MAN Truck & Bus
The founder of the eponymous Gottlob Auwärter GmbH & Co KG would probably hardly have ever thought at the time he established the company that coaches bearing its logo would not only be found travelling the length and breadth of Europe but that they would also enjoy such a very special and exclusive reputation. It’s a success story that all began in a small body shop in Stuttgart in 1935. The NEOPLAN brand, under which Auwärter began manufacturing its own vehicles, still stands for luxurious and comfortable coaches to this day.
Gottlob Auwärter created his company with the aim of manufacturing bodies for coaches in 1935. Production was switched to essential wartime goods during World War II. The Auwärter company escaped serious damage during the war and was able to start manufacturing coaches again when it ended.
Gottlob Auwärter took what was probably the most important step in NEOPLAN’s history in the 1950s. He decided that he wanted to build more than just the bodies for coaches. This dream was realised in 1953: The first NEOPLAN coach, completely manufactured at the Auwärter premises, took to the road.
Gottlob Auwärter wanted to give his coaches an independent and special name. And so he came up with the NEOPLAN brand – it stands for the ‘New Passenger Transport Vehicle or the New Plan’. Gottlob Auwärter wanted to set standards with his coaches and was consequently able to already present an innovation at the International Motor Show Germany in 1957: NEOPLAN was the first manufacturer at the time to introduce comfortable air suspension and independent front wheel suspension as standard.
NEOPLAN engineers were already able to demonstrate that the brand stood for innovation in 1960. They developed a fully low-floor bus with almost level access. NEOPLAN also appropriately became the global market leader for airport buses during this period. That’s where the low-entry features were particularly appreciated. This type of bus is today regarded as one of the predecessors for later low-floor buses.
Albrecht Auwärter, Gottlob Auwärter’s eldest son, and Bob Lee, budding NEOPLAN mechanical engineer, presented a vehicle in 1961 that was to revolutionise many aspects of coach travel. Their development of the Hamburg model enabled passengers to enjoy better views through windows that curved into the roof. It was also the first coach to enable passengers to regulate the air supply themselves using nozzle ventilation in the interior. A clear win where comfort was concerned.
A NEOPLAN SH 8 was chosen as the team coach for the 2003 film entitled, ‘The Miracle of Bern’, which tells the story of German national football team’s World Cup victory in 1954. That’s how NEOPLAN came to be seen as the typical luxury liner of the period.
NEOPLAN achieved a world exclusive with its Skyliner in 1967: the first long-distance double-decker coach. The NH 22 seated 67 passengers and featured a large luggage compartment, a kitchen and a WC on board. More than 4000 Skyliner coaches have been built in a variety of versions and generations to date and over time it has developed into one of NEOPLAN’s flagships.
NEOPLAN developed the Jetliner line in 1973. The mid-market coach is most of all dynamic, comfortable and functional. Jetliner production commenced with the company’s new factory in Pilsting.
NEOPLAN built its first road jumbo as the first jets bearing the same name were taking to the skies in the 1970s. The Skyliner-based Jumbocruiser, a spectacular articulated double-decker bus that is 18 metres long, 2.5 metres wide and four metres high, celebrated its launch in 1975.
NEOPLAN presented a futuristic coach in 1988: the Metroliner in carbon design (MIC). It was built from fibre composites and achieved a reduction in total weight of almost 40% to make it more fuel-efficient. NEOPLAN was already continuing to develop in this direction in the 1990s and was one of the first to present buses that used such alternative fuels as gas or hydrogen.
The Megaliner from 1992 demonstrated that NEOPLAN thinks innovatively and is always one step ahead of the market. NEOPLAN surprised the market with the first ever 15-metre long four-axle vehicle that received approval for road use. NEOPLAN developed a special four-wheel steering system particularly for this series that remains unique in bus history to this day.
NEOPLAN launched the Starliner in 1996 – a model that remains representative of the brand to this day. A progressive design and an innovative safety concept characterise this company star. It resulted in the Starliner being named the ‘Coach of the Year 2000’ and becoming an image carrier for many fleets of buses.
June 2001 marked an important point in NEOPLAN’s history: Gottlob Auwärter GmbH & Co KG was acquired by MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG. The brand was then integrated alongside the MAN BUS division into the MAN Nutzfahrzeuge Group in 2008. MAN started to pursue a clear two-brand strategy with NEOPLAN that emphasised the exclusivity of NEOPLAN coaches.
The new Tourliner that hit the roads in 2003 was a NEOPLAN newcomer that stood out particularly for its excellent price-performance ratio. The all-rounder combined great cost-effectiveness with reliability and special aesthetics.
The new NEOPLAN Individual line launched in 2009 described a new form of exclusivity and emotionality. Customised refinements in design and function took the NEOPLAN Starliner and Cityliner coaches to a completely new level.
NEOPLAN presented an innovative product concept in 2010 – also to celebrate its 75th anniversary. The Starliner defined itself as the most exclusive of coaches bearing the NEOPLAN name. The best-selling Cityliner also presented itself in a modern design that employed the latest technology. The entirely revamped Skyliner was presented at the 2010 International Motor Show Germany. It convinced with a new concept for space and comfort.
Two new NEOPLAN Tourliners brought music from Hollywood to the whole of Europe in 2019. Sixty orchestral musicians and 16 choral singers toured from city to city with the ‘The World of Hans Zimmer’ programme. The design and interior of the buses that MAN Truck & Bus provided for the tour were just as outstanding.