The fast disappearing trucks of Euro 5: number one, the Mercedes Benz Actros MP3

We all know that trucks tend to live hard, short lives. With the ludicrous Euro 6-only rules imposed and threatened by ultra low emission zones only making this worse, many trucks which would normally have had a 10-12 year lifespan before being exported, found themselves parked up with few potential buyers. Poor old Euro 5. And 4 we guess but it was only around for about ten minutes. Euro 5 trucks tried so hard, but with all-new complex Adblue and EGR exhaust treatment systems they caused no end of headaches for mechanics, drivers, operators and manufacturers at the start but improved enormously in a short period of time. Many Euro 5s look almost identical to their newer, environmentally acceptable siblings at Euro 6. The Volvo FH, Merc Actros MP4, MAN TGX are all good examples.

Hauliers found themselves having to get shot of perfectly good, modern, clean trucks with wrecked residual values that never produce a speck of visible exhaust content. Trucks are supposed to last a long time, it doesn’t make sense to bin good ones earlier than planned. It’s a major piece of industrial equipment that requires a lot of raw material and energy to produce. Building to last is good, you need to look at the whole life cost of a vehicle to assess its environmental impact, not just the exhaust emissions at one point in time.

It’s bad enough dispensing with tractor units but it’s another world of pain with a specialist rigid. Politicians and councilists do not understand this and wilfully ignore anything that’s contrary to what they think is correct. Nobody in power seems to have any issue with allowing these trucks to run in Africa. Is that not just moving the emissions elsewhere?

Today, with the semi conductor and microchip shortages, the decision to drive trucks built up to 2014 off the road and exclude them from uLEZ zones or cynically impose a penalty charge, looks increasingly stupid, with huge long lead times on new kit. These trucks collectively had billions of clean, efficient and safe kilometres left to cover. They’re getting on a bit now in some cases, but the effects of this have been rumbling on for years, pre pandemic when many Euro 5s were not even half way through their natural operating lifespan.

‘And we were singing, Hi Hi Mr Iveco Guy, drove my Stralis down to Dallas just to get a mince pie. But the uLEZ boys were singing “No Euro 5” and so then this would be the day of no pie.’ – Don McLean 1972 (Euro 6 truck pictured)

Anyway, the upshot is that lots of trucks were replaced earlier than they would normally have been

What defines a classic truck is open to debate, we reckon anything over ten years old has the potential. Because so many are only here for a short time, and even the most unfashionable is worth saving. It’s these trucks that’ll get the most attention in years to come.

Now just look at what we had at Euro 5, that has vanished or is vanishing. Some of course are still doing an honest graft today – the great thing for those who don’t need to worry about city centre delivery is there are some tremendous bargains to be had for a fraction of the price of a sought after Euro.

First up in this series….

The vanishing Act(ros) – the handsome, rounded MP3 came with either a V6 or V8 (well sought after now) engine and some drivers seem to prefer it to the dramatic looking MP4 replacement. With the huge popularity of the MP4 and Euro 6 combined with the export market love of Mercs, this is one truck that really did disappear rapidly and would be a great modern truck to preserve. You still see the odd one. Did you like them? Do you still drive one today?

This big power duo will be featured in the July issue of T&D. Top spec tractor units are the most likely to make it to retirement, for obvious reasons!