Way finder: EMC on the peerless off-road Zetros

Mercedes-Benz Trucks and its Abu Dhabi dealer Emirates Motor Company explore the features that make the Zetros a peerless match up for the toughest off-road trails and challenges of the Gulf desert

Double T-formed cross members allow the axles twist to keep the wheels on the ground without deforming the frame.
Double T-formed cross members allow the axles twist to keep the wheels on the ground without deforming the frame.

While the Gulf is a region of ever-improving road networks and safety standards, there remains a strong market for vehicles that can go beyond and traverse the toughest terrain, particularly in the energy segment, where projects often lie far off the beaten track.

For Mercedes-Benz Trucks, the answer to the challenge of such environments is the Zetros, a relentlessly robust vehicle platform originally developed for military application and today tailored to master the most extreme working environments.

An ovation to off-road excellence, every feature of the Zetros is tailored to the task at hand, from its heavy-duty planetary hub axles and cyclonic air-intake to the placement of the cab behind the engine — everything lends itself to the vehicle’s durability and safe handling by the driver.

The location of the cab behind the engine ensures the optimal distribution of load across the axles, while its lower position makes for easier entry and maintenance. The engine can be readily accessed without having to tilt the cab, and the design gives the vehicle a 34° angle of approach.

The Zetros chassis is, in turn, a rugged construction with a reinforced ladder-type frame designed to cope with heavy loads and demanding terrain, and allow lifting or towing even when fully loaded.

The double U-profile carrier is produced with German thermo-mechanically treated steel for superb torsional flexibility, which keeps the wheels on the ground for maximum traction in rough terrain. Reinforced axle wishbones ensure a stable axle guide and double T-formed cross members allow for twist to keep the wheels on the ground without deforming the frame.

In a tractor-head configuration, the powerful 12-litre six-cylinder engine of the Zetros delivers 428 HP, or 315 kW, and supports the loading gross combination weight (GCW) of 116 tonnes, while its all-wheel-drive chassis, with single or dual tyres in the rear, addresses the difficult terrain.

These loads are supported by the Zetros’s robust, cast-steel planetary hub reduction axles with differential locks, which are designed for a technically possible load of 7.5 to 9.0 tonnes on the front axle and 13 to 16 tonnes on the rear axle. Both the 6x6 and 6x4 versions are equipped with planetary hub reduction axles with a through-drive countershaft designed to withstand rough conditions and treatment year after year.

In order to tackle the dust, the Zetros’s air intake is positioned above the cab and equipped with a cyclonic pre-filter, which is in turn fitted with a clear housing unit to plainly show the level of dirt and debris has been collected inside. Particles that escape this first pre-filter are then collected by a second cyclonic pre-filter inside the filter housing. This large dust bowl is designed to hold up to 30kg of debris and particles.

Hany Tawfik, manager for truck sales at Emirates Motor Company (EMC), explains: “Based on the target industries of the Zetros, as well as the inquiries that we have received from our customers, we believe that the Zetros rigid chassis 6x6, three-axle configuration is attractive for crane, tanker and tipper applications. For the 6x6 tractor head, we see a strong potential in combination with low bed three- to four-axle trailers.

He adds: “Zetros customers place a high value on the vehicles off-road capabilities, and this is especially driven by the cab design. Combined with the high cooling capacity, the reliable and robust Zetros is an ideal solution for desert operations.”

The combination of comfortable crew cab — which can be used to accommodate up to six people — and high-load material capacity is idle for work crews that need to head out with all their tools for remote operations.

Available as a rigid chassis in 4x4 or 6x6 configurations, as well as a 6x6 tractor-head, the Zetros, can be equipped for gross vehicle weights of anywhere between 16.5 and 40 tonnes, ranging from a 7.2-litre engine version with 326 HP up to the powerful 12-litre variant, the 3643A, which sports the OM457LA engine capable of delivering 428 HP and 2,100 Nm of torque.

Tawfik continues: “At EMC, we place a high emphasis on customer satisfaction and strive to build long-term partnerships. To further support our customers, we are offering extended warranties, long-term service contracts and on-site support with this product.

“Historically, due to its strong off-road capabilities, the Zetros has predominantly been used in the oil and gas industry, and especially in oil field operations where there is a lack of infrastructure. In the future, we believe the Zetros will further become an interesting product for the construction segment.”

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