New Mercedes-Benz truck likes garbage runs

Low floor Econic is well-suited to urban applications

New Mercedes-Benz truck likes garbage runs
New Mercedes-Benz truck likes garbage runs

By Steve Skinner | September 3, 2013

The unusual medium-duty Mercedes-Benz Econic looks like a cross between a bus and a truck.

The Econic had its Australian debut just last year, but well over 10,000 units have been working in Europe over the past decade in vocations including garbage, fire, airport service, street-sweeping and distribution.

The main selling point of the low-floor Econic is ease of getting in and out of it in urban applications.

There’s enough room to stand up and walk across to the other side of the high cab, which means the driver doesn’t have to open his door and set foot into passing traffic.

And in garbage truck application, the "runners" who load the bins at the back haven’t got far to climb in and out of the cab when they need to.

A big advantage of all-round air bags is weight readings inside the cab. And in the case of the Econic matched with the MacDonald Johnston garbage truck body, the compactor won’t work anyway if the vehicle reaches the point of overloading.

ATN recently took an Econic 6x4 rear-loading garbage truck demonstrator for a spin in the western suburbs of Sydney.

Vision is great because the dash is low and there is glass everywhere, including over the right hand shoulder if you don’t trust the ‘spotter’ mirror.

The air suspended seat is comfortable, the six-speed Allison auto transmission is smooth, the controls are all handy – it’s pretty much like driving a car.

The brakes felt a bit doughy at first but they pulled the truck up with no problems at all when deliberately hit hard.

The turning circle, steering and cornering are all good.

There is plenty of rear cupboard space, reassurance from windscreen and reversing cameras, and the steel bumper protects the lights from pesky cars and bins.

One legacy of being built by the Germans who drive on the wrong side of the road, however, is that the radio is way too far over on the left hand side.
Another negative is that the passenger seats are as hard as a park bench.

Waverley Council in Sydney has bought seven Econics as rear-loading garbage trucks, and neighbouring Randwick Council is taking delivery of six.

It’s hard to imagine either council having any problems with the engine – it’s the same power plant as in the tried-and-true Mercedes-Benz Axor, except that it’s located a bit further back in the cab.

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