It's always a compromise

The list of requirements is long and contradictory:

  • The vehicle should manage offroad, but mostly should give us a smooth ride on normal roads; and it should be compact and agile.
  • The vehicle should have a ligh level of self-sufficiency, but the additional weight of tanks, solar panels, batteries, etc. must not significantly limit the payload.
  • The vehicle should have an alcove for comfort reasons, but should not influence the driveability due to its higher size.
  • The vehicle should provide a separate shower and bathroom, but this additional space should not limit the rest of the living space significantly.
  • The vehicle's cabin should be easy to repair (fiberglass), but at the price of a lightning protection provided by an aluminum cabin.
  • And so on ...

Also the budget plays an important role. Not only for the purchase of the vehicle but also for the running costs (diesel consumption, maintenance, repairs, ...).

Main purpose

We will mostly travel on paved roads, but also on dirt roads and in offroad terrain. Our vehicle must therefore have at least some offroad qualities and must be robust. Rides over sand dunes and through deep mud will hardly be possible with our vehicle and we do not want too. Comfort is more important to us than extreme offroad capabilities.

 

The technology will enable self-sufficiency of at least 2 weeks. With a normal camper that wouldn't be possible. A 4x4 drive, high reliability, simple and robust technology, a worldwide spare parts supply and sufficient ground clearance are important criteria for us.  

 

 

Overall size

The 3.5 tons class is not an option for us due to limitations in comfort and because of too many compromises. The >7.5 tons class is "oversized" for us, and also impractical: We don't want to think of driving such a huge truck through small villages or in the city. Not to mention the huge maintenance costs. So we stay in the 7.5 tons class.

 

Our vehicle is 6,90m long. The empty weight is 6,7 tons (incl water, gas, diesel, 1 driver), so there is additional payload of 0,8 tons. 

 

We decided for an alcove to create a pleasant feeling of space and to realise comfortable beds.

 

Chassis available

(As of 2016) The vehicle choice in the 7.5 tons class is very limited. Apart from exotic chassis such as the Bremach, Bucher Duro and the Fuso Canter, there is only the Iveco Daily or the Mercedes Sprinter available as a new truck.

 

The Iveco Daily is available with a max weight of 7,2 tons, but only with 4x2 drive.  So you have to purchase the 4x4 conversion package from  Achleitner.

 

The Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 is available with a max weight of 5,3 tons. With a 6x6 conversion package from Oberaigner a max weight of 7 tons is possible. Also Iglhaut offers such conversions. However, such a three-axle vehicle is technically very complex and has some disadvantages in our view (fuel consumption, tire usage, manoeuvrability, etc.). In addition, the conversion packages are very expensive: Only for the chassis and including the Achleitner or Oberaigner conversion packges the total bill will be over CHF 100,000 without the cabin.

 

There are older chassis available such as a Mercedes 914 or an Iveco 90-16 and they have lots of fans due to their simple technology, but their old exhaust systems limit our freedom to visit cities in Europe. There are also some down-sized 7.5 tons trucks available like the Mercedes Atego or the Unimog, but they have very limited payload and they do not allow for an alcove. Therefore for us there is only one option left: a used Mercedes Vario 4x4. Luckily we found an ex-army Mercedes Vario 4x4 in a top shape. The Vario was produced until 2013, provides robust truck engineering and real 7.5 tons maximum weight. The ideal choice for our project.