Latest designs and technology on show at Hanover

Every two years the gigantic halls of the IAA Truck Show on the outskirts of Hanover are filled with the latest and greatest from the truck and trailer industry of Europe. With the cancellation of the RAI Truck Event in Amsterdam last year, it has been two years since the European truck industry has been able to strut its stuff at a major exhibition. Surprisingly, major releases from the big five truck manufacturers were relatively thin on the ground. The emphasis from all exhibitors was on cleaner, greener and safer vehicles.

By the time the next event at Hanover comes around in 2012, Europe will be about to enter the brave new world of Euro 6 emissions regulations and visitors can expect to see a plethora of new models and new engines on the stands. This year, however, it was the turn of the alternatives. Gas power, hybrids and electric power dominated the exhibitions from the major manufacturers.

This trend was reflected in the award of ‘Truck of the Year 2011’ going to the new Mercedes-Benz Atego and, especially, the BlueTec Hybrid variant. The award is normally reserved for the flagship heavy-duty prime movers but this year it went to a medium duty urban distribution truck designed to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

The message from truck and trailer manufacturers was a positive one. The industry in Europe has been hit hard by the recent global financial crisis but 2010 has seen encouraging signs of a recovery from a very low level in 2009. Demand for heavy commercial vehicles is growing globally and is expected to increase by 10% to 2.4 million vehicles overall this year.

Before the show opened, Matthias Wissmann, president of the German Association of the Automotive Industry which runs the IAA event, welcomed the high growth rates but noted that markets have not yet returned to pre-crisis levels. Last year truck sales in Europe fell by close to 50%.

“We have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction, we are making progress,” said Matthias. “Despite the crisis, the IAA has proved to be exceptionally stable and expanded its position as the world’s leading trade fair.”

The show saw 1740 exhibitors from 42 countries exhibiting their products for visitors. The organisers said there were 272 world premieres on show for visitors. 56% of the exhibitors came from outside Germany with 136 from Turkey and a further 117 from China. India was also highlighted by the show organisers with a special event spotlighting products from the subcontinent.

As a German company, and as the largest truck manufacturing group in the world, Daimler always make a big splash at the Hanover show. This year was no exception. As well as winning the coveted ‘Truck of the Year’ gong, it displayed two new all electric vehicles. From Japan, the company premiered the new Fuso Canter E-CELL battery driven truck as well as the new Mercedes Benz Vito E van.

Dominating the display were two highly customised flagship prime movers, the Black Liner and the White Liner, both top of the range Actros 4x2s available as limited editions featuring the Mega Space cabin with a custom leather interior and all the bells and whistles to impress the European truck driving community.

The Fuso Canter E-CELL was presented in public for the first time at the IAA. It features lithium ion batteries fitted within the chassis frame giving the truck a 40 kWh capacity and an estimated range of 120km per full charge. The 70kW motor is said to produce 300Nm of torque with a top speed of 80km/h.

Concept trucks are always a feature of these shows and this year saw futuristic concepts creating a stir at the Iveco and MAN stands. Of the two, the Iveco Glider was probably closer to a possible real truck while the MAN could only be described as being ‘out there’.

Iveco’s bright white Glider features a smooth aerodynamic evolution from the basic Stralis cab. This could be giving a hint of what is to come from the Italian truck maker when the new models start to appear in 2012 before the introduction of Euro 6. Lacking wing mirrors (replaced by small cameras) the drag coefficient of the truck with full rear fairing can be expected to be very low.

Apart from featuring an array of photo voltaic cells on the cab roof, the truck also uses a version of the KERS system, as fitted to Formula One cars. The Kinetic Energy Recovery System recovers energy normally wasted by the driveline to power fuel and water pumps, air conditioning and compressor; thus reducing fuel consumption. Of course, being Italian, no concept truck would be complete without a garish ultra modern interior design in Ferrari red and grey with vertically stowed bunk.

The MAN Concept S took a much more radical approach to aerodynamics moving away from a traditional truck cab shape and presenting a narrower front end to the airflow at the front of the truck. The company claims the truck could achieve a 25% reduction in carbon emissions. MAN is calling for a renewed look at length regulations in Europe because of the need for a redesigned aerodynamic trailer to complement their design. The reshaped trailer would need to be extended to enable it to carry the same volume of goods as current models.

DAF was exhibiting its 12 tonne LF Hybrid model, first seen at the Amsterdam show in 2007 but slated to go into production later this year. It was also celebrating its increased market penetration in the heavy-duty prime mover market in Europe. With a 21% market share, it is the top selling prime mover over 15 tonnes in the European Union.

The Paccar organisation was keen on demonstrating its technical prowess at the IAA, showing the latest engines to come off the group’s new production line in the US, the MX. These are now being fitted in both Kenworth and Peterbilt for the US market and are equipped with an EGR and SCR system to meet the next stage of emission reduction regulations in North America. These engines or something very similar should be making their way into the Kenworth product here in Australia in the not too distant future.

For the two Swedish truck manufacturers, Volvo and Scania, the IAA was all about alternative fuels. For Volvo the star of the show was the ‘Methane/Diesel’ powered truck. This uses the Clean Air Power technology, formerly fitted in Caterpillar engines both here and in Europe. This system injects an LNG and air mixture into the combustion chamber to be ignited by a small injection of diesel. Volvo is claiming a diesel substitution rate of between 50 and 80% on its test trucks.

Also on display from Volvo was the experimental DME powered trucks it is trialling on the highways of Sweden. These trucks are part of a national trial investigating the entire supply chain from the wood pulp waste used to make the Di-Methyl Ether through to the on road efficiency of the transport system.

An Australian innovation was also display in a Volvo truck at the IAA. Sold as the XXL cab in Australia and Norway, the bigger cab developed by Volvo’s engineers here in Australia to suit our dimension rules, created a great deal of interest but is unlikely to see wider use in Europe where strict dimension rules restrict its practicability.

It may not have had a new truck model on display, but Scania did come up with a new concept, ‘Ecolution’. This is the name of a new line of products aimed at minimising the operator’s carbon footprint. This includes optimised specifications and the introduction of alternative fuels. The company has identified biodiesel, ethanol and biogas as viable in urban operations with biodiesel for construction and a combination of diesel and biodiesel being suitable for long distance heavy-duty trucking.

The Swedish truck maker is introducing a number of gas powered engines for their P Series models in Europe, coupled to an Allison 6-speed automatic transmission. The 9.3 litre engines use spark ignition and lower compression ratios than their diesel alternatives. The engine management system is fully integrated and Scania claims it is able to achieve “diesel-like power and torque delivery”.

As is now common in truck shows around the world, there was a Chinese presence at the IAA with CAMC exhibiting a couple of trucks fitted with a choice of Hino or Cummins engines. There was also a new model called the Iveco Leoncino, a 6 tonne cab chassis built by the company’s Chinese joint venture operation Naveco and designed for export to countries like Russia and India competing directly with Japanese product.

Cummins chose to show off its new US market ISX engines to the European market despite being a company known for its medium duty engines in Europe. The ISX is its US EPA 2010 compliant model utilising SCR, EGR and the new Cummins Particulate Filter.

After the doom and gloom of 2009, with major truck manufacturers shying away from major truck expositions in Europe and the US, the green shoots of recovery seem to have been in evidence on the floor of the IAA in Hannover this year.

Leave a Reply

Send this to a friend