International Bus of the Year 2015 – MAN Lion’s City GL CNG
Driving the Future
The biggest commercial vehicle show in the world, the Internationale Automobil Ausstellung (IAA), held in Hanover, Germany, opened to the public on 25 September and will just have closed on 2 October as this reaches you.
Bus and coach exhibits and related components, products and services represented a relatively small part of the total number of stands but there was plenty to occupy a journalist for days. I’m just glad I don’t have to write about the trucks, although they too are well worth a look because a good deal of new truck technology may well cross over in time.
Stuart Jones and David Cole spent much of last week at the event talking to manufacturers, attending press conferences, bumping into old friends and photographing to bring you this manufacturer by manufacturer bus report which will be followed next week by David’s look at the product scene.
Lithuanian minibus specialist Altas has experienced significant growth since IAA 2012, moving to new premises earlier this year where up to 300 vehicles can be completed per annum. Some progress has also been made in the UK since its appearance at Euro Bus Expo in 2012 and a further appearance is planned for 2014.
There were three vehicles on the company’s stand, all based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to Euro6 standard. The Business Line offers 16 seats in a fully leather trimmed interior with tables on the 5.3m Sprinter model with extended rear overhang. The Tourline has a maximum capacity of 19 in both standard 5.0m and extended models. The third vehicle was a Cityline offering 16 seats in the standard and 17 in the extended model. For this model, Altas create a low floor area behind the cab at the front accessed by a wide two leaf door.
A new name to many, the Bozankaya Group showed three 10.7m full electric vehicles designed to achieve a minimum of 200km per charge. Bozankaya developed as a component supplier to bus and rail manufacturers and now has significant operations in Germany and Turkey, producing buses in the latter through TCV (Turkish Commercial Vehicles) at a former Temsa plant. The Karat 10.7 and 12m diesel and gas vehicles are offered together with Trambus, an articulated three section trolleybus.
Named Sileo, the ‘plug-in’ electric bus is a group product, the bodies are assembled at the MAN plant in Ankara in Turkey from TCV components then shipped to Germany where the electric driveline is installed together with the Bozankaya SCL battery system. The high voltage battery system totalling 200kWh, in two matching units to maintain mobility should one fail for any reason, is roof mounted with drive through two 120kW motors incorporated in a ZF AVE130 electric drive rear axle. All components below roof level are at low voltages and the high voltage roof equipment is protected by bulkheads to minimise crash impact damage. Spheros Citysphere electric air conditioning is installed.
The company guarantees 200km per charge, the test vehicles usually achieving significantly more, and also guarantees a ten year battery life. Ten vehicles have been built for demonstration purposes and the company already has an order for 20 vehicles from the Vienna municipality, two to be delivered this year and the remainder in 2015. Alongside the potential for 12m vehicles, future development of the concept will include a full electric version of the three section Trambus which will be tested in Turkey in 2015.
Two vehicles were available for demonstration runs and appeared to be attracting significant attention. Riding them was smooth and relatively quiet, the acceleration particularly impressive. The main distraction was the noise from the steering pump which Bozankaya representatives advised was being redesigned. Shown on board the vehicle was an example of the 36kW portable charger with which the bus is supplied, giving flexibility in where the charging process takes place.
For Mercedes-Benz this was an unusually quiet IAA in terms of new launches, the biggest story being the introduction of the OM936h 7.7-litre six-cylinder engine option in the articulated Citaro G. Horizontally installed, it produces 260 kW (354 hp) and torque of 1400 Nm. A Power Boost System (PBS) uses compressed-air injection to accelerate the torque build-up at lower engine speeds giving it pull-away characteristics on a par with those of a larger-sized engine. The low engine weight and small installation space enable the capacity to be increased by up to eight passengers.
The Mercedes-Benz Tourismo is to be offered with new safety equipment options and a new engine option for two-axle variants in the form of the OM 470 six-cylinder in-line engine rated at 428 hp/315 kW. Previously only offered in three axle models, maximum torque is 2100 Nm.
Travego gets the latest Active Brake Assist 3 feature. It also has the GPS based Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) driver assistance system which Daimler claim is the first anticipatory cruise control in the world for touring coaches to intervene in the transmission control to select the appropriate gear as well as controlling the speed.
Representing Mercedes-Benz Minibus GmbH was the tri-axle low frame Sprinter 77, the biggest model in the range.
For Setra it was a rather more exciting affair with the completion of the ComfortClass range with the introduction of the new 500MD ComfortClass S515MD and S516MD mid-decker coaches, the S511HD 10.465m coach and S519HD, 14.945m tri-axle high-decker. There were also the latest entry-level Setra products, the MultiClass S415LE Business and S416LE Business, low-entry rural-service buses and the S415UL, S416UL and S417UL Business standard floor models. All have previously been covered in detail in these pages.
Based near Helmond in the Netherlands, EBusco is a specialist provider of electric propulsion systems and components. The three door bus shown was a development of its previous designs and featured 311kWh high density Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries rather than the 245kWh hitherto used and still offered as an option. The electric motor has a maximum output of 150kW and torque output of 2,500Nm. 100% charging is achieved in 1.6 hours with each minute of charging giving a 3km range. With this upgrade, it is possible to obtain a range of 300km, an increase on the previous 250km. Since sold to Veolia for operation in Espoo, Finland, the earlier model was exhibited outside.
Though EBusco designs and produces the systems, the actual bus is built at the Golden Dragon plant in China, though the intention is that production would move to Europe if sufficient orders were forthcoming to warrant it. It was shown in a ‘worst case’ specification with three doors rather than the two of the previous demonstrator and no batteries on the roof. Representatives pointed out that they had successfully incorporated the batteries at the front without blocking off the driver’s visual contact with the interior. When roof mounted batteries are fitted, they are slim profile units that are lower than the air conditioning unit on the display bus. The ULW of 12,400kg is achieved using an Alusuisse aluminium body structure and gives a passenger capacity of 90.
Two examples of the new model have already been sold to a Norwegian customer. A representative told me that in Holland the company was looking for an alliance with other manufacturers who would use the Ebusco driveline and was keen to talk to interested parties.
Noted for its range of vehicles in the midi-bus and coach sector, Turkish Japanese joint venture Anadolu Isuzu launched a new 12m citybus at IAA. The Cityport is a three door full low floor vehicle with the Cummins ISB6.7 Euro6 engine and ZF Eco-lite transmission combination cupboard mounted at the rear (continental) offside The show vehicle was equipped with a 39kW air conditioning unit and triple poles to provide easier grip points for standees. In the form shown, it had a maximum capacity of 79 passengers with 24 on fixed seats and the three tip up seats closed.
The 9.56m Visigo was shown in full coach form with 35 leather trimmed seats and an interurban vehicle with wheelchair lift and up to 39 seats. Power comes from the Cummins ISB6.7 engine coupled to ZF Eco-lite transmission.
Isuzu advised that they were looking towards an entry into the UK market through a dealer or partner. This would be with a full range of Euro6 diesel vehicles although it was not likely to be before 2016. Vehicles under 9m would be fitted with Isuzu engines, those above featuring the Cummins ZF combination.
Iveco’s stand focused on the German market. The lone full sized PCV on a stand dominated by trucks and vans was a 12.05m Crossway Low Entry in the red colours of Deutsche Bahn. Powered by a 285hp Tector 7 Euro6 unit, it had a ZF 6AP1200B Ecolife transmission. The capacity was 45 seats, one wheelchair and two folding seats in addition to the driver. New to the model is a VDV driving position. DB has placed an order for 400 for delivery in 2014/2015 with an option for a further 310 for 2016/2017.
Also on the stand was a Daily 60C17 Tourys minicoach with 19 recliners, electric door, air conditioning, Video, fridge, rear air suspension and a 2.5cu.m. luggage capacity. Iveco’s van based operations had good cause to celebrate as the latest Daily won the Van of the Year title.
Various other members of the Iveco range were to be found displayed outside.
The Turkish Karsan concern showed three vehicles inside the IAA, one each of the Star, Atak and Jest models with a further example of the Star available outside for demonstration. The Star is an 8.2m long midicoach offering 27 or 31 seats, powered by the FPT NEF 4.5l Euro6 engine. The same basic shell is used for the low entry Atak bus. The Jest is a 5.85m low floor minibus with a maximum capacity of 15.
Karsan has homologated the vehicles for Europe, is already selling in Eastern European countries and is on the process of appointing a German distributorship.
Twelve year cycles are important in Chinese culture with the IAA marking King Long’s first such cycle in Europe and the beginning of the next cycle with new models and markets. Three vehicles were shown, all to Euro6 standard and sporting new, simplified model designations. Making its debut was the C12, a 12.2m touring coach with revised styling as successor to the XMQ6127. The new model takes its K shape styling cue from the current high deck model but with softer lines and without the orange light band. Despite being lower in build, it achieves a luggage capacity within one cubic metre of the high deck model.
The display model was equipped with an FPT (Iveco) Cursor 9 litre engine, the first evidence of the supply agreement with FPT which was formally announced at Hannover. It was coupled with ZF As-Tronic transmission and included 55 reclining seats. For the UK market, the C12 will feature the new Cummins ISL 8.9-litre engine developing 380bhp in conjunction with ZF Ecolife transmission and ZF Axles. The first example will be at Euro Bus Expo with 51 leather trimmed reclining seats and a full height centre sunken toilet. There will be a price premium over the 6127 driven by the move to Euro6 and the need to develop the Cummins option specifically for the UK but it will still be around the £200k mark.
The 9m long 6900 midicoach is now the C9, the example shown being equipped with a Cummins ISB 6.7-litre Euro6 engine, ZF transmission and a revised dashboard layout. A 10m version will be available as the C10.
King Long’s third exhibit was their first plug-in hybrid 12m low floor bus which the company claimed would offer a 40% reduction in fuel usage without loss of passenger capacity. The vehicle was equipped with a Cummins ISB 6.7-litre Euro6 engine mounted on the (continental) offside at the rear to give a full length low floor area and three full width doorways. An electric drive for the steering power assistance and engine shut down systems supported the full electric operating mode with a stated range of 50km. Options for DC or AC charging are offered.
A visit to the Kutsenits stand is always interesting for a look at their Tourist 719 fully integral stainless steel framed Mercedes-Benz Sprinter which is certified with a 7.0 tonne GVW. It gives greatly enhanced luggage capacity and a seating capacity of 32, which is not only more than other Sprinters, it is more than many Varios offered.
The company continues to offer a rear engined fully low floor bus version of the Sprinter and also a fully low floor Volkswagen, while the brochure shows a low floor bus based on Atego units.
MAN’s big bus news during the show was the award of the International Bus of the Year 2015 title to the Lion’s City GL CNG articulated bus, though MAN had applied the logos across the Lion’s City range. The show exhibits included an articulated Lion’s City GL in diesel form, though with the styling developed for the hybrid product, and a CNG powered 14.7m Lion’s City L LE CNG with the same MAN E2876 LUH07 12.816-litre unit featured in the winning bus. Significantly, a CNG powered version of the TGM truck range was also launched. Other MAN bus products included the Lion’s Coach L Efficient Line model and a 12m Lion’s City.
There have been several false starts for the stunning Neoplan Skyliner double deck coach which was initially built at the Pilsting plant of the failed Viseon operation. However, it now has a secure future at the Adana plant. It will be made available again with effect from June 2015. Capable of seating up to 83 passengers, the show version had 230V sockets at all seats, a new driver’s seat configuration and an extra-wide door and providing up to two wheelchair places in the lower deck, accessible via a fold-out ramp at the second door. The engine is the D2676 LOH 12.4-litre which develops 505hp/371kW and torque of 2,300Nm.
Shown alongside it were a Jetliner and a 12. 24m Cityliner with 440hp/324kW D2676 engine. Among the features of the Cityliner was EfficientCruise, a GPS controlled cruise control system with four setting options that anticipates and makes use of momentum and rolling phases to minimise fuel consumption. Savings are said to be up to 6%.
Significant by its absence was the Neoplan Starliner, formerly the flagship of the range but now scheduled to be discontinued with the transfer of complete Neoplan production from Plauen in Germany to Ankarra in Turkey, where the Tourliner is already built. The last Starliners are expected to be completed at Plauen by mid 2015.
Alongside the Neoplan exhibits was a bus from Volkswagen’s Latin American operation. Bodied by Marcopolo using its Viale style, The Volksbus 18.280 OT low floor was a two door low entry bus with high back individual seats and non contrasting grey stanchions. Finish was not quite up to European levels in some areas. Power came from the D08 280hp engine matched to a ZF Ecolife transmission and it was the first Volksbus to feature air suspension. The fuel used is sugarcane diesel, a technology developed by the American company Amyris that MAN Latin America has been testing since 2011.
Truck news worth noting was the launch of the new D38 15.2-litre six-cylinder engine offering 520hp or 560hp for tractor unit applications and 640hp for heavy duty work. It uses both SCR and EGR and delivers full torque of 3,000Nm from 930rpm.
There was only one exhibit on the large MCV stand, a 14m long 600 superhigh coach model mounted on a Mercedes-Benz OC500RF tri-axle chassis. Seating 60, it was one of a batch of 12 Euro3 coaches for the Egyptian market. MCV also offers the 500 high deck and 400 standard deck coach models, though there are no current plans to offer them in the UK.
On the bus front, MCV is working on a new double deck design, drawing on customer feedback on the B9TL, as well as comments from drivers, engineers and the factory. Many aspects have been incorporated in a VDL DB300 operating on KMB route 606 in Hong Kong. KMB has been very supportive in helping MCV further the project.
With the redesign will come a new interior, a new exterior and a new method of construction, though the proven structure will remain the same. There will be new options including a choice of wheelbases and, for the first time, a lowbridge option and increased seating capacities on provincial specification vehicles. Once perfected on the double deck, the new look will be carried through to the single deck range.
Six vehicles were shown by Otokar, the largest producer of midi sized vehicles for the Turkish home market and a growing force in the EU through Otokar Europe established at Rossy-en-France in 2011. Each of the company’s market segments, tourism, interurban and city was represented by two vehicles, with a further Navigo T vehicle available for inspection outside.
The smallest vehicle shown was the 7.72m Navigo U SH for accessible interurban operation. Powered by the Cummins ISBe4.5 Euro6 engine with Alison automatic transmission, this can accommodate up to 33 seated passengers or a combination including up to seven wheelchairs accessible through the side mounted wheelchair lift. Also for interurban use was the 12.08m high floor Territo U with Cummins ISB6.7 Euro6 engine, ZF automatic transmission and 53 seats.
In the city bus segment was the low entry 9.27m Vectio C with MAN Euro6 engine, Voith Diwa6 transmission and 30 seats (including seven tip ups) in dual doorway format. The 12m Kent city bus was shown as a three door vehicle with capacity primarily for standees, offering only 30 seats. It has been revised to offer the Cummins ISB6.7 engine at Euro 6 coupled to Voith Diwa6 transmission.
For tourist work, the 8.39m Navigo T made its debut at the IAA in VIP format with 20 reclining seats in two plus one format at 750mm spacing, gangway level toilet, kitchen and four cubic metre luggage capacity inclusive of racks. Power is provided by the Cummins ISBe4.5 engine coupled to Alison transmission. Slightly larger was the MAN powered 10.1m Vectio T with ZF Ecolife transmission, 34 seats toilet and 5.5 cubic metre luggage capacity.
In the company’s press conference Otokar announced that right hand drive vehicles were in development and would be exhibited at this years Euro Bus Expo. The company will be looking for dealers to promote the first two models being offered, the Navigo T and the Vectio C. Both types are built of galvanised steel using the company’s patented protection process which is guaranteed for ten years and will feature the Cummins engine and Alison transmission combination. Significant changes will be made to the Vectio T including engine compartment modifications to facilitate a revision to the step arrangements into the rear section. Single and dual door 9.6m options are planned. The Navigo T will be the 8.39m version offering up to 31 seats in two plus two format.
Rumours of an initial order for the right hand drive Vectio T were not able to be confirmed but the company said it was determined to succeed in a difficult and competitive market. The proposed product price was not disclosed but was described as ‘quite competitive’ based on a combination of large scale manufacturing and a Turkish base. Otokar has received an award this year for having the most successful research facility in Turkey, developments include a recently completed electric bus which is undergoing trials in Turkey.
Two examples of the CM Mission composite midibus, described in detail is Bus and Coach Buyer 1295 (25 September 2014), were shown at IAA. Tucked away from other pcv exhibits in Hall 22 was Plastisol’s stand where a diesel engined example for airside use in Dubai was shown. This had just twelve deeply cushioned leather trimmed seats arranged in herringbone fashion for VIP transfer between aircraft and terminal.
In the electric mobility display area was the full electric version with drive train from Plastisol company EMOSS. This vehicle had the optional rear door arrangement and ramp to handle wheelchairs but unfortunately was on static display only.
Although it has investigated hybrid options before, Scania has declined to launch anything previously because it didn’t believe it could offer a realistic payback period. Now it has announced a parallel hybrid version of the low entry Citywide LE suburban bus in 12.0m and 14.8m form, in the belief that it will pay back the additional €60-70,000 investment, compared with a diesel, in four to six years based on 90-100,000 miles a year. It utilises the nine-litre engine (which is still certified to run on biodiesel) with a choice of 250hp, 280hp or 300hp because it is intended for use in suburban and hilly locations. It is not fitted with a top speed limiter. The hybrid unit is a Scania development based on an Opticruise gearbox. A 1.2kWh cycling window is used within the 5kW capacity of the Magna Lithium Ion batteries. Most of the components are located within a hybrid roof rack with no impact in interior space. The total weight penalty is 600kg, most of it on the front axle, which means that two passengers are lost when operating at 18 tonnes. A new feature is a driver’s feedback facility to help him learn the braking behaviour.
The entire system can be interrogated via the SDB3 diagnostics panel. To ensure the system is safe for maintenance, there is a switch within the electrical centre at the front that must be used. The technician then plugs in the diagnostic tool to check everything is turned off and therefore safe to work upon.
Shown outside was a diesel articulated Citywide for B-Berlin (BVG).
On the coach front, two vehicles were shown. The familiar OmniExpress 360 coach was shown in 14.2m form with 53 recliners. It displayed some of the customising opportunities available including the optional rear door, a rear toilet to enlarge the luggage hold and a rear kitchen. It was mounted on a K450EB 6×2 chassis with 13-litre Euro6 engine and 12-speed Opticruise transmission. Scania announced a new SCR-only 450hp version of the 13-litre engine for trucks, but this coach had both SCR and EGR.
We will shortly be getting the Touring model, bodied in China by Higer, in the UK but not the 12.9m two axle variant displayed which will only be offered in the French and Benelux markets where the maximum permitted GVW is 19 tonnes. All of the additional length is within the wheelbase. It seated 51 and had the SCR-only five-cylinder, nine-litre Scania 360hp engine as well as a side mounted French-made wheelchair lift.
Sitcar had squeezed two midicoaches on their stand, both of which are expected to be seen in right hand drive at Euro Bus Expo. The larger of the two was a 27 seat Voyager based on the Iveco 70C17 with three litre Euro6 diesel engine and Autoclima roof mounted air conditioning systems, a 25 seat option is also offered. Behind the Iveco was a trend XL on a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 519CDI Euro6 basis. This offers 16 or 19 seats in an overall length of 7.5m.
Perhaps the most significant new bus launch at the IAA was the striking new Solaris Urbino range from the growing Polish based manufacturer, unveiled at a massively oversubscribed press conference where the 250 press packs prepared proved insufficient to meet demand.
Shown in both 12m and 18m articulated form, the completely new Urbino is both lighter and stronger and designed to accommodate any type of power train. Standard diesel engine options are the DAF/Paccar MX-11 and the Cummins ISB6.7E6 and Cummins will also provide the CNG fuelled ISLG8.9E6. Gas-fuelling, diesel-electric hybrids and electric drives have been catered for from the start and the design will additionally be offered as the Trollino trolleybus.
I thought the interior was uncomplicated and attractive and liked the more accessible panels for easier maintenance but felt the lower edges of the panels were perhaps a little vulnerable.
Orders for the new Urbinos are already being taken. The first sale was a 12m bus for Josef Ettenhuber based near Munich who will take delivery in the first half of 2015. We will be brining you more on the new Urbino in a forthcoming issue.
Sales of electric buses have included two 8.9m models to Ostoleka, a 12m bus to Jaworzno in Poland and ten 12m buses for Warsaw.
It was also announced that Solaris has started work on significantly enlarging its Bolochewo factory premises to cover an additional 10,000sqm with a further 5,000sqm of office space above. Completion is expected in mid 2015. Sales in 2013 were a record 1,302 units and this year the number will reach 1,400.
Solbus’ exhibit was an LNG powered Solcity 18 which was in the outside display area and featured several times a day in an arena presentation of the potential for LNG vehicles. This included a simulated refuelling operation highlighting the simplicity and timescale of filling from an LNG tanker. The bus was one of a batch of 35 vehicles which Solbus is delivering to the Warsaw municipality. Unusual was the retention of the fully segregated cab once common in eastern Europe where the front leaf of the front doorway is for driver use only. Its specification as an option by Warsaw reflected the desire to keep the driver warmer in winter as much as the need to feel secure. Passenger capacity is between 175 and 184 with up to 49 seated.
The full low floor Solcity 18 is powered by Cummins’ ISLG 8.9litre gas engine with an option of Voith or ZF transmission. LNG is stored in a tank at the rear which adds 200kg to the weight but is claimed to be still 500kg lighter that the equivalent capacity in CNG stored in tanks on the roof. Added ventilation and methane sensors ensure safety is maintained at all times, noting that, unlike CNG, LNG is supplied without added odour. Solbus has been working with Gazprom Deutschland to deliver the project for which a single dispenser in the Warsaw depot will be sufficient given the 3 minute refilling time which can be achieved. LNG is additionally available at 48 locations across Europe.
Solbus also advised on their involvement in a electric bus project where they will be delivering 12m Solcity shells for the installation of electric drives.
SOR offers its EBN low floor electric bus in 8.0m, 9.79m and 11.1m length options and displayed the first prototype of the three door version of the EBN11.1 capable of carrying 92 passengers. This has revised rear styling and a rear overhang extended from 1.7m to 2.1m. It has an asynchronous, water cooled 120kW electric motor developing 968Nm, Cegelec electrical controls and Winston Batterie lithium Ion batteries with a 172kWh capacity. SOR worked with Konvekta to develop the new air conditioning system. A second similar bus is being built and the two will then go in test in the Czech Republic: one in Prague and one in Hradec Kralove where there is already a 9.5m example running. A facelifted 8.0m electric bus is currently on test in Switzerland, while earlier generation electric products have been running in a number of European cities for some years. SOR continues to build diesel buses as well.
Based 12km from Ulm in Germany, this company was and is an operator, though the operating side of the business has gradually been reduced since it took up converting minicoaches in 2009. So far this year it has registered 65 units and expects to reach 100 by the year end. Prices start at €47,990 on a VW Crafter and €49,990 on a Sprinter 516 for a 19 seater Lord 516 but rise to €60,290 if the optional deep boot, body extension, coach rear end, double glazing, powered door and Eberspacher heater are added. The standard slam door on the base model can be converted to open electrically. Sales have been made across Europe but not, so far, in right hand drive.
Rather bigger was the Lord XXL on the Iveco Daily 70C17 (Euro5) an attractive design shown with 24 VIP seats at a show price of €111,111.00 (£86,828), though the Euro6 price starts at €116,900 (£91,352). A toilet is among the available options.
TAM’s stand, tucked away in an area predominately occupied by tyre companies, featured two vehicles including one of the company’s wide bodied standing only vehicles for airside operation. Of more general interest was an example of the Vive coach shown in TH format with 41 leather trimmed reclining seats. The 10.2m welded steel high floor coach with two doorways was fitted with an MAN Euro VI engine although a Cummins ISB6.7 option is available. Transmission, either automatic or manual, and axles are from ZF. Roof mounted Konvekta and Eberspacher air conditioning options are available bringing the vehicles height to 3.535m. The Vive is also offered in TLL form, a metre longer and 300mm lower. TAM’s stand background advised of the development of an electric bus, the VIVA-E.
Temsa has been regrouping and coping with an upturn in the Turkish market, but as Plant Director, Ibrahim Esserce, told me, ‘we are now getting back into the game.’
There were new Euro6 versions of the MD12 (Safari), LD12, and MD9 midicoach. The MD12 gets new front and rear styling and a more modern interior treatment along with the DAF/Paccar MX11 engine, while the LD, intended for the intercity, school and local coach sector, has a 290hp Cummins unit.
I asked when the UK would get the MD9 midicoach and was told that it was already technically ready and that discussions were about to take place with Arriva Bus & Coach to determine whether the MD9 or the 12m LD range would be the better proposition for the UK. It was confirmed that the 12.2m Euro6 HD12 model, which would be marketed as the Safari Euro6, would be offered in the UK next year, replacing the current Safari model. The aim was to have it ready for the Birmingham Show in 2015, rather than this year.
The former Opalin and Diamond models have now been discontinued. The new LD is intended to replace the earlier Tourmalin but as there is continuing demand the Tourmalin continues in production for the time being, although whether it will be offered with Euro6 engines is debateable.
Production will grow this year to a figure estimated to be 2299 units from last year’s total of 1,743.
Sales are also going well in America where Temsa will have over 500 coaches operating by the year end with a range that includes 30ft, 35ft and 45ft models. Serial delivery of the TS45 flagship model with Cummins/Allison driveline started earlier this year.
The big coach launch at the IAA was Van Hool’s new integrally built EX model, which will see the company re-enter the entry level touring coach sector after virtually disappearing from it because Belgian manufacturing costs had priced it out of all but the premium sector. The EX will be the first European product to be built at the new Macedonian plant at Skopje, though the first four prototypes, including the two vehicles displayed, have been built in Belgium. This plant is already building coaches for North America and will start building the EX this year for delivery in the first quarter of 2015. Initially production will concentrate on two two-axle models, the 12.48m EX15H which is 3,805mm high and the 13.26m long 3,675mm high, EX16M. Examples of both were displayed. They will be followed in June/July 2015 by two 3,805mm high three-axle coaches, the 13.26m EX16H and the 14.22m EX17H. All versions have flat floors.
The 13.26m model is possible on two axles because the EX is 800kg lighter than the TX. A Dhollandia centre door cassette lift was fitted on the show coach.
All versions will be powered by DAF/Paccar MX11 engines, the two axles featuring the 394hp/290kW unit and the tri-axles the 436hp/320kW option. The Mercedes-Benz GO210-6 manual gearbox is standard with the ZF AS-Tronic and ZF Ecolife available as options. The mechanical specification has the independent front suspension.
In the Van Hool tradition the design is very simple and devoid of gimmicks. The seats are Turkish built Kiel Avance 2010 units, the air conditioning is by Sutrak and there is a Profiline III multimedia system, a Webasto pre-heater and LED interior lighting.
Prices for the EX will start at €235,000 (£184,000) and there will be a defined option list beyond that from which customers can choose to enhance the specification. Options available include a wide central door with a wheelchair cassette lift, chemical or water flush toilet, a driver’s bunk either at the front or in front of the rear axle, and a variety of on-board kitchens and fridges. In terms of internal trim, customers will only be able to choose the seat, carpet and curtain colours, with the colour of the mouldings predetermined. It will not be possible to have TX seats in the EX.
I was told that, in principle, the intention was to bring the EX to the UK market one year later than the rest of Europe in 2016, though no agreement was yet in place for that. It was likely that the ZF Ecolife automatic gearbox would be offered as standard rather than the.
With the new models, Van Hool plans to offer the same levels of quality and finish as its existing TX family and will be using most of the same materials. I understand that only the dash, seats, floor, driver’s window and racks (which are moveable) are different to the TX range, and the commonality also extends to the mechanical side.
MD, Filip Van Hool told me that he was very pleased with the quality and finish that the Macedonian plant was producing, which had enabled the company to take over the number one spot in the US private coach market since the second quarter of 2014. Some 300 Macedonian built CX coaches had been sold there and the 400th was currently going into build. These were in addition to the high end Belgian built TX models. Both ranges were needed to meet the needs of Van Hool’s US customers.
Filip was pleased the EX would enable Van Hool to re-enter markets that it had been forced to leave. A priority was Israel, where it had not been present for the last 13 years because of price.
The TX range continues in production at the Belgian plant and a TX27 Astromega and a TX21 Altano were shown. An interesting order taken recently to serve the growing German express coach market calls for 11 TX Altanos on Scania chassis with bike racks which have been ordered by ADAC Postbus.
There were no entirely new models on VDL’s stand but there were interesting developments of existing ones. On a Futura FHD2-139/460 was a PLS Access 400kg cassette ramp mounted over the drive axle. This coach featured an unusual system VDL developed some years ago to meet the needs of passengers in wheelchairs. There are rails mounted in the full length of the ceiling along which a chair can be slid to transfer a passenger from their seat to the rear toilet compartment. It was ingenious, though I don’t know how dignified a passenger would feel using it.
VDL will introduce a new double decker echoing the styling of the Futura FHD2 at some stage but that will not appear for some time yet and to maintain its position in this sector of the market VDL has developed a Euro6 version of the SBR4000 chassis on which the current Synergy is based. A Synergy SDD-141/510 was shown.
Making its first IAA appearance was the lower height Futura FMD2-129/330 which has been winning business, especially in Scandinavia.
Representing the bus range was the lower weight member of the Citea family, the Citea LLE-120/255. Outside was the new Citea SLFA-180/360 articulated diesel as well as the impressive Citea SLF-120 Electric.
The final stand exhibit was a Sprinter based MidEuro MLD-80/190 coach, with a MidCity MLF-80/160 low floor bus shown outside.
An energised joint truck and bus conference on the Volvo stand first saw the launch of the new I-Shift Dual Clutch gearbox which has two input shafts and a dual clutch enabling two gears to be selected at the same time. The clutch determines which of the gears is active. As there is no interruption in power delivery, torque is maintained and no speed is lost during gear changes. Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks, said of it, ‘ In situations that require a lot of gear changes, for instance on hills or roads with lots of curves and bends, I-Shift Dual Clutch brings an entirely new dimension to truck driving’.
This was followed by Håkan Agnevall, President Volvo Bus Corporation, unveiling the new Volvo 7900 Electric Hybrid which employs plug-in technology to reduce fuel consumption and carbon dioxide by up to 75%, compared to a conventional diesel bus. Total energy consumption is reduced by 60%. He commented, ‘I am very proud to launch this ground-breaking bus system. Electric-hybrid buses and full-electric buses are tomorrow’s solution for urban public transport. They will allow us to reduce energy consumption, air pollution, climate impact and noise, which are some of the biggest challenges facing large cities worldwide.’ Bus & Coach Buyer readers will already be familiar with the plug in hybrid, which can run emission free in sensitive areas and as a hybrid on any route, as earlier this year we carried a feature on the three prototype vehicles in service in Gothenburg (B&CB issue 1260, 24 January 2014). The show exhibit appeared in the colours of Hamburg Hochbahn who will take a batch later this year. Luxembourg and Stockholm are also to take examples before series production starts in early 2016.
Also shown on the stand was the new articulated 7900 hybrid and the 9900 version of the 9700 coach family which features theatre style seating and a sloping side window line.
Coachbuilt and converted small vehicles were also shown by Dypety, ProBus, Rosero, TS Fahrzeugteknik, CMS Auto and Auto Cuby.
The IAA is always fascinating but with many manufacturers having concentrated their efforts on developing Euro6 there was less that was entirely new than there often has been in previous years. There was a great emphasis on electric propulsion, though as a friend noted, virtually no standardisation on how this was to be achieved with everyone pursuing different approaches. Perhaps in two years time at the 66th IAA this is something that will be clearer.