Anticipation means saving

This is how you drive economically

New engines can usually do more than their predecessors – with lower fuel requirements. Nevertheless, consumption and wear can be cut back even further with the help of economical driving. This costs far less money and no more time. In the new Actros, the driver benefits in particular from the optimised standard-fit 12-speed automated transmission Mercedes PowerShift 3.

Economical driving is anticipatory driving: the surroundings should be observed as carefully as possible – with the aim of taking one’s foot off the accelerator and accelerating again at the right moment. This means, for example, that the driver should get prepared for the exit road at the early stage when leaving the motorway: if no-one is tailgating, he or she can take the foot off the accelerator 500 metres away from the exit road and utilise the kinetic energy.

Foot off the accelerator at an early stage and prevent standstill

If a red traffic light is in sight and traffic permitting, the motto is: foot off the accelerator, let the vehicle roll slowly. The light will then probably turn to green without having to bring the vehicle to a standstill.

Avoiding a standstill is also the goal when approaching roundabouts and exit roads, in right-of-way situations or when there are parking cars and oncoming traffic. In the ideal case, only the wear-free brake is used here. Nonetheless, the foot always hover above the brake in order to enable very fast reaction. Driving in high gear and at low engine speed, with the truck simply rolling, is then no risk.

Is the terrain is undulating, especially outside of towns? Then “letting the vehicle roll” is important on downward inclines. This enables it to gather surplus speed that will reduce itself again on subsequent upward inclines. Drivers who look ahead will take their foot off the accelerator on country roads when they catch sight of house rooftops: they indicate that the next town sign will soon be visible.

Peak speeds should be avoided. Someone driving 90 kilometres per hour instead of 80 is hardly likely to reach the destination any faster. The fuel consumption, however, is then ten per cent higher. One of the reasons is because the foot has to be taken off the accelerator and reacceleration is necessary more often.

The driver masters the technology – and not the other way round

“As soon as a speed of 80 kilometres per hour has been reached: switch on cruise control to let the vehicle roll as steadily as possible.” The Proximity Control Assist system with stop-and-go function also renders valuable services by preventing fluctuations of speed caused by the vehicle in front. “You should set the maximum distance to the vehicle ahead and a low tolerance,” Maier advises.

In certain moments it is more economical not to make use of the technology. For example, cruise control remains switched off in undulating terrain. Otherwise, the brakes would be applied in the truck following an incline and it would be unable to take the momentum into the subsequent upward incline. Maier’s motto: only the driver can include the topography into anticipatory driving.

Economical driving does not always automatically mean fuel-saving driving. During speedy driving on inclines, for example: while Mercedes PowerShift 3 is switching through gears it is also recommendable to fully utilise the engine speed spectrum. This costs fuel. But thanks to the time gained by the swift speed, it pays off. This is something the driver must carry out, if necessary, against mental resistance.

The psychological factor: economical driving is also a mind game

Economical driving definitely involves a lot of psychology. For example, when a strong headwind, a construction site or heavy traffic hold up the flow of traffic. The driver cannot change this. What he or she can do, however, is to stay relaxed. This would prevent the driver, for example, from driving off at a record pace at the end of the construction site or when congestion clears. According to driver-trainer Rainer Maier, it is equally decisive to avoid frustration: “Don’t put yourself under pressure once you’ve achieved the first successes, otherwise you’ll lose the enjoyment. Every half litre saved is already a success.”

  • Drive in an anticipatory way
  • Take the foot off the accelerator and utilise the rolling phase in good time
  • Avoid standstill
  • Accelerate in good time and swiftly
  • Avoid peak speed
  • Steady speeds
  • Specifically utilise cruise control and Proximity Control Assist with stop-and-go function
  • Develop a relaxed attitude
  • Set goals with good judgement

The Log

03.07 00:21
After traveling for more than 10,000 km, the Record Run 2011 of three Mercedes-Benz trucks reached its destination at midnight.

02.07 16:57
It is 4:57 p.m. in Peine, and the Actros Record Run 2011 will soon go into its final round.

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