AXA AFFIN General Insurance Berhad (AXA) continues to expand its Payer-to-Partner strategy through its strategic partnership with Hap Seng Trucks Distribution Sdn. Bhd. (HSTD) and Hap Seng Credit Sdn. Bhd. (HSC).
This collaborative initiative aims to introduce AXA FlexiTruck,the first telematics commercial vehicle insurance in Malaysia to inculcate safe driving behaviour among FUSO light commercial vehicle truck drivers and help them understand their driving habits better through the installation of telematics security device.
Emmanuel Nivet, CEO of AXA, said, “As commercial vehicle transportation continues to grow in Malaysia, crash rates involving commercial vehicles remain high. It is important for us, as an insurer, to promote inclusivity and responsible driving behaviour to all road users, including light commercial vehicle driversto mitigate the high accident and road fatality rate. Together with our partner Hap Seng Trucks Distribution, we are committed to deliver our shared goal of providing added value and protection to our customers, at the same time making our roads better and safer for all.”
Following the positive impact of AXA FlexiDrive telematics motor insurance, AXA FlexiTruck is underwritten by AXA to offer comprehensive protection to light commercial vehicle drivers with benefits including special motor insurance pricing, low claim excess of RM 500 per claim and Personal Accident coverage worth RM 50,000.
Through collective efforts with HSTD, AXA FlexiTruck will be promoted at HSTD FUSO dealership network branches and HSC offices nationwide, with all Mitsubishi Fuso Canter trucks sold to be fitted with a telematics device that provides the following capabilities:
(i) Vehicle telematics service: Truck drivers are able to access useful data on their vehicle usage, mileage and driving behaviour through mobile app on a trip-by-trip basis.
(ii) Automatic accident alert & assistance: In the event of accident, an alert will be automatically triggered with emergency medical assistance dispatched to the crash location.
(iii) 24/7 vehicle security & theft recovery: Truck drivers will receive real-time alert in case of theft and police will be alerted to help recover the stolen vehicle.
In addition, AXA FlexiTruck will be financed by HSC under FUSO Ez-Own, also the first telematics financing programme in Malaysia. Purchaser of FUSO truck only needs to pay RM 100 down payment for vehicle hire purchase loan which includes 5 years of motor insurance premium. Unused motor insurance premium, if any, will be refunded to purchaser at the end of the loan tenure.
Roland Schneider, Chief Executive of HSTD, attested that the financing scheme is aimed at offering a simple and affordable protection solution to FUSO truck drivers.
“Truck drivers in Malaysia are among the most trained and highly skilled, but they are under protected due to lack of awareness and accessibility to affordable protection solutions. Our collaboration with AXA ties back to our mission to leverage on innovative product offerings to address the drivers’ needs, while giving them peace of mind on the road,” Roland said.
It is locally emission-free and almost silent. It combines the tried and tested platform of the Mercedes-Benz urban bus with new technological solutions. The fully electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro brings electromobility for urban buses to a whole new level. The new eCitaro uses innovative components now available for the first time for the eCitaro to achieve a previously unknown degree of energy efficiency. The performance of the eCitaro meets most of the requirements of the transport companies even at launch. Plus, it is already prepared for the battery technology of the future. And its design allows the basic shape of the Citaro to merge with elements of the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus into a distinct visual appearance of its own. It’s more than an urban bus: Mercedes-Benz takes a holistic approach to electromobility and integrates the eCitaro into the overall eMobility system.
The eCitaro: world premiere in 2018, already a success
The eCitaro impresses with its performance and comes at precisely the right time. Although it only celebrated its world premiere last autumn at the International Commercial Vehicle Show, it is already out and about on the roads of Hamburg, Berlin, Mannheim and Heidelberg. Mercedes-Benz recently received a major order for 56 eCitaro vehicles from Wiesbaden. It is the largest single order ever received in Germany for all-electric buses. Mercedes‑Benz is optimistic that further successes will follow soon. A fleet of demonstration buses which is currently showing the eCitaro’s qualities to transport companies on-location in Europe will play a part in this.
The tailor-made exclusive exterior of the eCitaro
The eCitaro benefits from the platform of the best-selling Citaro with more than 50,000 units sold all over the world. The eCitaro is a true Citaro – but a very special one; because its unique characteristics match its equally unique design.
This is already evident in the face of the eCitaro. Its centre-point is formed by the Mercedes star. Decorative elements emanate from the star, to the left and right. The model insignia with its blue letter “e” discreetly and yet unmistakably indicates the fully electric drive technology. The bumper and the model-specific three-dimensional A0 pillars neatly frame the face of the eCitaro. Another feature of the urban bus is the curve of its windscreen with the integrated destination display. Visually, the windscreen smoothly transitions into the roof with dark bars on the left and right.
The roof-mounted equipment on the eCitaro is concealed behind an elegant roof-edge ridge made of a multi-piece extruded aluminium section. The glossy black lower segment extends the generous side-window glazing of the urban bus. The upper segment is painted in the vehicle colour. These optical tricks lend the eCitaro perfect proportions.
A fusion of elegant and at the same time practical design
Overall, the eCitaro sports a solid appearance with clearly drawn contours and no showmanship whatsoever. At the same time, the new eCitaro is a truly practical bus. The eCitaro adopts the structure of the current model unchanged – a crucial factor in facilitating the repair of accident damage, for example. The curved windscreen comes from the Citaro Ü and is thus a common spare part. The roof-edge ridge at the sides is not only a two-part design, it is also segmented.
Interior: new coffered ceiling with high-tech lighting
In the passenger compartment, the eCitaro rings in a general update of the interior concerning the entire Citaro family. A stand-out feature in the interior is the coffered design ceiling above the centre aisle and the sweeping roof-edge flaps. They hide a new air circulation system with textile ducts in place of the current plastic air ducts. They are even easier and simpler to install.
The technology modules, as connectors between the individual elements of the coffered ceiling, are particularly noteworthy. They combine the interior lights and the loudspeakers in one element. In line with this step, the interior lights have also been switched over to LED technology as standard. The lighting is ingenious: the light of the LED lamps is refracted in a way to make the technology modules appear to the observer as one homogeneous light panel.
Another new feature is the black trim on the sills and window posts. As a result, the window posts stand out less, soothing the appearance of the side walls.
Proven electric axle, now up to twelve battery modules
The powertrain of the new eCitaro is based on the proven and optimised ZF AVE 130 electric portal axle with electric motors at the wheel hubs. The peak output of the motors is 2 x 125 kW, while torque is 2 x 485 Nm. It is an inherent feature of such motors that this is fully available right from the start, ensuring appropriate dynamic performance even with a full complement of passengers.
Lithium-ion batteries supply the power. New: their total capacity is as high as 292 kWh. Background information: The batteries are now split between as many as twelve modules, instead of the initial ten, each supplying around 25 kWh. The basic equipment sees two battery modules on the vehicle roof plus four fitted at the rear. Depending on customer requirements, up to six further battery modules are mounted on the roof of the eCitaro.
With the full complement of twelve batteries, the eCitaro as a two-door model with standard equipment weighs around 14.1 tonnes with a permissible gross vehicle weight of 19.5 tonnes. This corresponds to seats for around 80 passengers – very practicable during rush hour.
Flexible charging technology: Charging at the depot as standard, optional current collector
The eCitaro’s charging technology also allows it to adjust to the individual wishes and requirements of the transport operators. For the start of series production, plug-in charging is envisaged. To this end, the urban bus features a socket for a Combo 2 plug above the front wheel arch on the right-hand side of the vehicle in the direction of travel.
If intermediate charging is required to extend the range, there will in future also be an option to charge the eCitaro via a current collector on the roof. This option will be gradually phased in, once series production has started. There will be two possible variants: In phase 1, an integral current collector (pantograph) on the roof; in phase 2, charging rails on the roof that will allow charging via a stationary current collector at a charging station.
Thermal management: new methods for heating and air conditioning
However, the battery capacity alone provides little indication of the actual performance capability and, above all, the range of an all-electric urban bus – the true measure is that of energy consumption. In the case of an urban bus, this is impacted significantly by climatic conditions and the need to cool and, above all, to heat the interior.
At an outside temperature of minus ten degrees Celsius, the energy consumption of an urban bus doubles compared to journeys where no heating is required. Therefore the engineers have carefully considered the issue of thermal management. Compared with the current Citaro with a combustion engine, the energy requirement for heating, ventilation and climate control has been reduced by about 40 percent. This exceptional energy efficiency provides the basis for the eCitaro’s practical operating range even under unfavourable conditions. This is accomplished with the use of innovative components that only reached market readiness in line with the eCitaro.
Heating featuring heat pump, networking of components
In the first instance, Mercedes-Benz cools the batteries to ensure that they remain at the ideal temperature, thereby ensuring maximum charging capacity, performance capability, and service life. At extreme outside temperatures, the passenger-compartment climate control system is used to boost the cooling of the batteries.
The passenger compartment of the eCitaro is heated in an energy-efficient manner by a heat pump. Even temperature distribution is ensured by using the familiar sidewall fan heaters. The conventional heater at the front is equipped with a double heat exchanger.
All components that give off heat are linked together, to keep the amount of energy required for their cooling to a minimum. Since the human body also gives off heat, the heating on a bus carrying a full complement of passengers can be turned down earlier. Furthermore, Mercedes-Benz varies the output of the heating and climate control systems according to the number of passengers.
During the colder months, the roof-mounted air conditioning system is additionally used as a heat pump, ensuring effective and efficient climate control for the passenger compartment. The use of CO2 as a coolant brings further benefits. The particularly efficient use of the heat pump is impressive, even at very cold temperatures.
Another advantage: While the batteries are being charged in the depot, the vehicle interior can be pre-conditioned and even over-conditioned to the desired temperature. The bus will therefore have been heated or cooled to suit the seasonal conditions before it sets off.
Practical range even in tough conditions
Operating range figures for all-electric-powered urban buses are often difficult to compare. Mercedes-Benz prefers to consider a “worst-case scenario” and therefore takes its direction from the challenging standardised city driving cycle known as SORT 2 and includes the energy requirements of the auxiliary consumers in its calculations. According to this, the Citaro achieves an operating range of around 170 kilometres in summer. This means that even without intermediate charging, the eCitaro already covers about one third of all routes. Under ideal conditions, the eCitaro even drives around 280 km without intermediate charging.
Driver’s area: familiar cockpit with a power meter in place of a rev counter
Benefit for the eCitaro driver: cockpit and operating concept of the urban bus are largely unchanged – except that a power meter now replaces the rev counter. It displays the current power demand and/or energy recuperation rate. The driver also receives information about the charge status of the batteries. He or she can access the range, available power and a charging indicator on the central display.
In general, the performance is optimised for maximum efficiency, without the driver having to deal with major differences from the Citaro with combustion engine. For example, in the basic setting, the bus coasts in an energy-efficient manner when the driver takes her/ his foot off the accelerator pedal – it “glides”. Alternatively, the driver can use a multi-stage electric brake lever to set a basic deceleration rate – similar to the engine braking torque or the retarder effect of a diesel bus – as the energy recovery rate.
The future is electric: launch of an innovation initiative
As the development of battery technology is progressing at a rapid pace, the eCitaro is already designed to be transitioned to the battery technology of the future. This concerns for example the lithium-ion batteries currently in use. As things currently stand, the next generation with a larger capacity and resulting increased range will already be available for customers of the eCitaro in 2021. With a total capacity of up to 330 kWh, the eCitaro will then cover about 50 percent of all applications.
Another step already scheduled for the coming year envisages the optional use of future lithium-polymer batteries, also referred to as solid-state batteries. With this new battery technology, the eCitaro once again takes on a leading role, and is even among the pioneers in automotive construction. Solid state batteries are characterised by a particularly long service life and high energy density. With a nominal battery capacity of up to 441 kWh, the eCitaro would then be able to cover around 70 percent of all requirements without the need for intermediary charging. As a solobus, even when faced with the difficult demands of using all-electric heating in the winter months, the eCitaro can still cover more than 200 km in accordance with the SORT 2 testing method. The characteristics of solid-state batteries differ significantly from NMC batteries (lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt-oxide cells): They have a different shape, are more voluminous overall and are not suitable for quick-charging. Urban buses equipped with them are therefore suitable for other types of application. For this reason, the eCitaro will in future be offered with a choice of NMC or solid‑state batteries.
Subsequently, the range of the eCitaro will be increased yet again by a range extender in the form of a fuel cell for generating electricity. It will be designed to allow the eCitaro to fulfil nearly 100 percent of all requirements on urban buses. This technology eliminates the need for intermediate charging and the complex infrastructure required for it in almost all cases: The eCitaro will be able to replace combustion engine-powered urban buses almost one to one.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks has sent another fully-electric eActros onto the streets.
The heavy-duty truck will now be put through its paces in regular operations; primarily transporting foodstuffs in the inner-city traffic of Frankfurt, Germany.
With a daily travel route distance of around 200 km, the 25-tonne truck will be driven once a day, making full use of its range of around 200 km with a single charge. The batteries will be charged overnight.
The energy powering the eActros comes from lithium-ion batteries with a capacity of 240 kWh. Depending on the available capacity, fully charging takes around two hours (at 150 kW). The truck features a refrigerated swap-body from Schmitz Cargobull, which allows for energy-efficient transport of the chilled produce.
Rigterink, one of 20 customers from various sectors who have integrated the electric truck into their fleets, will operate a near-series version of either the 18 or 25-tonne variant for around a year and will test the respective vehicle for its suitability in daily operations.
The aim is to make emission-free and quiet driving in urban areas possible with heavy-duty trucks from 2021 onward. The test series is broken down into two phases, each with ten customers. The first eActros of the so-called “innovation fleet” is in operation with a customer since September 2018.
The development and testing of the heavy-duty electric truck in short-radius distribution operations is sponsored as part of the “Concept ELV²” project to varying degrees by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi).
With its seamless, clean design and colour highlights typical of the brand, the Mercedes-Benz EQC is a pioneer for an avant-garde electric look while representing the design idiom of Progressive Luxury. In combination with the extensive services and a range of 445 – 471 km (NEDC), it makes electric mobility convenient and suitable for everyday use. The charismatic EQC impresses with the sum of its attributes.
With its effortlessly superior driving impression, high level of acoustic comfort and exciting driving dynamics, the EQC displays all the brand’s hallmark attributes – the Mercedes of electric vehicles.
Prices for the Mercedes-Benz EQC start at €71,281 (including VAT and local European delivery costs) for the already generously equipped base version. Its net basic price of less than €60,000 (for export before delivery and taxes) makes it eligible for an environmental bonus in Germany – regardless of individual equipment.
Start of production?
The first EQC has just rolled off the production line at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen. There it is being produced on the same line as the C-Class Saloon and Estate as well as the GLC and GLC Coupé – digitally, flexibly and sustainably. Production of vehicles with various drive systems can be adapted variably and efficiently in line with market demand. This approach is an ideal way to ensure the best possible use of capacity at the plant, and guarantee high Mercedes-Benz production and quality standards.
Digital solutions such as sophisticated mobile devices, driverless transport systems and the ‘paperless factory’ assist the assembly team. Production staff are irreplaceable, even in the age of electric mobility. The use of Big Data and artificial intelligence assists with predictive maintenance, for example. This means the fact that the company made investments in maximum flexibility and hi-tech equipment offering trend-setting Industry 4.0 solutions at an early stage is paying off.
When the body, suspension and powertrain come together in automobile assembly, this is referred to as the “marriage” – in the case of the EQC this is when the two powerpacks are installed in the body. One major innovation is the so-called battery joining centre. The second “marriage” takes place here: This is where the EQCs are recognised as electric models with the help of data tags attached to the body, and equipped with a battery. The body is suspended from a carrier and deposited on a frame. Support arms raise the battery to the vehicle’s floor from below. An employee monitors the automatic bolting in place.
Battery production network
Alongside Bremen, the Sino-German production joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd. (BBAC) will start production of the EQC this year – for the local market in China. As it does for the C-Class and the GLC, Bremen acts as the centre of competence for production of the EQC in other locations. BBAC is part of the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Other production locations for future Mercedes-Benz EQ models are the Mercedes-Benz plants in Rastatt (Germany), Sindelfingen (Germany), Tuscaloosa (USA) and Hambach (France).
The batteries for EQC production in Bremen are produced by wholly owned Daimler subsidiary Accumotive at its site in Kamenz (near Dresden) and delivered partly charged. These batteries are kept near the production line and then delivered to the line flexibly on demand using driverless transport systems. Local battery production is a major success factor in the electric initiative of Mercedes-Benz Cars. The production network for the mobility of the future is well positioned.
The new Actros sets the standard today in long-distance haulage. The flagship from Mercedes-Benz Trucks convinces in particular with its inner values: many of the innovations were developed with the declared goal of tangibly advancing drivers, customers and society. With new features like the Multimedia Cockpit, the MirrorCam replacing outside mirrors, more sophisticated safety systems and partially automated driving, the new Mercedes-Benz Actros thus provides the right answer to issues such as safety, fuel efficiency and availability.
Partially automated driving in all speed ranges: the new Active Drive Assist
A milestone in truck development and manufacturing is the new Active Drive Assist. The system orients itself according to the markings on the road by means of a camera, and under certain conditions takes over the longitudinal and lateral guidance of the truck. Active Drive Assist can automatically steer, brake and accelerate the vehicle under certain circumstances. For the first time in a mass-produced truck, the system thus allows partially automated driving in all speed ranges – a first big step on the way to autonomous driving. However, Active Drive Assist is still an assistance system and does not relieve drivers of their permanent responsibility for what the vehicle does in traffic.
First mass-produced truck with MirrorCam instead of exterior mirrors
The new Actros has replaced the main mirror and wide-angle mirrors with the MirrorCam as a standard feature. The MirrorCam brings an enormous improvement in safety, vehicle handling and aerodynamics. The system comprises of two cameras directing to the rear of the truck and its images appear on two displays in the cab. The MirrorCam is mounted on the A-pillars and supports the driver with special distance lines for better estimating following traffic and in manoeuvring, cornering or changing lanes, for example. Another big advantage: the absence of conventional mirrors considerably improves all-around visibility.
Better protection for pedestrians and cyclists: optimised Sideguard Assist utilises the displays of the MirrorCam
Sideguard Assist has been available since 2016 and is currently the only system of its kind fully integrated in the vehicle architecture. Sideguard Assist can minimise the probability of dangerous accidents on the co-driver side during cornering or when changing lanes to the right. The warning system has now been further improved: the MirrorCam and Sideguard Assist work hand in hand in the new Actros – all relevant information is consolidated at one place on the MirrorCam displays.
Active Brake Assist 5: the new generation of the emergency braking assist system
The more sophisticated system can now better react to people, thanks to the combination of radar and camera system. The proven abilities of the predecessor remain: regardless of whether a stationary or preceding vehicle or person is in question – Active Brake Assist 5 supports the driver in case a collision may threaten. If needed, with automatic maximum full-stop braking as well. Important to note: Active Brake Assist 5 is merely a driver assistance system; the driver continues to have full responsibility for driving the vehicle safely. This responsibility also means that the driver must always have full control of the vehicle in traffic, amongst other things.
New Predictive Powertrain Control: save fuel automatically – now also off the motorway in intercity service
The fuel consumption of the new Actros has been further reduced compared with its predecessor. Essentially contributing to this reduction is the expanded cruise control and transmission control system, Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC). New, among other things, is that PPC can now also be used in intercity service. Fuel economy in the new Actros is also supported by aerodynamic improvements with the MirrorCam and new side deflectors. In addition, some models also include new fuel-saving rear axle ratios.
Connectivity and intuitive operation thanks to the new Multimedia Cockpit
The new Multimedia Cockpit provides the driver with completely new control options and improved operating comfort. Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – never a problem. The Multimedia Cockpit has two large displays. The primary display replaces the conventional instrument cluster. All of the assistance systems and the new traffic sign detection function are shown here, for example. A second touchscreen in the instrument panel serves the operation of selected apps from the Mercedes-Benz Truck App Portal, virtual switches and for the representation of the new navigation system. Valuable for the company owner: real-time monitoring of the truck via Fleetboard and Mercedes-Benz Uptime thanks to the Truck Data Centre.