Mercedes-Benz said its Econic municipal chassis is soon to be offered with an 8-speed PowerShift automated gearbox as an alternative to the current 6-speed Allison automatic box.

This will provide further scope for the Econic to be used in a wider urban role - such as distribution, tipper and mixer duties and as a skip-handler - in addition to its primarily intended purpose as a refuse collection vehicle (RCV).

Its low driving position and large glazed areas meet the demand for much improved cyclist and pedestrian safety in cities.

Confirming that the development and testing work for the new installation is under way in Germany, Mercedes-Benz UK sales engineering manager Nick Blake said at this year's CV Show: “If you ask me if Econic will be better in this role with an 8-speed PowerShift, then the answer is of course, yes.”

The box is already matched to the same 7.7-litre OM 936 6-cylinder engine in Arocs, Actros and Atego units.

Mercedes exhibited several non-RCV Econics at the show, including the high-visibility rear-steer tridem 8x4 aggregates tipper for operation in London by Cemex Aggregates (pictured). The truck is based on the 3235L Econic, with its OM 936 engine rated at a nominal 350hp/1,400Nm. It has a Wilcox body and Edbro CX14 front end tipping gear.

  • Cemex is currently trialling a four-axle Econic tipper.The tipper is based at the company's Angerstein Quarry site near Dartford in London and will supply sand and gravel to Cemex's concrete plants and local customers in the capital. The tipper is fitted with a Wilcox Wilcolite insulated smooth rigid tipping body and is designed to take a payload of 20 tonnes, the same as a standard tipper.  The operator described the design as a marked step forward, as previous high-visibility design vehicles have had capacities of around 16 tonnes.