MAN Truck & Bus
The main venue for creation of the MAN Lion’s Intercity LE is the MAN bus plant in Turkey. “Important parts of the development took place here in our plant in Ankara, a novelty for MAN”, says programme manager Umut Kara. “Everyone in the plant involved in the project enjoyed direct collaboration here and it was easy for them to exchange ideas at any time. That released a lot of creative energy, generated a true feeling of belonging and made the whole process very quick and efficient.”
Umut Kara has been managing the team of 67 engineers behind development of the bus since October 2018. The task they had to accomplish was somewhat reminiscent of the infamous “jack of all trades”: they were to develop a bus that could be just as functional in urban traffic as on longer interurban journeys. It needed to offer lots of space, comfort and maximum safety for passengers and drivers, be fully accessible, have an attractive appearance and at the same time be cost-effective to buy and operate. But that’s precisely what they achieved. The programme manager is very satisfied. “In the last three years we took on a massive project”, Umut Kara says. Now it’s completed. And exactly on schedule, despite the coronavirus pandemic.”
„Important parts of the development of the bus took place here in our plant in Ankara, a novelty for MAN.“
The team used its technical know-how and creative ideas to successfully combine a high-floor and a low-floor vehicle in a coherent way to create the MAN Lion’s City LE. This makes the vehicle just as stable as a classic interurban bus, yet at the same time as accessible and comfortable as a modern urban bus. For the first time ever, the roof is made of composite materials. This makes the bus significantly lighter than its predecessor models – thus saving costs and fuel.
From day one, Umut Kara and his team also took heed of the MAN motto “Customer first” in a totally new way. Kara explains the approach by saying “We formed eight focus teams comprising a wide cross-section of employees. They included all sorts, from the assistant to the board, to production staff, personnel managers, sales colleagues and technology experts. These people frequently reviewed our prototypes from different points of view and gave us feedback. We therefore included the customer experience early on in our development process. This was incredibly beneficial and resulted in numerous updates and improvements that we’d never have been able to make based purely on technical data.”
MAN's headquarters in Munich also worked intensively on the MAN Lion's Intercity LE. Here, for example, the design team has ensured that the low-entry bus looks anything but "price-optimized". The designers have given the new bus model a progressive-modern look by carefully, sustainably and with high recognition value further developing the smart-edge design that was introduced in 2017 with the MAN Lion's Coach coach. "This is particularly to the credit of the entire design team and the design sub-project leader, Exterior Designer Moritz Menacher," says Stephan Schönherr, Vice President Design Bus, in praise of his staff.
„Our Lion's Intercity LE looks attractive, flexible, confident and very welcoming to passengers.“
A particular challenge was the design of the modular vehicle under demanding project specifications. The bus has to meet all of MAN's design criteria and requirements from the specifications. At the same time, it should have a contemporary and dynamic appearance and clearly express the design quality and sportiness of the vehicle. However, the combination of intercity and low-floor design makes the bus particularly high. This results in awkward proportions that need to be designed tastefully and attractively so that the vehicle does not appear cumbersome and static. With some clever design moves, the exterior designer has managed to turn this undesirable impression into a very beautiful opposite. "Through the sporty nose with typical MAN face, the angled bend of the transition of the A-pillars into the roof coves, the circumferential band in body color and the rear mask in the style of the MAN Lion's Coach, Moritz has given the bus a dynamic and appealing form. The flush windows and horizontal articulation of the sidewall give the bus its admirable streamlined shape. The wheel arches, which immediately catch the eye, have been given a striking three-dimensional shape so that they are more reflective and give the side wall clear structure and dominance," says Stephan Schönherr, listing some of the design benefits. They make the MAN Lion's Intercity LE a real, spirited lion. "It looks attractive, flexible, confident and very inviting for passengers. The very ergonomic and attractively designed driver's workplace is second to none and helps the driver to fulfill his daily and challenging job. The bright and friendly color-and-trim concept makes the very shapely and elegant interior shine with its trend-setting lighting concept and new overhead seating. This necessary design character is just right for a bus for city and intercity use," says the head of bus design at MAN & NEOPLAN, describing the harmonious overall result.
Technology and design aren’t the only areas of activity when a new vehicle is developed and brought to the market. The launch also includes corresponding events and communication campaigns, for example, to draw the attention of our customers, the press and also the sales staff to a new family member in the MAN bus portfolio. The main person responsible for this is Sebastian Römer, launch manager and sub-project sales manager for the Intercity LE. He has been arranging the launch for the last year and a half. “We’ve thoroughly prepared everything and thought about the best way to present the bus to the market”, Römer states. Alongside him, there were colleagues from the marketing, design, communications and sales divisions who were involved in the launch concept. The team attended a digital meeting every two weeks to discuss the current status and how to proceed.
Besides organising the launch event, one of Römer’s tasks was to fully prepare the sales staff for the arrival of the new bus. “We used an information pack to share key data on the Intercity LE with the sales team”, explains Römer. “This pack included sketches of the bus as well as technical data.” Römer’s team also produced regular newsflash articles to keep the sales staff up to date with procedures and the latest news. The activities were rounded off by web-based sales training, which was conducted in collaboration with the MAN Academy using a camouflaged prototype vehicle. Although Sebastian Römer’s work is far from finished even after the world première. “We have other launches to plan after this one”, he says. There are plans for further models of the MAN Lion’s Intercity LE that need to be introduced to the market by January 2024. “We’ll be all hands to the pumps arranging for that”, Römer rejoices.
„We’ve thoroughly prepared everything and thought about the best way to present the bus to the market.“