Riding high with the Unimog 5000

  • At more than 2500 metres above sea level, the Mercedes-Benz Unimog carries tourists to the lava field of the Torre del Filosofo
  • Its use on Mount Etna provides renewed evidence of the unique off-road capabilities of this model series


Stuttgart/Catania – The Unimog 5000 meets even the most challenging objectives: it is used between May and October each year to carry the streams of tourists from the Etna cable car station at 2500 metres up to the Torre del Filosofo. Here, at 2935 metres above sea level, is where the hiking trail begins for those tourists who want to be as close as possible to the lava fields. More than 300,000 tourists are drawn each year to Sicily by the prospect of climbing Mount Etna.

The Unimog range, which has been built since 2002 at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Wörth, is the ideal candidate for use in the harsh conditions that prevail on Etna: the only vehicle concept of this type in the world, it guarantees the ultimate off-road capability. A flexible ladder frame, all-wheel drive with differential locks in both axles, which are in fact portal axles, and the central tire inflation system Tirecontrol – every single technical detail plays its part in ensuring that the “Universal-Motor-Gerät”, or “Universal Motor Device” – the German version of which provides the acronym that makes up the Unimog name – remains a dependable partner on the rough tracks and ash fields of Europe’s highest active volcano.

Transport, maintenance procedures, construction work – full programme on Mount Etna

The extremely versatile Unimog carries out vital duties against a spectacular backdrop: a bus body on the U 5000 provides seats for the tourists, carrying them safely from the cable car station all the way up the steep track. Also in service on Etna is a U1550 L, fitted with the necessary attachments for its task of clearing snow or ash from the tracks. The versatility of the Unimog has also come into its own during the building of a new cable car to replace one that was destroyed by volcanic eruptions.

Award-winning model series with a 60-year history

In 2011, the readers of the specialist magazine “Off Road” voted the series 4000 to 5000 Unimog the best off-road vehicle of the year in the category of special-purpose vehicles. Its use on Mount Etna provides renewed evidence of how worthy of the honour the award-winning Unimog is. The principle areas of application for this model series are in tricky off-road terrain far off the beaten track, for example in situations involving the fire services, disaster control or expedition support, or for service and maintenance work in poorly accessible areas.

The broad scope of its potential areas of operation, the unique vehicle concept and the longevity of the vehicles all help to explain the popularity that the various Unimog model series have enjoyed for over sixty years now. Since production started, more than 380,000 units of the Unimog have been built.