77th Mercedes-Benz Econic handed over to municipal cleaning service in Berlin
Apr 02, 2007
  • First units delivered in December 2006
  • Operation as waste collection vehicles – 71 for domestic waste, six for bulk refuse
  • Econic comprehensively upgraded visually and technically since the 2006 International Commercial Vehicle Show (IAA)
The last of 77 Mercedes-Benz Econic waste collection vehicles has just been handed over to the municipal cleaning service in Berlin (BSR) at the Wörth plant. The vehicle is an Econic 2629 LL 6x2/4 (286 hp, air suspension at front and rear, 6 wheels of which 4 are steered and 2 driven) with an electro-hydraulically steered trailing axle and a waste collection body by Haller. Since last December, this means that a total of 71 Econic waste collection vehicles in different wheelbase variants have been handed over to BSR for domestic waste collections (61 of them with a Haller body and ten with a body by Faun), and six for bulk refuse (with a Haller body).
BSR operates a regular waste disposal service for 1.8 million households, collecting from 240 000 loading points where it empties 420 000 waste bins. The fleet comprises 295 waste disposal vehicles, of which 174 bear the Mercedes star. 50 of the latter are Econic models with natural gas engines. In addition to the Econic vehicles, BSR operates numerous Mercedes-Benz Unimog as road-sweepers to keep the streets clean during major events such as the Love Parade.
Mercedes-Benz Econic is a popular waste collection vehicle
The Mercedes-Benz Econic is extremely popular as a waste collection vehicle, not least because getting in and out during frequent stops is made easy by a low entry – there is only one access step to the level cab floor - and an automatic folding door with a wide aperture measuring 620 mm. Other advantages include a small turning circle, up to four seats, a standing height of 1.93 m and an automatic transmission. For the 2006 International Commercial Vehicle Show, the Econic was given a comprehensive upgrade and now sets new visual and technical standards, with a wealth of new, practical features.
The external appearance of the Econic is now in line with that of the Actros and Axor, with a matte-black, V-shaped air intake and perforated, black panel. Other new features include the centre section of the bumpers, a wide-angle mirror on the driver’s side, the two main mirrors and additional wide-lens mirrors which eliminate the blind angle. Particularly during slow manoeuvres in inner-city traffic, these ensure that pedestrians are not overlooked. The Alu-Space cage of the cab has now passed the more stringent pendulum impact test according to ECE-R 29/2, and protects the driver even more effectively.
Cab appointments significantly upgraded
The cab appointments of the Econic were comprehensively upgraded as part of the 2006 model facelift. The entry sill has a height of just 45 centimetres, leading to a completely level, slip-resistant floor for convenient cross-cab access. As in a bus, external access to the co-driver’s side is via a fully glazed folding door which opens at the touch of a button and closes automatically when the vehicle moves off. This makes waste collection as convenient as can be – the crew are obliged to enter and leave the vehicle up to 200 times per day on some collection tours, and are grateful that they do not need to scale the heights each time. The co-driver’s folding door has been widened by 100 mm to measure 620 mm, which makes access and egress even easier. The cab is available in two different heights (2845 and 2395 mm), and even the standard cab with an interior height of just under two metres (1935 mm) provides enough headroom to change in and out of working clothes comfortably while standing up. A low cab with an interior height of 1485 mm is available for applications with overall height restrictions (e.g. front-loading waste disposal vehicles or fire tenders with a turntable ladder body).
New instruments make dedicated functions possible, for example a continuous display of the current axle loads as an option. New control lamps are also provided for the body. Numerous stowage facilities, as well as pre-installation kits for communications equipment or a reversing camera, create a professional working environment. New floor coverings and seat covers, a grab handle on the co-driver’s hinged door and a new, modular co-driver’s seat unit with three single seats rather than a bench seat – now also with man-made leather upholstery – round off the new features in the cab.
Rear axle now considerably more robust
The Econic has also benefited from significant technical improvements. All models now feature a rear axle with a load capacity of 13 t instead of the previous 11.5 t, for example. This gives the Econic even greater adaptability to specific transport tasks than ever before, with a traditionally wide range of model variants: this specialist vehicle is available in five wheel arrangements and in different wheelbases, as a two-axle (4x2) unit, a three-axle (6x2/4) unit with a hydraulically steered leading or trailing axle, and a three-axle unit with two rear drive axles (6x4). A four-axle variant (8x4/4) with a gross vehicle weight of 32 t is also available for very heavy-duty applications.
Whether with a fixed body or with a variety of demountable systems, such as lifting hooks, chain-driven implements or demountable platforms, the Econic provides a cost-effective solution for almost any application thanks to its full air suspension and low frame.
Improved suspension with new shock absorbers
While the Econic has always been a powerful performer thanks to its low centre of gravity, it now benefits from new shock absorbers for the specific needs of hard municipal operations. These lead to a great improvement in handling and directional stability, more controlled driving characteristics and increased roll resistance – particularly valuable in the case of high bodies and an unfavourable weight distribution.
Euro-4 engines with BlueTec diesel technology and natural gas power to EEV standards
The Econic is now powered by 900-series in-line six-cylinder engines which meet the Euro-4 exhaust emission standard and are based on innovative BlueTec diesel technology. Thanks to SCR technology and an optimised combustion process, both exhaust emissions and fuel consumption are reduced. In addition to the OM 906 LA with outputs of 170 kW (238 hp) and 210 kW (286 hp), the lineup includes the OM 926 LA with 240 kW (326 hp). All Econic models with a diesel engine have an aluminium fuel tank with a capacity of 200 litres, plus a 25-litre tank for AdBlue. Power is transferred by a fully automatic, six-speed Allison transmission as standard, making the Econic ideally suited to the stop-and-go operation involved in waste collection.
As an alternative to diesel, the Econic is also available with a natural gas engine. The natural gas powered M 906 LAG, which is also suitable for operation with environmentally friendly bio-gas, has a displacement of 6.9 litres and develops 205 kW (279 hp). The natural gas powered Econic is certificated according to the currently most stringent EU exhaust emission standard - EEV (Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle). This means that it already betters the Euro-5 limits which only come into effect from 2009. The emissions of the natural gas powered Econic contain practically no fine dust or particulates, and the CO2 content in the exhaust emissions is considerably lower than with a diesel engine. When operating on bio-gas, the CO2 content is even classified as "neutral", with a further benefit in the form of very low noise.
The Econic also runs on biodiesel
The engines in the 900 series are also suitable for biodiesel, without modification. DaimlerChrysler has however stipulated that the biodiesel must comply with the DIN EN 14214 standard, and that suitable engine oils are used with a consequent shortening of oil-change intervals. To circumvent these disadvantages, it is now possible to retrofit modified unit pumps, a fuel pre-filter with a heated water separator and an auxiliary tank with normal diesel fuel for the auxiliary heater. All these items are tested Mercedes-Benz original parts. As a result, the oil-change intervals are much closer to those of engines operating with conventional diesel fuel. On customer request, new vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz Axor series with the OM 457 LA engine, as well as the Actros, can be equipped with these features ex factory for easier operation with biodiesel.
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