Trucking’s come a long way
TRANSALP TEST: How does the old measure up against the new?
CHUR (Switzerland) — “In 10 years’ time, commercial vehicles will consume 20% less fuel and reduce CO2 emissions by the same amount,” said Andreas Renschler, the board of management member responsible for Daimler Trucks and Daimler Buses, during a comparative truck drive across the San Bernardino Pass in Switzerland recently.
His statement set the bar pretty high for engineers. To reach these goals, they will have to pull out all the stops because during the past several decades traditional vehicle technology has already been pushed to the limits.
A truck from the sixties is hardly comparable with the long-haul vehicle of today, as was clearly demonstrated by the Mercedes-Benz San Bernardino Pass comparative drive titled Transalp Trucking 2010.
A modern Mercedes-Benz Actros 1844 and a 1964 Mercedes-Benz LP 1624 were driven on a long-haul route from Stuttgart to Milan and back. Engineers’ measurements showed not only a nearly 50% difference in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions per ton of payload, but also a drop in particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions of up to 98%. The physical and mental strain on the driver has also been significantly reduced over the last 46 years, while transport performance has doubled and driving safety has improved substantially.
During the approximately 1 160 kilometre test drive from Stuttgart to Milan and back, the Mercedes-Benz LP 1624, which was one of the world’s most advanced trucks in the sixties, consumed 2,34 litres over a distance of 100 kilometres per ton transported, almost 20% more fuel than the Actros 1844 (1,27 litres).
Efficient yet fast
Performance and torque increases were al- so marked. The Actros traveled at an average of 76 km/h while carrying a payload of 25 tons. The truck from 1964, on the other hand, carried only 16 tons and travelled at an average speed of 58 km/h.
The Actros took 12 hours and 36 minutes to travel the 1 159,6-kilometre route, while the LP 1624 took almost eight hours longer.
The veteran truck only managed about 29 km/h on the way up the San Bernardino Pass and no more than 36 km/h on the way down. The Actros travelled at about 45 km/h uphill and up to 77 km/h going down.
Great advances have been made in the development of brake technology too. The braking distance needed to decelerate the Actros from 80 to zero km/h was 38,5 metres, whereas the LP 1624 needed 56 metres. The difference is comparable to the length of four passenger cars.
Reduced driver strain
Features that truckers would once have called luxurious are in fact important basic equipment for reducing physical and mental strain.
Whereas clutches had to be pressed with a force of about 30 kiloponds for each gearshift years ago, the truck today has a fully automated transmission.
The Actros Megaspace cab also has an extremely low noise level of 63 dBA at 80 km/h, which isn’t much more than a pronounced purr, compared to the 72 dBA measured in the LP 1624.
Quicker response times
Drivers now are under much less strain than in the trucks of past decades, and systems help prevent some stressful situations altogether.
For the first time, objective measurements were conducted in a truck during the Transalp Trucking 2010. Electroencephalographic measurements (EEGs) of the drivers’ brainwaves gave insights into the mental strain suffered by truckers in stressful situations and showed that in the older truck it took the driver up to 400 milliseconds longer to respond to sensory stimuli than in the Actros.
In a dangerous situation, this difference would mean that at 80 km/h, braking of the truck would only begin nine metres later.
With today’s highway traffic, it is clear what the consequences of such a delay could be.
A modern MercedesBenz Actros 1844 and a 1964 MercedesBenz LP 1624 were compared on a longhaul route through the Alps. Among other advancements, the fuel consumption by trucks was shown to have come down by 30% since 1960.
For the first time, objective measurements with electroencephalographic measurements (EEGs) of the drivers’ brainwaves were made to obtain insights into the mental strain suffered by truckers in stressful situations.