• The Mercedes-Benz Actros 2663 6×4 with semitrailer, dolly and second semitrailer gets put through its paces in Finland. 76 tonnes of weight and extremely difficult operating conditions.

    The Actros: Endurance tests in Finland.

    76 tonnes of weight and extremely difficult operating conditions.

    Photos: Sebastian Vollmert

76 tonnes of weight.

Gently, the 12-speed automatic transmission shifts up, almost playfully. Whereby you notice that not one gear is missed out; every gear is used. And the enduring whistling of both turbo chargers shows: the 76 tonne load requires a lot of torque and output – the maximum 3,000 Nm and 463 kW of the 15.6-litre engine in Tapani Lempinen’s Actros are in no way an exaggeration. Welcome to Finland. The country has almost the same area as Germany, but with 16 inhabitants per square kilometre it is extremely sparsely populated. Goods and raw materials have to be transported across great distances continually. The “country of 1,000 lakes” – in reality there are 187,888 – relies on efficient truck transportation.

Mercedes-Benz Actros 2663 with two semitrailers and a gross vehicle weight of 76 tonnes.
Huhtala driver Tapani Lempinen in the port of Rauma.

Finnish conditions.

A well-developed road network stretches over, for the most part, plains and gentle hills. Only in the far north-west, along the border to Norway, does it get a little mountainous. The highest mountain is only 1,328 metres, however. “In a landscape like this you can of course move more weight than in the Alps, for example. But above all, we can do that because our government has decided to permit efficient transport systems,” says Tapani. He is a driver for Huhtala from Pori in Finland’s south-west and today he is travelling to the port of Rauma with cellulose. From here large amounts of wood, paper and paper preliminary products are shipped to the European neighbours and overseas.

Impressive appearance.

Such High Capacity Transports have been a classic in Finland for years, until now with a gross vehicle weight of 60 tonnes. And for some time now, anyone who is on the road with the required number of axles can travel along certain routes transporting up to 76 tonnes. Tapani drives a 33 metre long combination made up of an Actros 2663 6×4 with semitrailer, dolly and second semitrailer. The road passes yellow or red painted wooden houses with white gables, then a stretch through dense, green Finnish spruce forest or past the occasional blue lake. A sign warns of elks along the next 3.8 kilometres. Tapani sits relaxed behind the wheel – driving can be so nice!

Forklifter with special equipment in the port of Rauma.
A 33 metre long combination made up of an Actros 2663 6×4 with semitrailer, dolly and second semitrailer.

Brutal operating conditions.

He has a special job. Michael Hintze from customer trials at Mercedes-Benz Trucks is waiting for the Actros in the workshop of Mercedes-Benz importer Veho in Tampere, which with its 225,000 inhabitants is the second-largest city in Finland after greater Helsinki. Mercedes-Benz uses the challenging combination of a large weight, special weather conditions and difficult road conditions to test components and vehicles repeatedly and unsparingly – during the customers’ real operations.

Intensive check.

Hintze puts on gloves, grabs the LED spotlight and disappears into the pit. He meticulously examines every centimetre of the vehicle, breaking off a crust of dirt that is a few centimetres thick again and again in order to be able to look more closely. “That is just fantastic – there’s a little sensor stuck in the worst environment you could offer, with all that dampness and dirt, temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero and then again way above 100 degrees plus and it’s still happily reporting its data,” he says. “This Actros was built as a trial vehicle – that means with parts that are not yet available as such. They are intended for series production and have to prove themselves beforehand during months of torture,” Hintze says.

Mercedes-Benz Actros in the workshop of Mercedes importer Veho in Tampere.