- Board of Management member for Commercial Vehicles, Andreas Renschler: new technologies and products as a major part of the Global Excellence programme
At the second series of Technology Days in Papenburg, DaimlerChrysler Commercial Vehicles is presenting 50 research and development topics on the subjects of safety, the environment and technology. The technologies shown will gradually be incorporated into the commercial vehicles manufactured by DaimlerChrysler.
In the words of Andreas Renschler, the member of the DaimlerChrysler AG Board of Management responsible for the Commercial Vehicles Division: "The investment in future product generations is a major component of the "Global Excellence" optimisation programme. We are fo-cusing our research and development activities on new products and technologies which will further strengthen the competitiveness of the Commercial Vehicles Division."
The development work for future commercial vehicles is characterised by more difficult conditions. These include regulatory requirements re-lating to environmental protection, rising fuel prices and pressures on the economic situation of customers, who depend on minimal down-times, lower fuel consumption and maximum vehicle availability.
The global increase in traffic density is another factor. According to a forecast by the German federal highways planning department, the number of man-kilometres driven is set to increase from 750 billion in 1997 to 873 billion in the year 2015. According to this forecast, the number of tonne-kilometres covered by freight traffic will increase by more than one third in the same period. The number of commercial vehicles operating in Germany increased from three million in 1994 to around 3.4 million in 2004. There are similar rates of increase in Europe, NAFTA, Asia and the rest of the world.
Despite this increasing traffic density, the number of accidents has remained unchanged owing to the improved safety of cars and trucks. Nonetheless, it is the declared aim of DaimlerChrysler to reduce the number of commercial vehicle accidents even further by introducing new active safety systems. The most frequent accident types are rear-end collisions and vehicles swerving off the road. Rear-end collisions account for no less than one quarter of all truck accidents. This proportion can be drastically reduced with the new emergency braking system, which will be optionally available in Mercedes-Benz trucks from 2006. Safety and support systems such as Lane Assistant, which warns the driver if the vehicle threatens to stray off course, or the new ESP, which operates in accordance with the way the vehicle is laden, are able to counter a further source of danger. All in all, 70 – 80 % of all present-day accidents can be avoided with the support systems offered by DaimlerChrysler.
More stringent worldwide regulations relating to environmental protection are another parameter which influences the development of future commercial vehicles: nitrogen oxide emissions in Germany will only be at around one fifth of the 1980 level in 2020, for example, with diesel particulate emissions down to almost one quarter. The development of corresponding emission control technologies involves high costs for the manufacturer and has an effect on vehicle prices. In view of tight margins for customers, e.g. haulage operators, this presents manufacturers with an extremely difficult challenge.
Andreas Renschler: "With intelligent solutions such as fuel-saving BlueTec technology we are able to turn this apparent disadvantage into an economic advantage for our customers."
Rising fuel prices are a direct cost factor affecting commercial vehicle customers, and therefore also manufacturers. "This trend only strengthens our determination to develop fuel-saving or alternative drive systems," says Renschler.
DaimlerChrysler is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of commercial vehicles with alternative drive systems: trucks, vans and buses with natural-gas, fuel-cell and hybrid-drive systems are in operation in Europe, America, Japan, China and Australia.
DaimlerChrysler commercial vehicles have reached another milestone where trials of fuel-cell-powered vehicles are concerned: the 36 fuel-cell buses which have been undergoing trial operations in Europe and Australia, and since September also in China, have now successfully covered more than one million test kilometres.