IAA 2018 – My Top 5 highlights

Line 47 Sets VoMo M17 DNS. Does that sound strange? Not for someone who works at Daimler, like me. Translated into normal language, this designation merely shows that I work in the C-Class production unit at the Bremen plant.

I’m not going to talk about our Group’s popular passenger car model today, however. Instead, I’d like to discuss its “commercial vehicle siblings” — the Actros, Citaro, Sprinter, and the rest of the family, which obviously weigh a lot more. I was recently able to experience them up close at the Product Experience event just before the official opening of the 67th IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hanover. I was given this honor as one of the three winners of an employee campaign.

What exactly is the Product Experience? Basically it’s a press event. This year it was organized for the first time by our colleagues at Commercial Vehicles Communications. It took place on a runway and in Hangar 1 at Hanover Airport. A total of 500 journalists from around the world had the opportunity to test the current range of commercial vehicles themselves, ride along with the drivers, and take a close look at the innovations our Group has achieved in the commercial vehicle sector.

There were 500 journalists, and we were there too —Sarah Hoffmann, who works at Vans in Stuttgart; Joel Fink, an employee at Special Trucks in Wörth; and me. It turned out to be a perfect day in every respect. The sun was shining, our vehicles were sparkling in the sun, and we were beaming with pride. It was one highlight after another.

I’d like to tell you about my favorite highlights:

1. One of them was the presentation of the new Actros

I never would have thought I could get goose bumps from looking at a truck — until this exciting day in September. Just imagine: You’re sitting with 500 journalists and more than 100 colleagues in an airport hangar and looking up at a giant screen that shows five Actros trucks with semitrailers adorned with the slogan “Everyone talks, one delivers.” A helicopter is filming the trucks as they drive along.

The convoy turns off into the airport grounds, and suddenly the whole audience realizes that it’s heading toward our hangar. Dramatic music begins to play, and seconds later the hangar doors open and the new Actros, the multi-ton star of the day, enters the scene to flashing cameras and tremendous applause. As if that weren’t spectacular enough, the Actros is followed by the Sprinter, eVito, and other electric commercial vehicles that drive back and forth across the stage as if they had been choreographed. It was very impressive!

2. A ride in the Safety Coach

Welcome to the outing of the “Wild 9” women’s bowling club! Fasten your seatbelts — here we go! Manfred, our driver, depresses the gas pedal of the Safety Coach, which is a genuine Mercedes-Benz Tourismo. In the background, we can hear German pop singer Helene Fischer singing her greatest hits. Well, it’s almost like that — I mean the part about Helene and the bowling club, who are not actually with us. But I’m sure they would be just as thrilled by our touring coach as Manfred and I are.

By the way, did you know that the coach is equipped with numerous electronic assistants that offer the driver optimal support and help prevent accidents? For example, the Active Brake Assist 4 emergency braking assistant brakes automatically for pedestrians, while Sideguard Assist alerts drivers to the presence of pedestrians, cyclists, and stationary obstacles when the coach makes a right turn. Basically, the Tourismo brings together all of the currently available bus assistance systems, including the Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) anticipatory cruise control system and the Eco Driver Feedback (EDF) system.

Manfred gives us a demonstration of how these assistance systems feel — literally: He drives toward an obstacle at 80 km/h, and just as we’re about to hit it the bus stops completely on its own!

3. A drive in the eSprinter

It’s a very special moment when you push the start/stop button and then hear nothing. I’m talking here about the eSprinter, which will be available starting in 2019. I was able to drive it myself on the runway at Hanover Airport. The eSprinter is the second Vans product after the eVito to be equipped with an electric drive system. My eSprinter has a 55-kWh battery that enables it to travel up to 150 kilometers, even when it’s cold outside and the vehicle is fully loaded.

The eSprinter has a maximum payload capacity of around 900 kilograms. The main target group for the model are customers who drive long distances within urban areas and usually don’t load up the van completely.

But to get back to my test drive: Despite its size and curb weight, the Sprinter moves quickly and boasts impressive acceleration. But what impresses me almost more is the fact that I’m driving this van on a runway. I drive carefully behind an airport vehicle with my passenger, passing large and small airplanes on the way. If you’d like to know how close we got to a plane, just take a look.

4. The photo with the boss

He probably had the fullest appointment calendar today. First there were the rehearsals in the early morning, then the speech to journalists in the hangar, followed by interviews, TV statements, press conferences — and he even found the time for a selfie with us! We weren’t sure if we could get the big boss, Head of Daimler Trucks & Buses Martin Daum, to take some time for us. We weren’t even sure we wanted to ask him…

But we did — and we were rewarded! We’re pretty impressed by the fact that the boss was in such a good mood after all he went through today, and that he decided on the spur of the moment to be in our picture. It’s a photo that will always remind us of this great day in Hanover! Thank you!

5. The visit to the exhibition

Less than 12 hours later we found ourselves at the actual IAA Commercial Vehicles show. Fortunately, this was the press day, so we were able to attend all the press conferences. There are also significantly fewer visitors in the halls on press days. As I looked around, I realized that Daimler doesn’t have any real competitors, just other companies that are active in the same industry.

After a long day, Sarah, Joel, and I went our separate ways and headed home. I took off in proper style in a new S-Class Coupe that my supervisor had rented for me for the trip to Hanover. That car was almost as impressive as the new Actros — almost.

Manuel Lippka is working at Daimler for seven years already. His work space: The montage of the chassis in Bremen. As a father of three children he works when others sleep and the other way round. When he is not working at the assembly line he is a big soccer fan and cheers for his favourite team FC Bayern München - either in front of the TV or live in the arena.