Despite drastically more stringent emission standards for nitrogen oxides and particulates, the fuel consumption of heavy trucks has been reduced by 22 percent over the last 20 years. This has now been proved by a comparative test drive certified by the test organization DEKRA. Three Mercedes-Benz trucks from 1996, 2003 and 2016 were put through their paces on the test circuit of the commercial vehicle magazine "Lastauto Omnibus".
22 percent lower fuel consumption
The result is a certified fuel economy advantage of 22 percent for the latest generation of the Mercedes-Benz Actros long-distance truck compared to the basic model of Page 2 1996, a Mercedes-Benz from the SK model series and therefore one of the last representatives of the pre-Actros era.
50 million tons CO2 reduced
With sales of around one million Mercedes-Benz trucks in the segment of long-distance transport in Europe between 1996 and today, as well as a conservative estimate for the annual mileage of 75,000 km per vehicle, and a service life of eight years the reduction in fuel consumption has resulted in savings of more than 50 million tons of CO2 by Mercedes-Benz trucks in Europe since 1996.
DEKRA-certified test drive
The independent and DEKRA-certified test drive was structured according to fixed principles. It took place on the demanding and universally recognised test circuit of the commercial vehicle magazine "Lastauto Omnibus". All in all, six measuring rounds of 256 km were absolved. As far as possible, identically prepared test vehicles driven by highly experienced truck test drivers have been used. After each measuring run the test drivers changed vehicles. The 32-tonne trailers were exchanged in accordance with the assigned driver to eliminate differences in e.g. rolling characteristics. The cruising speed and overshoot/undershoot times for downhill and uphill gradients were defined and monitored by the recording personnel. Every evening the vehicles were refueled under precise, temperature-compensated conditions.
With this highly precise test preparation and execution, the results obtained Page 4 from this real road test are of very high practical relevance. The fuel consumption levels in such a three-generations comparison will however be different on other test routes. No great differences are to be expected in the relative figures, but the absolute figures will differ – the current Lastauto Omnibus test circuit is regarded as comparatively demanding.
Standardization of fuel consumption tests
To ensure even better comparability of actual fuel consumption by trucks in future, Europe's truck industry has agreed to develop a measuring cycle. The test procedure intended to achieve this breakthrough is called “Vecto stands for "Vehicle Energy Consumption Calculation Tool (VECTO)". It measures the major input data and subsequently processes them using a calculation tool officially provided by the European Commission. For example, the aerodynamic drag of every single cab variant of a truck model has been measured on the road by independent test organisations. The same applies to the rolling resistance of tyres and the powertrain consisting of the engine, transmission and drive axle(s).
The Vecto test procedure is currently being finalised in the official committees of the European Union, and will first be used for the most important truck segments (long-distance and distribution) in the summer/autumn of 2018.