Mercedes-Benz has introduced a number of modifications to the Econic low-entry cab truck range for the 2010 model year. These include diesel models certified to European Enhanced Environmentally Friendly Vehicle (EEV) standards, new occupant safety equipment, and chassis and axle enhancements.
Certification to the EEV standard exceeds the requirements for the current Euro-V limit, reducing particulate emissions by around 33% in comparison. The EEV rating would enable the vehicle to enter low emissions zones. Mercedes-Benz already produces an EEV-compliant Econic using a 6.9-L natural gas engine. This is developed from the inline six-cylinder diesel used to power the Econic but converted to spark ignition.
The latest gas versions now feature an optimized powertrain and combustion system. The company claims that performance is improved while wear is reduced. The gas engine is rated at 205 kW (275 hp), while producing 1000 N·m (738 lb·ft) of torque. Around 20% of Econic sales are natural-gas-powered variants.
From the second half of 2010, Econic crew-cab models will be fitted with three-point seatbelts for all occupants. The low entry height cab, constructed from composite panels on an aluminum spaceframe, was specifically designed for waste and recycling collections, with additional seating for the crew. Before the latest modification, crew seating consisted of a nearside passenger seat equipped with a three-point seatbelt and two center passenger seats equipped with lap belts. The modification will introduce three-point seatbelts to these two center seats.
U.K.-specification models have been fitted with an axle load measuring system incorporated in the air suspension bellows in recent years. This system has also included traction assistance, which operates by automatically reducing the suspension bellows air pressure when wheel slip is detected. Both the weight monitoring and traction assistance systems will now become standard on all European-spec Econic models.
Accidental axle overloading is a potential problem for all garbage truck chassis because the load is usually added at the rear of the body. Before the waste is compacted and pushed forward in the body, it can allow weight to exceed the permitted weights for the rear axles. Individual axle weights and the total gross weight are displayed in the driver information system on the dashboard.
The Econic full air-suspension system allows the chassis to be raised and lowered. As part of the 2010 revisions, all new Econic chassis can now be raised by 200 mm (7.9 in) or lowered by 60 mm (2.4 in). This function has been designed to aid the fitting of demountable bodies.
The Econic is available with a range of chassis configurations including rigid and semi-trailer versions. Rigid chassis are available in 4x2 and 6x2 mid- and rear-steer as well as 6x4 and 8x4 mid-steer configurations.
Launched in 1999, the Econic is produced at the Mercedes-Benz special vehicle product division at Wörth in Germany. Production was transferred from the company’s Center of Competence for Zero-Emission Commercial Vehicles in Mannheim, Germany, in 2009.