The Mercedes-Benz Actros trailer/tractor combination has entered the Guinness World Records as the most fuel-efficient 40-tonne truck, with fuel consumption of 19.44 liters of diesel per 100 km— the equivalent less than 0.8 liters per hundred tonne-kilometers (tkm)—during a test drive of more than 12,728 kilometers.
The consumption was determined during a seven-day round-the-clock test drive, with a standard-specification Actros hauling more than 25 tonnes of payload at an average speed of 80 kph around a test course in Nardo, Italy.
The Actros also reduces CO2 emissions to 20.5 grams per tonne of payload and kilometer (g/tkm). By comparison, a theoretical "one-liter car" would produce 53 g/tkm. Today’s hybrid passenger cars produce 297 g/tkm of CO2. Even in normal traffic, the 40-tonne trailer/tractor combination performs significantly better, boasting fuel consumption figures between 30 and 35 liters, and 30 to 37 g/tkm of CO2.
The fuel consumption test for the new Mercedes-Benz Actros was monitored by DEKRA (the German automotive inspection agency) under ideal conditions at the test site in Nardo.
The fuel consumption test in Nardo also illustrates what factors increase fuel consumption on the road: inadequate traffic infrastructure and a lack of traffic management, incorrect vehicle configuration, inadequate vehicle maintenance and actual driving style. The measurements in Nardo confirmed the figures from the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), according to which the instantaneous fuel consumption of a 40-tonne trailer/tractor combination can triple if the vehicle is forced to stop twice every kilometer, instead of travelling unimpeded at 50 kph.
Correct vehicle configuration can also influence fuel consumption. Failure to order additional aerodynamic equipment when purchasing the vehicle can see fuel consumption increase by 10%, according to Daimler. Correctly adjusting the wind deflectors on the cab can on its own improve fuel consumption by up to 4%.
Even apparently minor details such as incorrectly tightened or flapping tarpaulins will inexorably push up diesel consumption. By contrast, the aerodynamic A-pillar panelling available ex-factory for the new Mercedes-Benz Actros at no extra cost can reduce fuel consumption by one percent.
The same applies to tires. Mercedes-Benz offers Super-wide tires for its trucks instead of the twin tires on the rear axle. Potential fuel savings of up to 2% have been measured in tests. Insufficient tire pressure can increase fuel consumption by up to 8%. Around 30% of all trucks on the road have insufficient tire pressure.
The test drives with the Mercedes-Benz Actros showed that under optimum conditions the vehicle technology accounts for just about 60% of the fuel consumed by a 40-tonne trailer/trailer combination. Traffic conditions, topography, vehicle configuration and maintenance make up the various factors in the remaining 40% or so, i.e. between 10 and 15 liters per 100 kilometers. Traffic planners, dispatchers, fleet decision-makers and drivers can influence many of these parameters.