- The truck fitted with Blue-Tec diesel technology proves totally reliable even under extreme conditions
Two continents, seven time zones, 13 605 kilometres with variations in of over 2 000 metres – the vehicles taking part in the “Paris – Beijing 2006” rally had to get through a marathon programme between 21 October and 17 November 2006. An Axor 1833 L truck drove ahead of the main convoy. The main function of this truck and its crew: to refuel the entire fleet of cars with diesel fuel.
“E-Class Experience” was the name of the adventure in which participants set off from the French capital and drove all the way to the Chinese capital. The main aim of the event was to demonstrate the high level of reliability and the low con-sumption of engines fitted with state-of-the-art diesel technology. To this end, DaimlerChrysler sent 33 teams driving Mercedes E 320 CDI models and three E 320 Blue-Tec on this journey.
One of the logistical challenges to be overcome was ensuring a reliable supply of fuel. More than 100 000 litres of fuel were consumed over this record distance. Diesel of the highest quality had to be provided at all 23 stage finishing points along the route heading east from Berlin. The tour organisers found the solution in a cooperative venture with Aral and the Hamburg-based freight forwarding company Hoyer.
Aral filled 23 tank containers with Aral super diesel fuel in Gelsenkirchen. Hoyer then had 14 of these containers transported to Warsaw by rail and then by truck from Warsaw to the individual destinations of the daily legs in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and Kazakhstan. The remaining nine containers were carried by a container ship from Rotterdam to Shanghai, from where they were moved to the stage finishing points in China by truck.
The Axor’s crew of four had the task of refuelling the 36 E-Class cars and the 19 escort vehicles immediately on arrival at the stage finishing points. The Axor and ‘its’ escort G-Class model carrying two of the drivers always led the main group of vehicles by three to four hours. Arriving at the finishing point for the daily leg, the four drivers erected a mobile refuelling station consisting of a pump, a generator and catch pans.
The participants in the record-breaking journey started out on 21 October in Paris – enjoying mild late-summer temperatures. The Axor and its crew encountered the first severe autumn storm of the season in Estonia, and the first frost in Moscow. The Ural mountain range, which form the frontier between Europe and Asia, was a winter wonderland, complete with dense, driving snowfalls and uncleared roads. The Kazakh city of Almaty, formerly known as Alma-Ata, welcomed the teams of drivers once more with spring-like conditions, and temperatures around 20 degrees. In the wild west of China, the 2 200-metre mountain pass in the Tian Shan range represented the highest point in the journey.
Yet, the rarefied air and the weather conditions left the Axor and its crew undaunted, covering kilometre after kilometre on their journey heading east. The powerful 326-horsepower (240 kW) inline six-cylinder engine, generating a maxi-mum torque of 1 300 newton-metres, consistently provided the extra reserves needed to overtake on what were mostly only two-lane long-distance highways.
Nor did the road conditions affect the performance of vehicle or crew: potholes, bumps and troughs were easily handled by the chassis, the cab suspension and air-cushioned seats. “That this wouldn’t be a Sunday school picnic has been clear all along. One thing is clear: The Axor has come through this toughest of tests with flying colours “, said driver René Fuchs (35).
Fitted with Blue-Tec equipment, the Axor’s average fuel consumption over the entire distance was only 23 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres, despite the challenging conditions. The Blue-Tec technology developed by Mercedes-Benz is fast becoming the leading diesel technology worldwide. Not only does it guarantee compliance with both current and future emission standards in various countries
already, the technology also helps customers lower the fuel consumption of their vehicles. This is because Blue-Tec results in higher combustion temperatures in the engine. This raises the efficiency of the diesel engine, and this in turn lowers consumption and produces more power.
Blue-Tec consists of an optimised engine that dramatically reduces the amount of soot particles produced, and a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) unit, whose function is to inject the so-called Ad-Blue substance into the exhaust stream to minimise the emission of nitrogen oxide. Further developments in engine technology have also resulted in greater power. As early as 2004, two years ahead of the Euro 4 deadline, and five years ahead of the Euro 5 deadline, the first-generation Blue-Tec-5 Actros had already proved themselves in the demanding daily routine of freight-forwarding operations. The technology is as reliable as it is successful – to date, about 30,000 trucks fitted with Blue-Tec equipment have left the main plant in Wörth.
The “E-Class Experience” is reminiscent of the legendary race from Peking to Paris staged 99 years ago, which had been organised by the French newspaper Le Matin. Five teams took up the challenge back then. The winner, Prince Scipione Borghese, rolled over the finishing line in Paris after a journey of 62 days.