Mercedes-Benz already has a good reputation when it comes to taking safety seriously, but the new concept truck it introduced last week moves its efforts in this area up a gear.
Based on the Econic, the concept HGV is designed to be especially effective in urban areas, where large vehicles have to share the road with those in more vulnerable positions, including cyclists and pedestrians, according to UK Haulier.
Like existing Econic models, the concept has lots of helpful features that make it easier for the drivers to see the area around the cab and spot potential hazards which might otherwise go unseen. This is achieved through the use of a passenger door which is fully glazed from top to bottom, which in conjunction with the revised ride height means that the driver is not positioned well above other road users but sits almost level with them and with a clear line of sight.
The windscreen is gigantic, taking up almost two-thirds of the front surface of the cab, with narrow pillars meaning that there are almost no blind spots.
Safety is not the only advantage of the concept Econic model, as it should also be more usable for drivers, with the cab being easier to access so that hopping in and out is not taxing even on busy distribution runs. This should also make it well suited to use in the waste collection sector.
The engine under the skin is a 7.7 litre diesel unit which develops 354hp and is paired with an automatic transmission built by Allison. Mercedes-Benz promises that it will be adding its own-brand PowerShift gear boxes to the rest of the Econic range in the next few months, delivering improvements in terms of efficiency and seamlessness of operation.
Road Safety Promoted
Attendees of Truckfest 2017, held over the weekend in Peterborough, were able to get up close and personal with the safety-conscious Econic concept. And Mercedes-Benz will also be taking it to other events across the UK over the summer following its debut in the past few days.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks spokesperson Philip Chance said that the firm had made extensive use of its time in London and other major European cities to assess where design changes could be made in order to boost safety and ensure that the needs of its customers were also being met.
He said that the tractor of the new concept model has been specifically tailored to the UK market, and the next step would be to engage with fleet operators here to find out how they feel about what it offers and make any further tweaks before it is turned into a fully commercial launch.
Chance pointed out that existing Mercedes-Benz truck models already come with the option to add plenty of safety-enhancing services, including 360-degree camera systems, alerts which are activated based on the proximity of other road users and even autonomous breaking.
The Econic certainly seems to be leading the way in terms of safety, and its influence is being felt in the updates made by rival manufacturers.