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February 15, 2012 Vol. 8, No. 4

Partly because I've just had surgery and can't sit at the keyboard for long, and partly because I've been dying to write about this truck for ages now, I'm going to drop the news and issues orientation of the newsletter this time out. In favour of simple fun. Gearheads of the world, unite!

In Mongolia, no less.

The picture you see here shows one of two wild and crazy all-wheel drive Mercedes-Benz Zetros trucks spec'd and ordered by a pair of Mongolian businessmen for hunting and... well, for fooling around in the boonies. Wealthy businessmen, it would seem.

The Zetros is in its element where all-terrain capabilities are required. It's not only suitable as a commercial vehicle, but also as a basis for recreational and expedition use, as with these two trucks delivered last year to Ulan-Bator, the capital of Mongolia.

Mongolians apparently love excursions into the difficult and extreme terrain of their high-altitude homeland, which includes deserts, and historically only horses were a suitable means of transport. But the two friends – one of them owns a brewery while the other got rich by way of coal and copper mines – decided in favour of the Zetros as a more luxurious way to travel. Luxurious indeed.

They use their unique jumbo off-roaders for multi-day excursions into the Altai mountains, for example, where they hunt for wolves with an eagle.

As a three-axle truck with a permissible gross vehicle weight of 27 tonnes, the Zetros powertrain and chassis are based on the Mercedes Actros and Axor series. All variants use the OM 926 LA 7.2-litre inline 6-cylinder engine developing 326 hp and 960 lb ft of torque. Two transmissions are available, a 9-speed Mercedes box (eight forward gears + crawler) or a 6-speed Allison 3000. The VG 1700 transfer case for the permanent all-wheel drive sports a 1.690 off-road ratio, which makes extremely slow speeds possible, pretty important on very steep downhill stretches. Pulling power is increased by around 70% compared to the on-road gears. Torque distribution between the front and rear axle(s) is 1:3.21 in the splitter box, and 1:1 if the differential locks are engaged. The Zetros actually has three mechanical diff locks as standard, easily selected by the driver using a rotary control.

Sounds like this truck will go anywhere, and with two diesel tanks holding 500 litres of fuel all told, about 110 gal, it has decent if not extreme range.

The Mongolian duo were built at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Worth, Germany, then converted into expedition vehicles by the body specialist Hartmann in Alsfeld and interior specialist Huenerkopf in Neukirchen.

In each case the base vehicle was the Mercedes-Benz Zetros 2733 A with standard cab. Its features include a sleeping berth for the driver and all other expected conveniences, a Bluetooth hands-free system included, plus a 7-in. touch-screen display linked to a back-up camera. At the rear there's a carrier for two spare wheels, with a dedicated lifting system that also enables cargo to be hoisted onto the cab roof.

The trucks have substantially identical bodies, but one of them also has a rear vehicle bay able to hold a quad ATV.

The living area is a fully-insulated sandwich construction with walls, roof and floor of prefabricated panels insulated with hard PU foam and bonded together. The windows of the living area are double-glazed, can all be opened, and are fitted with mosquito nets and roller blinds.

The interior is divided into different functional areas. The bedroom is in the rear, and leather seating for four to six people is up front. There's also a luxurious bathroom -- of course -- with a marble floor and underfloor heating, as well as a large galley. The table in the 'living room' can be electrically raised and lowered, and when lowered it creates an additional, large bed.
The galley is fully equipped with a ceramic stovetop, microwave, refrigerator, bar, and coffee machine. The sink has a hot and cold water supply. The bathroom has a separate shower cubicle, a toilet/bidet combination, washbasin, and three-door vanity unit. A bidet!

The bedroom is separated from the living area by a partition wall with integrated flatscreen TV monitors (40- and 46-in., one each facing the bedroom and seating group). There's a safe for valuables and a gun safe for hunting rifles permanently integrated into the interior. The vehicles are equipped with a SAT receiver and dish, a DVD/CD player, a Bose hi-fi sound system, and a Mac Mini plus W-LAN router.

Onboard technology is controlled and monitored by a central console. A water-cooled diesel generator ensures independence from the power grid, with energy stored by a battery set with four 220 Ah batteries. The batteries are charged by an automatic charger connected to the generator, or via the solar panels on the roof consisting of two modules with 80 watts each. All the electrical equipment is connected to the 230-volt onboard network, and is supplied via an automatic 24/230-volt transformer.

The air conditioning system powered by the generator is separately and variably adjustable for all the rooms. A diesel-powered heater can be operated both when stationary and on the move.

Separate systems supply filtered drinking water and water for the shower/toilet, with a total volume of around 250 litres or 55 gal. A separate pump replenishes the fresh water tank from outside, while a 230-volt hot-water boiler supplies the galley and bathroom. There's also an exterior shower.

Man, I want to see Mongolia this way.

OK, A BIT OF PETERBILT NEWS. The company took top honours at the recent American Truck Dealers Commercial Truck of the Year awards and in both classes, no less.

The Peterbilt 587 SmartWay conventional tractor won in the heavy-duty division and the Peterbilt Model 210 cabover took the medium-duty competition.

Nine trucks were nominated for the award, including the Freightliner 114SD conventional dump truck, International ProStar Plus tractor with MaxxForce 15 engine, and the Kenworth T660 regional hauler with Paccar MX engine. The medium-duty truck entries also included the Fuso Canter FE160, Isuzu NPR-HD Gas, Kenworth T440 conventional, and UD 2600 cabover.

Judges considered the trucks’ overall appearance, cab comfort, noise levels, roominess and other factors in choosing the winners.

SHELL SIMPLIFIES ITS LUBE LINE. Shell Lubricants now groups its products under three trade names to make selection easier. The name change affects transmission fluids, gearbox oils, mobile hydraulic oils, gear and axle oils, and greases for on- and off-highway vehicles and equipment.

The names are Tellus, for hydraulic oil; Spirax, for axle, gear and transmission fluids; and Donax, for transmission fluids.

Shell Donax and Dentax gear oils, axle oils and transmission fluids have been consolidated under the Spirax brand. All grease products formerly called Retinax, Rhodina, Albida and Alvania are under the Shell Gadus brand.

The rearranged names include new packaging as well.

The company also announced a transmission oil specifically for Volvo and Mack automated mechanical transmissions, Shell Spirax S6 GXME 75W-80, a fuel-efficient and long-life oil. It's approved for use in Volvo I-Shift and Mack mDrive automated mechanical transmissions.

Specifically formulated with synthetic base oils and additives for improved lubrication, lower operating temperatures, and resistance to chemical breakdown, it allows oil-drain intervals as high as 250,000 miles.

AND SHOW SEASON is upon us, so here's a heads-up...

Next week it's TMC, the Technology & Maintenance Council’s 2012 annual meeting and exhibition, February 20-23, at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida. Check out or call 703-838-1763.

From March 5th through the 10th it's The Work Truck Show 2012 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, held in conjunction with the National Truck Equipment Association annual convention. The gathering includes the Green Truck Summit on March 5 and 6. Call 1-800/441-6832 or go to

A couple of weeks later, March 22-24, it'll be time for the Mid-America Trucking Show at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville. Your car, like mine, can probably find it without human or electronic intervention. Call 502-899-3892 or 1-800-626-2370 or go to

And next it's time for a trip north to Toronto, Ontario for our own Truck World 2012 show on April 19th through the 21st at the International Centre. Call 1-877-682-7469 or go to

For those of you who plan way ahead, note that this is a Hannover year. The 64th IAA Commercial Vehicles show will be held from September 20 to 27, 2012 in Hannover, Germany. See

THIS NEWSLETTER IS PUBLISHED every two weeks. It's a heads-up notice about what's going on with trucking technology. I also write here about interesting products that may not have had the 'air play' they deserved within the last few months.

I should remind you that I don’t endorse any of the products I write about in this e-newsletter, nor do I have the resources to test them. What you’re getting is reasonably well educated opinion based on more than three decades in trucking.

If you have comments of whatever sort about the Lockwood Report, or maybe you've tried a gizmo I should know about, please contact me at


(February 15, 2012) -- Cargotec's new Ottawa tractor is powered by Ford V10 gasoline engine


(February 15, 2012) -- Blue Tree Systems launches "game changing" fuel auditor feature


(February 15, 2012) -- Truck-Lite’s 5x7-in. LED headlamp grows end-user options


(February 15, 2012) -- Vigillo enhances CSA Scorecards for 2012 with new data tools


(February 15, 2012) -- Eaton offers bundle package to extend Fuller Reman transmission warranty


In This Issue

A look at Ontario's mandatory out-of-service quotas (Yup. They exist.), by Rolf Lockwood. Plus, a special focus on drivers, from retention to training — including the best fleets to drive for. And Jim Park explains how to choose the engine displacement that's best for you. That and much more in the April issue of Today's Trucking.


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