9 March 2019
By Paolo Valpolini
At IDEX 2019 the German company exhibited the prototype of the Zetros 3543A 8×8 truck, the biggest member of the cab-behind engine family of trucks. According to Mercedes-Benz this configuration allows to spread more evenly axle loads, reduces shocks on occupants when operating off-road, and makes the access to the engine compartment easier.
The truck visible in Abu Dhabi had all the three axles at the back; this allows to fully exploit the load capacity of the axles, company representatives explained, payload reaching 17-20 tonnes over a GVW of 35 tonnes. The unusual axle combination makes possible an extended body length whereby the load can be positioned over the axles and thus the manoeuvrability of the vehicle maintained. To reduce the turning diameter the fourth axle is steering. The Zetros 3543 A 8×8 is powered by an OM 457 LA Euro V engine providing 428 hp, which is coupled to an Allison automatic 6-speed transmission. The truck was not in the Middle-East just for show: after IDEX the Zetros 3543 A 8×8 was to carry out a series of tests on sand terrain, the truck being purposely fitted with 525/65R20.5 sand tires.
“We are a company within the company,” Ralf Forcher, Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks Head of Marketing, Sales and Services, told the audience at the company press conference, “the defence business being a branch of the Special Trucks unit,” he explained. With a good network of after-sales service in the region and a strong position in the commercial segment Mercedes-Benz is looking at the Middle East market also for its military vehicles. “We are exhibiting vehicles of different ranges, from the heavy Arocs 4663 AS 8×8/4 tractor unit, to the already mentioned Zetros 3543A 8×8, to the folding top version of the Unimog U 5000, to another prototype, that of the G-Class Multi-Role Vehicle. The main characteristic of this vehicle is the modular, multi-piece space frame construction; this allows to quickly change the rear part of the vehicle, according to the mission. Quick re-roling is something that fits the needs of many military units, definitely Special Forces, and EDR On-Line understands that the MRV first potential customer might well be German SFs. The chassis and axles are already in series production, the vehicle looking pretty close to the LAPV 6.1.
As for security forces, a Sprinter 316 CDI Euro 6c Panel Van for observation and monitoring operations was visible at the Mercedes-Benz stand; the vehicle is part of the new Sprinter generation family presented in February 2019, and the version on show was developed with Elettronica of Italy, that equipped it with electronic monitoring and observation systems.
Photos by Paolo Valpolini