The new Mercedes-Benz Actros – International Truck of the Year 2020

WHHHoOOOOOoo-HHHooooOOooo!!! I am some what pleased about this announcement yesterday evening, but then i am somewhat bias towards the three pointed star. Having spent much time with the New Actros and driving them here and on the continent, they just get better and better and do make driving easy, relaxing and almost pleasurable! As it stands there isn’t a truck close to the Actros with all the new technology that i have no doubt will creep into all 7 manufacturers in the next few years. The massive talking point that is MirrorCam will be totally accepted by the time the seventh manufacturer launches their own version. Anyway, well done Mercedes-Benz Trucks, a very worthy winner. Here is the official press release from MBUK;

Specialist commercial vehicle journalists from 24 European countries voted last night (20 November) for the Mercedes-Benz Actros to be crowned Truck of the Year for the fifth time.

The truck’s success story began back in 1997 when the first Actros was released, and the subsequent vehicle generation also brought home the award. With a total of nine victories, Mercedes-Benz is now the most successful brand in the fight for the Truck of the Year accolade.

The International Truck of the Year (ITotY) jury based their decision on the fifth-generation  model’s host of innovative technological developments. Professor Dr. Uwe Baake, Head of Development at Mercedes-Benz Trucks, received the award at the Solutrans international commercial vehicle show for road and urban transport in Lyon.

The industry’s most coveted annual accolade is presented to the truck which makes the biggest contribution towards road transport innovations that are advantageous to the economy, emissions, safety, driveability and comfort of vehicles.

Most of the innovations incorporated within the new Mercedes-Benz Actros range were developed with the precise aim of delivering palpable improvements for drivers, operators, and society as a whole. The Actros offers major advances in safety, efficiency and comfort. Its multitude of new features includes the Multimedia Cockpit, MirrorCam instead of external mirrors, and partially automated driving with Active Drive Assist, as well as ground-breaking safety systems such as Active Brake Assist 5, and the improved Sideguard Assist.

The International Truck of the Year journalists had plenty of praise for the extended functionality of the forward-looking Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) cruise control system, which can now be used on winding arterial routes. Also commended was the digital Multimedia Cockpit, which replaces the conventional instrument cluster.

The President of the international jury, Gianenrico Griffini, commented: “With the introduction of the new Actros, Mercedes-Benz has brought onto our roads a highly modern truck which smooths the path to achieving automated driving in the future.”

Speaking at the awards ceremony in Lyon, Professor Dr. Uwe Baake said: “We are very pleased and proud that the Truck of the Year jury has recognised our efforts of the past months and years with this distinction.

“Thank you on behalf of the company and the entire team. This will really spur us on to continue giving our all and fulfilling the highest developmental standards for our trucks, especially when it comes to the future-oriented topics of electromobility, automated driving and digitalisation within our sector.”

Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK Managing Director Mike Belk added: “As the International Truck of the Year judges clearly recognised, new Actros is a genuine game-changer. With cutting-edge technology such as MirrorCam, Active Brake Assist 5 and the latest version of Predictive Powertrain Control, this remarkable vehicle offers major advances in terms of safety and operational efficiency.

“Meanwhile, not only does the Multimedia Cockpit provide drivers with completely new control options and a much improved, more comfortable working environment, but it also offers greatly enhanced fleet visibility and connectivity for managers.”  

Europe…. Go Big or Go Home

Here we go people, a new blog contributor and what a belter of a blog cherry popper we have for you. Some of you may know this particular character, he’s one of those quiet, keeps himself to himself and gets on with the job in hand types, well he certainly gets on with the job that’s for sure. Away for over seven weeks working for one of the best international hauliers in the country. Essex International need no introduction what so ever, 100% an international haulier from the roots up, now part of the Grampian Continental group, they cover all four corners of Europa every week. To be fair this particular trip has pretty well covered three of the four corners. To start I’ll put up the map of the “outward” leg, but please ignore some of the route as bloomin Google maps wouldn’t take the boat routes that were actually used.

Starting point was head office in Aberdeen, down to Newcastle-upon-Tyne to load for Motrin in Southern Espania. An easy enough run down to Portsmouth to catch the ferry across to Bilbao, please ignore the map for the ferry part! The good old days were back, with a six truck convoy and much to our mans joy all six had CB radios so you can imagine the banter, just like 1986! Off the ferry boat in Bilbao and straight down through the glorious middle of Spain to Motril. A decent enough trip for most of us but this was of course only the first leg of this one.

Having tipped Motril, sadly the convoy dispersed in various directions and we are off to Bourg en Bresse, France for a trailer change, destined for the Greek / Turkish border. From the middle of Spain’s southern coast across to the Turkish border, very nice. Add another couple of weeks to the tally but off we go. Living the dream springs to mind, well for those who dream of weeks away behind the wheel, covering the whole of Europe. What the old school saying?? “You’ll never earn a living looking out of a window son!”…… balls to that, what a way to earn your living. Anyway trailer swapped and keep heading east up and over the Alps (always stop for a photo going over the top) to the Italian port of Ancona for the Minoan Lines ferry to Igoumenitsa, Hellas.

The motorways of Greece look awesome although surely not enough traffic for us Brits. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to take to a motorway network, like Spain and Greece that aren’t rammed packed with traffic, idiots and whatever else, so you can just get on and get your days Kilometres under you belt before a pleasant evening meal and a bottle of wine for €15……sorry I was close to getting all romantic there. Once into Greece it was head yet further east across the north of the country to the Turkish border town of Kipoi. Due to the nature of the load, it was virtually a single lift off at the delivery point and job done. Lovely jubberly.

Reload details are through and it’s time to head back across Greece to Igoumenitsa for the same ferry back to Italy (ignore the map for this bit again!) Once off the boat, it’s reload in Ancona itself and then northbound and down. A full load of pipes destined for………. Aberdeen. The whole way round Europe and reload back to your home town. Awesome. Perhaps a little easier as an awful lot of oil related work comes in and out of Aberdeen, but even so, that must have been nice to hear for our man Stan. I’m sure the big Scania S730 must know it’s way back to Scotland from most places in Europe by now, so back over the Alps, stopping for the obligatory photo of course, then back up through France to Calais. I have no doubt at all that after a few thousand KM’s of fairly trouble free trucking, with in an hour or so of getting off P&O’s pride and back into Blighty, the wheels would have ground to a halt for some reason or another, most of this reason being the M25.

If you’re lucky enough to have a job like this, you will get to see the whole of Europe. This of course does mean lots of time away from home and the loved ones. That said if you are going to do it, do it with a professional firm such as Essex International they will look after you and of course you’ll end up piloting a top of the range motor for your troubles. If your going to do proper old school European trucking, then do it like they do at Essex International, it’s the only way………

Retro Show – The Social Part

Another weekend and I’m back at Londra Camp or perhaps even the Hotel National in Belgrade. Loads of the best retro trucks in the UK and a growing number from Europa and all the kings of the road you could ever hope to meet and listen to stories from. The shows this year have become more and more social but combine this with trucks from my childhood and once again an awesome weekend was had by all. For me meeting these Kings of the road is what it’s all about, the stories they can tell, the places they have been and the trucks they have driven, my generation can only dream. To name a just a few people I stood and chatted/listened to this weekend;

  • Charles Russell
  • Roland Simey
  • Nick Bull
  • Karl Skilton
  • Andrew McDevitt
  • Kevin Mackin
  • Paul Rowlands
  • Baz (if you know you know!)
  • and of course one of my true hero’s still out and about on the road………
  • These men all need dictaphones and books written about them or by them, Mr Coghill you need to get on with it! As I said in my Truckstar blog, sadly I wasn’t able to enjoy the golden era but chatting to these knights of the road you can get a real idea of the adventure, hardship, bad times and of course good times they endured. For any young drivers of the current modern generation, can you imagine being told to go to Pakistan from London?? No? just to add to the adventure there was no sat-nav, no road maps or readable signposts once past Turkey, for that matter not many “roads” either. One of the best quotes of the weekend from a certain Charles Russell went something like this;
  • “When I was a young owner driver with just one truck, my pal Ralph had his own truck too. I met him on his way back from his first trip to the continent and do you know what he said?? That continental work isn’t for me.”
  • – The Ralph in question was of course a certain Mr Davies. Just brilliant but unless you take the time to talk to these men then you never get to hear such awesome tales.
  • The show itself was once again a triumph. Lee Herbert and his team put on what was the best retro show I’ve been too, that said next year is the 10th anniversary so I can’t wait for that already. Get the date in your diary, next years Retro Truck Show is from September 11th to 13th 2020. There seemed to be more restored/retro trucks than ever before. The quality of these trucks gets better and better and there is definitely more types of truck, not just Volvo and Scania. Renaults, ERF, Iveco eight wheels MAN’s and even a Fiat all being restored back to their former glory. As it goes there was only one Transcon that was at the start of its new life and very much need a good polish! I’m sure there are more Transcons about that could come along next year but after one of Roland Simeys stories I’m not so sure….
  • If you are a truck enthusiast then the retro show is for you. It’s run by truck people for truck people. Evident that the man who runs the show is a gas engineer but grew up with trucks and loves trucks. All who attend are truck mad and as there are no prizes to be won it just shows that all trucks are there as their owners are proud to show them and just do it for the trucks and love of diesel! Not a lot of feed back from those I spoke to other than more trucks the merrier. Perhaps the one thing I did hear from a few people was, there were a lot of new trucks there again. Don’t get me wrong I love seeing them and being able to compare the same make 30 or 49 years apart is a pretty cool concept. I am guessing there is an element of a few new trucks make up the numbers but then again what do you class as a retro truck?? I fine line for the organisers to think about but for me personally I don’t think it is far off perfect at all.
  • Big Boys & Their Big Toys

    Big boys have big toys we all know that, but when two company directors are as truck mad as the drivers they send all over Europe, then why shouldn’t they have a big toy to play with?? If I could afford a truck and trailer to play with then I’d do the same, at the end of the day with directorship comes big responsibility and big stress, so surely that allows big toys?!

    The two directors above are two of the biggest truck nerds you could meet, both nuts about their respective Swedes. The photo was taken en route to the Truckstar Festival in Holland back at the end of July and the two trucks were side by side for a fair distance from what I hear. What a treat for all the drivers coming the other way, 1980’s retro trucking at its best. The other this I hear is that the two of them were giggling like school boys with new BMX bikes oh and something else to do with no speed limiters but I don’t know what they are on about!!

    What a sight, even better with a little black and white. I’m not sure which one I’d rather be piloting, both great to look at, both big cans compared to the competition, both a drivers dream. For me restored trucks don’t get better than these two and I just wish everyone could afford to have a trailer with their tractor units, it just rings every bell on the old skool wall. For me I saw these two and as awesome as the scene is, it just reminds me in every way of two other famous trucks…….

    Truckstar Festival 2019 – The Social Part

    This years Truckstar Festival, well, what can I possibly say on here that would give you any idea on what this years show was like?! What I have thought of doing is making it a two parter, social part and trucks part, so here we go.

    It was hot, now I mean hot, 40’c Friday, 36’c Saturday and a little cooler on Sunday but still over 30. We arrived at the show a lot earlier than in previous years which was good because we got to see plenty of stuff arrive and we were actually in the first wave of old timers arriving. So early in fact that the V8 hadn’t even arrived, let alone be set up and serving like normal. My very good friend Anton Brouwer and his merry team, soon arrived. As you can see above Anton was keen to give me a beer, he did home delivery. The above photo taken by me sitting in my deckchair as the big 140 Super arrived. From this point on the show became what I can only describe as the most social truck show I have ever been too. More so than all 7 visits to Assen or anywhere else for that matter. Why?……. I have no idea, perhaps the heat and the sun? Perhaps everyone trying to get into the shade of the beer tents? No idea but it was awesome. The Dutch are just the best!

    I am sadly to young to have ever had the chance to get to Londra Camp in Istanbul, but like me I’m sure we all have a good idea what that place was like on a weekend, buzzing for want of a better phrase! To me this years Truckstar Festival made me think of Londra Camp. James and I met so many people we knew and have met before or not seen for ages, that we bearly managed to make one whole lap of the show truck area. Every 50 metres we met another old face, with who we shared a joke, a beer and had a catch up. Not only out walking the show. By the time evening came, the beer was flowing, old friends were dancing and drinking, then more people arrived at the V8 bar. Plenty more stories, plenty more cheers when the Danish contingent arrived. Then a little later a few more English, Irish and some Germans appeared. It was an endless flow of truckers from all over Europe, all meeting up for some time out, some beer and a good laugh. As with the big truck stops of the 70’s and 80’s some of these people I haven’t seen for a few years or even met before, but we all have a common interest and a common love of Trucks, beer and meeting new folk. It may be you won’t see them again, but that never seems to matter with trucking people. There is never any “ice to break” or any issue of who’s who, we are all there to have a good time. To me this is how I imagine the golden days of international trucking to be. If you’ve been lucky enough to enjoy such a night off in a far flung corner of europa, with a load of drivers you may or may not know, please please please let me know all about it.

    The Dutch have a great ability to make you feel welcome and to make sure everyone is included and having a good time. For those who have had the pleasure of visiting the V8 Bar in the Oldtimers section of the show, you will know this is exactly what Anton Brouwer and his team manage to achieve every visit. James and I are V8 bar regulars, but we were joined by the Van Der Nunn’s and also by trucking royalty, mr Mike Tasker. MWT is a proper English international owner driver, proper old school. A long time sub contractor to HC Wilson, there is no where in Europa Mike hasn’t been to with one of his V8’s, everywhere that is except for the Truckstar Festival. Apart from being like a kid in a sweet shop all weekend, Mike was a great example of the whole atmosphere of the show. Never been before, but after the first night at the V8 Bar, he has made some new friends and was chatting about all sorts with all sorts of people, drivers, operators and even farmers who just love old V8’s! GW your turn next.

    The Dutch have made trucking a pleasure to be involved with, if you have lost you way with trucks, your job, driving in the UK, then somehow get yourself across the water to, what has become for me anyway, Europe’s trucking Mecca. A few days of trucks in the Netherlands will soon make you realise trucking is cool and well respected everywhere apart from in the UK. Get yourself to Truckstar Festival and this message will be hammered home like Thor in the tool aisle at a DIY shop! There are hoards of youngsters wanting to be truck drivers, most look hardly old enough to drink let alone drive trucks. There are families there who have no ties to trucks or transport and when asked, they will tell you they just love trucks.

    Two Three things I have realised;

    1) I was born 20 years to late to know what real European trucking was like back in the golden days.

    2) I should be Dutch or at least living in the land of the wooden shoe.

    3) If you like trucks you should MUST get yourself over to Holland for the Truckstar Festival. If you don’t…… well……. no euro-pop, accordion, trance music for you! Oh or the best trucks and truck people in Europe.

    TB on The Move – Kyrgyzstan

    My pal and super mega trucker Mat Ireland has a handful of stickers that he is handing out Trucks he meets from far and wide, the further and wider the better! TB on the move is a global thing I’ll have you know. From council trucks in Brazil to Road-trains in Australia, through to Africans, Americans and some of the last Astran trucks to the Middle East, not to mention scrap metal trucks from Ipswich, they all want, crave, strive, are part of the big TB family. Truckers one and all are welcome to my club. Anyway enough of my nonsense and onto Kyrgyzstan. Where?? You don’t need a sat-nav, just follow the sun like John Williams, Dave Poulton and Dick Rivers, it’s South of Kazakhstan, 2 countries above Afghanistan and shares its eastern border with China, its quite a way from the Bad Benthiem border in Deutschland where Mat met this driver. Nice to see he’s driving a proper truck, take note Mat…..

    “I pulled into Bad Bentheim border for my usual walk around with my camera to see what far flung countries some had come from, and that was parked in there! I could see the chap was about so thought he was worthy of a sticker! He spoke no English and my Russian is very limited but he understood it was a present from England, and looked very happy! It’s a long long way to Kyrgyzstan!!”