WORTH, GERMANY. Training to help fleets improve profitability is part of the deal when you buy a new Mercedes-Benz truck in Europe. The program, called MB ProfiTraining, is a good example of the expanded customer services that will become an increasingly important part of the truck manufacturing business, according to Andreas Renschler, head of Daimler Truck, the parent of Europe’s MB Truck as well as Daimler Trucks North America (Freightliner and Western Star) in North America and Fuso in Asia.
“By the year 2020, for every Euro in sales we can expect to make more than 50 cents on services,” he said at last week’s IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover, Germany.
One of the most popular courses that make up the MB ProfiTraining program is a one- or two-day class teaching drivers new techniques and habits for maximizing fuel economy. Called “EcoDriving,” the course is usually combined with a driver visit to MB’s Worth plant to personally take delivery of a new truck.
Approximately one-third of all new MB medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in Europe are delivered this way, which in addition to opening training opportunities, offers drivers in-depth orientation on their vehicle’s new technology, driving characteristics and even basic maintenance chores.
The EcoDriving program combines classroom instruction with practical on-road training. The course emphasizes anticipating road conditions to avoid unnecessary braking, conserving forward momentum, and taking advantage of new technologies such as MB’s automated Power Shift transmission, smart cruise control and integrated engine brake.
Drivers who complete the one- day course and pass a final road test often see at least a 7% improvement in fuel economy, with some seeing their efficiency go up as much as 20%, according to Mathias Beismann, a lead instructor for ProfiTraining.
As an added bonus, those passing the course also satisfy a European Union requirement for professional recertification of all truck drivers every five years.
Longer two- and three-day programs are also available at the Worth facility for fleet trainers and managers to help them train their entire driver pool in the EcoDriving techniques.
Sessions can also be arranged at fleet locations, according to Beismann, who says he conducts those on-site classes about 15 times a year.