How Mercedes-Benz developed its Econic model with dual steering control to cater to the specific needs of the Australian waste industry.
A world exclusive truck launch for the Australian market happens rarely, so the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz Dual Control Econic this past March was particularly noteworthy.
The original 2012 Econic attracted plenty of customers in Europe with its high-tech low-entry cabin, superior visibility and clean engine, but the Australian waste industry was initially resistant.
The problem turned out to be simple – the sole steering wheel.
“Australian waste operators running side-loaders demand steering wheels on both sides of the cabin to give drivers a good view of the bins they lift,” explains Mercedes-Benz Trucks Sales Manager Andrew Assimo. “Operators reported liking the truck and its features, but bemoaned the lack of dual control.”
This feature is less popular in other markets, so it posed a problem for the global manufacturer, which uses economies of scale to produce innovative, high quality products cost effectively.
That led the Australian team to ask Daimler Trucks in Germany to develop a Dual Control Econic specifically for Australia’s waste industry. It took three years of research and development, and a considerable investment from head office, to make the Dual Control Econic a reality.
“We were so happy that they said yes,” says Andrew, who championed the project.
Instead of choosing a local aftermarket conversion carried out by technicians far removed from the engineers of the original vehicles, the Dual Control Econic is produced at the factory in Worth, Germany.
It has two steering wheels and two steering boxes, instead of relying on two wheels connected to one steering box. The designers also duplicated
all the controls on a touch pad that is the same distance from the driver regardless of which side of the cab they sit.
As the Dual Control Econic is built by a company the size of Mercedes-Benz, it boasts its latest technology.
Appealing to environmentally conscious councils and operators, the truck is powered by the latest Euro 6 engine. This produces low exhaust emissions thanks to a diesel particulate filter and selective catalytic reduction. It also runs quieter, in line with strict new European regulations that exceed Australian requirements.
The Econic includes electronic stability control, which is rare in waste vehicles despite the risk of rollovers, as well as traction control and front and rear disc brakes fitted with anti-skid technology.
To read more see page 22 of Issue 8.