Among the fleet managers of haulage operators and local authorities, the Application Information Centre at the Mercedes-Benz Wörth plant has long been known as a Mecca for the commercial vehicle sector.

Today, ten years after it was established, its reputation reaches far beyond the borders of Germany. Some 13,000 visitors come each year to the BIC (short for its German name of Branchen-Informations-Center), as it is commonly known.

Over an area of around 17,500 square metres, the complete range of Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles is on display here – everything from vans through to the heavy truck model series, in all sorts of different versions and with a wide range of bodies. With a total of 180 complete vehicles, the BIC has the ideal solution for virtually every application.

Display grouped in four application categories
The vehicles in this all-year-round exhibition are displayed in four main application categories, reflecting those also used by Mercedes-Benz at major international trade shows:

– Short-radius distribution including delivery of food, drinks, post and parcels, as well as workshop repair and mobile sales vehicles
– Municipal vehicles for winter maintenance services, waste disposal and cleaning, as well as fire engines
– Construction industry, including vehicles with demountable bodies and transporters for concrete and building materials
– Long-distance transport including applications involving articulated vehicles and drawbar combinations

The display also includes specialist sector vehicles (recovery and rescue), solutions for the transport of heavy loads, timber and cars, as well as tanker and silo vehicles.

The particular advantage of the BIC is that customers are able to spend time looking at every specialist application in close detail, to study each welding seam and every screw in close-up. But of course the customer is not left completely alone to do so, as the Head of the Application Information Centre, Horst Schaub, emphasised: “Visitors are accompanied during their visit by a specially trained BIC customer adviser, who can provide information and further advice about the vehicle as well as its specialist bodywork.

Launched ten years ago with 21 complete vehicles
The “Branchen-Informations-Center”, or Application Information Centre, opened its doors ten years ago – with just 21 specialist solutions for the building industry, long-distance transport and short-radius distribution operations. Also involved back then were 14 bodybuilders (today: more than 70) and ten suppliers (today: 19) of tyres, brakes, transmissions, axles etc. To begin with, customers were looked after by the Head of the BIC, Horst Schaub, and three advisers, together with four members of staff to demonstrate the fire-fighting vehicles and three people handling site tours. These days the BIC has a total of 29 members of staff, while the 2400 square metres of the exhibition hall provide the perfect display area all year round. Mercedes-Benz service providers such as CharterWay, Fleetboard, MB-Bank, Service 24h, TruckStore, TruckWorks and Accessories are also represented in the exhibition.

Unique to the BIC: practical testing with loaded vehicles
Customers visiting the BIC are not only provided with all the most up-to-date information about Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles, but have the opportunity to study and compare in really close detail the latest product ranges of more than 70 different bodybuilders and a whole range of suppliers– so saving them both time and money. The very practical relevance of the BIC is unique, anywhere in the world. Unlike vehicles in a showroom or at a trade show, those here can also be tested. In very concrete terms, this means that test and comparison drives can be conducted under realistic conditions, using loaded vehicles.

In 2003, a proving ground some 25 kilometres away in Ötigheim was extended specifically for use by building industry customers, providing the most extreme operating conditions under which to test construction site vehicles. The company’s traditional tipper demonstration is also held here several times a year, to which some 50 customers are invited. Axor, Atego, Actros and Zetros trucks, along with some all-wheel drive vans, are put through their paces here with a variety of different bodywork solutions. The BIC programme for the year includes 50 or so further events, at which very sector-specific vehicle transport solutions are shown and made available for testing. Key to these events are also specialist presentations about the latest vehicle technology as well as a comprehensive plant tour.

Tests and trial drives – on the road or at the proving ground – are very often the deciding factor when it comes to the purchase of a vehicle. And should a customer have a particularly urgent need, BIC Head Horst Schaub has another, rather more unconventional, solution up his sleeve: “If the chassis, engine, bodywork and all other elements add up to exactly what the customer needs, then he’s more than welcome to take the vehicle home with him.”

Source: Daimler AG