Mercedes-Benz invests around €70 million in the development of present-day and future trucks

5 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJanuary 10, 2020

Mercedes-Benz Trucks has opened the extended Development and Testing Centre in the southern Palatinate region of Germany, 18 months after the foundations were laid. 

Around €50 million (about NZ$84m) has been invested in the centre of competence for the development of trucks. In addition, around €20 million (around NZ$33.5m) went towards the ultra-modern road-to-rig test stand for comprehensive testing of Mercedes-Benz trucks in real time. The complex is a further integral part of the Mercedes-Benz Truck Testing Campus and went into operation in 2019. 

“Our new road-to-rig test stand for trucks is one of the most modern in Europe,” says Professor Uwe Baake, head of product engineering at Mercedes-Benz Trucks. “Thanks to its precise simulation of driving, we have taken testing and measuring for conventional and alternative drivetrains from the road into the testing hall and are thus making an important contribution to sustainability and relieving public roads.”

The development and testing centre (also known by its German abbreviation EVZ) is the centre of competence for development work at Mercedes-Benz Trucks and thus plays an important role in the development and testing of connected, automated and electric driving. 

The opening of the EVZ in June 2008 in close proximity to the Wörth production plant was deliberate – it allowed for a close co-operation between the development and production areas. This proximity to the production area provides benefits for purchasing/parts logistics, as well as production planning. 

The EVZ has numerous rough road test tracks and a range of different road surface types that are representative of various roads around the world at its disposal. The EVZ also has a run-in track with bank angles as high as 49 percent for functional testing. Workshop and service facilities are on-site and the EVZ can accommodate a range of test rigs for such tasks as truck component testing. 

Baake presented one of the most modern road-to-rig truck test stands in Europe at the opening ceremony. Mercedes-Benz Trucks recently started testing trucks comprehensively, sustainably and in real-time with the system. In a 24/7 operation, drivetrains for traditional drive system variants, gas engines, hybrid drive systems, battery-electric and fuel-cell drive systems can be simulated in realistic driving conditions on the test stand and developed to production standard. 

Now, instead of testing on public roads, test drives or legally prescribed test cycles are automated and extremely precise; carried out in the testing hall using drive simulations. As a result, many complex fuel consumption measurements which were previously carried out exclusively on the road are now possible on the test stand in comparable conditions and with even greater repetitive accuracy.

The test stand is equipped with a large headwind fan with an airflow rate of more than 800,000 m³/hour, which is equal to a maximum approach velocity of 90kph. The temperature of the entire testing room can be set steplessly within the range of -7°C to +50°C to produce extreme ambient conditions. 

Various vehicle combinations with up to four driven axles can be driven on the new test stand. In doing so, the tractor unit stands on four drums with a diameter of three metres. A large water-cooled electric motor with an output of 600kW is mounted at each roller. These electric machines enable the simulation of all driving resistances acting on the vehicle externally during real driving operations. This includes, for example, extreme uphill climbs at full load with maximum payload, or braking on a downhill gradient. All of the maximum speeds permissible on motorways throughout Europe can be driven on the test stand.