The Mercedes-Benz Unimog proved to be very useful at the aftermath of the tropical cyclone "Andrea" that hit the Austrian Vorarlberg region. The "Universal-Motor-Gerät" or "Universal Motor Device" (commonly known as the Unimog) is used all year round in clearing snow, cleaning the road and crash barrier, and grass verge mowing. However, it was seen to be surprisingly very effective in clearing over 10 meters of fresh snow on the Arlberg pass, the vital link between Austria's most westerly region and Innsbruck.
The Unimog fleet operates out of the Felsenau depot near Feldkirch/Frastanz, which is tasked to conduct road maintenance services on about two-thirds of the roads in the Vorarlberg region. The conditions were just as bad in the Montafon region, over towards the Silvretta high Alpine road, in the Great Walser Valley and on the Flexen route towards Zürs and Lech.
The 210 kW (286 hp) Unimog U 500 fitted with a Schmidt 105 front-end snow cutter was chosen for the task of clearing snow with a width of 2.60 metres. Helmut Feuerstein, technical director of the Felsenau depot, said that the Unimog cleared the excessive volume of snow from the roads.
The driver of the Unimog had to be very precise in maneuvering through the metre-high banks of snow on either side of the road. The Unimog’s effectiveness stems from its transferable steering system VarioPilot and the 4-wheel steering system as well as its 4‑wheel steering. Meanwhile, its turning circle is lower by as much as 30%.