From Northern Finland to Southern Italy, from Spain’s most westernmost point to Romania’s easternmost corner – the “Fuel Duel” fuel-consumption comparison test of Mercedes-Benz Trucks takes place in 22 countries in Europe. To this end, 90 Actros trucks are on the road, predominantly tractor units of models 1842 LS and 1845 LS with Euro VI emission control technology.
By now, the 18-tonne and also 25-tonne trucks bearing the three-pointed star have competed in 1000 Fuel Duels against the most important European competitors – and covered some 5 million kilometres in all. And the Mercedes-Benz Actros has won more than 90 percent of these duels. The fuel consumption advantage over competitors is about 10.5 percent on average.
The first of 1000 Fuel Duels started in the Netherlands
The first fuel-consumption comparison test got under way in the Netherlands about two and half years ago. The conditions remain unchanged to this day: the Mercedes-Benz Actros takes on the jobs of a competitor vehicle in a fleet and handles its loads and routes for two weeks. The driver receives an in-depth briefing
in advance and is initially accompanied by a professional trainer or an experienced member of the Mercedes-Benz Trucks sales team. Afterwards, the driver performs his usual jobs with the Actros by himself, supported by the FleetBoard telematics system.
Among other things, the Actros trucks are equipped with the streamlined StreamSpace cab for extremely low drag and low fuel consumption, as well as with the Mercedes PowerShift “economy” driving program, which supports a particularly economical driving style. Furthermore, they all are powered by efficient BlueTec 6 engines, which in conjunction with the standard-specification long final drives deliver extra torque in 12th gear when needed. The anticipatory cruise control system Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) and the FleetBoard telematics system also support an economical driving style. Other features include the radiator shutters, which improve drag when closed and consequently help save fuel and the two-stage water pump, which is standard equipment on every Actros truck. As a special feature, the Actros trucks in the Fuel Duel sport prominent campaign decals, which were designed specifically for the comparison.
Mercedes-Benz Center Hildesheim supports four Fuel Duels simultaneously
Martin König, at the Mercedes-Benz Center Hildesheim responsible for truck sales, has recognised the opportunities provided by the Fuel Duels early on. He accounts for four of the 86 fuel-consumption comparison tests conducted in Germany so far. One test has already been won, another is currently in progress and two are in the pipeline. Martin König: “The Fuel Duel offers the unique opportunity to demonstrate the advantages of the Actros to our customers in a highly objective way. At the same time, drivers can use the FleetBoard telematics service to examine and improve their economical driving style”.
FleetBoard Performance Analysis tracks factors of relevance to wear and fuel consumption such as anticipatory driving, changes in speed or braking behaviour for example. As a result the vehicle and driver behaviour can be depicted and analysed.
Fuel Duel results provide sales arguments
Professional consultant Thomas Abele from the Professional Training & Consulting Team Germany analysed the data of the Hildesheim Fuel Duels every day at the plant in Wörth. In an interim report and in a final presentation he also provides information to the forwarding company and the driver about the result of the Fuel Duel. As he did in the case of Nowatzki Logistik Company in Hildesheim as well. The company has been a customer of Martin König for many years and was founded in 1981. The family-run company employs about 100 people. Among its customers are clients from the automotive sector, machinery and plant engineering as well as from the construction, chemical, paper and food industries. Some 30 Actros tractor units ensure smooth transport – predominantly domestically and in neighbouring countries.
Carsten and Lars Nowatzki make great effort to ensure that their fleet is maintained optimally. The vehicles in the fleet of the forwarding company are only two years old on average. Accordingly, each year a certain number of new vehicles are ordered. The fuel-consumption comparison test provides real sales arguments – especially in times of aggressive pricing policies on the part of the competitors.
Martin König is convinced that Nowatzki Logistik will remain faithful to the Actros this year as well. Arguments that support his conviction are the high levels of reliability and safety as well as its exemplary economic efficiency. An Actros 1842 in the Fuel Duel at Nowatzki Logistik has just provided proof thereof. The results are not in yet, but the Actros 1845 in the Nowatzki fleet is also supposed to be tested in a second Fuel Duel as an alternative engine variant.
1000th comparison test at Kreykenbohm Forwarding Company
Completely finished on the other hand is the 1000th fuel-consumption comparison test in Europe, which was conducted at Kreykenbohm Forwarding Company in Holzminden, Germany. The Fuel Duel gave Martin König the opportunity to place Actros vehicles for the first time in a fleet of 22 trucks utterly dominated by the competition.
Willi-Ingo Kreykenbohm leads the family-owned company established in 1924 in keeping with the motto of “You are the top dog with us”. His standards for the quality of customer care are accordingly high: “Friendly, prompt and fast service is our foremost principle. That is why a reliable vehicle fleet is also of greatest importance to us. One example of this is the independent inspection of each of our vehicles every four weeks. This is how we ensure always having freshly maintained vehicles with a high level of quality”.
26.5 litres per 100 kilometres, 3000 litres less fuel per year
On the other hand, Kreykenbohm is also vigilant about the efficiency of the tractor units, which mainly operate in daily container transport between Hamburg, Bremerhaven and the company’s own container terminals in Holzminden and Adelebsen.
On average, each Kreykenbohm truck drives up to 120,000 kilometres annually. The average fuel consumption without the Actros is 29 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres. This figure had to be beaten in the Fuel Duel. And the Actros 1845 LS succeeded once more: with an average overall consumption of 26.5 litres, it clearly outperformed the competition. With an annual distance driven of 120,000 kilometres, this results in savings of at least 3000 litres and a CO2 reduction of 7.9 tonnes.
A pro at the wheel: driver is awarded a FleetBoard grade of “A plus”
Based on the result of the Fuel Duel, high praise is heaped not only on the Actros 1845 LS, but on its driver Christian Krukemeyer as well. According to the FleetBoard analysis, the graph of all gears indicates that gear changes were economical in 89 percent of all instances. The driver has made excellent use of the available assistance systems such as the anticipatory cruise control system Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) and consequently the Actros frequently operated in the fuel-saving “Eco Roll” mode. FleetBoard Performance Analysis also attests to the fact that Krukemeyer made economical use of the two braking systems in the vehicle: he predominantly used the wear-free brake when needing to slow down.
All this demonstrates: the man at the wheel was a real professional. It is therefore no surprise that Christian Krukemeyer scored 9.67 on the FleetBoard evaluation scale from 1 to 10.
Source: Daimler Trucks