Tough and at home on pretty much any terrain, Unimog can do the work of two vehicles.
For more than 70 years Mercedes-Benz has produced Unimog, a part-truck and part-tractor it says can operate like no other.
Over the past year the manufacturer has also developed a business behind it, leading to a 100% increase in sales.
Bernhard Dolinek is head of special trucks at Mercedes-Benz Trucks. He has been working tirelessly to reinvigorate the Unimog brand in the UK.
Since taking on the role, Dolinek has added two dealers to the network – bringing the total to eight – while increasing their focus on professionalism.
He has also increased the number of demonstrator vehicles available to ensure as many fleets as possible can experience the product.
“We’re offering Unimog-specific sales and aftersales training courses to our dealer colleagues; we have dedicated service personnel in our head office; plus we’ve improved the availability of spare parts at our European Logistics Centre in Milton Keynes,” said Dolinek.
“The result of these measures is that we have taken more fleet orders, and grown the Unimog business by 100%.”
But he doesn’t want to stop there.
“We would again like to grow the business by 100%. We will continue to grow our dealer network and promote the features and benefits of the Unimog, such as the Euro 6 engine and the vehicle’s numerous safety advantages.
“With farm tractors coming under intense scrutiny, we believe there is a real opportunity to make inroads into this market,” Dolinek explained.
Part of his strategy to boost the popularity of Unimog is the annual Unimog Live event.
Held at the Millbrook Proving Ground, Bedfordshire, it gives Unimog customers, potential customers and enthusiasts the chance to experience the products first-hand and see how one vehicle can take the place of two or three.
The Unimog is officially called an ‘implement carrier’ but it’s best described as part-truck and part-tractor. Thanks to the extensive availability of modifications, it really can be anything a customer needs it to be.
It uses a truck engine and gearbox, mated to a chassis which is engineered to tackle heavy-duty off-road use.
But it can work on-road too. A top speed of 56mph means, unlike a tractor, the Unimog can be comfortably driven wherever it is needed or even used for haulage.
Some of its unique features include VarioPilot, a sliding steering column which means the vehicle can be switched between left and right hand drive.
Unimog can also ascend very steep gradients and wade in 1.2 metres of water.
Two versions are available with a range of drivetrain configurations. Smaller U216/U530 models are designed for adaptability and are suited to civil engineering and local authority fleets looking for a multi-use vehicle.
In the summer it can cut grass and in the winter it can be used as a snow plough or gritter.
Larger U4023/U5023 models provide high levels of mobility no matter the terrain. They can work in the desert or jungle (admittedly, not typical UK conditions) taking equipment and crew into the most remote locations.
With power outputs of up to 1,200 Nm of torque, the Unimog can officially carry up to 24 tonnes of payload.
However, the vehicle has proved it is capable of towing 1,000 tonnes.
For businesses operating on or near railways, Unimog is available with a train axle conversion allowing it to drive on the railway at the flick of a switch.
Mercedes-Benz has a network of 36 service centres in the UK to look after its Unimog customers.
Service and maintenance packages are available as well as a range of finance and hire options to suit different budgets.
The vehicles cost from around £100,000 with conversions and modifications capable of doubling that price.
But the flexibility it offers often means an operator can replace two vehicles with one Unimog.
It also delivers impressive efficiency of more than 7mpg in real-world testing – this is around double that of an equivalent tractor.
Strong residual values add to the package although many Unimog operators have managed more than 20 years of service from their vehicles.