Mercedes-Benz Trucks (MB Trucks) launched the new Actros MP4 in George, South Africa this week, seven years after its European debut.
The reason for the delay stems from the comparatively high sulphur content in local diesel and, more to the point, the uncertainty that exists as to when the necessary investments will be made – and by whom – to lower these levels.
As it currently stands, South Africa is legislated at Euro 2 emission levels, while the Actros MP4 was already compliant with Euro 6 levels back in 2011. Playing it safe, MB Trucks has decided to equip South African spec MP4’s with Euro 3 and Euro 5 engines.
In addition, many of the active safety systems in Actros MP4 had to be relooked at and developed to ensure their local suitability and reliability.
One has to remember that the Actros is a global vehicle which operates in highly varied terrains, extreme climates and in highly diverse legislative environments, particularly where maximum payloads are concerned.
All of these factors had to be comprehensively tested and evaluated before the truck could be operated and supported at a level the maker was completely satisfied with.
The first generation Actros arrived in South Africa in 1998 and since then, Mercedes-Benz Trucks has sold 25 000 of these trucks.
Unlike its predecessor, the MP4 Actros is only available as a truck-tractor, with both air and steel suspension varieties. In total, eight air-suspended truck-tractor models are available (four 4×2’s and four 6×4’s).
Rigid distribution, construction, off-road and specialised application vehicles will be supported by the new Arocs models, which will be available from September 2018. Further steel and air-suspended truck-tractors are to be launched during the second part of the year
The attractive-looking MP4, which is assembled CKD in the company’s East London plant, caters to the needs of long-haul, distribution and hazardous goods transporters and is equipped with either the OM460 or OM471 diesel engine.
The engines are mated to the company’s new fully-automated 12-speed PowerShift 3 transmission. In fact, the entire driveline (engines, transmissions and axles) are all designed and manufactured by Mercedes-Benz in-house.
Below: Both engines are 12.8-litre, 6-cylinder in-line units. MB Trucks says they have higher torque outputs at lower engine speeds and a broader torque range than previously.
The OM460 engine is available in four engine output ratings from 360hp (265kW) up to 450hp (330kW) and torque ranging from 1 800 Nm to 2 200 Nm.
The OM471 engine comes with exhaust gas recirculation. Exhaust gases are treated with SCR technology with AdBlue injection. Diesel fuel with a maximum sulphur content of 50ppm is permitted for this engine. It is available with either 420hp (310kW) or 450hp (330kW) and peak torque of either 2 100 Nm or 2 200 Nm.
What is particularly impressive are the flexible service intervals, which are stationed up to 50 000 km apart for Euro III and up to 80 000km apart for Euro V vehicles!
Its looks are functional too; the StreamSpace Cab has been tested extensively in a wind tunnel in order to produce the most aerodynamic shape the company could muster.
The roof and side deflector’s guide and aid air flow over the cabin and trailer, thereby reducing wind turbulence and aerodynamic drag. And you might notice the StreamSpace cabs have no sun visors at all. Instead, they have a dark green tinted sun filter band across the top of the windscreen, to smoothen the frontal area.
The Actros MP4 is available with various safety assistant systems: Active Brake Assist 4, Proximity Control, Seatbelt Monitor, Roll Control Assist and Attention Assist.
Below video: Using Radars, Active Brake Assist 4 can detect moving pedestrians and animals up to 50km/h. It is part of the standard safety equipment on all Fuel Specification (Hazardous Goods) models. Attention Assist and the seat belt monitor also come standard.
Michael Dietz, vice president of global marketing at MB Trucks, said the company was rolling out the same truck platform worldwide and that the launch in South Africa represented a “huge step forward for the company’s strategy in the Southern African region.”
Dietz said that Mercedes-Benz was deeply rooted in South Africa and had been assembling vehicles here for over 50 years. He added that MB Trucks was investing in raising the level of truck competency in its dealer network.
More than 50% of all new Mercedes-Benz Trucks are currently financed through Mercedes-Benz Financial services and over 70% of Mercedes-Benz Trucks customers are using FleetBoard. Mercedes-Benz TruckTraining is also available with the new Actros.
“Reliability has been the backbone of the Actros’ success, along with high residual values and low TCO,” explained Jasper Hafkamp, executive director of Daimler Trucks & Buses at Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
Hafkamp added that Mercedes-Benz Trucks had captured in excess of 20% of the heavy-duty truck market in South Africa in 2017.
“Long-haul is growing in South Africa and accounts for 55% of the total heavy-duty truck market. And there is potential for further growth; truck tractors in the heavy-duty segment have demonstrated consistent growth,” he said.
Having completed 16 000 000km of testing in South Africa using full loads, the MP4 returned a claimed fuel saving of 6% compared to the previous Actros.
Hafkamp stressed the importance of fuel efficiency. “The diesel price has risen 42% since January 2016 in South Africa and fuel accounts for 62% of all vehicle related costs in long-haul transport. The new Actros is at least 6% more fuel-efficient than the previous generation.”
Below: Fleetboard Eco Support provides effective driver support in real-time by displaying tips on a consumption-reducing driving style in the instrument cluster during the journey.
The Pure has a reduced scope of standard equipment, which includes a driver airbag, steel reinforced rims, Jost 38-C 2” fifth wheel and a cyclone pre-filter. This model is equipped with the StreamSpace 2.3m cabin and black bumpers.
Fuel specification models address the needs of the hazardous goods operator. In addition to being ADR and SANS1518 compliant, this model features additional safety features, including Active Brake Assist 4, Proximity Control Assist, Roll Control Assist and a red driver’s seatbelt.
Fuel Specification vehicles are standard, depending on application, with either an L-cab ClassicSpace or StreamSpace 2.3m cab.
The new Actros comes standard with a 1 year/unlimited kilometre complete vehicle warranty and a 5-year/650 000km standard warranty on the drivetrain.
Hafkamp also introduced the new head of Mercedes-Benz Trucks for Southern Africa – Mariette Gerber – who takes over the role officially on 1 July 2018.
MB Trucks also confirmed it will bring Mercedes-Benz Uptime to South Africa at a later date.