History is made!

History is made!

The 2020 International Truck of the Year – the new Actros – has arrived in South Africa and, as CHARLEEN CLARKE notes, this is a historic occasion!

To the best of my knowledge this is the first time that South Africa is getting the International Truck of the Year in the year of its reign. Typically, we have to wait a couple of years. It’s great that the very best truck in the world is available in South Africa – here and now.

Many times, I have been asked how the International Truck of the Year works and, even more importantly, why the Actros won. So, here is a brief explanation.

First and foremost, I need to reveal that the award has been around for some time. It was actually conceived back in 1977 by a British journalist by the name of Pat Kennett. However, back in those days, it was a humble and somewhat localised award.

Things are very different today. The great thing about International Truck of the Year is that it really is a global award. The jury comprises 32 commercial vehicle writers from all over the globe. Yours truly represents South Africa and indeed the African continent. Incredibly, we talk to an audience of over a million readers worldwide!

As you can imagine, the jury members drive all the new trucks that come onto the market, and then score them. We take several important criteria into account, including technological innovation, comfort, safety, driveability, fuel economy, environmental footprint and of course Total Cost of Ownership – or TCO. We want to choose a truck that will do the very best possible job for transport operators.

I think we got it right with the new Actros. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to the judging criteria and its many features are just the cherry on top.

With the new Actros, Mercedes-Benz has built upon the technical strengths of its previous range – and it has delivered a new truck that introduces substantial improvements in a number of areas. There are over 64 new technological features and advancements on the Actros!

Specifically, the jury members were wowed by the introduction of the MirrorCam system, which replaces the traditional exterior rear-view mirrors and effectively supports the driver in manoeuvering, cornering or changing lanes. Moreover, the new solution not only improves all-around visibility but also boosts aerodynamic efficiency – which means operators can lower their fuel bills. As an aside, you cannot take an existing truck and retrofit MirrorCam. However, the opposite is true. You can take the MirrorCam out of the new truck and fit conventional mirrors (although, to be frank, I’m not sure why anyone would like to do that).

As mentioned, safety features are very important to the jury members – and the Actros scored highly in this regard too. Just one of the impressive features is the new Active Brake Assist 5. Thanks to this technology, the truck will carry out emergency braking when encountering pedestrians crossing its path. That’s REALLY good for South Africa, where – sadly – we have lots of pedestrian fatalities. Active Brake Assist 5 also prevents collisions with vehicles travelling ahead.

The journalists were over the moon with the extended functions of the new Actros’ Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) system, which does an outstanding job. In addition to a satellite-based positioning system, PPC uses accurate digital road maps that contain data on topography, which means the truck knows the road and route profile ahead. This allows the new Actros to employ an anticipatory driving style. PPC requires precise 3D map data for effective deployment of functionality.

Michael Dietz, the newly appointed CEO of Daimler Trucks & Buses Southern Africa, told me that the company didn’t hesitate to make a substantial investment to ensure that all primary routes and most of the secondary routes in South Africa were mapped prior to the launch of this truck. Hats off to the Daimler team for investing in local mapping; I am a huge fan of this technology – because it can shave thousands of rands off a fuel bill. PPC only works in South Africa; not in neighbouring countries (purely because the mapping for the other countries has not been done).

Something else that the jury liked was the totally digital Multimedia Cockpit, which replaces the conventional instrument cluster. The neatly arranged and clear display informs the driver about all essential driving and operating states, as well as the actions performed by Active Brake Assist 5, PPC and other driver assistance systems. The cockpit looks very cool and it works well too. It’s the best of both worlds.

So, there you have it. A little insight into the International Truck of the Year, how we work and why the Actros won. It’s just left for me to say congrats to the local team on bringing the world’s best truck to South Africa so soon!

Arocs joins new Actros

The new Arocs has also been launched in South Africa. Six new models have been added to the existing range, comprising three freight carriers (the Arocs 3336/48, the Arocs 3340/48 and the Arocs 3352/45), an 8×4 tipper (the Arocs 4145K/51) and two all-wheel drive off-road vehicles (the Arocs 1845AE/45 and the Arocs 3345AE/45).

New features of the Arocs include a multifunctional steering wheel (which enhances ergonomics and ease of operation), an electronic parking brake and keyless start. The Arocs range comes standard with a seat belt monitor, rain sensor, and rubber mats for the driver and co-driver.

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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