Innovative trucks of 2015
If Batman was a truck driver, he would definitely drive Skylon... this aerodynamic, solar-powered truck designed by Nikita Kalynin, the winner of the Michelin Challenge Design, will premiere in 2020.
But even before the futuristic Skylon will be spotted on the streets, we are seeing tomorrow’s technology in today’s newest vehicles. Below we review the highlights and unique features of 2015 editions of Volvo FH, Man TGX, Iveco Trakker, Mercedes Actros and International Lonestar, in eight categories: design, driveability, workplace, space and accommodation, safety and reliability.
In the Volvo FH range, the new mirrors are not only slimmer, but also entirely mobile. This innovation decreases the wind resistance, and increases the visibility. Iveco also aimed for optimum visibility - the new Trakker has more mirrors and improved adaptability to the challenging weather, thanks to the built-in fog lamps. MAN enhanced the body-mounting capabilities by using high-strength, fine-grained lightweight steel in the new TGX model.
International has committed to the enhanced maneuverability: the 2015 edition Lonestar has 50-degree wheel cut and upgraded roll-on stability. MAN TGX eases both down and uphill rides thanks to the new TipMatic 2, the semi-automatic gearbox that swiftly selects the most appropriate gear. Similarly, Iveco Trakker ensures a more precise gear change, as well as the most fuel-efficient engine run, using Eurotronic automated transmissions technology (EAT) with steering-wheel-mounted controls and electronic clutch-control. Volvo advertises the new FH’s I-Shift Dual Clutch as inspired by the racing world, since it changes the gears in a fraction of the second.
Mercedes has removed the need for frequent refuelling by increasing the fuel tank volume to 990 l, while Volvo FH saves up to 5% of the fuel using the I-See Cloud, which enables the truck to download the road gradients data in order to manage the speed and gear changes. However, it is MAN that bests the low fuel consumption thanks to two new features in TGX: extended rear axles and GPS-controlled Efficient Cruise control. In the long-haul or distribution transport Efficient Cruise can reduce fuel consumption up to 6%, without the transit time loss.
This year Volvo FH introduces the easily customizable cockpit - the driver can rearrange the positions of the buttons, so the most frequently used are within the reach. Iveco Trakker is equipped with Iveconect smart system, the non-stop assistant and the fleet manager. Mercedes added a multi-function key to the new Actros model, which serves as the extended central locking system, tyre pressure and lights checker, and the remote control for the heating, radio and air con. Lonestar now has the Android-based infotainment touch screen with five truck-oriented apps: Status (informs of the speed, fuel economy, etc), Alert (warns of any out-of-the-range parameters), Maintenance (alerts to take an action after a specific mileage has been reached), Tire (tire pressure, temperature, target PSI values, and more), Checklist (customizable safety and vehicle inspection list).
Space and Accomodation
The Mercedes Actros has a new wider, temperature-controlled seat, with the optional massage function and 2.13 m height between the seats. Volvo added 1 m2 extra space, the drying cupboard for the wet clothes, which can be folded when not in use, and a freezer compartment. MAN has created the XXL cab, the largest cab in Europe. The XXL has plenty of space and provides sleeping facilities for the 2 driver mode, 200 l of storage and the standing height of 2.1 m. Both Iveco and International upgraded the cab ventilation and soundproofing qualities in their 2015 releases.
Iveco improved robustness and guaranteed safety in the new Trakker even in the most challenging terrain, by employing the high-yield steel frames and enhanced radiator shields. Volvo has introduced the sunroof, thus FH has become the first truck on the market with an emergency exit. BrakeMatic, a better braking system from TGX is combined with the upgraded Continuous Damping Control (CDC) system, which calculates all forces required from the shock absorbers every 25 milliseconds, adapting to the vehicle load and the nature of the road.
Telematics Gateway technology installed in Volvo FH sends reports to the workshop updating the status of the vital parts in order to keep the driver and the operator up-to-date, and more importantly, the truck - accident free. To extend the engine uptime, MAN upgraded the exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) and the low temperature cooling system with its own dedicated circuit. MaxxPower Battery in the new Lonestar runs longer, takes shorter time to charge and supports even better the highest BTUs for cooling and heating, moreover the optional auto stop/start feature provides a protection against the low battery crisis. Variable-geometry turbochargers in the improved Trakker’s Cursor engines enable to slow the wearing of the vehicle parts, thus extending the maintenance intervals. 2015 edition of the MAN TGX Common Rail engine, despite the upgrade to the Euro 6 standards, retains same service life, comparable maintenance and service costs as the Euro 5 class.