The Mercedes-Benz Unimog – the Success of an Idea
May 23, 2011
2000 to the present day: New Unimog generations
  • 2000: New Unimog product range U 300 to U 500
  • 2002: New Unimog product range U 3000 to U 5000
  • Relocation of the Unimog production plant from Gaggenau to Wörth

Punctually for the turn of the millenium, the DaimlerChrysler Group presented a completely new Unimog concept in spring 2000 where the implement-carrying features quite clearly stole the show. The models U 300, U 400, and a short time later also the U 500 took the place of the former light, medium and heavy product ranges.
Hand in hand with model changes, the Unimog received a technology boost such as it had seldom had before in its long career. Especially striking was the modern, ergonomic and above all practical design of the cab made of fibre-reinforced material. The long drawn-down front and side windows gave the operators a perfect view of the implements in use.
VarioPilot: The place of work quickly changes sides
Inside, the cab was very pleasing as it not only provided a lot of room and comfort, but also a very special innovation. Within seconds, the driver’s workplace including steering wheel, instruments and pedals, could be moved from the left to the right side of the cab. This allowed the one-man-operator to steer and operate both Unimog and implement with the best possible view of the working area, while still being able to always get out of the vehicle on the safe side away from the traffic. A wide ranging programme with wheelbases from 3080 mm (10 ft) to 3900 mm (12.8 ft) and maximum weights from 7.5 t to 16.0 t underline just how versatile and performance-oriented the Unimog had become – now more than ever before.
Main focus as municipal implement carrier
Nowadays, both the design and special features of Unimog product range U 300 to
U 500 are very convincing: the Unimog is still an outstanding offroader, but its main focus now is more in its use as implement carrier and tractor vehicle. Product features of the Unimog U 300 to U 500 are the permanent four-wheel drive, electronic-pneumatic Telligent transmission, powerful hydraulic system VarioPower and high performance Euro 3 engines ranging from 110 kW (150 hp) to 205 kW (280 hp). Currently, the implement carriers are using engines with 110 kW (150 hp), 130 kW (177 hp), 175 kW (238 hp and 210 kW (286 hp). Mercedes-Benz comes up to the strict European exhaust emissions standards by, among other things, using an SCR catalytic converter.
Relocation from Gaggenau to Wörth
A new chapter has now begun in the history of this unique vehicle concept since the Mercedes-Benz Unimog production was relocated from Gaggenau to Wörth, the existing truck plant of the former DaimlerChrysler AG, where the first Unimog rolled off the band in 2002. Since 26 August 2002, the great tradition is being continued after 51 years and more than 320,000 Unimog vehicles produced – even though it is in a different place.
New technology for the toughest jobs:
Outstanding offroad mobility of Unimog U 3000 to U 5000
The story of the Unimog is still being written in Wörth: For the toughest operations miles away from roads and tracks Mercedes-Benz has designed a new concept for their product range with outstanding offroad mobility: the U 3000, U 4000 and U 5000 which have been manfuactured since the end of August 2002 at the new Unimog location. The vehicles in this product range are the follow-up generation of the extremely mobile offroad chassis U 1550 L, U 2150 L and U 2450 L in the heavy Unimog product range which were produced in Gaggenau until mid 2002. This was the final step in the changeover to the new models.
Due to their outstanding offroad mobility, the Unimog product range U 3000 to U 5000 is predestined for operations over the toughest terrain or for service in the name of international security. However, the Unimog product range U 3000 to U 5000 is mainly used as for fire fighting, especially for fighting forest fires, disaster intervention, as the basis chassis for expedition vehicles, for transport vehicles, fast emergency vehicles for service and maintenance in inaccessible and remote areas as well as for exploratory expeditions to find new resources, as for example in the energy sector. This means that the Unimog product range U 3000 to U 5000 is the ideal supplement to the Unimog implement-carrying product range U 300 to U 500 presented in spring 2000 which is mainly used by public and municipal services, private contractors, in the construction and energy sector as well as for in-company transport.
The outstandingly mobile offroad Unimog chassis U 3000 to U 5000 combines traditional Unimog features such as toughness, sturdiness, durability, reliability and the almost legendary four-wheel drive concept with state-of-the-art engines and transmission technology as well as the highest ergonomic standards. The extreme torsional flexibility of the chassis is due to its flexible ladder-type frame with a construction of two longitudinal U girders with welded tubular cross members. Portal axles at front and back with differential locks, reduction gear at wheel hub, wishbone steering, thrust tubes, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers as well as stabilisers at front and back are standard features. The all-steel cab with roof hatch is also available as a double cab. It also has three-point mounting – just like the engine, transmission, flatbed and body – and thus is also able to follow every movement of the vehicle.
The chassis of the Unimog product range U 3000 - U 5000 has been designed for a maximum weight of 12.5 t (14.1 t for firefighting operations). Originally they were fitted with110 kW (150 hp) or 160 kW (218 hp) Euro 3 engines. Currently, the product range is fitted with 130 kW (177 hp) and 160 kW (218 hp) Euro 5 engines. The
Mercedes-Benz transmission has electronic-pneumatic Telligent switching, pneumatically engageable four-wheel drive and an integrated power-drive transmission as well as eight forwards and six reverse gears. As an option, an additional working/offroad gear group can be installed. The preselectable synchronised Electronic Quick Reverse (EQR) changing mode makes it easier to change direction quickly and also makes it easier to 'rock free' when offroad.
New compact Unimog
The Unimog would not have managed to be so succesfful for six decades if the basic idea had not been continually adapted to the needs of the market. Soon after the turn of the millenium it was recognised that there was a need for a more compact Unimog as an implement carrier and tractor vehicle which was not necessarily at the top of the performance spectrum to provide a solution mainly for small and medium-sized communities. Accordingly, at the IAA 2006 in Hanover the U 20 celebrated its premiere.
The U 20 combines the time-tried technology found in the larger implement carriers
U 300, U 400 and U 500 with a lower vehicle weight, extreme manoeuvrability and a lower price. Its maximum weight lies between 7.5 und 8.5 tonnes. Its great manoeuvrability is due to its wheelbase which has been shortened by 380 mm to 2700 mm (8.8 ft). Unlike the U 300 to U 500 product range, the U 20 has a mass-produced all-steel cab and its basic construction has been designed to suit the daily needs of many smaller towns. Dual-circuit hydraulic system for winter service, PTO at the front, auxiliary PTO from the transmission and front mounting plate are optional fittings which allow a great number of implements to be operated. As far as its engine (110 kW / 150 hp), tranmission, axles and single tyres are concerned, the U 20 is almost identical to the U 300. Its eight-gear transmission allows speeds between 1.2 and 90 km/h at nominal speed. By the way, the U20 is the first forward control vehicle in the Unimog range of products, all of the other vehicles up to now as well as the current vehicles all are in the semi-forward control category. The U 20 has quickly found its niche in the market, and first further developments are related to increasing the maximum weight to 9.3 tonnes.
Winter service, road maintenance and keeping up green areas, agricultural work, tough transport tasks, even on rails, fire fighting and disaster intervention, as well as military operations – all these fields can be covered with six basic models (U 20, U 300, U 400, U 500, U 4000 and U 5000): the wide-ranging Unimog programme is well-prepared to face the challenges of the future.
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