Ordinary vehicles will not travel far in the arctic tundra of Iceland. Addi Hermannsson therefore relies on modified MAN trucks to show tourists around the nation’s second-largest glacier.
Arngrímur Hermannsson, nicknamed “Addi” by just about everyone, is the very personification of a pioneer. At the age of 18, he saved accident victims out of glacier crevasses, crossed Iceland on skis in the 1970s and today uses three converted MAN trucks to transport tourists across rough terrain, snow and ice to the Langjökull, a glacier in western Iceland.
“The MANs are registered as buses, although they are actually trucks,” states Addi. The vehicles are spectacular: three metres wide, four metres tall, almost 14 metres long and equipped with tyres that reach up to Addi’s chest, despite his body height of 1.9 metres. The eight tyres ensure that passengers hardly notice the bumpy ride over sand, lava debris and through a riverbed. Using a smartphone app, Addi manages a system that releases air from the tyres or inflates them once again, depending on current surface conditions. He developed the system for driving on snow and ice – and it truly feels as if despite its 20 tonnes, the vehicle is gliding on the six-metre-thick snow cover as if on skis. “The tyres are one important factor, but the converter and the differential lock are just as critical. Not to forget the powerful engine. All of these elements are needed to drive on the glacier,” explains Addi. The converter transmission ensures that he can start up on slick and steep surfaces without torque interruption, while the direct power traction between engine and transmission retains rotational speed in an optimised range. Coupling both output shafts, the differential lock also facilitates driving in such challenging terrain.
The destination of the glacier tour is the ice tunnel, which extends deeply into the glacier itself. “Our guests enjoy the thrill of seeing a glacier from the inside,” explains Hjalti Rafn Gunnarsson, Marketing Manager of “Into the Glacier”. “The MAN trucks are the vehicles to enable this experience for them.” And what if the weather, at times rather intemperate in Iceland, is not willing to cooperate? “There is no such thing as bad weather for either myself or for our trucks,” says Addi. “They’re used to the extremes.”
Images: © Dirk Bruniecki, Arnar Thor