Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) makes the new Actros even more fuel-efficient.

Full saving ahead!

Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) makes the New Actros even more fuel-efficient. Driver-trainer Mathias Beismann was one of the first to use the system.
  • Full saving ahead!

  • On the road in the Palatinate Forest.

    A trip through the Palatinate Forest in the sunshine is fascinating. It becomes exciting too if you’re sitting alongside Mathias Beismann in a New Actros. “60, 59, 58, 57, 56 kilometres per hour – why are we now slowing down?”, the driver-trainer asks the co-driver.

    He hasn’t got an answer, so Beismann gives it himself: “Because we’re driving towards a hilltop. We’re still going uphill, but the downhill section already starts up ahead. The system knows that and is now reacting to the fact.” The system is called Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) and is now available for the New Actros.

    “PPC saves the driver a lot of work, but by no means makes him jobless.” Mercedes-Benz driver-trainer Mathias Beismann.
    “PPC saves the driver a lot of work, but by no means makes him jobless.” Mercedes-Benz driver-trainer Mathias Beismann.

    Intuitive operation: It doesn't take long to feel 'at home' with the PPC system.

    PPC works hand in hand with cruise control by integrating topography-adapted driving into automatic intervention processes. Using 3D maps and GPS data, the system calculates the course of the gradient and knows the section of the route ahead of the truck. It’s the first system worldwide that completely controls the powertrain “predictively”. This reduces fuel consumption by up to three per cent – and works on over 295,000 kilometres of long-distance roads all over Europe. How does PPC work on hilltops? Beismann has set the speed at 60 kilometres per hour and the upper speed range limit, the upper hysteresis, at 65. He has selected 56 as the lower hysteresis, a new development compared to the classic cruise control. PPC lets the truck lose speed up to this setting on the slight incline before the hilltop.

    Intuitive operation: it doesn’t take long to feel “at home” with the PPC system.
    Intuitive operation: it doesn’t take long to feel “at home” with the PPC system.

    For PPC has detected that the vehicle has enough speed to roll over the hilltop. Once completed, the truck picks up speed until the engine brake is activated at 65 kilometres per hour.

    PPC has no eyes - and yet it sees better.

    Federal highway 10 runs 47.5 kilometres between Pirmasens and Landau, with alternating uphill and downhill stretches. “This is a route on which I haven’t even activated the classic cruise control,” says Biesmann. “PPC works brilliantly. It knows whether the road ahead has a three, four or five per cent uphill gradient.” Good drivers are also familiar with the routes and avoid unnecessary accelerating, braking and gearshifting. But even the very best professionals with local knowledge, like Beismann, sometimes reach their limits. In a tunnel at the foot of Trifels Castle, for example: “How will the system react now?”, he asks his time. He is unable to recognise here whether the road is uphill or downhill. “PPC switches to EcoRoll and lets us move pretty fast. Now, we’re losing speed again,” he thinks out loud.

    Uphill or downhill? In situations like these even experienced drivers are hardly able to make the correct assessment.
    Uphill or downhill? In situations like these even experienced drivers are hardly able to make the correct assessment.

    “I see, so that was a low point! In this situation, it’s almost impossible for the driver to properly assess the course of the gradient.” PPC, on the other hand, works reliably.

    Use the system actively - and also deactivate it now and again!

    The next situation is on Federal Highway 48: it will soon become very steep. In time, PPC allows the truck to accelerate to the upper hysteresis and downshift the automatic transmission into ninth gear. “A driver might have shifted into eighth gear, but that’s not necessary,” says Beismann. Even at the steepest point, the New Actros only slows down to 47 kilometres per hour and remains in the lower tolerance range. “I’ve just reset the values because it’s so steep here.” The set speed is 50, with a hysteresis of five kilometres per hour upward and four downward. “PPC should be actively used.” That means sometimes deactivating it. When approaching the end of a tailback on the motorway or a roadworks site, for example. Both are not detected by the system. “PPC saves the driver a lot of work, but by no means makes him jobless.”

    It’s definitely uphill here – yet PPC intervenes into automatic processes more specifically than the driver at the wheel ever could.
    It’s definitely uphill here – yet PPC intervenes into automatic processes more specifically than the driver at the wheel ever could.

    On the contrary: thanks to PPC, the driver can concentrate even better on the traffic – and that’s what he or she should do too.

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