Atego BlueTec Hybrid: hybrid trucks demonstrate their suitability for everyday use and potential for reduced CO2 and fuel savings

  • Innovative fleet of 50 Mercedes-Benz Atego BlueTec Hybrid in preparation
  • Compact four-cylinder supported by a powerful electric motor
  • Silence at traffic lights to engine start/stop system
  • The Atego BlueTec Hybrid meets all current quality standards, in accordance with the Mercedes-Benz brand promise of "Trucks you can trust"
The future prospects look bright: distribution trucks with hybrid drive systems can achieve savings in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions amounting to 10 to 15 percent compared with conventionally powered trucks. The extent of the benefits to be enjoyed is linked, among other things, to the application profile: routes comprising winding roads with changing gradients can increase the fuel savings, as can the high frequency of stops made.
Daimler AG is continuing to make advances in the hybrid development of its Mercedes-Benz trucks. After the successful deployment of the first 5 prototypes of the Mercedes-Benz Atego Hybrid with DHL, the end of last year witnessed the sale of the first 50 Atego BlueTec Hybrid vehicles, forming part of the next stage of development, to customers in Germany. Production preparations have now stepped up into top gear, and with actual production scheduled to start in the second half of 2010, Mercedes-Benz has edged ahead of the competition.
The aim of this innovative fleet is to confirm the hybrid truck's suitability for everyday use in real customer applications, and also to demonstrate the proverbial reliability of the Atego, even when configured as a hybrid variant. The focus of attention for Mercedes-Benz is to gather the actual experiences and opinions of customers. Thanks to the new Atego BlueTec Hybrid which is now being intro­duced, the innovative fleet has not only been able to fulfil all of the requirements for approval, but has also seen the implementation of a wide variety of enhance­ments for complete suitability for everyday use as well as an operating strategy.
The Mercedes-Benz Atego BlueTec Hybrid celebrated its world premiere in November 2007: Daimler presented the hybrid truck to the public for the first time during the opening event of the "Shaping Future Transportation" initiative in Stuttgart. Development of the truck has since progressed at a rapid rate. The technical level of hybrid trucks has been developed further, in order to perfect the balance between the vehicle and the hybrid components.
Internationally standardised hybrid architecture created and implemented for trucks
Mercedes- Benz Trucks has opted for a parallel hybrid architecture in the Mercedes-Benz Atego BlueTec Hybrid. This is best suited to the technical layout of the powertrain in a truck. In this arrangement of major units for the parallel hybrid drive system, the electric motor is located behind the internal combustion engine and clutch, but in front of the transmission. This configuration enables the engine and electric motor to power the truck individually or together.
This architecture allows moving off under electric power, recuperation and boosting by the electric motor, as well as optimising the diesel engine's characteristic map. It has emerged as the best solution in terms of construction costs, dimensions, performance and weight. Compared with a conventional drive, additional components include the batteries powering the electric motor, a converter or voltage transformer and the hybrid control system and cooling system. This hybrid drive truck architecture initiated by Daimler Trucks has meanwhile become the international standard.
Compact four-cylinder supported by a powerful electric motor
Given the emissions, fuel consumption and weight considerations to take into account, the Mercedes-Benz Atego BlueTec Hybrid makes use of an up-to-date EURO V four-cylinder EEV engine.
The hybrid-drive distribution truck is based on the platform of the Atego 1222 L EEV. The base model vehicle already meets the environmentally-compatible EEV standard and, with a gross vehicle weight of 11.99 t, falls within a particularly popular distribution truck category in Europe, and is able to operate toll-free on German roads. Its compact and lightweight four-cylinder OM 924 LA diesel engine with a displacement of 4.8 litres develops 160 kW (218 hp) at 2200 rpm and a maximum torque of 810 Nm at 1200 - 1600 rpm.
This is supplemented with a water-cooled electric motor developing a peak output of 44 kW and maximum torque of 420 Nm. The motor is an AC permanent magnet motor located between the clutch and the automated transmission. This is a six-speed Mercedes-Benz G 85-6 transmission featuring Telligent automated gearshift.
The hybrid drive system supports the internal combustion engine at defined operating points
The electric motor is fed by powerful, high-performance lithium-ion batteries. The batteries are charged by recuperated braking energy. When the driver brakes the vehicle, the electric motor acts as a generator and converts the braking energy into electrical power, which is stored in the batteries until they reach their maximum capacity. The same applies on the overrun, when the truck is rolling with a gear engaged but "without gas". A voltage transformer converts the DC voltage of the batteries into the AC voltage of the electric motor.
The truck moves off under electric power alone
The hybrid drive system gives the conventional diesel engine powerful assistance. This is especially the case when moving off and accelerating. The vehicle moves off very smoothly, for example, thanks to the electric motor, and the diesel engine is only in idling mode. Good acceleration is assured because the full torque of the electric motor already available from idling speed, and is not gradually built up as engine speed builds, as is the case in a combustion engine. If additional perfor­mance is needed when on the move, for example on uphill gradients or under heavy acceleration, the electric motor supports the diesel engine for a brief period, depending on the battery's charge status.
Since, as a self-sustaining system, the Atego BlueTec Hybrid is not tied to any specific infrastructure (e.g. charging stations, cables), its application options are just as flexible as those for pure diesel vehicles.
Depending on the specific system, the additional weight of the Atego BlueTec Hybrid compared with the regular Atego 1222 comes to around 350 kg.
The powertrain of the Atego BlueTec Hybrid is configured to meet its typical operating profile as an all-rounder: as a distribution truck, it operates in inner-city and densely populated areas, on inter-urban roads and partly also on motorways. Its average speeds are therefore significantly higher than the 20 km/h reached in pure city applications, for example. The Atego BlueTec Hybrid is approved for use on roads and meets the latest EURO V EEV emissions level.
Silence at traffic lights thanks to an engine start/stop system
The Atego BlueTec Hybrid is able to drive off in electric mode, after which the diesel engine takes over as the main drive, depending on the driving conditions. Engagement of the drive power of the diesel engine occurs via the coupling between the diesel engine and the electric motor. Until that point, the diesel engine is only used to drive the ancillary units. This not only makes for a significant reduction in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, but also less noise for residents and passers-by. Thanks to the use of an engine start/stop system, which automatically switches the diesel engine off, fuel consumption and noise are reduced to zero at traffic lights. Other savings are achieved by the intelligently-matched driving strategy with electronic control which keeps the internal combustion engine near its best operating point.
The Atego BlueTec Hybrid meets all current quality standards, in accordance with the Mercedes-Benz brand promise of "Trucks you can trust"
One of the clearly defined development aims is to ensure that the hybrid variant shares the legendary reliability of the Atego. As part of this, the hybrid components enjoy the same warranty period as the conventional drivetrain components, and no compromises need to be made when it comes to maintenance intervals.
In recent months the focus has also been on meeting the European Regulation ECE R100 as well as the standards of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Asso­ciation (ACEA). These include safety regulations governing high-voltage systems and battery systems, and against unintentional acceleration. The inno­vative fleet of vehicles is approved in accordance with European type approval (ETA).
The integration of hybrid components calls for extensive development and testing activities. These are precisely the requirements which Mercedes-Benz Trucks sets for a future Mercedes-Benz Atego BlueTec Hybrid, which are also manifested in the company's motto of "Trucks you can trust". As part of this, the Atego BlueTec Hybrid is also subjected to the exacting standard test cycles implemented by Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
On the way to achieving production maturity, elements such as the reliability, serviceability and costs of the innovative drive technology are being optimised based on special truck operating conditions. Additional crucial building blocks for achieving success include specific adjustments to the area of production, as well as qualifications in the fields of servicing and maintenance.
The key question for future hybrid solutions suitable for mass production in the truck market lies in the reliability and safety of the hybrid drivetrain. And these are areas in which the Atego BlueTec Hybrid will meet the same high standards as current Mercedes-Benz trucks.
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