MAN Truck & Bus South Africa delivers 110 intercity buses for FIFA World Cup 2010
MAN Lion’s Explorer heralds a new era in urban public transport for South Africa
About nine months before the FIFA World Cup kicks off in South Africa, MAN Nutzfahrzeuge is further expanding its presence on the nation's market. The regional sales company MAN Truck & Bus South Africa received an order for 110 Lion’s Explorer intercity buses from the Public Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). The vehicles are initially to be operated as general spectator buses by subsidiary Autopax, and later in urban public transport in various large South African cities and surroundings. The order also includes a service level and maintenance agreement through the MAN service network. Intensive training of more than 220 Autopax drivers will be conducted before the World Cup, including the MAN ProfiDrive program, to ensure a maximum of reliability and safety once the buses go onto the road.
At the signing of the Bus Procurement agreement in September 2009, Thomas Hemmerich, CEO of MAN Truck & Bus South Africa, said: "We are proud of the fact that we have secured this major order in conjunction with the soccer World Cup. The vehicles boast excellent chassis that are made in Germany and first-class bodies tailored to suit the needs of the market and produced locally at our plant in Olifantsfontein. Through our extensive service network we'll devote all our efforts to ensuring high availability of the vehicles." Tshepo Montana, Group CEO of the transport agency PRASA, said the order marked a "major innovation in local transport in South Africa, satisfying the requirements of the FIFA World Cup and subsequently the need for urban public transport renewal in the country."
Sakhenzi Zamxaka, CEO of subsidiary Autopax, also indicated that he was very much looking forward to the new vehicles at the signing in Pretoria: "In an open and very hard-fought bidding procedure, the MAN buses proved to be the most reliable, safest and most economical. MAN Service, too, convinced us all along that this was the right package for the World Cup."
The MAN Lion’s Explorer is an intercity bus with right-hand steering developed specially for the Southern African market conditions. This is based on the fully air-suspended HB4/310 front-engine chassis with three axles (length: 13.9 m), manufactured at the MAN plant in Salzgitter to very high standards as a Completely Knocked Down Kit (CKD). Major safety features such as ABS and ASR are integrated by the EBS 5 electronic braking system. With the body manufactured locally at the plant in Olifantsfontein, the bus offers seating for up to 79 persons (in rows of five passengers), and is excellently adapted to African topographical and climatic conditions. All vehicles have air-conditioning or forced air ventilation. On each side and at the rear, the Lion’s Explorer has large underfloor luggage compartments for of up to 7.6 cubic meters of luggage plus spacious luggage racks in the interior.
The bus is powered by a fuel efficient MAN D20 common-rail engine of 310 hp, complying with the Euro 3 standard. This engine is coupled with the 12-step automated MAN TipMatic transmission, which is also built into European MAN truck models. As like in the low-floor MAN Lion’s City buses, the driver’s area includes the modern MAN display based on the results of the latest ergonomic research. Further safety features include body rollover strength in line with European and South African directive SABS 1563, which prescribes a rugged passenger cell and secure seat anchoring. A highly robust chassis with stable bolted axles and greater ground clearance are essential for the African market. The vehicle was thoroughly re-engineered and launched in 2006 and presents the same appearance as members of the MAN Lion's family on the European market.
MAN has been the leading bus manufacturer in South Africa for many years. In a market that totals 1,500 vehicles, current plans call for MAN to sell nearly 500 vehicles during the course of 2009, which is the equivalent of around thirty percent market share. Besides the MAN Lion's Explorer solo buses sold to PRASA, MTB South Africa also sells 22-metre long articulated buses, so-called bus trains, as well as low-entry models based on the MAN A 84 chassis. Moreover, this year has seen the first sales of the NEOPLAN Tourliner as a tourist coach.