Interview conducted with Rudi Kuchta, senior vice-president Bus Sales MAN. “The performance of Busworld is exceeding expectations. We cannot give any definitive results regarding the number of visitors yet, but on the third day of the show the manufacturers are already saying that their sales exceed expectations. The same holds true for MAN. Rudi Kuchta, senior vice-president Bus Sales at MAN Truck & Bus is seeing with his own eyes that the market for buses and coaches is significantly picking up in Europe. MAN Truck & Bus is also celebrating its hundredth birthday this year. Acea, the organisation of vehicle manufacturers, recently published figures that show that the bus sales in the European Union have increased by 16.5 percent this year in comparison to the same period the year before. Rudi Kuchta: “MAN is actually very successful in Europe. In Spain we are market leaders with regard to the sale of substructures. Our hybrid buses are doing well in Sweden and Norway, two countries in which we are also successful with regard to gas and biogas buses. Earlier this year, we delivered a big order of hybrid and gas buses to Paris. And then there is the tender of Deutsche Bahn, our home market, to which we will be supplying 800 buses in the next four years.” Apart from that Kuchta also sees opportunities for growth in Italy and Spain, where the economy is recovering again.
Double decker buses
For this year (2015) Kuchta is expecting to sell 6,000 buses and coaches. He is hoping for a growth of 10 to 15% for 2016. Kuchta is expecting a lot from the ‘Fernbus’ (‘longdistance bus’) market, especially in Germany and France. “In particular the double decker bus is interesting in this respect. We can see that the enthusiasm for this segment is on the rise and that the sales in Europe will be growing to more than 300 vehicles.” In this segment, MAN is doing really well with the Skyliner. “It is a strong and beautiful product with the biggest storage space for luggage in double deckers and an excellent TCO, although that depends on how you deploy the vehicle. Nowadays, 300,000 kilometres per year is not an exception, and especially not in the ‘Fernverkehr’. The order list of MAN for the Skyliner now already contains 60 vehicles. The orders that were placed during Busworld include two for a Skyliner for Belgian companies: Herman van Damme and Scheldeborden. And there are still other orders that will probably be signed during the next days of Busworld. The Skyliner that is now displayed at the MAN booth has already been sold to the ice hockey team of Ingolstad (Germany). To MAN Truck & Bus, Neoplan is the ‘premium brand’ for the Skyliner and Cityliner, both of which are currently manufactured in the Turkish capital of Ankara. It might seem as though the two brands are competing with each other on a lower level. Kuchta however guarantees that this is not the case and says that the concern is simply applying a twobrand strategy.
Earlier this year, MAN launched the Lion’s Intercity, specially designed for the intercity transport. A market that, according to Kuchta, comes down to around 4,000 vehicles in Europe. The focus in mainly on Scandinavia and once the import bans are done away with, it will be on Russia too. He expects that ‘electric’, battery-electric or hybrid, will soon become the magic word for public transport in cities/city centres. “The market demand will be highly determined by the issues of CO2 emissions and zero-emission transport. We have to prepare ourselves to the fact that the market will look completely different in a couple of years.” MAN Truck & Bus has existed 100 years and is now in the last phase of a significant restructuring. The highlight for the bus division has been the renovated bus factory in the Turkish city of Ankara. In the past few years, the Germans invested more than thirteen million euros in it. In Plauen MAN has a site for coaches with ‘Sonderausstattung’ (‘special equipment’).