MAN Truck & Bus

Bus Business is People Business

From crisis to summit: MAN and NEOPLAN sold more buses in 2018 then ever before. Head of Bus Sales Rudi Kuchta reveals the strategy behind this success.

Foto Mann

Bus Business is People Business

From crisis to summit: MAN and NEOPLAN sold more buses in 2018 then ever before. Head of Bus Sales Rudi Kuchta reveals the strategy behind this success.

Reading time [3 Min]

Rudi Kuchta

is head of Product & Sales Bus and as spokesperson for the Bus Executive Committee he coordinates the specialist divisions at MAN. Sales figures for buses from MAN and NEOPLAN have risen by 45 per cent in the last four years while he has been at the helm. 7204 vehicles were sold in 2018. "This was a team effort. All specialist divisions pulled together in one direction", says Kuchta.

Mr Kuchta, we’re now speaking of a success story, yet six years ago the outlook was bleak.

KUCHTA Correct, the bus sector was the problem child at MAN for a long time. We reached rock bottom in 2013 and recorded the worst sales figures in the company’s history. 

How have you responded to the crisis?

KUCHTA All the division managers held a meeting. It was clear to us that we all had to pull in the same direction. Only with entrepreneurial spirit could we find the road to success. We needed a common strategy and had to turn many adjusting screws at the same time. The overall objective is more important than divisional goals. 

Who was pulling in the same direction?

KUCHTA Production, Product Management, Sales, Purchasing, Controlling, After Sales, Quality Management and Human Resources. These are the specialist divisions involved in the success strategy. It’s about far more than “just” vehicles. 

What measures did you introduce to achieve the turnaround?

KUCHTA In Sales we better positioned our core business in Germany and Europe, at the same time we opened up new overseas markets, such as Singapore, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. In Production we reduced the number of plants from four to two to pool investment there. We also made cuts in the product portfolio. Sadly we had to say goodbye to the Starliner, for example, the luxury coach from NEOPLAN. We are focusing on the markets in which we can profitably grow. 

What is the strategic rationale?

KUCHTA Simplifying business: using customised solutions to make business models easier and more effective. That’s how we optimised our own business. And that’s exactly what we also offer to our customers.

How did you involve customers?

KUCHTA Bus business is people business. So we hold intensive discussions with decision-makers in traffic and travel companies and we also formed customer advisory councils. 

And MAN and NEOPLAN bus customers want …

KUCHTA … above all strong utility values: reliability, safety, environmental cleanliness, efficiency in the total cost of ownership. Because bus companies make decisions on a much less emotional basis than private vehicle customers. Great design that is appealing and functional is nevertheless also important.

How well does the new bus generation meet these expectations?

KUCHTA Reactions have been really positive since IAA 2018. The new MAN Lion’s City is regarded as the benchmark for city buses. And for all drives: diesel, natural gas and in future the eBus, for which we have many advance orders. The coaches – MAN Lion’s Coach, Tourliner and Skyliner from NEOPLAN – are also very successful, as demonstrated by market shares and design awards. The MAN Lion’s Intercity rounds off the portfolio as an optimised solution for intercity transport.

You have already mentioned the total cost of ownership. How important are MAN services for market success?

KUCHTA They are an integral part of our strategy and will be continuously expanded. The MAN BusTop service offers specialised workshops for buses. We use MAN Transport Solutions to provide comprehensive advice on expanding a fleet with alternative drives. MAN DigitalServices integrates fleet management, vehicle service and logistics. And MAN ProfiDrive training courses support bus drivers in achieving a safe, economical and environmentally friendly driving style. So the driver has a significant impact on the total cost of ownership.

Where do we go from here? What market changes are you preparing for?

KUCHTA The topics of e-mobility and automated driving are the market drivers over the next few years. Here we are jointly developing the right solutions together with our customers. We want to continue to be so successful. Because success is fun.

TCO Total Cost of Ownership
Total cost of acquisition and use: bus companies have a grip on their total cost of ownership with efficient buses and strong customer services from MAN. 

Interview Felix Enzian
Photos MAN

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