For over two years the Mercedes-Benz Econic NGT (Natural Gas Technology) has been playing its part in mitigating the extreme smog that plagues the Greek capital of Athens, particularly in summer.

In Stockholm, the Econic is powered by biogas produced in Sweden from waste water and a proportion of household refuse, meaning that not only is the vehicle an environmentally-friendly way to empty refuse bins, but it is also actively reducing the waste mountain too. Sweden has almost seven years’ experience in this field, with only electric vehicles and vehicles with other alternative drive systems permitted to operate in the environmentally sensitive inner-city areas of Stockholm. Now Mexico City too wants to try out a similar concept in order to address its pressing environmental problems.

Radical rethink in Mexico City
Mexico City, capital of the rapidly expanding, newly industrialising country of Mexico in Central America, is home to almost 20 million people and over four million vehicles. Just a few years ago, the city was a prime example of a chronically polluted megacity, with smog so thick that the sun remained permanently obscured by grey haze and it had become impossible to see the surrounding mountains. However, for three years now the city has had a new mayor, who arrived in office with a determination to reverse this trend. It is now the city’s stated aim to transfer all public transport within the metropolis over to alternative drive systems, such as gas, biogas or electrically powered systems within the next few years. As well as providing concepts for bus routes and cycle paths, plans also take into account the delivery traffic that supplies the city with food and goods. When it comes to waste-disposal services for moving refuse out of the city, the Mercedes-Benz Econic is set to play an important role.

EEV-compliant natural-gas engines
The super-quiet and environmentally-friendly natural-gas variant of the Econic is proof in motion of how protecting the environment doesn’t have to be expensive. Natural-gas engines were introduced as an option on the Econic back in 2002. When using biogas from renewable sources, as in the case of Stockholm’s fleet, the Econic can even rate as CO2 neutral.

Customers have a choice of power plant for the Econic, either a 900 series straight six-cylinder diesel engine or a natural-gas engine – both options are EEV‑certified. EEV (Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle) is the strictest of the currently established exhaust emissions standards. With a cylinder capacity of 6.9 litres, the M 906 LAG natural gas engine generates 205 kW (279 hp). Diesel variants are based on innovative BlueTEC diesel technology. Featuring both SCR technology and combustion optimisation, the engine not only reduces exhaust emissions, but fuel consumption too. Different versions of the diesel are available, namely the OM 906 LA, with 175 kW (238 hp) and 210 kW (286 hp) options, and the OM 926 LA with 240 kW (326 hp). Diesel engines in the 900 series can be run on biodiesel fuel with no need for retrospective conversion. Reductions in exhaust and noise emissions bring significant benefits for residents.

Econic – a success story
Paris, Prague, Berlin, Valencia and, most recently, Singapore – the list of cities where the benefits of Econic are in demand is growing constantly. And now Mexico too is focusing its attention on the clean-cut clean-up machine. During the 16th UN Climate Conference, taking place between 29 November and 10 December 2010 at the coastal resort of Cancun, Mercedes-Benz is showcasing the Econic NGT 2628 6×2/4 NLA, a three-axle vehicle that weighs in at 26 tonnes gross weight. Boasting a trailing axle, six-speed automatic transmission, unique cab design with panoramic windscreen and wide, automatically opening doors, the Econic is packed with features to make life easier for the crew.

Having sold almost 12,000 units in twelve years, including around 1000 with the natural-gas engine, the Econic enjoys an enviable market position and is now well established as the yardstick against which other vehicles with low-floor cabs are measured. As a result of the increasing number of units being sold and strong customer demand for Econic gas-powered vehicles, in 2009 manufacturing was fully relocated to the Special Trucks Division at Wörth am Rhein in Germany. Previously, the vehicle had been produced at the Center of Competence for Emission-free Mobility (KEM) in Mannheim.

Source: Daimler AG