Mercedes engines stand up to Freightliner tests

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By John Latta

When 2007 Mercedes-Benz truck engines go into production in January, prototypes will have accumulated more than 14.5 million miles of testing, 6 million on the heavy-duty MBE 4000 and 8.5 million on the medium-duty MBE 900.

Freightliner announced Friday, Oct. 20 that it is on schedule with the new engines. The first tests of those engines began in Michigan, Germany and Brazil more than two years ago, and Freightliner says the testing program is one of the most “aggressive and comprehensive” in its history.

“We began the 2007 engine development program earlier than previous engine launches,” said Dave Skupien, Freightliner program manager for MBE engines in NAFTA. “We dedicated more engineering resources and drove more miles to validate the engine design.”

So far, 10.4 million miles have been put on 79 test engines. Last winter, test trucks were sent to Finland and Minnesota for cold-weather testing that validated engine cold-start performance at 5 degrees Fahrenheit (unaided) and minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit (with grid heater). The engines also successfully regenerated the engine’s aftertreament systems in the extreme cold.

In August, the engines’ high ambient temperature cooling system was tested in the Nevada desert, and high-humidity HVAC testing was done in Texas. High-altitude testing done in Colorado showed the MBE 4000 is capable of delivering 90 percent of rated power at rated speed at 13,000 feet.

“We are really pleased with what we are now seeing regarding the performance of these two engines, specifically in the area of fuel economy and performance reliability,” said Larry Dutko, Freightliner EPA ’07 program manager.

Freightliner has announced a Customer Demonstration Program, delivering trucks equipped with the new Mercedes-Benz engines to nearly 20 customers. “We continue to gather a tremendous amount of input from our engineering trucks and look forward to gaining more insight into how the engines are performing with the customer demonstration units,” Skupien said.