WHEN Mercedes-Benz releases an upgrade to one of its commercial vehicles, it usually makes quite a decent noise in all the trucking publications.
But when it releases a completely new model line, it overwhelms industry players with the news, all in meticulous detail.
MB has just released the all-new Antos upper medium-duty distribution truck in the European market, and the list of features in the package is far more than can be listed in these pages.
Designed for GVMs of between 18 and 26-tonne and a GCM of 40-tonne, one of the most impressive statistics goes directly to weight and therefore productivity. In other words, net profit.
Benz claims it is the first prime mover for 40-tonne vehicle combinations to come in below 6-tonne for tare weight - and that's even with an engine that is compliant with the Euro VI emissions standard.
That's providing you pick the 350hp 1835 LS model with the ClassicSpace cab, aluminium wheels and super single tyres on the rear axle.
Even with the larger OM 470 inline six-cylinder Euro VI engine with 428hp, the truck weighs about 6400kg. At this weight, the Antos is positioned very well in the highly competitive environment where margins are wafer thin.
Even in comparison to Euro V trucks, the new Antos Loader is right at the forefront, too.
The engineers have zeroed in on weight reduction with a vengeance. The Antos Loader includes an aluminium entrance support, a weight-optimised windscreen and floor coverings, batteries with a reduced capacity, and a combined tank for fuel and AdBlue, as well as various other savings and reduction measures.
Significantly, Daimler has opted to include the full suite of safety systems from its linehaul Actros headline trucks into the short-radius distribution range. It includes the over-named predictive powertrain control, which in English means the adaptive cruise takes note of terrain via GPS and 3D mapping to optimise hill control and therefore fuel efficiency.
Styling-wise the designers have followed the mantra that a truck is the
business card of a company, more so than in long-distance transport. The Antos is unmistakeably a cousin of the new Actros for long-distance transport.
Inside the Actros space and functionality is repeated.
Three cab variants are available, including a super-flat roof version for rigs with refrigeration units, or car carriers.
Geeks will love the remote control key fob. You can control 16 vehicle functions from the device, including working area lamps and the cab heating/cooling.
There are three Euro VI engines, 7.7-litre, 10.7-litre and 12.8-litre, from 238 to 510hp, and all feature the Daimler BlueEfficiency design.
Transmissions are Powershift series three with eight or 12 ratios, and most are available with three different drive map programs - Economy, Power and Fleet.
Antos actually brakes faster than it accelerates - Mercedes Benz giving the highest priority to safety. This is critical in challenging short-radius distribution with its diverse range of ever-changing traffic situations.
The electronically controlled EBS braking system with disc brakes, a highly effective engine brake, the ABS anti-lock braking system, brake assist and ASR acceleration skid control are all standard. Whatever engine size, the performance of the engine brake is always way above average.
A high-performance engine brake option with a braking performance of up to 400 kW is also available. Furthermore, operators can equip the new Antos with the new equally light and powerful water retarder. It is fully integrated into the braking system and provides for an impressive braking performance of up to 750 kW. In the case of emergency braking, the Antos warns traffic behind automatically by switching on the hazard warning lamps.
Antos will undoubtedly arrive in Australia, but no word yet as to when that may be. With Europe's financials a basket case and the Aussie dollar likely to remain strong, pricing may well give Daimler a shot at dislodging the vice-like grip of the Japanese, and particularly Isuzu on the medium-duty distribution market.