The reason that its military origin is such a little known fact about the Mercedes-Benz Zetros is that the British tender it was designed for ultimately didn’t proceed – but what came from it is still worth telling the tale.
Realising a unique opportunity, Mercedes-Benz proceeded with the rejected draft and built the truck anyway, albeit for the civilian market. Leaving its military DNA intact, the Zetros was re-engineering to meet the requirements of fire brigades and rescue organisations, as well as the construction, mining and energy sectors – and ended up becoming a mainstay of Mercedes-Benz’ vocational truck offering.
Despite the change of application, the Zetros’ military heritage has remained visible until today, with an exterior styling reminiscent of WWII-era GMC and Studebaker army trucks – but that’s where the similarities end. Today’s Zetros’ is high-tech in disguise.
By adopting a modular concept and using standardised components from the global Daimler toolbox, Mercedes-Benz has managed to combine off-road capabilities with high payloads while keeping development costs at a minimum. The chassis, for example, is based on the Actros model, while the engine is borrowed from the Axor/Atego range and the doors come from the iconic Unimog.
The result is an eclectic mix of well-proven chassis and drivetrain technology that perfectly suits the Zetros’ global ambitions, as it allows Mercedes-Benz to provide global service support due to the high commonality of the parts used.
The full story has appeared in the March edition of Prime Mover. To get your copy, click here.