MAN Truck & Bus

Portrait of Stephan Schönherr, Vice President Design Bus at MAN

The e-bus must be recognisable as an innovation

Progress should be visible: the designers at MAN have used conspicuous features to ensure that the MAN Lion’s City E is clearly different from a conventional urban bus. Stephan Schönherr, Vice President Design Bus, explains what differentiates the award-winning design of this electric bus.


Stephan Schönherr

The product designer is responsible for bus design for MAN and NEOPLAN. He and his team have won numerous awards with their designs, including the iF design award, the red dot design award and the German Design Award.

Mr Schönherr, do electric commercial vehicles need their own distinct look?

Schönherr Definitely. E-mobility signifies a massive leap for the environment. Now for the first time, there are buses on the road that emit no local emissions. But the advanced technology in a bus is not visible from the outside. So it's important that the design of the MAN Lion’s City E makes it instantly recognisable as an e-bus. This demonstrates to people that e-mobility has arrived on their streets.

Which design features distinguish the MAN Lion’s City E from its diesel and natural gas versions?

Schönherr Blue has been accepted by all vehicle manufacturers as a signal colour for electrification. MAN as a brand has its own blue. It's a metallic shade that we call "pulse blue". It signals purity and value. This shade of blue is applied on panels above the front headlights, discreet side panels beneath the roof cove and a strip on the rear windscreen, so it extends all around the vehicle and makes our e-bus recognisable from all directions. The blue is always framed by a black surround, so it stands out neutrally from the bus company's corporate design without the colours clashing. The blade on the sides typical for MAN buses, the optically reduced roof structure, swept-back roof lines and its rear spoiler all emphasise the dynamic look of this electric bus. Its silhouette is fully optimised in terms of its drag coefficient.

MAN Bus Lion's City E drives on the road
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Colour palettes Blue has been accepted by all vehicle manufacturers as a signal colour for electrification. MAN uses its own blue, a metallic shade called "pulse blue".

The MAN Lion’s City E is available in lengths of 12 metres and 18 metres. How do you as a designer deal with these length variations?

Schönherr It's important to us that the vehicle's proportions are attractive and create a dynamic effect. The 18 metre version creates its own impression due to the extra length. We had to use an optical illusion on the 12 metre version to ensure that the vehicle doesn't appear top heavy despite the battery on the roof. The superstructures are clad in black, so they are visually unobtrusive. The clearly visible paint strip on the roof cove has been lowered slightly, so it's not positioned at the highest point. It visually reduces the overall height of the vehicle, which is really 3.30 metres, but appears to be around 20 centimetres less at just over three metres. That is how we achieve harmonious proportions and a bus that appears to be flatter.

What is special about the interior features on the e-bus?

Schönherr As in the classic MAN Lion’s City, the floor area is darker and the ceiling light grey. The pale ceiling makes the passenger compartment appear roomy and welcoming. The ceiling's indirect lighting creates a pleasant light in which the passengers feel happy. Supplementary ambient light can be used to select accents and specially adapted shades within the interior. Many bus manufacturers are now guided by the ceiling concept on MAN urban buses. That's a nice acknowledgement of our design team's work.

Interior view of the MAN Lion's City E
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Interior design The pale ceiling makes the passenger compartment appear roomy and welcoming. The indirect ceiling lighting creates a pleasant light.

Two prestigious prizes in 2020

After its Gold iF Design Award 2020, the MAN Lion’s City E has now secured its next accolade – the jury of the Automotive Brand Contest awarded this fully electric urban bus the internationally coveted Design Prize in the commercial vehicle category. The electric bus model is thus continuing the design success story of the multi-award-winning MAN Lion’s City.

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