temperatures and icy roads, short days and poor visibility: Winter presents
both the trucks and their drivers with a particular challenge. Finnish
transport company Vähälä has 65 of their own trucks and is putting their trust
in the new Actros for their daily routines in the extreme conditions of Finland
which are unmatched across the rest of the continent.
Finnish winter has days that start with temperatures slightly above freezing,
which will then reach minus 40 by the time drivers arrive at the northern
provincial capital of Rovaniemi in the evening, having travelled a good 900
kilometres from the south of the country to get there.
delighted with the new Actros,” says Ville Vähälä who is at the helm of the
family business, now managed by the third generation. The 42-year old was one
of the first customers in Europe to have used the vehicle as part of
long-distance road testing. The vehicle has since become an integral part of
the company fleet. Operated on a multi-shift basis, the annual mileage is an
impressive 250,000 to 300,000 kilometres.
uses the Actros 2663 as a “high-capacity truck” with two semitrailers. Trailers
like these, reaching up to 34.5 metres in length and weighing 76 tonnes in
total, have only been permitted in Finland since the start of 2019. And the new
Actros appears to have been perfectly designed for this role. Finnish law
dictates that any towing vehicle with a train length of 28 metres or more must
have a digital camera system – something the new Actros includes as standard
with the MirrorCam.
MirrorCam has replaced the main and wide-angle mirrors on the outside of the
truck with two compact, streamlined camera arms on the roof frame. The images
captured are transmitted to displays on the A-pillars in the driver's field of
vision. The system thus provides assistance when navigating bends, for example,
whereby the image of the curve inner moves in accordance with the vehicle's own
movement. The driver thus always has the end of the trailer in their sights.
Plus, the large display switches to a wide-angle mode when reversing, thus
providing the driver with a better overall view.
minimum soiling – a real bonus during the winter months
truckers generally benefit from these features. However, those truckers looking
to safely navigate the poor visibility of Finland's dark and gloomy winter
days, particularly with an extra-long truck, certainly appreciate this additional
MirrorCam provides even more benefits, especially during the winter months. The
system functions reliably in all weather conditions as the camera lenses are
heated once temperatures drop below 15 degrees. Furthermore, the intensity of
the light means the MirrorCam ensures good visibility even at night. And, the
compact design of these cameras means they are far less prone to getting dirty,
for example from slush.
addition to the MirrorCam, the new Actros boasts a number of other innovative
features – certainly a valuable asset when faced with challenging winter
conditions. The new Active Drive Assist, for example, which supports the driver
when braking, accelerating and steering in all speed ranges. Or Active Brake
Assist 5, the latest generation of the emergency brake assistant.
improved version of the Predictive Powertrain Control, the intelligent cruise
and transmission control, has been included in the new Actros. With additional
map material, it is also practical for inter-urban routes. A big plus for those
navigating the sparsely populated regions of Finland, in particular. Not
forgetting the new Multimedia Cockpit with its two new digital displays and
convenient intuitive operation.
consumption leverage fully utilised
Powertrain Control not only increases safety but also fuel efficiency – a
particularly important aspect for Ville Vähälä. “Mercedes has certainly reached
new heights here with this feature.” Further leverage here includes the
economical Euro VI engines, finely tuned drivetrain configurations and further
improvements to the aerodynamics, thanks in part to the absence of outside
mirrors. Vähälä's 65 trucks travel a total of eight to nine million kilometres
every year. The reduced fuel consumption is thus noticeably reflected in diesel
distances covered in often adverse weather conditions, through sparsely
populated regions and with customers who can’t tolerate downtimes:
circumstances that demand nothing less than maximum reliability. Since the
purchase of his first Actros in 2006, Ville Vähälä has only had positive
experiences with Mercedes-Benz. “We can cover up to 150,000 kilometres between
two service appointments – that's extraordinary.” Not only does the new Actros
boast a particularly solid and durable design, it is supported by sophisticated
axles, frame components, chassis and suspension components, as well as an
operations-oriented braking system. Vähälä also makes the most of the
comprehensive truck services offered by Mercedes-Benz. “All of our trucks are
covered by Service Contracts and are fitted with Mercedes-Benz Uptime. We have
no need for our own workshop anymore,” he explains.
Long journeys and
extreme weather conditions characterise Finland's transport market
Logistics, with its headquarters in the northern Finnish city of Oulu, has
around 200 trucks in operation. This also includes vehicles from
subcontractors. Two-thirds of the company's 65-strong fleet of trucks are made
by Mercedes. Their freight ranges from pulp for paper manufacture to medical
products, not to mention foodstuffs for supermarkets. Another important pillar
is the transport of cargo on behalf of DB Schenker. Vähälä functions as a
national network partner of the German logistics giant.
transport market is certainly a challenging environment. For a country almost
as big as Germany, it only has 5.5 million inhabitants, most of whom live in
the southern and western regions. Nevertheless, goods need to be regularly
transported to the most remote parts – regardless of the weather!
Trucks/ Mercedes Trucks
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