MAN Truck & Bus


The nine rules of good design


There is no contradiction between good looks and road worthiness. This applies just as much to heavy trucks and buses as it does to sports cars. The MAN designers have received numerous awards because this continues to sound convincing to them. There are nine major reasons for their success. The basic idea is modeled on the famous Bauhaus principle “form follows function”. The results speak for themselves.



Koos "Our brand image is transported on the roads, since that's where people experience our products. So all our vehicles have to be recognised as belonging to our brand. They need eye-catching design elements that immediately say to the onlooker: that's a MAN. The same applies to NEOPLAN. What distinguishes our corporate truck design is the front grille plaque with the Büssing lion, the MAN lettering and chrome trim. Our buses too bear recurring smart edge design features, such as the lateral swoop on MAN coaches. The NEOPLAN bus brand, on the other hand, has its very own design vocabulary. Each NEOPLAN fan knows the legendary sharp-cut design, the eagle eye of the headlights and the projecting B frontage.”



Kupitza “The topic of ergonomics is highly important in design. All of the control elements have to be easily accessible and clearly visible to the driver. He or she needs sufficient freedom of movement, usable storage space and pleasant lighting conditions. The exterior of the new MAN Lion's City bus therefore has an extra number of large maintenance flaps to make its technical inner workings conveniently accessible. Our design included these service-friendly flaps from the very beginning and we developed a segmented exterior cladding, which is attractive while simultaneously providing ideal functionality.”

Holger Koos und Stephan Schönherr von MAN betrachten Design-Skizzen
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Striking lines The designers use sketches and experimental designs for inspiration. © Constantin Mirbach



Gaedtke“We designers develop vehicles from a holistic perspective to balance different functional requirements. By creating more interior space in a truck, for instance, we directly increase collision safety and comfort for the driver. We bring safety aspects into line with aerodynamics when shaping the body. Certain components should not protrude beyond the overall shape. This ensures the passive safety of other road users in the event of collisions.“



Schönherr “Products that are well designed also satisfy functional requirements. Even a layman often sees a vehicle's functional strengths at first glance. The design of the NEOPLAN, for example, is trimmed entirely for aerodynamics. Everything that introduced unnecessary air resistance was removed. Even the outer appearance of a NEOPLAN Cityliner rightly creates the impression that it drives more economically than its competitors. A well and correctly designed aerodynamic shape not only reduces fuel consumption. It also reduces driving noise and prevents soiling on the outer surface.”



Kupitza “Design functionality in commercial vehicles is even more important than in cars. Although aesthetics also play a major role here and influence the buying decision. MAN buses and trucks do not follow short-lived fashions, they are timelessly elegant. The powerful-sympathetic appearance is important in a truck – like a workhorse. NEOPLAN on the contrary is the expressive design icon – it can and should polarise.”

Koos “There is an erroneous assumption that designers can subsequently 'make a vehicle look nice'. That's not how it works. Neither can we design a product in an ivory tower which looks incredible, but then doesn't work in practice. A coherent overall concept only arises when technical and creative development work jointly and are integrated from the beginning.”



Gaedtke “The front section of a vehicle is its face. Our buses radiate friendliness, self-confidence and power. Passengers should feel safe and welcome. We give a lion’s face to MAN trucks and buses. The headlights are their eyes. The radiator grille forms their nose and muzzle.”

Koos “The Lion combines so many positive attributes: agility, intelligence, strength, dynamism, speed, sovereignty. It is the king of the animals.“


Material Quality

Koos “We use modern and durable materials. The user feels more comfortable in a high-quality vehicle and takes better care of it. This benefits sustainability as a whole.”

Gaedtke “The decision to use glass as the outer skin for the MAN Lion's City was deliberate. It is highly functional: glass contributes to body rigidity, allows a maximum of light into the interior, is corrosion-resistant, does not need to be painted and is more scratch-resistant than metal. Segments can easily be replaced. Glass also looks very sophisticated and futuristic. It lends the bus an impression reminiscent of a modern smartphone.”



Schönherr“Vehicle electronics are becoming more and more important – and this increases the significance of the cockpit displays. Consistent and user-friendly design of the user interface is very time-consuming. Appropriate pictograms have to be developed for every new function. The function of each pictogram must be immediately comprehensible and be logically integrated into the overall design concept.”

Kupitza “This demand applies not only to pictograms: every detail of the design is an ambassador for the entire product.”


Brand Values

Schönherr “MAN and NEOPLAN represent dynamics and quality at the highest level. Our products demand technological leadership. This is also expressed in the precision of the design, such as high optical quality, narrow joints and reduction to the essentials.”

Koos “The design elements are not arbitrarily selected. They are developed from our brand design criteria and a long tradition and express our brand values: powerful, expressive and considered are the attributes to which we align our design.”

Team of the Year

The Design Department at MAN received the distinction of “Team of the Year” at the Automotive Brand Contest 2018. This is regarded as the most important creative competition in the international automotive industry. It is awarded annually by the German Design Council. Our designers have already won other awards in 2019: The new MAN CitE concept truck won the gold iF award. The MAN Lion’s City bus received an iF award and a red dot award. The MAN design team includes 20 creative minds.

Text   Felix Enzian
Photos   Constantin Mirbach/MAN

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