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Thread: New member from Norway, soon to have a new truck!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Oslo, Norway

    Smile New member from Norway, soon to have a new truck!

    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).
    *2000w inverter
    *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:
    KCT windows
    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:

    Last edited by julius0377; 05-20-2013 at 03:16 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Prescott, AZ
    I like it. First suggestion would be to paint that bright treadplate along the quarter panels.

    Where do you plan to drive it?

    Best of luck with the new project. Norway is such a beautiful country - we really enjoyed the fjords and NordKapp this past summer.
    Scott Brady
    Instagram - @globaloverland

    Overland Journal
    D1 | LJ78 | BJ74 |LR4 | MKIII | J8 | G-Wagen | Range Rover Classic | Moto Guzzi V7 | KLR650

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Oslo, Norway
    The plan is to drive it mostly locally in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark for the first year. Then with Iceland as a temtping possibility for 2014. After that Canada/Alaska/Northern USA as well as Australia as a possible exciting options

    I just got my "C" (truck) drivers licence , so some newbie routes and driver training in getting 8 tonnes of vehicle and equipment through terrain is a good option for our first year of driving the EX480.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    North of Superior
    Thank you for sharing the details of your search for the vehicle that best suited your needs. Please keep us posted with information on the build and the travels thereafter.

    Quote Originally Posted by julius0377 View Post
    (That is about 80 % onroad, 19 % poor road and 1 % offroad use.)
    I think this is very realistic for most long distance traveling. It is good that you realize this and can build your vehicle accordingly.

    Four Wheel Camper - The TARDIS
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    Large Format Landscape Photography

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Norway, Europe

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Thanks for posting. I am very interested in you build!

    Since you need seating for two adults and two kids, did you consider a quad-cab ( I.e. Doka)?
    Where will the kids sit- in the camper I presume? How is the ride sitting back there?

    Does Mercedes service this model in North America do you know?
    2005 Sportsmobile Ford "50" 4x4 White
    2000 Jeep Cherokee White Highly Modified
    2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee-wife won't let me modify it

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Oslo, Norway
    Quote Originally Posted by cellularsteve2 View Post
    Since you need seating for two adults and two kids, did you consider a quad-cab ( I.e. Doka)?
    We used a lot of time researching this with Mercedes as well as the dealer. The Atego only comes in a cab with one seating row, you can get beds behind the seats (but no rear seat row.) This would also make the total length about half a metre longer.

    Main issues with a longer cab would be these:
    Cost increase from 3900 EUR for seats in the cabin, to minimum 12000 EUR for the longer Atego Cab.
    Increase in wheelbase from 3260mm, to 3560mm, impacting turning circle.
    Increase in weight, with the longer cab it can not be registered below 7500 kg. (The standard EX480 can be registered below 7500 kg, making it driveable on a C1 license. Without optional equipment its 6910 kg, payload of 590 kg. The vehicle will still be able to carry ut to 3,5 tonnes, but not in countries where they actually check the weight. It can also be registered as the full 10,5 tonnes, but can then only be driven on a full C license, impacting the aftersales value as many have the C1, but very few have the C license.)
    Increase in total length to just above 7 metres, making it more expensive on ferries in northern europe and Norway in particular. They charge pr. meter you exceed, so 7.01m would cost the same as 7.99m. Not to mention worldwide shipping where the longer vehicle would cost a lot more (seabridge RO-RO shipping as an example). Many smaller campgrounds in Europe (Stellplatz) in city centres are cheap, but only permit shorter vehicles. With below 7 metres we can use most of these and see city centres by bicycle, as well as it being a lot cheaper than caravan campgrounds.

    The above is also the reason why a MAN truck is not an option for the Bimobil anymore. The 13 ton version of their TGM model is the lightest they offer with 4x4, and it's not possible to get this under 7,5 tonnes with the cabin and equipment.

    Quote Originally Posted by cellularsteve2 View Post
    Where will the kids sit- in the camper I presume? How is the ride sitting back there?
    The ride will be more harsh and bumpy on poor roads as the both the cab and front seats are suspended, but not the rear cabin. We will most likely only use the front 3 seats in the cab (me and my fiancee plus 1 child, with our dog in the back). But future purchasers of the truck may want more seats, and this option is not aftermarket installable as a structure for attatching the belts need to be integrated in the floor of the cabin, making it prohibitively expensive.

    The list of options we have added to make sure the truck meets possible aftersales demands are:
    Two extra seats (for family use of the truck, floor of truck has special strengthening for attatchment points).
    Oven/Grill (gas pipes must be laid out, space must be made available by carpenter).
    Metallic silver paint of the whole thing (makes it not look like a delivery truck).
    Trailer hitch (the chassis is made stronger on the rear crossbeam, cheap from the factory, expensive if aftermarket...)

    The options above are not something we felt the need for, yet we knew that the aftermarket cost of these items is more than double (some cases triple) of what the factory charges, therefore we included these to increase our resale value many years into the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by cellularsteve2 View Post
    Does Mercedes service this model in North America do you know?
    Short answer is I think no, long answer:

    I looked for the engine model on Freightliner and Western Star websites, but it does not look like it is in use in North America. The engine model nr. is OM906LA and is a straight 6 diesel of 6,37 litres volume. Mine will be the 175 kw (240hp) version. In South America for example Brazil has on order/taken delivery of 1700 Atego's (and 400 sprinters), so it seems to have some presence there.

    Mercedes is good with shipping parts, and one of the best companies to deal with worldwide if something breaks down. I'm sure it will take some time if a major part breaks, but it is fixable/serviceable when not on a strict timetable.

    Stephen Stewarts MAN based EX480 had its gearbox changed in Edmonton, Canada. Mercedes should be at least equal or better. The ZF gearbox in the MAN truck was shipped from Europe, see his website
    Last edited by julius0377; 01-15-2013 at 01:43 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Baja Oregon
    What a beautiful truck, thank you for sharing.
    I look forward to hearing about your travels, and seeing your truck in action.
    Welcome to the Expo Portal.

  9. #9
    welcome and that will be a nice set up!

    I was shocked to read the list of manufacturers you posted with the "too expensive" for the reason to not purchase, with your purchase price in the $250,000 US range there was around 13 manufacturers listed with 8 of them being too expensive! That to me is some high priced equipment being traded, do you have a feeling of the market for these rigs being strong or are they feeling an economic pinch?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Oslo, Norway
    Quote Originally Posted by westyss View Post
    That to me is some high priced equipment being traded, do you have a feeling of the market for these rigs being strong or are they feeling an economic pinch?
    I can not answer the question directly with any statistically verifiable data, but this was the information we where given when contacting the different manufacturers:

    Build times varied from 2 to 8 months. With waiting times from 2 months to one and a half years. (Some we never got around to disussing build times with, as spec vs. price was the first topic.)
    None could go to a direct build opportunity, there was a short to long waiting time with all suppliers.
    Quickest we could get a truck was from Bimobil and Exploryx (about 4 months). As well as HRZ and CS reisemobile (they had new models in the market that we could tweak the feature list on, meaning weeks or a couple of months of waiting time.)
    All manufacturers seemed busy, many difficult to get a hold of immediately, but most answered after a few phonecalls or emails.

    After we ended up with Bimobil, but before we signed anything, we checked both our dealers (Kerkamm in Germany) and Bimobil's financial data for 2010 and 2011. We used Dun & Bradstreet, and they reported that both where in the mid highs (no outstanding money, a sound economy and turnover for the number of employees, as well as no "flags". We felt safe to pay the deposit, and where assured that the deposit is ours in case of bankrupcy of the dealer (held as security for payment, not as actual payment and belonging to the dealer. The exchange is thus legal and binding at the actual point of delivery, not at the point of deposit payment. This is a big deal.)

    Most where willing to discuss at length the specs and possible solutions for a truck within our budget, even though we fell just short with most. All with a good tone and none giving a feeling of "you wasted my time".

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