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English   Daimler Buses Winter Testing
04.01.2016 von admin

Icy cold in the Arctic Circle, summer heat in the Sierra Nevada

Only when bus prototypes are tested under extreme conditions does the wheat get separated from the chaff. Winter testing is performed in Scandinavia, with the focus on correct functioning of the components. The same applies under opposite conditions - in the test drives under the scorching summer sun at 40 degrees Celsius on the demanding mountain roads of the Sierra Nevada in Spain. Mercedes-Benz and Setra buses complete their endurance tests in Turkey. Here the vehicles not only have to clock up as many miles as possible in the shortest possible time, they must also contend with major temperature fluctuations and extreme changes in air humidity during the course of a test day.

During the tests, the Daimler Buses testers are effectively the first customers - perhaps the most critical of all customers. As well as focussing on the general functioning of all components, it is likewise very important for them to get a sense of how the components actually work when the vehicle is on the road. One key aspect of this, especially during winter testing on snow and ice, is what chassis and suspension specialists refer to as the "bottometer" - how the handling characteristics are sensed and felt in everyday operation and in extreme situations, including pedal and steering feel. At Daimler Buses testing involves all the senses, which is why the sense and feel the experienced team get in the vehicle is so important – at the wheel it's the overall result that counts.

Around 200 people make up the Daimler Buses testing team. As well as working for the Mercedes-Benz and Setra brands, they have developed a test catalogue with uniform standards applicable worldwide to all Daimler buses. In addition to being based on official standards, it also includes a whole series of in-house-developed tests. The test catalogue consists of around 300 different tests which are performed on a completely new bus, for example.

A challenge for the team as well as for the buses

The stay in Scandinavia poses just as much of a challenge to the accompanying team as it does to the buses. Despite inhospitable weather, the test engineers, mechanics and drivers are a highly dedicated and motivated team. The on-site teams alternate, depending on the testing objective, which may involve the powertrain or the suspension, for example. In extreme cases, team members will remain in Scandinavia for up to five weeks at a time, covering the entire testing period. To ensure that this colossal investment is worthwhile, testing takes place on six days a week from morning until evening. And in the cold season this inevitably involves a lot of work in darkness. Working on the vehicles outside in temperatures well below zero is also very demanding.

Yet despite the exertions this involves, the tests in the Arctic Circle are very popular with the testing team. What's more, every member of the winter testing team is there because they want to be – after the end of this winter season it will be same next year.

Almost 40 years of winter testing in the Arctic Circle

Mercedes-Benz and Setra are traditionally pioneers when it comes to new safety and assistance systems. Without intensive and early testing of these systems, it would not be possible to achieve these safety benefits and safety advances, which are of benefit to both the bus occupants and other road users.

The legendary Mercedes-Benz O 303 series and Setra 200 series touring coaches were put through their paces in the Scandinavian winter almost 40 years ago. In January 1981 Mercedes-Benz was the first manufacturer to present the anti-lock braking system (ABS) for buses and trucks to the international press – the stage chosen for these spectacular demonstrations was the test site in Rovaniemi. Setra introduced ABS in the same year and, three years later, became the first bus manufacturer to fit it as standard – likewise following extensive testing in the far north.

Both brands unveiled acceleration skid control (ASR) soon afterwards. It would almost certainly not have been possible to introduce ESP with its numerous subfunctions or the Active Brake Assist system on this scale and with this quality had it not been for intensive testing in Scandinavia.

Photos and text:
Daimler AG

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