Choosing Safety First

Daimler Truck applauds the Federal Government for mandating AEBS for new models from late this year and all existing models over 3.5 tonnes sold from February 2025. However, customers don’t need to wait for the mandate to kick in and can choose to put safety first now.
Fuso Shogun, Freightliner Cascadia, Mercedes-Benz Actros.

If I can get one message across to you, it would be this: Make sure any truck you buy from now on has Advanced Emergency Braking System technology.

It can protect your driver and other road users and even reduces repair costs.

With awful regularity, we see heartbreaking cases of lives taken or ruined by collisions between trucks and other vehicles that could have been prevented, or at least mitigated, with AEBS.

AEBS uses radar and sometimes a camera to apply the full braking force of a truck in certain circumstances where the driver is slow to respond.

Drivers are only human and can be affected by fatigue, distraction or low visibility due to fog or sun glare. AEBS works and it is cost effective, and yet some manufacturers continue to introduce new trucks without installing this technology as standard equipment.

As the President and CEO of Daimler Trucks Australia Pacific, I’m proud that our Mercedes-Benz Trucks, Freightliner and Fuso brands take a leading role in the industry when it comes to sustainability and safety.

But don’t think this column is about getting you to buy our trucks. I want you to buy a truck that has AEBS because it saves lives.

Daimler Trucks introduced AEBS for the first time locally all the way back in 2010 on a Mercedes-Benz Actros and it has been standard on that truck ever since.

We decided that when we launched our bonneted Freightliner Cascadia here in 2019 that it would have AEBS standard. We were first to fit AEBS as standard in the light truck class with the Canter in the same year and it was soon added as standard on select Fighter and all Shogun trucks.

Apart from the trauma that it can prevent or reduce, AEBS even makes sense from a financial perspective.

Key customers of ours have pointed to an extreme reduction in costs related to accidents that have been avoided by the automated braking function.

A Daimler Truck customer with thousands of trucks in the United States told me its repair costs “fell off a cliff” when AEBS was introduced to its fleet.

However, not all companies are prepared to show leadership in this field and either don’t offer this simple technology, or banish it to the options list. In some cases, you can spend a lot of money on a new truck in Australia and still be asked whether you would like to pay extra for AEBS.

It’s like asking if you want fries with that. And it’s not a token amount either. The Federal Government is moving to mandate this technology for new models from late this year and all existing models over 3.5 tonnes sold from February 2025.

This means it will continue to be optional in many trucks for another 18 months. While we commend the Albanese Government for this move, Daimler Truck prefers to take a leading role in the industry by introducing features that benefit our customers and road users, rather than being forced to introduce it by regulators.

We don’t need to be the only company to fit a steering-wheel mounted airbag in a conventional bonneted truck, but we are, and it is standard.

Customers of that truck, the Freightliner Cascadia, can also select a side head protecting airbag. We are also the only one with a light bus, the Fuso Rosa, with AEBS.

That is something we are particularly proud of because buses carry the most precious cargo.

Our Fuso eCanter is the only small electric truck with AEBS, despite a slew of new arrivals drawn by the appeal of making some quick sales.

The idea of a truck, which operates in near-silence, not featuring the latest safety to assist in identifying and braking for pedestrians as well as other vehicles, is concerning.

We are also prepared to lead when it comes to helping our customers reduce their emissions. Back in 2016, we introduced the first complete model range with engines that met Euro 6 emissions standards. It was the Mercedes-Benz Actros.

It soon proved to be a win-win for our customers and the environment and the Actros has become legendary for its low running costs. We did the same with the new Freightliner Cascadia and Fuso Shogun, demonstrating that Daimler Truck leadership is across the board and not brand-specific.

In 2021, Daimler Truck was the first in Australia to introduce an Original Equipment Manufacturer electric truck with the Fuso eCanter. Some of the biggest brands have introduced this pioneering truck into their fleet and drivers are reporting just how good zero emission driving can be.

We are gearing up to introduce the second-generation eCanter, as well as the eActros and eEconic from Mercedes-Benz Trucks. We have thrown everything at their development because we are Daimler Truck and it is what we do.

We don’t rush to market. We make sure our product is the best. That’s why these trucks will run efficient eAxles, with no legacy driveshafts or gearboxes left in to add weight.

Importantly, they will have our latest active safety features. Going electric might be a bit further down the track for many of you, but when it comes to safety, you can all demand active safety including AEBS now.

Please give it a thought when it comes time to replenish or expand your fleet.

Daniel Whitehead, President and CEO Daimler Truck & Bus Australia Pacific.
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