With four new Actros Demonstrator Vehicles currently out on the road, and a wealth of speculation around this highly innovative truck, we turned directly to a source that’s right in the thick of all things new Actros to find out what people are really thinking. To do this, we sat down with our new Truck Handover Specialist Rob Billman for a Q&A session on the new Actros. He has already spent many hours behind the wheel of the truck, as well as giving detailed demonstrations to prospective customers, and as a previous Owner-Driver himself, Rob is passionately placed in the heart of the Trucking Community.
What does it actually feel like to drive the truck?
The truck feels much like the last model, but the interactive systems give it a more secure feeling. You have to put your faith into it and learn to drive in a different way. For many years now, with the advent of Auto boxes, the ‘old-school’ generation have felt that technology has taken over and made them redundant, but this is not the case. This is just a different operating style. It really is a brilliant piece of kit.
What have those who have participated in test drives said about the new Actros?
It has been quite an eye opener, once again, I did feel that maybe the new truck was going to be met with some scepticism, but it has been great. I have had a real variety of people sat in the hot seat. From MP4 drivers that really embraced it, to an operator that hasn’t driven one for a few years, right through to a couple that had never driven an Actros. All have been impressed by the technology and its capabilities. Along with customer test drives, I have also done some staff training. One gentleman from our Colchester depot had a drive and was completely fascinated, he loved the changes!
What do you feel are the best benefits/improvements on the new Actros compared to other trucks?
Despite the fact that many may view the New Actros as a facelift model, it has many tricks up its sleeve. As well as the obvious benefits like the Mirrorcam, there is also the new multimedia cockpit. This gives drivers the opportunity to adopt a more interactive operating style, enabling the driver to interact and understand more about what the various driver assist systems are actually doing. This is certainly more than a facelift! Did the previous model need an external Facelift? It is a very modern and fresh faced machine and now it has further enhancements!
There’s a lot of new technology involved, how did you find the process of getting used to it, and what would your tips to other drivers be throughout the learning process?
In all honesty, I have to confess that the first time I came into contact with the new Actros it was just for a few hours at Wentworth Park [Mercedes-Benz Trucks UK headquarters] within a group, so I had limited contact. I did walk away thinking; “this is too complicated” but the following week we received our first demo and I was able to show three of our Sales Executives how to operate it with reasonable competence. I actually surprised myself - clearly I had taken on more than I first considered. In truth, it’s actually quite easy to get the hang of. Don’t be put off by it, I struggle at times with a smart phone, but this is much simpler. Take your time to learn what it can do for you. Most of all, don’t be afraid to ask for help and utilise all of the helpful materials we have available on our website like tutorial videos, or even giving us a call.
So what do you really think of MirrorCam?
Regarding MirrorCam, I really like it. Having done around 18-20hrs driving using them I have to say that I don’t really give it a thought now, I just accept it as the norm. I can understand why some would be sceptical but in all honesty I haven’t found anyone yet that struggled to use them or that had failed to see the benefits. These combined with the advanced systems within the new Actros I believe we have a very good product.