MAN Truck & Bus


Today, things get serious! The 3rd stage from St Moritz to Zürich takes us through the Julier Pass. Switchbacks, hairpin bends and rapid climbs are a challenge for both vehicle and driver. Here are the highlights!

Unfamiliar terrain The Lion’s City E is not really made for Alpine passes. But no matter: it masters this challenge with aplomb.  

Theatrical Next to the crest of the pass stands this red tower. The theater, exhibition and assembly building has existed since 2017 and was to be deconstructed in 2020. Now the “Juliertheater“ is to be allowed to stay until 2023. 


A rollercoaster ride in a public bus

If it's stormy or snowing outside, if it’s too cold or too hot, then people tend to stay at home and make themselves cosy on the sofa, perhaps with a cup of tea or a nice glass of red wine. A public bus has to go out, whatever the weather! Even today, at a crisp minus 1 degree Celsius, with a gusty wind and a special alpine pass ahead of us: the Julier Pass. Man – in this case, our driver Heinrich Degenhart – and machine – our MAN Lion’s City E bus that has behaved so impeccably thus far – can now show us what they’re really made of. There is no place for wimps here or on our bus, because this stage will be a rollercoaster ride of the first order.

To enable them to face up to challenges like this, MAN's buses have been subjected to a variety of pre-delivery endurance tests for more than 30 years. For example, at the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, test drivers mercilessly thrash the vehicles in extreme cold temperatures of less than minus 40 degrees Celsius on snow and ice. Alongside the general driving behaviour of the bus, they also test the endurance of the heating, air conditioning, headlamps and windscreen wipers. The bus goes through the same thing in extreme heat too: last summer saw the buses travelling through Spain’s Sierra Nevada at 43 degrees Celsius. If you can handle that, you can handle anything. The result is that all MAN products are equipped to deal with whatever the weather can throw at them. But does that include the challenges of Switzerland’s Julier Pass?


Heading out of St Moritz, we’re off to the pass

Hardly have we left St Moritz than a gigantic mountain landscape, still deeply covered in snow, unrolls before us and soon we’re already on the legendary pass. The Lion’s City E purrs up the climbs of up to 12.5 percent like a kitten, running alongside the beautiful Silvaplanasee lake to our left for the first few kilometres. Depending on the direction in which the road is snaking. The higher we ascend, the vegetation becomes more sparse and rugged and the wind whistles harder and harder.

It’s no surprise that we’re now draining the batteries. However, we’ll be heading back down again in no time, the bus regenerating like a champion. First though, we admire the stunning view from the Julier viewpoint. How beautiful is the world! It goes without saying that we also stopped by the Juliertheater, which is used as a theatre, meeting and exhibition space, winning the Swiss Award for Marketing and Architecture in 2018.


In the footsteps of the ancient Romans

The Julier Pass lies at 2,284 metres above sea level and links the Engadin and Oberhalbstein valleys. The top of the pass is the European watershed that divides the catchments of the Rhine and the Danube. The road through the pass gains 1,433 metres in altitude and is open all year round. It was built between 1820 and 1826. However, the Romans were already using this trail to cross the Alps in around 1000 BC, as evidenced by various artefacts found along today's route. Sadly, we didn’t find any Roman relics, but this stretch of our route is breath-takingly beautiful.

Quite small The Principality of Liechtenstein has about 39,000 inhabitants and is 161 square kilometers in size. 

Princely seat Hereditary Prince Alois von und zu Liechtenstein conducts state business from Vaduz Castle. In doing so, he is 120 meters above the municipality of Vaduz. Certainly good for the overview. 

Tourists This couple from the Czech Republic was just visiting Liechtenstein. They discussed with the team about e-buses in their home country. 


Liechtenstein, we’re heading your way

There’s an old song that translates to “Giddy up Donkey, if we’re going downhill, we’ll both be happy!” And we’re definitely going downhill and we're definitely very happy! The regeneration rate is going up and up. The bus, the driver and the passengers are all rejoicing together. We feel as if we’re on a summer toboggan run. The batteries are enjoying a vibrant rejuvenation! Our next destination is Schloss Vaduz in Liechtenstein.

On the way there, we are surprised by the Lai da Marmorera, a primeval-looking dam reservoir in which giant fish are sure to swim. Gorgeous guesthouses along the roadsides invite us to stay a while. Our average regeneration rate is 62.1 percent! Eureka, as the ancient Greeks would have said. We left the banks of the Inn in St Moritz, but the little river Julia now accompanies us down the valley. The settlements here have melodious names such as Tinizong, Rona, Bivio and Salux.


Completely confused in Vaduz

We would never have thought that Liechtenstein was so small. The principality is the sixth-smallest state in the world at just 160 square kilometres. Only San Marino, Tuvalu, Nauru, Monaco and the Vatican are smaller. Nevertheless, it is still big enough for us to manage a few pirouettes in our bus outside the Schloss Vaduz, seat of the royal family. The streets are so narrow that we’re sure that no bus has ever been up here before. Sadly, that’s all we have time for; the clock is ticking and Zürich, our destination, is calling.

Just beautiful Zurich welcomed the team with sunshine. That immediately put the pearl on Lake Zurich in an even more beautiful light. And the locals were out in droves. 

Magnificent and sustainable Here, imposing architecture mixes with the symbols of electrified local transport. Typical of Zurich, many people in the city use public transportation. 

Night quarters The day was tough. Now rest and reloading are the order of the day. At MAN Truck & Bus Switzerland, of course. 


World Savings Day on the Electrifying Europe Tour

On our arrival in Zürich, at first we thought that our monitor that spews all the important driving data was dead because “Gentle Heinrich” has driven us to a regeneration value of 38,5 %. And that’s despite climbing the Julier Pass and some 100 kilometres of Autobahn driving. After travelling 274,6 kilometres on this stage, we still have 56,4 % of the battery remaining. Pleased with our day's work, we drive easily across the Quaibrücke bridge that spans the river Limmat, make a brief detour to the world-famous Dolder Grand Hotel – we can look but we can’t touch – and then hand our bus over to MAN Truck & Bus Schweiz where it will spend the night topping up its electricity. Good night, Lion’s City E, gud’s Nächtli Züri!

Text   Boris Pieritz
Photos   Lara Freiburger

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