Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks celebrates 25 years of Mercedes-Benz Econic.
Since production was launched in 1998, it has been helping the municipal, collection and distribution haulage sectors' high ergonomics, safety, economy, and ecology requirements.
Ever since, the Econic has been continuously expanding its urban operations in Europe and overseas: Its range of applications extends from municipal use as a waste collection and disposal vehicle to city delivery operations and as an emergency vehicle for fire departments and road construction projects.
In the meantime, the fully electric eEconic has replaced the natural gas engine and is rolling off the production line alongside the conventional Econic in Wörth.
A Journey from Innovation to Sustainability
The Econic debuted in 1998 at the Entsorga trade fair as a low-floor specialized vehicle.
Since then, it has been manufactured at the NAW (Nutzfahrzeuggesellschaft Arbon & Wetzikon) facility in Arbon, situated by Lake Constance in Switzerland.
Its achievements include:
- In 2001, the Econic family grew to incorporate a 6x4 variant, and in 2004, the Econic 8x4/4 with four-wheel steering and four-wheel drive was introduced.
- In 2002, the Econic with a natural gas engine was introduced, and in the subsequent year, production was moved to the present-day Econic site in Wörth.
- The 5000th Econic vehicle rolled off the assembly line there in 2005.
- By 2009, over 1500 Econic vehicles were delivered in a single year, and two years later, the cumulative production of Econic vehicles surpassed 10,000.
- 2013 marked the introduction and subsequent series production of the new Econic generation.
- Another significant milestone was achieved in 2022 in alignment with sustainability objectives: the conventional Econic lineup was joined by the all-electric eEconic variant.
Approximately 28,000 Econic trucks have been manufactured and dispatched.
Among these, roughly 85% find application in waste disposal activities, while around 5% serve purposes such as fire brigade turntable ladder vehicles.
An additional 10% have diverse uses, including functioning as dump trucks or concrete mixers, often involved in endeavors such as road construction or serving as refueling and catering vehicles at airports.
In the USA, the Econic known as Freightliner Econic SD ("Severe Duty") is used as a front-loader disposal vehicle.
The final assembly of the bodyshell supplied by the Wörth site is carried out at Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation in Gaffney/South Carolina. It is completed and adapted to the North American market there and a 350 hp six-cylinder from the Medium Duty Engine Platform of Daimler Trucks is added.
Econic Offerings Today
Today’s Econic is available as a two-, three- or four-axle vehicle with a permissible gross mass of 18, 26 and – in the four-axle variant – 32 tons.
It is available with a low or high cab, wheelbases from 3,450 to 5,700 millimeters and engine outputs from 200 kW (272 hp) to 260 kW (354 hp).
In addition to the tried-and-tested Allison torque-converter automatic transmission with six gears, the Econic can, as an option, also be equipped with the fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz PowerShift 3 automatic transmission with 12 forward and four reverse gears, which has specially adapted drive programs for urban traffic.
If individual solutions with complex conversions for specific operations are required, they can be implemented by Mercedes-Benz Custom Tailored Trucks on request. If necessary, the wheelbase can be shortened even further or the vehicle width can be reduced, for example.
2 Decades With a Natural Gas Engine
Although the Econic has been available with a natural gas engine since 2002, the Econic Natural Gas Technology could increase its environmental compatibility from March 2015 on.
The CO2 emissions of the drive system with compressed natural gas are up to 20% lower than those of its diesel counterpart.
Using renewable biogas has further improved the CO2 footprint of the Econic NGT. The performance of the six-cylinder in-line natural gas engine M 936 G with 222 kW (302 hp) from a displacement of 7.7 liters achieved the values of a comparable diesel engine.
Around 10% of the Econic vehicles featured the environmentally friendly NGT drive. In 2022, the Econic NGT stepped aside to allow the production of the battery-electric eEconic.
Exploring the Eco-Friendly Features of Mercedes-Benz eEconic
Since the commencement of series production in the fall of 2022, the Mercedes-Benz eEconic has been introduced as a variant featuring a battery-electric propulsion system.
Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks is broadening its offerings to include a vehicle that operates locally with zero CO2 emissions and minimal noise, catering to municipal services characterized by frequent stop-and-go operations.
Benefiting from the frequent braking typical of inner-city traffic, the eEconic efficiently harnesses regenerative braking.
Equipped with an integrated drive unit and two electric motors forming an e-axis, the eEconic incorporates three battery packs with a total capacity of 336 kWh.
This configuration generally ensures that a single battery charge is adequate to cover the entirety of daily urban routes during a single work shift.
Charging the vehicle at the depot with a capacity of up to 160 kW overnight preserves battery health and takes advantage of more economical electricity rates.
In the transition to a fully electric model, the eEconic retains its proven features. These encompass a broad field of view granted by the expansive heated thermocontrol windscreen, the convenience of entry and exit due to the low-entry design, the availability of effective assistance systems, and the adept maneuverability even under heavy loads, all contributing to heightened safety for both the operating personnel and other road users.
The eEconic's electrical driveline also leads to a level cab floor design, facilitating seamless movement through the cab and easy access to the side opposite the traffic.