A history with pulling power: Mercedes-Benz all-wheel-drive vehicles
Stuttgart
Aug 02, 2011
All-wheel-drive vehicles – versatile helpers
  • New all-wheel-drive vehicles of the DMG are produced for military and civilian uses
  • Off-road driving, construction sites, trailer operations and for adverse weather conditions: the most important applications are soon identified
  • Further tests with all-wheel steering
In the years after 1907, the development of all-wheel-drive commercial vehicles at DMG kept pace with that of rear-wheel-drive trucks. More and more powerful engines were a major aspect. The First World War greatly increased the demand for motorized vehicles – including all-wheel-drive versions – and in this field DMG cooperated with Krupp.
DMG together with Krupp AG built a first all-wheel-drive volume production vehicle in the form of the KD1 artillery tractor from 1917. Conceived for a gross vehicle weight of 15 tonnes, 1129 units of the vehicle were produced in total and were used by the army mainly for transporting guns. Known as an ‘artillery tractor’, the vehicle was by far the best and most frequently used tractor unit by the German military. After the war it also went into civilian use, for example, as a chassis for armoured police vehicles.
The plant supplied this tractor unit to the army with a 100-hp engine (74 kW). From 1919, DMG changed the designation to ‘DZ’ (German: Daimler-Zugwagen) and offered a 70-hp variant (52 kW) for a 15.5-tonne towing weight, the 100-hp unit (74 kW) as before but now with a 27-tonne towing weight, as well as a 170-hp version (125 kW) for an overall towing weight of 45 tonnes.
When a large number of vehicles were made available for civilian use after the war, some of the all-wheel-drive models ended up on terrain where they were able to demonstrate their advantages to the full, namely construction sites. Since many locomotives had to be surrendered as war reparations, DMG began to build all-wheel-drive rail vehicles which were able to pull more than 100 tonnes at a specified speed of around 35 km/h.
Their excellent traction also enabled these all-wheel-drive vehicles to predominate in another area: they were fitted with snowploughs to keep the roads clear in winter. Accordingly all applications to which all-wheel-drive vehicles were particularly suited, and which were to give them a multitude of uses over the coming decades, were identified at an early stage.
All-wheel steering, which had already been tested in the Dernburg, is another issue the engineers picked up again after the war: in 1919 the Untertürkheim factory built a tractor unit with four-wheel steering, which was intended as an industrial tow-truck. Despite its advantages, particularly its outstanding manoeuvrability, this was never produced in series.
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