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Mercedes-Benz has revealed a prototype urban tractor unit based on its low-entry Econic chassis. The truck features a deep, panoramic windscreen and full-height glazed passenger door, and a low seating position which enables the driver to make direct eye contact with cyclists and pedestrians at junctions and in traffic.

The German manufacturer said the 4×2 Econic 1835L tractor will operate at a maximum GCW of 36 tonnes. The truck has a 7.7-litre, 354 bhp straight-six engine and six-speed Allison automatic gearbox – though Merc confirmed a PowerShift automated ’box will be available in Econic models with the same engine before the end of this year.

The vehicle made its public debut at Truckfest Peterborough and includes recent refinements to the Econic cab made to enhance driver appeal. These include a driver’s door which is higher and opens more widely, and a re-profiled floor to make cross-cab access easier.

“Our experience over the last couple of years in London and elsewhere has proved the safety benefits the Econic offers in comparison to a conventional rigid truck chassis give it significant market appeal,” said Philip Chance, senior municipal sales & special applications manager at Mercedes-Benz Trucks. “It was a logical next step, therefore, to explore the potential for an Econic-based urban tractor.”

Chance said Merc’s UK operation has adapted the base unit built by the factory in Germany so it is better suited to the UK market, and it is now keen to talk to operators to get their feedback on the new prototype.

A number of Econic-based construction vehicles – including builders’ merchant dropsiders with cranes, tippers, tipper-grabs and skip-loaders – are now operating in London and Cambridge, while a pair of fridge-bodied 18-tonners also entered service in the capital late last year.