Ed Higginson provides his first impressions of the 67th IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hanover, Germany
The biannual IAA show is THE event of the European trucking calendar, and this year showcased the great strides made in sustainability, electrification and hybridisation by all the main truck manufacturers. The theme for this year’s event was the slogan “Driving Tomorrow”, and, true to its definition, the exhibits identified with where the industry is heading with digitization, connectivity, automated driving and alternative powertrains.
None of the topics are new, but what has changed is that we are no longer talking about futuristic prototypes. This show was all about real trucks you can buy now in Europe.
What was also clear is that no manufacturer believes diesel will be the main fuel source heading into the next decade. Interestingly, IVECO had “No Diesel” signs around its stands to reiterate, as their CEO pointed out, that the only place for diesel was outside the building with the smokers! With diesel prices increasing quickly, he may have a point.
However, fuel wasn’t the only topic. In fact, it felt like the discussion on alternative fuels was yesterday’s news, and that for 2018 each manufacturer was now focused on much more.
Daimler Trucks and Buses has long held the boasting rights for the biggest stand at the show, and this year was no exception, with an entire exhibition hall for its various brands, displaying 70 vehicles over 17,000 square metres for more than 250,000 expected visitors.
Pride of place was the new Actros featuring many impressive technologies, which we will discuss in more detail in a separate article, including the first ride by any journalist at the event. Features such as a full multimedia display, Active Drive Assist for semi-automated driving, Active Brake Assist 5 and Mirror Cam, which removes the external mirrors to reduce drag – a feature that we expect to see on many new models in the next few years.
Also on display were Daimler’s alternative-fuelled vehicles, which are ready for sale, such as the fully electric eActros and the FUSO eCanter, plus the Actros NGT powered with natural gas. Each of these is ideal for city deliveries, with most of these models spending their days running multi-drops then back to base.
TRATON was not far behind Mercedes in terms of display size. It may not be a name you are familiar with, but, with Scania, MAN, VW, and RIO under its umbrella, plus partners such as Navistar and HINO, it is a serious global brand. With a team of over 7000 engineers spending an R&D budget of around $6-billion during the past two years, TRATON will play a lead role in shaping future trucks.
Scania is the premium brand that TRATON sees will lead the charge for sustainable transport solutions, offering engine platforms covering CNG/LNG, HVO biodiesel, ethanol, hybrid and electric.
“We are developing all alternative technologies bearing in mind their commercial viability,” says Christian Levin, head of sales and marketing at Scania. “It would be futile to launch products that fail to meet the business reality of our customers. The basic premise must be that the technology offers a reasonable cost of ownership in the near term”.
The plug-in hybrid truck and battery electric bus, both on display at IAA, meet these criteria. “Scania is well-positioned as the technology develops with more cost-effective solutions,” said Mr. Levin.
Scania also believes that, by 2031, the total cost of ownership for battery electric vehicles will reach parity with diesel for all vehicle segments, including long distance.
Scania’s HEV is available now in Europe, and with the DC09 engine rated from 280, 320 or 360 hp with an extra power boost of 50 kW or 250 Nm through the electric motor, plus a range of 10 km on full electric mode, the new hybrids offer a great option around town.
A PHEV (plug-in electric vehicle) will also be available soon, which you can add 22 kW of power in just 20 minutes to the batteries while a driver is on break. With PTOs, electric power steering and electric brake compressor, they can run on 100 percent electric power.
MAN shared the same exhibition hall as Scania, with TRATON positioning MAN as the brand to simplify your business by offering the value package with a strong product pipeline and electrification technology.
Showing that MAN remains serious about diesel, the company displayed its TGX with the D38 six-cylinder engine rated to 640 hp and 3000 Nm of torque – an engine we will be testing in Australia in the coming months. Fitted with the XXL cab, MAN has finally moved its automatic gear selector from beside the driver’s seat and onto the dash, but missed the opportunity to move the park brake as well to free up cab floor space. The fitout for the cabin included a microwave, coffee maker and TV in the rear cab lockers for a true home-away-from-home feel.
While at the press launch, MAN showed it is also looking well into the future by winning the Truck Innovation Award in Europe for 2019, recognising the company’s fully autonomous truck solutions that are already on the road.
Some drivers are worried about the effect that autonomous trucks may have on the industry, but the message from the manufacturer was more about how they could assist drivers. Have you ever thought about the driver sitting in the safety barrier truck in roadworks waiting for the impact from behind? Well, MAN has automated this so the operator can stand at a safe distance when the truck is in the live lanes.
They also have seven trucks operating for DB Schenker, between Munich and the Hamburg ports, which drive themselves into the wharf area, so containers can be loaded while the driver is sitting safely in the lunchroom. The truck then drives back around to the exit gates to pick the driver up before heading back out on the highway.
Navistar’s International LT, the next generation replacement for the ProStar, made a surprise appearance at the show on display under the TRATON stand as a sign of its commitment to a strategic partnership with procurement and technology development.
Jim Nachtman, the product marketing manager for Navistar, gave PowerTorque an overview of the new LT series truck fitted with the A26 engine, based on the MAN D26, and with a few interior hints from Scania. Jim explained, “The LT was launched in 2016 for North America, and we are starting to work on getting it ready for markets outside of this in limited specs, but we are not quite ready to announce where just yet”.
Volvo Trucks also introduced new and innovative solutions at the IAA show, with the FH 25 Year Edition taking pride of place to celebrate 25 years of the FH nameplate. But like the other manufacturers, Volvo too is moving into the transition away from diesel.
In 2019, Volvo Trucks will begin selling electric trucks in Europe, with the Electric FE on as the ideal base for a waste disposal truck with a GVW of 27 tonnes.
“Electric mobility is an important part of our long-term commitment to sustainable urban development and zero emissions,” says Claes Nilsson, president of Volvo Trucks. Electric trucks, which produce no exhaust emissions, are ideal for use in indoor terminals and environmental zones that are appearing rapidly across many countries.
Volvo also showed its liquefied natural gas (LNG) heavy-duty trucks with the same power output and the same drivability as Volvo’s diesel-powered models, yet with CO2 emissions between 20 and 100 percent lower, depending on the fuel used. The new Volvo FH LNG and Volvo FM LNG for regional and long-distance transport come with engines rated at 420 or 460 hp. Gas-powered trucks have come a long way in the past decade and are now a real alternative.
The star of the Volvo stand, and perhaps the IAA show in general, was the launch of VERA. This is a fully autonomous electric prime mover that is connected via the cloud to a command centre for moving trailers between fixed hubs, such as distribution centres, wharf precincts, etc. The most striking aspect is that it has no cab. It also raises the challenge of having to connect trailers by itself, which could result in some interesting experiences.
Ford is a name we haven’t seen on the front of a truck for some time, but at the IAA the Blue Oval launched the all-new Ford Truck F-MAX. Starting with a complete blank sheet, Ford has spent five years and over five million kilometres on four continents developing the F-MAX, and in so doing has come up with an impressive product. On its first public outing the Ford F-MAX received the International Truck of the Year award for 2019, an indictment that is voted on by judges from 23 European countries.
Built in Turkey, the F-MAX comes with a 12.7-litre E6D Ecotorq engine offering 500 hp and 2500 Nm of torque through a 12-speed ZF automated transmission, and different drive modes such as Eco-Mode and Power-Mode help optimise fuel consumption.
Another new truck coming out of Turkey proudly wears the BMC badge, although it has no relationship with the previous brand name of British Motor Corporation. We’re guessing the BMC Tuğra is not a product we’ll be seeing Down Under anytime soon, but it’s interesting to see not one, but two, new trucks coming out of a country other than China. BMC has been building commercial and military trucks since 1964, and its new truck may be a cheap alternative for some developing countries, along with other models like the VW Constellation from TRATON.
The impression to take home from this year’s IAA was that alternative fuel options and vehicle connectivity are no longer marketing hype. These technologies will be part of real trucks that will start shaping the future of trucking in the coming decade, both in Europe and here in Australia.