Truck  |  Bus 

MAN at JIMS 2011

MAN – the way people travel

The MAN Truck & Bus market-leading Lion’s Explorer bus range has set the benchmark in the Southern African commuter transport market for the past five years. Now, the family has grown.

Continuing its leadership in market innovation, MAN Truck & Bus S.A. will be premiering market-changing models at JIMS 2011 that could transform the approach to road-based mass transportation to meet the ever-growing demand for customer service.

Key to these new offerings is the improvement in transporting large numbers of passengers safely and in relative comfort, whilst resulting in better returns for operators through greater efficiency.

“Five years ago MAN Truck & Bus launched the Lion’s Explorer range of buses, which marked a milestone in the company’s history by bringing to the local market a product that resembled the MAN Lion’s family of coaches and buses in Europe,” says Ray Karshagen, Deputy CEO, MAN Truck & Bus S.A.

At the time, existing South African Road Traffic regulations regarding the maximum length of single articulated buses, or ‘bustrains’, which stood at 20 metres, changed to a length of 22 metres.

The increased length of buses meant that efficiency was the clear benefit: moving more passengers with the same fixed costs meant better returns for the operator.

“Those developments form the foundation for the MAN bus theme for this year’s Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) – ‘Consistently Efficient’ – where two industry-leading products are being premiered,” says Karshagen.

MAN Lion’s Explorer bi-articulated bus

MAN, in partnership with its major customer, Buscor, has developed the ground-breaking Lion’s Explorer 27 metres long bi-articulated bustrain. This combination consists of a prime mover and two trailers. The configuration will derive full benefit from pending new regulation changes, whereby the maximum length of a bus will be increased to 27 metres, thus permitting buses to convey up to 137 seated passengers.

The 4x2 prime mover with two trailers, each with one axle, ensures an even distribution of mass whilst retaining a four-axle configuration. This efficient solution results in very similar fixed operating costs compared to a single-articulated vehicle – one driver, one driveline, and four axles with the same number of wheels – but accommodating a greater number of seated passengers and therefore improved revenue for the bus operator.

“The core objective of high-density passenger transport is moving more people efficiently, safely, affordably and comfortably. The MAN Lion’s Explorer bi-articulated bus meets all these criteria,” says Karshagen.

The extra-long bustrain concept is already in use at certain BRT systems in Latin America, and MAN’s decision to evaluate this option arose some three years ago. In partnership with Buscor, a previous model 20 metre long articulated bustrain, on a MAN A65 chassis, was split and an additional trailer was added in the centre to create a 27 metre long prototype.

Special exemption to operate this unit was obtained from the Mpumalanga Department of Transport, through the National Department of Transport, permitting Buscor to operate one unit to test stability and safety. The special exemption was then extended to a total of 10 units, which are currently in daily operation at Buscor. These units have been monitored by the National Department of Transport and have been fully homologated by MAN.

MAN has increased the power of the drivetrain to handle the higher load resulting from the greater capacity. The development of the new prime mover chassis is being undertaken by MAN in Germany, which sees an increase in engine power from 257 kW to 287 kW (350 – 390 hp) on a HB3 4x2 chassis.

Trailer and bodywork development is being done at MAN Bus & Coach in Olifantsfontein, with the cooling trials being carried out by MAN in Pinetown. This is to ensure the cooling system can cope with South African conditions, especially in the Lowveld’s sub-tropical climate.

The bi-articulated bustrain solution is primarily aimed at high-density, peak-period commuter transport where large numbers of passengers need to be moved as efficiently as possible. The 137 seated capacity means no passengers are required to stand for the duration of the trip, adding to the comfort and safety factors.

Interestingly, the additional articulation has improved the bustrain’s turning radius by 1,5 metres when compared with the single-articulated models, offering better manoeuvrability and the ability to navigate inner-city routes.

The chassis and trailers are fitted with air-suspension for greater occupant comfort, and the Tipmatic transmission is standard fitment.

For MAN and the bus operator, safety is of the highest priority, and the bustrain is therefore fully compliant with all compulsory Road Traffic safety regulations, including roll-over requirements and seat anchorage stipulations. The maintenance-free Hübner articulation couplings connecting the units are guaranteed for 10 years.

The first unit on display at JIMS features a face-lifted Lion’s Explorer front-end for improved airflow to support the larger cooling system, incorporating a perforated stainless steel grille. “The JIMS display unit is the longest bus built by MAN and the longest bus built in Africa,” says Karshagen.

MAN Lion’s Explorer LE (low entry) bus

An increased demand for improved inner-city passenger transport has become apparent over the past three years. The trend has been towards European-styled buses featuring rear-mounted engines allowing passenger ease of entry through the lowered front end.

In 2008 MAN developed a chassis that could meet South Africa’s stringent rear-axle load regulations. The SA legal limit is 10 200 kg, whilst 11 500 kg is permissible in Europe. To meet these requirements, the chassis had to have a shorter rear overhang to achieve better distribution of the body and passengers mass.

The selected MAN A84 chassis was imported as a CKD kit for local assembly, with a resultant added-value element in South Africa.

The first tender for this new type of bus was awarded to MAN by the City of Tshwane and these chassis were bodied by Busaf. Further orders for low entry buses came from Golden Arrow Bus Service to operate the inner-city routes in Cape Town; the City of Durban/eThekwini for ‘People Movers’. Currently, 150 MAN low-entry buses are in operation in South Africa.

As none of these 150 low-entry buses resembled the European-styled MAN buses, it was decided by MAN to develop its own low-entry body – following the Lion’s family of coaches and buses renowned styling. These integral City buses are currently being produced by MAN in Poland and Turkey for city operations in Europe. Authorisation was obtained from the MAN Bus Steering Committee to adopt the Turkish integral busbody design. The Lion’s City low entry body would be adapted and developed to meet the local South African conditions, and adapted to suit the MAN A84 bus chassis.

The MAN Bus & Coach facility in Olifantsfontein specialises in building the body structure of 3CR12 material, an anti-corrosive stainless steel type derivative essential to withstand the highly corrosive environmental conditions in which some bus fleets operate. This results in a five-year anti-corrosion warranty, coupled to MAN’s market-leading product warranty of three years/200 000 km (whichever occurs first) driveline warranty.

This new body development demonstrates MAN’s flexibility and relatively short ‘time to market’ – the decision was made in April 2011 and the prototype is on display at JIMS. This is a real strength coming to the fore in that the MAN Group is able to utilise existing products from sister companies globally and adapt them for South African market requirements and operating conditions.

The local offering is branded the Lion’s City LE (low entry) as the styling is identical to the MAN product range in Europe, and it also complements the current Lion’s Explorer bus range produced in South Africa. These locally manufactured bodies have a very high local content with up to 90 percent by value being achievable depending on the customer’s final specifications.

“This offers job creation, not only in MAN’s own factory but in first and second tier suppliers,” says Karshagen. “MAN will drive this process even further in terms of the National objectives, and will seek further opportunities for localisation on the bodywork and on the imported content of the chassis.”

The Lion’s A84 LE allows passengers to board the bus at a low step height with a low floor from the front passenger entrance door to the rear axle area. At this point three steps enable access to the rear saloon area over the rear-mounted engine.

Total seated capacity of the prototype is 42 passengers, whilst the low-level entry portion allows a high capacity standing area as well as wheelchair access. The chassis suspension incorporates a kneeling function that lowers entry height in a stationary position, rising to normal ride-height once in motion. In addition, a manual fold-down ramp significantly reduces the first-step height and allows for easier access for physically challenged passengers.

Various configurations are possible to allow for less seated, more standing passengers depending on the type of inner-city operational requirements. The unit is versatile and can be easily adapted for two-door entry, and a right-hand side door can be fitted for BRT or IRT applications. Passenger doors can be opened only when the bus stop brake is engaged.

Passenger comfort is another consideration: air-conditioning is optional, and a forced-draught ventilation system can be installed. Full air-suspension ensures ride comfort.

MAN Truck & Bus is fully supportive of the government’s initiative to create work opportunities, and subscribes to the principles of local job creation and skills improvement. The company looks beyond the pure supply of buses and is aware that after-sales support and maintenance play a vital role in the sustainability of its partnership with its customers.

The full South African MAN bus model range now consists of:

A84 – 18.280 HOCL-NL; 206 kW, 42 seated passengers, 4x2 rear engine, low-entry city bus chassis, Voith or ZF automatic transmission

HB1 – 18.240 BB FOCR;176 kW, up to 65 seated passengers, 4x2 city/commuter chassis, ZF manual transmission

HB2 – 18.240 BB FOCR; 176 kW, up to 65 seated passengers, 4x2 city/commuter chassis, Voith automatic transmission

HB3 – 36.390 LL FOCR; 287 kW, up to 137 seated passengers, 8x2 city/commuter chassis, ZF Tipmatic transmission

HB4 – 26.310 LL FOCNR; 228 kW, up to 79 seated passengers, 6x2 chassis, TipMatic transmission

HB4 – 26.350 LL FOCNR; 257 kW, up to 79 seated passengers, 6x2 chassis, TipMatic transmission

HB4BT – 26.310 or 26.350 LL FOCNR; 228 kW or 257 kW, up to 115 seated passengers, 8x2 bustrain, TipMatic transmission

MAN’s market-leading Lion’s Explorer bus range is complemented by the Volksbus range – the 4x2 front-engined VW 9.150 OD and VW 17.210 OD – offering passenger-transport professionals a suite of people-carriers designed to suit a broad range of passenger transport applications.

Further models will be added to the South African bus range as MAN Latin America develops new models to meet the Euro 5 emission standards being introduced in Brazil by 2012.