Persfoto van een Unimog U427, opgebouwd als open laadbak.
For many months, the Großglockner Pass was blocked by snow several meters deep. However, the road is now clear again, thanks in part to a Mercedes-Benz Unimog. Just in time for the beginning of the vacationing season, the vehicle cleared away the final pile of snow blocking the legendary route to Italy. For the first time, a new Unimog U 427 was used. As a result, the snow was cleared in a more efficient and environmentally friendly manner than ever before. The vehicle has a 200 kW (272 hp) engine that complies with Europe’s latest emissions standard, Euro VI.
In conjunction with the SF 90-100 snow blower of the Swiss manufacturer Zaugg, the Unimog implement carrier (the designation for the municipal-use model series) helped clear away the final pile of snow blocking the pass on April 29. The professional implement carrier is equipped with a hydrostatic drive system so that it can run at the extremely slow operating speeds associated with snow blowing. The drive transmits its output through a fully variable hydraulic system. To offset the snow blower’s great weight (1.8 t), the Unimog also has a swivable ballast at the rear. With its snow blower, the compact powerhouse worked its way through ice and snow several meters deep until it reached the highest point of the mountain pass. In an intense snow squall, the Unimog still had to blow away a three-meter pile of snow at “Hochtor” (High Gate) before the pass was finally clear for travel. The banks of snow along the nearly 48 km route are up to eight meters deep.
The Euro VI engines emit up to 90 percent less pollutants and particulate matter than their Euro V predecessors. In addition, the new Unimog consumes up to three percent less fuel than its predecessor. The equipment is now more efficiently operated as well, because the high-performance VarioPower hydraulics can achieve higher peak values. The Unimog generation presented in 2013 also has a major improvement that specifically enhances snow blowing: the synergetic traction drive system Easy Drive, which allows drivers to switch from the hydrostat to the mechanical manual transmission while traveling. Drivers can also perform their demanding work with less stress, thanks to the clear-view Panorama Cab and an operating concept that has been optimized in many ways. For example, the snow blower is driven via the front PTO shaft and operated with a joystick that can also be used to regulate the vehicle’s speed. Alternatively, drivers can still use the speedometer even at very low speeds of less than 1 km/h so that they can concentrate fully on snow blowing.
Now that the Großglockner Pass has been cleared of snow, the many Unimogs used by Austrian region of Carinthia have various other jobs to perform. The wide variety of tasks that these Universal-Motorgerät (Unimog) vehicles have carried out for more than 50 years include mowing grass along the side of the road, cleaning roads, guide rails, and guide posts, and trimming trees.
Historic route a tourist attraction
The Großglockner Pass is one of the most-visited tourist attractions in Austria today. As a result, the company that manages the pass, Großglockner Hochalpenstraßen AG, expects that around 900,000 people from all over the world will once again visit the site in 2014. The road that was put into operation in 1935 is ideally integrated into the surrounding landscape. Travelers had already used the route almost 2,000 years ago, and the road now runs through the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park. Hochtor lies 1,699 m higher than the village of Fusch (805 m above sea level), which is located at the beginning of the 47.8 km route with its 67 bridges and 36 tight turns. In spring, up to 700,000 m³ of snow has to be cleared from the road and the adjoining parking lots.
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