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Mercedes-Benz BlueTec in Atego – a first in Southern Africa

The Mercedes-Benz Atego trucks new BlueTec technology brings even greater fuel savings

Triton Express, a national carrier company, recently had on test a Mercedes-Benz Atego 1318/48 for various fuel efficiency, safety and comfort trials. Following positive results, the management at Triton purchased a fleet of sixteen Atego models. Four of these trucks are specified with the BlueTec technology.

“As our standard fleet of more than 200 vehicles travels thousands of kilometres each month, we are constantly seeking measures in which we can improve on fuel consumption and the general maintenance cost of our fleet,” said Eric Corbishley, joint CEO of Triton Express. “With more than 60,000 consignments per month, from envelopes to three to four tons per shipment, we pride ourselves on reliable and timeous deliveries, therefore, our vehicles of choice need to be reliable, especially in a stop/start environment.”

All sixteen Atego models are fitted with the Telligent automatic transmission as standard, which provides added ease of operation, resulting in further fuel savings, especially in stop-start traffic. The aerokit provides further fuel-saving measures as the aerodynamics of the vehicle are enhanced with this fitment.

“The operating team at Triton Express were extremely impressed with the fuel savings achieved on the demonstrator model – Atego 1318 – which they ran for a six-month trial period before purchasing this model,” said Christo Kleynhans, Product Manager, Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles. “It is not common practice that an operator purchases the demo model, further confirming their satisfaction with the performance of the Atego.”

The new Ategos are powered by highly successful and economical BlueTec engines in the output class from 130 kW with a four-cylinder-engine up to 175 kW with the six-cylinder engine. Servicing of the vehicles will be carried out by Triton’s in-house workshops, which are Mercedes-Benz accredited, where a trained team of technical experts will monitor and gauge the performance of all these vehicles.

Triton Express has twelve branches throughout South Africa including Johannesburg, Polokwane, Nelspruit, Cape Town, George, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, Pietermaritzburg, Newcastle, Richards Bay and Bloemfontein. Early in 2012 Triton Express will expand their network to Upington. Cross-border operations are also planned for 2012, starting with Zimbabwe in February and later in the year to Mozambique and Namibia.

The supply of the AdBlue additive necessary for the Atego BlueTec trucks is sourced through a local supplier and is delivered in 1 000 litre drums to Triton Express’s Johannesburg depot. The Euro 5 Ategos will only operate on major routes within South Africa’s borders due to the availability of 50 ppm fuel. Currently Triton Express is able to obtain a regular supply within their Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban branches.

“We find that we have a growing number of customers that are requesting a greener transport solution,” said Corbishley. “At Triton Express we are committed to achieving a positive reduction of our carbon footprint. A large part of this can be achieved by using cleaner emission vehicles and the Euro 5 specs combined with fuel savings make this possible. We believe business will drive the environmental issue in South Africa ahead of legislation in the short term The success of these Atego BlueTec trucks will determine the introduction of further BlueTec vehicles into our fleet.”

The new Mercedes-Benz Atego is easily distinguished by its modern appearance. The front section, featuring a striking radiator grille, emphasises the fact that the vehicle belongs to the Mercedes-Benz heavy-duty truck range. The Ategos are fitted with composite box bodies with a maximum load capacity of seven tons for the Atego 1318 and eight tons for the Atego 1524.

The artistically designed outer appearance of these composite box bodies demonstrates the company’s commitment to a cleaner environment. The Triton Express slogan ‘signed.sealed.delivered’ now includes: “What will your children breathe? Triton Express chooses Mercedes-Benz Euro 5 BlueTec Technology – Leading the way to a cleaner tomorrow”.

The cab's interior offers a number of convenient features, including a multifunction steering wheel to operate the on-board computer and the optional telephone and radio. The new instrument cluster features chrome ring surrounds for the speedometer and rev counter.

The standard equipment of the Atego further includes an extra middle-seat, head restraints integrated in the backrests and a clothes rail with adjustable hooks. The Atego selected for the Triton Express fleet offers the short cab, with multifunction stowage compartments.

Following a thorough evaluation of the given requirements and the vehicles available on the market for their application, Triton Express opted for the Mercedes-Benz Atego fitted with the Telligent Automatic Transmission, which are suited to a start stop environment.

“Driver training is another aspect of the business to which we attach great importance, and the drivers of these vehicles have undergone the necessary training with the respective Mercedes-Benz driver training programme,” said Corbishley. “We have dedicated drivers to specific trucks, and we have seen a significant improvement in driver behaviour following training, which has resulted in overall improved fuel consumption.”

The Mercedes-Benz BlueTec trucks in Actros, Axor and Atego guise, already in worldwide operation, have so far saved around 300mn litres of diesel fuel and spared the environment 700,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions (2009 figures). The BlueTec engines have been available in the Euro 4 and 5 versions in Europe since 2005.

In Europe, the Atego is also leading the way with regard to alternative drives. Production of an innovation fleet comprising the first 50 Atego BlueTec Hybrids commenced in 2010. Depending on its mode of use, the Hybrid will lower fuel consumption by 10-15 per cent, accompanied by corresponding reductions in CO2 emissions. The Atego Hybrid won the ‘Truck of the Year 2011’ award. This is the first time a vehicle with alternative fuel has won this coveted international award.

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