This is my first post, and it will be all about the new truck thats on order! I'll write more about the trips we undertake, when we actually have the truck to undertake the trips in
After deliberating about 5 months, we (my fiancee and I), decided on a Bimobil EX480 built on the Mercedes ATEGO 4x4 10,5 ton chassis. But before I get into the truck, here are some of the things we where after, and why the choice was a Bimobil.
These are the "no compromise" options we where after in an expedition truck:
*Seating and sleeping arrangements for two adults and two children.
*A fixed bed for the adults.
*EU approved seating with belts for everyone.
*Good ground clearance, with four wheel drive and differential locks.
*Option for three persons to sit in the drivers cab.
*Not more than about 7 metres length in total.
*Enough water to provide drinking, washing and cleaning for at least a couple of weeks.
*Separate shower enclosure, with divider (not cloth/textile).
*Casette toilet (little to no availability for emptying tank toilets in our country.)
*Good to great range between filling (at least about 1200km on one tank, preferably better.)
*Built by reputable company with parts availability and short turnaround times for repairs. Preferably situated in northern europe.
*COC document with TUV approval for the model, to be able to register the vehicle locally where we live. (This usually means a larger company, or one with series production.)
These where our financial constraints:
*Absolute maximum of 185000,- euro purchase price, without taxes and VAT.
We looked at the following other companies, with main reasons for not choosing them in brackets:
Unicat (Too expensive)
Action Mobil (Too expensive)
Bocklet (Some "Dakar" van chassis models within budget, but did not meet our criteria.)
Woelcke (Some models within budget, again did not meet our criteria.)
Exploryx (Most models within budget, but only van type chassis, and outside our criteria.)
Procab (Too expensive)
Langer & Bock (Too expensive)
Taveirne mobil (Too expensive)
Tartaruga (Too expensive)
Orangework (Too expensive)
Archemobil (Too expensive)
Ormocar (No serial production vehicles)
HRZ (Too small, van based)
CS Reisemobile (Too small, van based)
As well as others (we researched lots of small companies that I don't remember the name of due to poor website, marketing or presence of users on forums.)
What we get with the Bimobil:
*Basically whatever we want as long as we can afford it, you can think it, they can make it. Even the series models are possible to change in lots and lots of major ways like cabin alterations to length, interior changes, etc. etc.
*Large 6kw gas heater.
*Large 5kw diesel water heater (for redundancy and engine heating in cold climates.)
*Manual gearshift, better for situations where you are "stuck" offroad.
*Proven Mercedes truck with huge payload (about 3 tonnes)
*Short (6.6 metres without spare tyre)
*300 litres of water
*380 litres of diesel
*Good approach/departure angle.
*Torsion free mounting of cabin.
*Front, centre and rear differential locks.
*Winterized with extra insulation in both cab and cabin.
*5 approved, belted seats (tree in the drivers cab, two in the cabin.)
*Large fixed main bed for two adults, large dining area convertible to large bed for two kids.
*Generous kitchen, wardrobe and bathroom with separate shower.
*Large 440 AH battery bank.
*Large 28v/100AH alternator
*220 watts solar.
*Auto circuits for both cab and cabin.
*Casette toilet (much easier to empty).
*Up to 2x13 kg gas bottles
*Large hatch in the side by dining area.
*Two large skylights as well as two "fantastic" vents.
*Rear facing camera system
*Lots of smaller options like radio systems, etc.
What we would have liked to afford in the Bimobil:
Roof rails for the cabin
Motorbike and twin spare holder for the rear (now only one spare).
Why go for a builder with an aluminum construction, instead of strong GRP/Fibreglass?
Well, price is the main issue. All the GPR/Fibreglass producers simply charge more, and the solution would then have to be a smaller van based vehicle, and that did not meet our criteria for living space/comfort as well as payload, etc. Also when seeing the bimobil construction/cutaway sample, the rigidity of the demo models and used models (some very old used models), as well as testimonials from returning customers, we where convinced of Bimobils construction quality. Some benefits to the alu construction is ability to easily change a single cabin panel (side/top/bottom) for repairs, and standard "car" repair techniques can be used for smaller damage. Usual benefits to the GRP/Fibreglass is cabin strenght, "boat builders" type smaller repair can be done easily, but major damage is more difficult. Water ingress is usually also easier to control in a GRP cabin, but Bimobil has an excellent corner constrouction as well as a non absorbing insulation material to deal with this.
Why not build it on the new Arocs, Atego or Axor chassis Mercedes has in the works?
Because they comes with powershift automatic as standard, is an "unknown" until lauch, and has EURO6 engines with even more sensitivity to poor diesel fuel quality, consumption of adblue/urea, etc.
Why not build on a Unimog chassis?
The Unimog chassis costs about twice of the Atego, is not as well suited to long distance travel with less top speed and comfort, and although is more suited to extreme offroad conditions, we on balance find the Atego better for our mix of onroad/poor road/offroad use. (That is about 80 % onroad, 19 % poor road and 1 % offroad use.)
We are super excited, and will get delivery of the truck in May if all goes according to plan.
Here are some pictures of the EX480: