A Few Days in Germany

Rolf Lockwood

This past fall’s 61st version of the huge IAA Commercial Vehicles Show, held in Hannover, Germany over 10 days, proved yet again that engineers — not marketing folks — rule the roost over there in a pretty comprehensive way. In presentation after presentation, at display after display, the emphasis was always on technology. The higher, the better.

What follows is a roundup of a few show highlights:

AT DAIMLERCHRYSLER: the Actros Space-Max concept vehicle was the company’s IAA highlight, aimed at driver relaxation and sleeping comfort.

The bed is invisible during the day, fully integrated into the back panel, and folds out by an electro-hydraulic mechanism. There’s a large power sliding roof, a flat-screen TV, and a roof height of four meters, the legal limit. The ‘relaxation’ seat, which replaces the normal shotgun seat, would look right in any living room. The Space-Max is based on the Actros 1860 LS with Mercedes PowerShift, a new generation of automated transmissions, along with a 600-hp engine.

Not incidentally, the launch of the Actros in 1996 also launched huge strides in brake technology. It was the world’s first truck with disc brakes all-round as standard equipment plus an electronically controlled braking system, technology that has since become the European ¬≠standard for long-distance trucks.

See www.daimlerchrysler.com.

AT DAF: Paccar’s European subsidiary DAF Trucks scored a significant victory at IAA where its flagship vehicle, the XF105, was named the ‘International Truck of the Year 2007’ as voted by a jury of European truck journalists. Introduced last year, the XF105 is equipped with the all new 12.9-liter Paccar-branded engine, developed by DAF. North Americans may see it in Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks in the near future. The inline six is equipped with an SCR exhaust gas aftertreatment system, meeting both the new Euro 4 and coming-in-2009 Euro 5 emission standards.

DAF also announced at IAA that it would start offering “extra-clean EEV engines” next year (EEV stands for Enhanced Environmental-friendly Vehicles). Interestingly, these engines will go beyond the Euro 5 emissions standard, which is roughly equivalent to our 2007 EPA rules.

They’ll emit 50 percent less soot than Euro 5 calls for by applying SCR technology (selective catalytic reduction) in combination with a passive particulate filter.

Siemens Driver Attention System detects drowsiness

The Paccar 9.2 liter EEV engine will first be available in buses, later in 2007 for trucks. An EEV version of the 12.9 liter PACCAR MX engine will also be offered, with output ranging from 360 to 510 hp.

Many other European engine makers are also offering Euro 5 diesels now, well ahead of the mandate, and some fleets are buying.

See www.daf.com.

AT SIEMENS VDO: Over at the Siemens VDO stand, the company introduced its Driver Attention System as a means of dealing with drowsiness or inattentiveness at the wheel, the cause of one in every four accidents on German roads (it’s more like 40 percent over here).

The new warning system uses an infrared digital camera in the dashboard that is barely visible to the driver. It monitors the trucker’s face and a software program evaluates the recordings in real time. Based on the driver’s viewing direction and blinking patterns — number and duration of eyelid movements — the program can ascertain whether or not the driver is alert and attentive. If the electronics detect signs of drowsiness, the driver is warned at two levels — first by a vibration of the seat and then, if needed, an audible tone of increasing intensity.

Siemens VDO offers other such systems — Night Vision, Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, and Adaptive Cruise Control — and the company says the latter two of those systems could be combined with the Driver Attention System in the future. That would enable the vehicle to automatically be kept in its lane and brake in time to avoid colliding with a vehicle in front until the drowsy driver can take back control of the vehicle.

See www.siemensvdo.com.

AT WABCO: calling it “the world’s first De-Oiling Catalyst for commercial vehicle compressed air systems,” WABCO says its new gizmo helps truck owners cut service costs while increasing service life by converting hydrocarbons into harmless substances. Installed in the pressure line between compressor and air dryer, the catalyst provides cleaner air to the air system and its various devices, such as the air dryer cartridge and brake valves. Simply, it eliminates harmful oil products in compressed air systems by way of an oxidation process that converts hydrocarbons into water and carbon dioxide.

Nikhil Varty, the company’s vice president in charge of braking products, explains that higher air consumption and more compact system designs have increased pressure levels in air systems in recent years. That in turn can lead to more oil deposits, higher concentrations of oil-aging products in the system, and harmful carbon build-up in the pressure line.

See www.wabco-auto.com.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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