stressful job”, says Jerry Bodry, managing partner of GTS Logistik, a logistics company based in the German town of Traben-Trarbach. “They should be able to enjoy as much comfort and convenience as possible while they are in their truck. The modifications to the driver’s workplace provided by the Multimedia Cockpit are an important part of this.”

In a nutshell: For representatives from the media, universities, transport companies and truck drivers, the new Actros represents a milestone in truck design. The “Truck of the Year 2020” benefits from countless state-of-the-art new features, and its innovations mark the way forward for the haulage sector.

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About the Author

Amateur automotive journalist. Professional work on dsf.my and automacha.com. Personal writing found at driveeveryday.me. Instagram: @driveeveryday



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